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Non toxic methods for keeping a graveled storage area clear of plants

 
pollinator
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The title pretty well sums it up, I have a fairly large, partially covered, gravel area for storage of lawn and garden things. I managed to convince the landlord to skip the weed fabric since it really just delays the inevitable rise of plants but adds a weird petroleum based fabric in to the mix. I am now sworn to keep the greenery at bay so I'm looking for any recipes anyone has experience with that will destroy the growies without involving serious toxins.

I've heard you can just use vinegar or a mix of vinegar and dish soap. I have also seen it suggested that you just salt the plants. I'll probably experiment with the vinegar simply because it's on hand and I don't worry about it getting into the soil at all. but I'd love other suggestions or confirmation that vinegar with do the trick.

Thanks
 
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The vinegar trick does work, and I'll share my experience using it. I have used not grocery store vinegar but 10% and 15% acetic acid vinegars, with a little dish soap as a surfactant. It works, it's non-selective, burning most everything it contacts. "weeds" tend to die, grasses on the other hand seem to relentlessly recover, requiring regular reapplication during the warm months. I have come across in the past a few things that seemed to have a particular sort of waxy leaf surface, and my vinegar spray just beaded up and rolled off the leaves. It seems to work best when applied late morning on a bright sunny day having a full afternoon to wither and dehydrate.
 
s. lowe
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James Freyr wrote:The vinegar trick does work, and I'll share my experience using it. I have used not grocery store vinegar but 10% and 15% acetic acid vinegars, with a little dish soap as a surfactant. It works, it's non-selective, burning most everything it contacts. "weeds" tend to die, grasses on the other hand seem to relentlessly recover, requiring regular reapplication during the warm months. I have come across in the past a few things that seemed to have a particular sort of waxy leaf surface, and my vinegar spray just beaded up and rolled off the leaves. It seems to work best when applied late morning on a bright sunny day having a full afternoon to wither and dehydrate.


Where do you find these higher percentage vinegars?
 
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Like James, I've switched to using 30% vinegar. I spray it on a sunny day in the late morning after the plant surface has dried off and warmed up. Results are best when there is a full day of sun. The older the weed, the less success. So I check for fresh seedlings each weekend and give them a spritz. When they are tiny, it doesn't take much vinegar to spray them. And as James and I agree, grasses are the most difficult. But in the tiny seedling stage the vinegar gets them.

30% vinegar is available from Amazon.com. I can't buy it locally yet, so I order it online. The last order I got was for $79 -- 4 gallons in a case. Since it was prime, thus free shipping for me, it comes to $20 a gallon. I can live with that price. Now that I have access to 30% vinegar, I've retired my propane flamer. The flamer is faster, but requires the use of propane, which I am gradually moving away from.
 
James Freyr
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I've been buying 30% vinegar like Su has, but I've been cutting mine with water 50/50 to make a 15% vinegar. I have tried diluting it to 10%, but 15% seems to yield better results. In my location in Tennessee, I find 15% works very well, and I am able to double my vinegar and make it last twice as long. If I may offer a suggestion, open/pour/mix/fill containers outdoors. I did it in my garage the first time, and the 30% vinegar vapors wafted right up and burned my nose and it's really unpleasant. Maybe it was because I was standing right over it, but I prefer to work with it outside now. I also choose to wear gloves, 30% vinegar can burn skin too.
 
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You can buy higher percentage acetic acid at places that supply industry (up to 90% concentration acids can be found from some industrial supply companies).

Other places to locate higher molar acids and bases are scientific supply companies, If you have a local high school, you might be able to locate where the science teacher orders supplies from. If you have a local college, bingo, the chemistry department will have a source for certain.

All acids that are 2 molar and higher concentrations have the ability to do serious damage to human skin, eyes, clothing, etc. Wearing a rubberized apron, boots, gloves, eye shield, head cover is advisable any time you are handling such corrosive items.

Redhawk
 
s. lowe
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[quote=Bryant RedHawk]You can buy higher percentage acetic acid at places that supply industry (up to 90% concentration acids can be found from some industrial supply companies).

Other places to locate higher molar acids and bases are scientific supply companies, If you have a local high school, you might be able to locate where the science teacher orders supplies from. If you have a local college, bingo, the chemistry department will have a source for certain.

All acids that are 2 molar and higher concentrations have the ability to do serious damage to human skin, eyes, clothing, etc. Wearing a rubberized apron, boots, gloves, eye shield, head cover is advisable any time you are handling such corrosive items.

