Tips to Manage Weeds and Debris in Landscape Stones

Posted on: 13 December 2016

Landscaping stones provide an attractive mulching option for pathways, dry creek beds, or planting beds that feature perennials and small shrubs. Unlike other forms of mulch, you never need to replace the stones. Landscaping stones also encourage good drainage in the area. Unfortunately, they can be difficult to maintain if weeds get into the bed. This usually occurs from seeds sprouting beneath the stones, although sometimes a soil layer will develop within the stone bed and allow seeds to germinate. The following tips can help you avoid these issues.

Tip #1: Start with sterile soil

Soil sterilization, especially in areas where you plan to grow no plants, can help prevent future weed growth. There are two ways to sterilize the soil. The first is to mix a broad-spectrum herbicide that can affect seeds within the soil. A less toxic method is to remove all visible signs of weeds, including roots, and then to cover the soil with clear plastic for several weeks during hot, sunny weather. This will cook and kill any seeds that remain.

Tip #2: Use a good barrier

A weed barrier prevents any weeds from growing up through the stones while also inhibiting the roots from any weeds within the stones from ever reaching the soil. A high-quality landscape fabric, sometimes called a geotextile, is the preferred barrier. It can last for many years as long as you do not puncture it. Holes should only be cut for perennial plants. As an added benefit, the barrier makes it easier to remove the rocks if you ever decide to change your landscaping.

Tip #3: Invest in a leaf blower

One major issue is that leaves and other debris that land on top of the rocks decompose, leaving behind a thin layer of compost that sits on top of the landscaping fabric. Then, weeds take root in this layer. The simplest way to keep leaves and other debris out of your landscaping stones is with a leaf blower. This way you can easily move them to an area where you can gather them for disposal or composting. There are also rock rakes available for this purpose if you prefer a non-motorized method.

Tip #4: Monitor the situation

You can prevent any weed problem from becoming major by staying on top of things. Make it a habit to pull any small weeds weekly so they never have time to establish deep roots. Start with a gentle tug; if the weed doesn't come up easily, then you should spray it with a herbicide, since continued pulling could damage the barrier fabric.

For more help, talk with a landscape-stone supplier in your area.

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