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Weed strategy for gravel

 
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I'm wondering if anyone has any effective means of dealing with weeds in gravel. We have recently taken on a property with a gravel drive and paths - and it wasn't long before 'weeds' started appearing. I've spent a good few days pulling weeds all over the property, but as is the age old problem, its merely days before they are back and another few days of work are needed. The gravel is definitely in need of updating and increasing in places, but it would be an enormous expense, not to mention a huge volume of material, to introduce enough to completely kill off any weeds.

I have had a few ideas but nothing that really works in my view:

Replace gravel paths with another material - grass or wood chips. Expensive, labour intensive, would mean a yield at a later date for the garden. Probably not a good idea on the driveway.
Burn the weeds - if I can remove any dangerous materials from under the gravel (there is degraded plastic sheeting in some paths), this strikes me as a very fast way of removing weeds when they poke up. Fast, but feels quite extreme and merely kills, rather than actively deals with the weeds.
Plant the gravel - I don't think this would work, but I had a thought that at least on the driveway, I could move gravel from the middle of the drive and actively cultivate this area, maybe with some hardy grasses or something that could be used on the garden. I could use the surplus gravel to fill pot holes but this doesn't really deal with weeds anywhere but the middle of the drive.

I'm sure nobody is keen on being on their knees for days on end, pulling weeds so does anyone have any strategies they have employed to at least minimise this ongoing issue in this medium?
 
pollinator
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Hi Mj. I agree with your assessment about the replacement strategy. That would be a lot of continuous work.

I recently suggested a flame weeder to family with a rock garden. They had been using roundup previously. Another option that might work is spraying with cleaning-strength vinegar. Also, if you have access to crushed lime to top up your gravel, and if the stuff growing in your gravel doesn't like the corresponding change in pH, that might do it for you, as well as filling in air spaces and blocking out sun access.

I hope you find a solution you like. Good luck, and keep us posted.

-CK
 
pollinator
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Every time I have boiling water left over, I pour it on weeds close to the house. While unlikely to handle all of your issues, it might be a useful piece in your strategy.

I also have gravel paths and roads on my property. Some weeds I mow, some I pour boiling water on, some I just leave. My plan is to not add more gravel to the paths, just the roads and transition the paths to rock with either sand or sand and concrete, but this will be gradual.
 
Mj Lacey
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Chris Kott wrote:Hi Mj. I agree with your assessment about the replacement strategy. That would be a lot of continuous work.

I recently suggested a flame weeder to family with a rock garden. They had been using roundup previously. Another option that might work is spraying with cleaning-strength vinegar. Also, if you have access to crushed lime to top up your gravel, and if the stuff growing in your gravel doesn't like the corresponding change in pH, that might do it for you, as well as filling in air spaces and blocking out sun access.

I hope you find a solution you like. Good luck, and keep us posted.

-CK



Hmmm - lime is a good idea, I could likely source some. As silly as it sounds, I hadn't thought about spraying non poisonous substances. Thanks.
 
pollinator
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My gravel driveway looks like a lawn too. My neighbor just had a house built and they way they did the gravel driveway was to take over a foot of soil off which brought it down pretty close to subsoil. Then they dumped lots and lots of gravel in that one foot deep, 15 foot wide trench. (I'm not sure where the water goes)

I just graded my top soil to give it a crown and then spread gravel pretty thin but it was all I could do with a lawn tractor with a grader blade and not a lot of money for gravel. So I have to mow my driveway. At least it keeps us from spinning tires when it rains. We have slick clay here.
 
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Try this...Put vinegar in a spray bottle and add a teaspoon or so of dish detergent. Spray on the offending weeds. The detergent gets the vinegar to stick to the weeds. If you really don't want the stuff to grow back, add a half-cup of so of salt. I don't use the salt but the other works great at the bottom of a chain-link fence. (I hate weed-eating chain-link.)
 
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Thanks for bringing this up!  

We moved to a house with a gravel drive late last year and are just discovering this issue for ourselves.  I know I could pull the weeds easily but, besides there being too much surface area, it's just not what I want to be doing with my time.  I haven't started mowing them, either, for fear of throwing gravel through glass and just because I don't want to encourage their further spread.  I also don't have a weed-eater/string trimmer at the moment so that's not an option.  