Redhawk[/quote]
Yikes Dr Redhawk, as a rule I try to keep caustic substances out of my garden, I think I'll seek out some 20-30% acetic vinegar and experiment with dilution. Although it's good to know where to look for a true "nuclear" option!
Adding on to that, with any extreme acid or base effectively destroy foliage? I've sprayed ph 10 water as a fungicide before and it didn't seem to harm to leaves
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau S. Lowe, sadly, if you are using any acetic acid (or other acids for that matter) that are listed as above 5%, you are going to be using a substance that will erode most minerals it contacts, some metals won't be affected but most of our organic compounds will be effected in some way.

pH is not the best indicator when it comes to these substances, a pH of 3 is normal for sulfuric acid, concentration of that acid doesn't really matter, the pH will always be in the 3 range.
Acids and Caustics have a place, but it usually is held to cleaning containers or spray vessels instead of use on soils. These chemicals came into popular use by gardeners only because the large corporations that deal with agriculture promoted their use.
On my farm we normally don't use anything but sea salt, occasionally we have to deal with fire ants, the one critter that gives us fits because it is so hard to control them without the use of chemicals I prefer to leave on store shelves.
In other threads I've talked a little about our use of hot water (boiling just before application to the fire ant hill), ammonia, vinegar(5%) and salt water (poison oak and ivy killer).

My wife has announced her intent to get rid of the fire ants once and for all, this will involve the use of some specific poisons apparently. My job at hand is to limit the toxicity area to as small a foot print as possible should she resort to taboo items for controlling ants.

Use of caustic or acidic items in gardens is not particularly wise in my own opinion and experience has shown that it can take longer to get the land back to productive when such products are used for any reason.
Acids and caustics work by electron exchanges taking place, this action is what corrodes metals, flesh and most other items they come in contact with, the only truly exempt items are glass and some plastics, most every organic material will show signs of the effects of the acid or base, depending solely on concentration of the substance used.

Redhawk
 
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I care for a gravel parking area. I keep the weeds down by tilling periodically.
 
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Depending on the area, I might suggest a weed torch. You literally burn the plant at emergence. Only the isolated gravel intruder suffers.

-CK
 
Bryant RedHawk
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That is probably the best method for the soil Kola Lofthouse, tillage is disturbance and disturbance is nature's method of controlling things like plants you don't want where they decided to grow.
You can even use a garden fork or (better) a broad fork, to loosen the soil for lifting the unwanted plants out.
 
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Would compaction work?
Soil compaction seems to be the enemy of growing things.
No-till farmers advocate permanent beds and permanent pathways so that the effect of compaction is mitigated.
Compacted wheel tracks on dirt roads usually don't grow much.  (also due to mechanical action of tires on plants)

Is the gravel all one size? or does it contain stone dust as well? The latter would compact quite tightly, while the former is a bit like marbles and will always be shifting.

Another thing to consider is maintenance. Keeping leaves, grass clippings, and soil from collecting on and infiltrating into the gravel (making the area fertile) will help.
We have a loose gravel path in one of our gardens and a few times over the past ten years we were lax about fall cleanup and left leaves on the path in a few places.
Those areas now have soil within the gravel, and plants readily grow there. Some are flowers self-seeded from others we planted nearby, which is fine and we transplant them, but the "weeds" also grow.

EDIT: I just saw that Joseph Lofthouse and Dr. RedHawk and I just cross posted... advocating the exact opposite thing I suggested! I also agree with them, as this falls under my call for maintenance. ;-)
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Great point Kenneth, if we think of gravel as a mulch, and apply it in depths that we would use mulch, it will go a long way at keeping the unwanted plants from germinating and growing.
Compaction is indeed the enemy of growing plants as well as the enemy of worms, and the other macro organisms of the soil, it will even impact the microorganisms greatly.

Redhawk
 
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I'm wondering, if boiling kills the weeds, and vinegar does, too; would boiling weak vinegar be an even better killer? I'm thinking that a lower strength (5%) vinegar that was boiling hot, could kill the weeds without doing the destruction that stronger vinegar does?

Of course, it's rather a pain to boil that much vinegar, and it's hard to apply over a large area. At least, it was for me the one time I tried it. Maybe someone has ideas on how to apply boiling liquids evenly and safely over an area?

 
Bryant RedHawk
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The only thing I've had total consistently good results from using  was an accidental spillage of Liquid Nitrogen, it froze everything it touched and that spot of dirt stayed that way for over 8 months, no matter what I tried to get it to make a comeback faster.
That happened during a trial period of work on a federal project I had landed, set the whole thing back a year, all because I got clumsy and kicked over the container while it was open.

Nicole, if you boil vinegar, it concentrates it by how much water volume is lost. I'd recommend just using a few gallons of 5% acetic acid (store vinegar) instead, hot acid does nasty things to what ever it touches.
I've gotten rid of hog leg bones within an hour by using heated nitric acid in the lab. (someone (not me) wanted to know just how long it would take to dissolve away a cow femur, didn't have one available but did have the hog leg bone.)

Just for information, if you are using acid have a large (5 to 10 gal.) pail or carboy filled with baking soda (1 box arm& hammer) to 2 gal. water dilution), if you should spill the acid on you, pouring this solution on the spill area will stop the reaction or at least slow it so you don't dissolve.
If you are using a base (caustic like lime) then vinegar is the neutralizer to have ready at hand.
 
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Chris Kott wrote:Depending on the area, I might suggest a weed torch. You literally burn the plant at emergence. Only the isolated gravel intruder suffers.

