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How To Keep Weeds From Growing in Landscape Rock

How To Keep Weeds From Growing in Landscape Rock

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Incorporating landscape rocks in your garden is an excellent way to enhance your property’s aesthetics. However, landscape rocks are prone to an issue that can be challenging to deal with: weed growth. So, what can you do to keep weeds from growing in your stylish landscape rocks?

Here’s how to keep weeds from growing in landscape rock:

  1. Kill and remove all existing weeds.
  2. Move the landscaping rocks.
  3. Lay down landscape fabric.
  4. Add a sub base.
  5. Install another layer of landscape fabric.
  6. Install edging borders.
  7. Put the rocks back.
  8. Take preventative measures.

Keep reading for a comprehensive guide on ensuring your landscape rocks remain free from weeds. In the following sections, I’ll guide you through each of these eight steps, offering valuable insights so that you can avoid some of the most common mistakes homeowners make.

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By the end of this piece, you’ll be ready to get your hands dirty and to keep your rocks weed-free.

1. Kill and Remove All Existing Weeds

Before you can keep weeds away from your landscape rocks, you first need to get rid of any existing ones. You have a few options when it comes to ensuring that all the weeds on your landscape rocks are dead. 

Here are some ways to kill weeds:

  • Using weed killer
  • Using a plastic sheet
  • Using your hands
  • Using a home-made weed killer

Using Weed Killer

Weed killers come in a variety of forms, but they all have the same effect: they kill weeds. You can buy weed killers from your local garden stores or online.

Read the instructions on the packaging to get the best results and exercise caution as some weed killers can be harmful to people, other plants in your garden, and animals.

Just for Pets Weed Killer Spray (link to Amazon) is an affordable and pet-safe weed killer, ideal for households with cats or dogs. This product is also natural and does not include glyphosate, a harmful chemical to animals.

Roundup Weed and Grass Killer (link to Amazon) is a fast-acting weed killer that can produce visible results in just 9 hours. On top of this, you don’t have to wait for a sunny day to use it as it’s rainproof after 30 minutes.

Using a Plastic Sheet

To kill weeds on your property the old-fashioned way, take a plastic sheet, and place it over the area you want to clear. Secure the plastic sheet to the ground and leave it there for a few days.

After some time, the plants will turn yellow and die. You can then remove them by hand.

It’s worth noting that this method only works in warm weather and hot climates.

See Plastic vs. Fabric: Which Is Better for Landscaping?

Using Your Hands

Another excellent way to exterminate weeds from your landscape rocks is by getting your hands dirty. Well, you should probably wear gloves, but you get my point.

You can use your hands to uproot each weed individually. However, this process is labor-intensive and can be quite a workout but when it’s done right, it produces excellent results.

Using Home-Made Weed Killer

If you want to save money on weed killer and you don’t want to spend a day on your hands and knees, you can make your own homemade weed-killing solution. You can make weed killer using everyday items that are likely already in your home.

To make your own weed-killing mix, combine vinegar, salt, and soap in a spray bottle. Evenly distribute this mixture across the landscape stones and watch the weeds wilt and die.

Note: Make sure you understand what’s going on with these ingredients before using them. See our article Do Natural Weed Killers Work? The Truth About DIY Solutions.

Alternatively, you can just use salt, but this process is slower and is more expensive as you need to use a high quantity of salt.

After you’ve managed to kill the weeds in your garden, you’ll need to remove them. The best way to do this is by hand, as you can ensure you manage to get them all. Discard the dead weeds in an appropriate garbage can or compost heap (source). 

2. Move the Landscaping Rocks

After you’ve killed and removed the weeds, you’ll need to lift all of the landscape rocks and place them somewhere safe.

You need the base underneath the landscape rocks to be fully exposed so you can keep the weeds from growing back.

Place the rocks you’ve lifted in a pile next to where you’re working. Moving them might be hard work, so don’t place them too far away, or you’ll exhaust yourself.

Landscape fabric laid out in flower bed with a few rocks holding it in place.

3. Lay Down Landscape Fabric

Now that your rocks are out of the way, it’s time to start laying down a base. This base will act as a protective barrier that helps prevent the weeds from growing in the soil underneath the rocks.

The layer also prevents some weeds that do start growing from being able to penetrate through the landscape rocks.

Note: Certain types of weeds can still manage to grow through landscape fabric but it will certainly make a difference compared to not using any.

Use landscape fabric for the base layer beneath your rocks. Specifically, you should use a piece of water-permeable landscape fabric. These sheets of material are porous and allow water to pass through without allowing weeds or other plants to pass through as well.

If you place a plastic sheet instead of landscape fabric underneath the rocks, water will accumulate when it rains or when you water the plants. With enough water and humidity, weeds will quickly start growing all around the rocks, which defeats the whole purpose of what you’re trying to achieve. 

This is why it’s essential that you use water-permeable landscape fabric. This material allows all the water to pass through, so there’s none left to allow weeds to grow.

Landscape fabric also forms an effective barrier that blocks some plants from growing through the rocks.