The vinegar and soap solution is definitely worth a try as I can mix that up in my handheld sprayer for fast delivery.  Does anyone have an idea of what proportions to use for a one or two gallon sprayer?
 
Marie Grace
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I use about a teaspoon of dish detergent in 2-3 cups vinegar. Sorry but I got threatened with an F in Home Ec in jr high for not measuring when we cooked. I apparently still haven't learned.
 
gardener
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Burn 'em.  

https://www.amazon.com/Red-Dragon-BP-223-SVC/dp/B002LH46KU/ref=asc_df_B002LH46KU/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=198123788296&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=12759618354321898956&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9031059&hvtargid=pla-352077517177&psc=1


Black plastic mulch also works well to smother them.
 
gardener
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another vote for torching them or else using vinegar.
 
pollinator
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Same problem here, and almost everyone has gravel drives! The main way to keep them clear is raking. so you get a rake type thing that goes on the back of your lawnmower and you rake it WEEKLY that will keep the weeds off. However we also just bought a house with a large gravel drive and courtyard.. we actually mowed it the other day! and do not own a lawn tractor (we do have a full sized tractor but no implements). I can say that on shallow gravel with a lot of compost anything that only kills the weeds does nothing, they are back from blown seeds within a couple of weeks.
I would not expect lime to do much most weeds (here anyway) can tolerate an awful lot of lime.
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
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The really great permie solution is to install those permeable meshes or drive kits, where the structural material distributes the weight of tires and people while still allowing the turf to grow up through it. Oh, you'd have more to mow, but it would do more for you, too.

-CK
 
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Hi MJ, just curious, what concern are you trying to address?  Is it the aesthetics, or something else?  In my experience, gravel begs for weeds to grow up through it. It is permeable, and the stone and fines do a great job of acting as a mulch, conserving moisture to nurture the little weed seeds till they sink deep roots.  Unless it is heavily trafficked, it will grow weeds. Look at any gravel driveway with a strip of grass down the center.  Honestly, it is easier to get grass and weeds to grow in my gravel driveway where I don’t want them than it is in my pasture where i try everything to get it going!

It isn’t necessarily bad though - if the point of the gravel is to support foot or vehicle traffic, it will still do that even with the weeds or grasses growing through it. It likely even helps reduce erosion and washing away of the gravel in heavy rain events, and doesn’t absorb as much heat. You would need to mow it periodically tho, so that’s a negative. It might also be somewhat more slippery when wet, depending on how thick it gets.

I think the best option if it is for appearance is to invest in a landscape rake for your tractor or riding mower, as Skandi suggests, and rake it regularly.

 
Mj Lacey
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Artie Scott wrote:Hi MJ, just curious, what concern are you trying to address?  Is it the aesthetics, or something else?  In my experience, gravel begs for weeds to grow up through it. It is permeable, and the stone and fines do a great job of acting as a mulch, conserving moisture to nurture the little weed seeds till they sink deep roots.  Unless it is heavily trafficked, it will grow weeds. Look at any gravel driveway with a strip of grass down the center.  Honestly, it is easier to get grass and weeds to grow in my gravel driveway where I don’t want them than it is in my pasture where i try everything to get it going!

It isn’t necessarily bad though - if the point of the gravel is to support foot or vehicle traffic, it will still do that even with the weeds or grasses growing through it. It likely even helps reduce erosion and washing away of the gravel in heavy rain events, and doesn’t absorb as much heat. You would need to mow it periodically tho, so that’s a negative. It might also be somewhat more slippery when wet, depending on how thick it gets.

I think the best option if it is for appearance is to invest in a landscape rake for your tractor or riding mower, as Skandi suggests, and rake it regularly.



Much of it is aesthetic - the nature of the house and the paths is that if I let the weeds run, it looks highly uncared for - which I don't want to be the case! But you raise a fair point in erosion concerns. As noted in the original post, I'm not adverse to cultivating some of the driveway at least, at least then I can take a yield from it from clippings or something.
 
A berm makes a great wind break. And Iwe all like to break wind once in a while. Like this tiny ad:
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