Firstly, carefully select the area to lay your landscaping rocks. Ideally, the area should already be weed-free. If it is not, and you need to lay the rock relatively quickly, you will need to dig the weeds out and remove the roots. Alternatively, you can spray the weeds with a non-selective herbicide. Do not spray your bushes as well, since the herbicide will kill them. You could put a large piece of cardboard between the spray area and the bushes, or cover them with plastic. Also, avoid spraying on windy days. Wear protective gloves and a face mask when spraying.
What To Do Before Laying
Spun – this is strong and durable and does not puncture or tear. It usually has circular or swirling patterns. You may need to cut holes in it to let plants grow and tree roots to spread. It is strong and can last for many years.
Landscaping cloth is a useful weed barrier and will allow water, nutrients, and air to flow to your soil and plants. It is lighter than a plastic cover, and while more expensive than plastic, it lets your plants breathe.
Salt. Table salt or saltwater will work on some weeds. The major disadvantage is that it’s hard to grow anything in salty soil, so if you or anyone else ever want to grow plants in the area in the future, this is not a good solution.
Commercial herbicides (plant killers). Here we’re talking about products like Roundup, which contain glyphosate. They pretty reliably knock out weeds, even seemingly invincible Bermuda grass. The disadvantage is that many people prefer organic products, especially if they plan to later grow edible plants in the area.
Hands and hoes. Sorry, but this may be your best bet if the weeds are growing in rocks next to other plants that you want to keep. Many people find that a Hula-Ho (also called a stirrup hoe or scuffle hoe) works better than a traditional flat hoe.
Landscape plastic. Some people find this useful, but we see a couple of drawbacks to it. For one thing, you have to lay it down before you put in your rocks, so if you didn’t do this from the beginning, it’s not helpful. The bigger problem is that eventually holes will wear through the plastic, and the weeds will grow through them. Plus, dust will blow on top of the plastic, letting weeds sprout there. So you get weeds anyway, and over time, the plastic will become unsightly as the rocks shift and bits of ragged plastic start to surface.
MDI Rock supplies a wide range of products for all sorts of uses at competitive prices. If you’re not sure what kind of rock you need or how much, we’re happy to give you our expert advice based on 30 years of experience. We carry over 50 colors of decorative groundcover as well as rip rap, flagstone, topsoil, sand, gravel, and a huge selection of boulders.
A layer of landscape fabric over the soil blocks the growth of any weeds that you miss when you prepare the site. Secure the fabric using landscape staples so it doesn’t shift under the rock layer. When you start with a new piece of fabric, overlap it with the last piece so you don’t give the weeds a gap to grow through. A border around your rocky area creates a barrier between the rocks and the lawn. Weeds from other areas of the landscape may eventually make their way into the rocky area if nothing is there to block them.
A weed-free patch of ground makes the best base for a rock-covered landscape area. Inspect the area before you place landscaping rocks to identify weed problems. You have several options for getting rid of existing weeds. If you aren’t in a rush to put down the rocks, cover the area with plastic and leave it for at least six weeks of hot, sunny weather. This sun solarization method kills the weeds underneath. Digging the weeds out to remove the full roots gets rid of many unwanted plants. Throw away the weeds and roots so they don’t grow again. You can also spray a premixed, post-emergent, non-selective herbicide onto the weeds.
Create a Barrier
If you don’t get all of the weed roots out of the ground, you’re likely to see more unwanted growth popping up. Additional weed-killing methods can keep the population under control so the rock area isn’t overrun with weeds. A weed flamer is one option that works well since the rocks can withstand the heat and aren’t flammable. A quick blast of heat from the flamer kills the weed. Keep the weed flamer away from any flammable materials, such as your house or wood mulch. Boiling water can have a similar effect on weeds. You can also use a premixed herbicide, such as glyphosate, directly on the weeds.
Landscaping rock creates a low-maintenance ground cover that stays put, unlike lightweight mulch, which can blow away. The rock helps smother unwanted plant growth, but some stubborn weeds find a way to thrive. Weed prevention starts before you put the rocks down and continues with regular maintenance to stop a large-scale weed invasion.
Start With a Clean Slate
Despite your best prevention techniques, you may notice a few pesky weeds sneaking into your rocks. Pull the weeds as soon as you see them, but don’t leave the plucked plants in your rocks. If possible, move the rocks back from the weed so you can get its root out when you pull. A handheld weeding knife or other small weeding tool helps reach the weed roots between the rocks.