You can purchase landscape fabric from your local hardware or garden stores or from online retailers like Amazon. See below for some excellent, high-value landscape fabrics available from Amazon.com.

Chenbaiyi Garden Weed Barrier (link to Amazon) is an affordable landscape fabric choice. This product includes over 100 feet (30 m) of the material, meaning you’ll be able to cover an ample space with just one roll.

This fabric is also water permeable and eco-friendly, so you don’t have to worry about harming the ecosystem.

4. Add a Sub Base

After laying down a layer of landscape fabric, you can add a layer of sub-base. Including a sub-base layer provides numerous advantages when it comes to eliminating weeds.

Adding a sub-base also helps to keep the landscape rocks in place, which maintains and improves your garden’s overall aesthetic.

Adding a sub-base is not essential for landscape rocks unless the stones are used as a walkway or driveway. However, adding a sub-base can provide protection against weeds growing underneath.

Therefore, if you’re on a tight budget, you can skip this step as it’s not essential.

A sub-base is typically made from loose material such as gravel or stones. These items are added into a layer and held in place by the ground beneath them and the weight of the landscape stones on top.

The sub-base offers enhanced drainage and additional stability for the landscape rocks that lie on top. The sub-base also weighs down the landscape fabric beneath it, holding it in place.

This helps keep the weeds at bay while also draining water away faster to ensure that they don’t come back (source).

5. Install Another Layer of Landscape Fabric

After you’ve installed the sub-base above the first layer of landscape fabric, you’ll need to cover it entirely with an additional layer of landscape fabric. This extra layer will form an additional barrier to keep the weeds at bay.

On top of this, weeds could grow and tangle their roots through the substrate and return with a vengeance. Therefore, it’s crucial that you lay down the second layer of fabric.

Just like with the first layer, you should use water-permeable landscape fabric to prevent water from pooling underneath and create a favorable environment for weeds to grow in.

Note: This second layer can decrease water absorption and impact the quality of the soil. While this can be an effective solution to prevent weed growth for a rock bed it would not be a good idea for a garden. See Can You Double Layer Landscape Fabric?

6. Install Edging Borders

After shielding your landscape rocks from any weed threats from below, it’s time to secure the sides. The easiest way of achieving this is by adding edging throughout the perimeter of where the rocks sit.

The edging should be 6″ (15cm) high and run around the entire space. This edge will block out grass or weeds from growing across into your landscape rocks.

On top of this, the barrier also keeps the rocks in place for longer, protecting your property’s aesthetics.

You can use any long-lasting, durable material like wood or metal to create the edging border around the landscape stones. This edging border retains the rocks and keeps them in place while also preventing grass and other weeds from growing across the stones.

Make sure that there are no gaps or empty spaces in the edging, as this could allow the weeds to return quickly.

River rock covering landscape fabric in flower bed.
rocks over landscape fabric.

7. Put the Rocks Back

Now that you’ve laid down the landscape fabric and you’ve installed the border around your landscape rocks, you’re now ready to return the landscape rocks to their rightful place. Pour the rocks out onto the ground and evenly distribute them across the surface.

You can put the rocks back by hand, or to speed up the process, you can use a shovel or even a wheelbarrow.

Take your time to make sure that the rocks are at even depth across the area. This helps the landscape rocks to remain in place for a longer time.

You may need to purchase more rocks if you can see the landscape fabric underneath. Over time, the landscape rocks can fall or be taken; as a result, you’ll need to purchase a top-up of rocks for your garden every now and then.

8. Take Preventative Measures

Now that you’ve installed a protective layer beneath the landscape rocks that will keep the weeds away, it’s time to address some preventative measures you can take to guarantee that the weeds will never return.

See below for some effective treatments that ensure the weeds don’t come back:

Long-Lasting Weed Killers

Weed killers come in a plethora of shapes and sizes. However, certain types of weed killers are designed for keeping weeds away and not just killing them. These weed killers are called long-lasting weed killers.

You can find long-lasting weed killers for a reasonable price at your local garden centers and from online retailers.

Torch Them

Suppose something went wrong when you installed the landscape fabric beneath your landscape stones, and a small locket of weeds has returned.

You can use a commercial chemical product, choose an organic weed killer alternative, or you can just use a blowtorch to burn it away. Burning the weeds down to the roots will prevent them from coming back.

Salting the Ground

Another preventative measure you can take to make sure those pesky weeds stay away for good is to pour a large quantity of salt onto the landscape rocks. This salt will be absorbed by the soil, making it unsuitable for plants to grow.

However, you should avoid this step if you ever want to grow plants in the same area in the future.

Key Takeaways

Weeds growing through your landscape rocks can be a pain to deal with.To keep weeds out of your landscape rocks, remember these key points:

  • Kill the weeds present on the rocks using weed killer or plastic, and dispose of them. 
  • Remove all of the rocks from the area and place them aside for later. 
  • Lay down a layer of landscape fabric that allows the water to pass through.
  • Add a layer of sub-base and another layer of landscape fabric.
  • Put up borders around the space.
  • Put the rocks back and enjoy your weed-free garden.
Willie Moore
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