There are many things that we do to keep our garden looking tidy and attractive.
We use lawn mowers, weed killers, grass seed- but what about gravel?
Gravel driveways can be a nightmare for homeowners with weeds!
In this post, we will discuss the reasons why weeds in gravel are so common and how you can stop them from coming back year after year!
Why do weeds grow in gravel?
Weeds grow anywhere they have access to sunlight and moist soil.
Properly installed new gravel driveways will have nothing for weeds to grow in. However, over time weeds will start coming up during the wetter months when plants are able to thrive with additional water and light.
Over time sediment builds up in the gravel, particularly in areas close to the edges.
The sediment comes from the rain, from dust, from bird droppings and other sources. When there is enough for weeds to take hold it won’t long before the weeds will be taller than your car tyres.
Weeds in gravel grow from seeds that are blown by wind or carried on the paws of animals or on people’s shoes.
The weed seeds lie dormant until they find a suitable place to grow and spread their roots into the gravel, making it hard to get rid of them without removing all the weeds in that area – not just those visible!
If your gravel doesn’t have a weed proof membrane or fabric foundation, and you don’t remove the weeds regularly, it’s not long before there are more weeds than gravel in your driveway.
How to get rid of weeds in gravel
The first and most obvious method to get rid of weeds it to hand weed the gravel. This is a very time consuming and labour intensive task that may not prove to be the most effective.
Even if you are prepared for them, it can take hours of bending down, pulling out weeds by their roots, and spreading over fresh weed-free gravel before the next crop of weeds appears.
To make this job easier you can use a hoe or a weed picker to remove the weeds.
Weed killer for gravel
A very popular option for gravel is weed killer.
The broad categories of weed killer are contact, systemic, residual, selective and non-selective. Each different type has a specific use that could harm you if not chosen wisely by the user.
Contact weed killer
Contact herbicides can only enter a leaf’s stomata if that plant is actively growing and during daylight hours while photosynthesis takes place.
Such chemicals must be applied early in the day so that it has all of its natural sunlight exposure for maximum effectiveness against green foliage as well as access to any open stomata on those leaves by entering through the.
They are best applied from March until September since organisms do not have active growth or use sun-exposed surfaces outside of these periods annually due to seasonal changes!
Systemic weed killer
If you want your weeds gone for good, it’s best to use a systemic weed killer. This type of weed killer works its way through plants and kills everything including the roots.
Systemic weed killers take 7 – 10 days to take effect and you need to make sure they are not washed away by rain in the first few hours after application.
The best time to apply them is in early spring before weeds have started growing but be careful not to put it on your flowerbeds or the roots of ornamental plants and shrubs!
Residual weed killer
Residual weed killer can be a good idea on gravel but you need to use it with care.
Residual weed killer poisons the ground and stops weeds growing until it is washed from the soil.
Just be aware that if you spray the gravel then walk into a grass area or near other plants, like flowers for example, they too will die off due to exposure!
Spraying weed killer
Weed killers come in many different forms.
Some are sprayed from a bottle, which is appropriate for smaller areas with only 2-3 weeds to kill off.
However, if you have larger or more persistent problems then we recommend getting hold of an herbicide sprayer that will allow you to put whatever weed killer in it.
The weed burner is a relatively new tool that has gained popularity in the last several years.
Weed burners are essentially heat guns, and they’re great at getting rid of weeds without all the pulling you might have done before.
Just walk around your driveway with this thing on full blast, burning away any individual plants it can find!
Weed burners don’t always work as intended; chances are there will still be some stubborn little seeds left behind to grow again later down the line.
But if you want an easy way out for dealing with pesky weeds or just trying to restore order back into your garden while preserving its natural beauty, then these tools should make things much easier than ever before!
Is salt solutions a viable way to keep weeds at bay?
Salt has been used throughout history as an effective means of stopping things from growing.
It is no less potent today. A high salt content can make earth unsuitable for plants, and with its low cost it is one of the most affordable ways to do so.
You can use salt to keep unwanted weeds away for up to a year. However, it will kill any vegetation nearby and should not be used on your garden or flowers. The rain will wash away the salt over time.
Ultimately all there methods will need repeating over and over again unless you find the root cause…pun intended. The nest section looks at how to prevent weeds in gravel coming back.
How to prevent weeds in gravel coming back
Weed proof membrane
Lay a weed proof membrane or fabric foundation before laying the gravel.
This will stop weeds from growing in your driveway and spreading their roots into it. It’s not too big an expense to do this, but you’ll save many hours of work avoiding weeding if you lay a good foundation first!
Some weeds will even get through this membrane, unfortunately there is no solution which will guarantee complete protection from weeds.
Seeds can also blow in and germinate on top of the weed membrane
Have a good barrier between the gravel and the rest of the garden.
Typically weeds will begin to show at the edges of the gravel where soil has made its way in from planting beds and other surfaces.
A quick and easy way to stop this happening is having a solid barrier which is either wide or tall enough to stop soil spilling out in to the gravel.
Remove the weeds as soon as the appear
Removing weeds as soon as they appear also lets you ensure they never get big enough to spread their roots into the drive way or lay down their seeds.
It can be a chore but if you let weeds get out of hand you can have dozens of them in a short space of time as they reproduce and seed themselves with alarming speed.
Walk on it less
Our shoes, pets and any lawn chairs we use to plonk down on the drive can all leave their mark in a layer of weed seeds.
Every time you walk on your gravel, that’s another few hundred new weeds added.
This may not be practical as your gravel could be a driveway but its still good to know what the causes of weeds are so we can minimise them.
Clean up organic matter and debris
Rake up any grass clippings or leaves left over and add them to the compost heap. Any organic matter which is left for too long will degrade and provide a fertile breeding ground for weeds.
Do you need to replace your gravel
We have seem many gravel driveways which are beyond repair and at the point where they need to be replaced.
If your gravel is mixed with soil and debris, constantly grows weeds and is not easy to clean, it may be time to replace it.
Washing gravel is basically impossible without the proper equipment so if it can’t be fixed with any of the methods above then it is time to replace the gravel.
Gravel can be a very cost effective driveway solution but it is not as low maintenance as many people think.
However, if you follow the advice above and employ a few techniques that allow for weed control in gravel then your drive way will be looking good without having to spend any money on expensive chemicals or hiring someone to lay down weeds fabric which can also cost more than replacing the gravel.