-CK


This was my first thought, as long as it's not the fuel storage area (the OP mentioned lawn stuff)...... it's very effective!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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The gravel parking area that I maintain is about 6"  deep of one size of gravel. Therefore it doesn't compact. And it's on the top of a hill, so organic matter doesn't accumulate on it. I only till the top inch. Just enough to break off the plants. I could maintain it by hoeing. That's rather against the zeitgeist of our age -- using chemicals, propane, or machines to do what can easily and joyfully be done by manual labor.

 
Su Ba
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I've been using a weed torch for a couple of years. It only works well for me on emerging seedlings. But flashing emerging seedlings really works, though it's something you have to be diligent about doing weekly or the baby weeds grow too large.

Another downside in my opinion are that its a pain in the neck having to drag a 5 gallon container of propane around with me. I started out by using a pull behind dolly, but that turned out to be a nuisance for where I needed to use the flamer. The other downside is the fact that I'm using propane. That by itself irks me. I'm trying to reduce my petroleum dependence. And I can't use the flamer in my gardens because I'm using mulch which could burn. Just what I need to do in my efforts of protecting the environment is to set the forest on fire!

As for using the 30% vinegar, I'm still adjusting my technique. First of all, I don't soak the soil. I just spray the plant. So the amount being applied isn't very much at all. As with any chemical use (be it salt, soap, sulfur, fertilizer, or even toxic pesticides...gasp), the problems arise when people over use them.
 
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If you can get "Crusher Run" (recycled crushed concrete) and put a layer on top of your gravel.  This stuff compacts and hardens enough to prevent weed growth. You can also go one step further and scatter Portland cement on top of this and rake it in and water for a true solid surface.  
 
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There are steam or hot water weeders that sound like they work well for the sidewalks and gravel of municipal weed control. I'm looking into one for my town, but the overall cost isn't exactly cheap, and you have to trust yourself or the workers with a cartload of boiling water.
 
s. lowe
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I appreciate all of the great suggestions in here. I found some 30% acetic vinegar at the hardware store and will try that first. If it doesn't work we can just dilute it and use it as a cleaner in the house. Flame weeding is out because there is fuel storage in the area and it is semi enclosed behind a residence. Tilling is out for similar reasons, it is a small crowded space and while hoeing might be adequate it would be a real pain in the arse. Like Su Ba I imagine that I won't be spreading tons of the stuff all over but rather targeting small shoots as they emerge. It's primarily a problem of blackberry vines coming up from the neighbors completely unkempt yard, impinging into what is basically our tool shed.
 
                        
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I've been using Burnout (by Bonide) with success. It's only 24% Citric Acid and 8% Clove Oil, besides inert ingredients. It makes the air smell nice while you're going around spraying, tehe.
 
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My gravel drive has an area that isn't as frequently traveled on, thus grew goose grass, thus looked like lawn so less driving on it, thus thicker goose grass.  Running the wheeled string trimmer over it is no fun because of thrown gravel, and so every time i trimmed it back, i did imagine various nuclear options.

The store in town was pitching corn gluten. Sounds like you need to get it in place just before emergence for the hormone to affect seedlings. But then the gluten is a nitrogen application - -which might be great in a lawn or garden, but is unnecessary on gravel.

Still had me wondering about the gluten when the Microstegium vimineum starts up. Anyone have success with corn gluten? How did you manage the timing?

Meanwhile, highish concentration vinegar sounds good for gravel plants, although sounds like the goose grass will be tough if i don't get it early.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Judielaine, If you just want the gravel area to always be gravel, there is an option that even though it sounds really drastic, does work and the side effects do go away with applications of water (rain).
The material is easy to find at almost any hardware store, it is called muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid in the lab), the most common layman use of this acid is brick cleaning of excess mortar, it is a very low pH acid and the bottle concentration needs to be 1:1 diluted (acid into water not water into acid) if you use it on gravel drives for "weed" control.
By the way that goose grass will die and remain dead.

I have resorted to this particular acid two times on our gravel drive to kill the roots of sumac trees.
If you decide to try this, be sure to leave around a 1 foot margin on the drive, this helps keep the grass (or other plants) healthy since there is a buffer zone border.

Redhawk
 
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:If you just want the gravel area to always be gravel, there is an option that even though it sounds really drastic, does work and the side effects do go away with applications of water (rain).
The material is easy to find at almost any hardware store, it is called muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid in the lab), the most common layman use of this acid is brick cleaning of excess mortar, it is a very low pH acid and the bottle concentration needs to be 1:1 diluted (acid into water not water into acid) if you use it on gravel drives for "weed" control.
By the way that goose grass will die and remain dead.

I have resorted to this particular acid two times on our gravel drive to kill the roots of sumac trees.
If you decide to try this, be sure to leave around a 1 foot margin on the drive, this helps keep the grass (or other plants) healthy since there is a buffer zone border.

Redhawk



I have not heard of this before, Redhawk.  Muriatic (Hydrochloric) acid vs Acetic acid:  Is it the concentration that works better than the 30% acetic acid (horticultural vinegar), or is there something about hydrochloric vs acetic acid in general that makes it work better?
 
Diane Emerson
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This topic is of great interest to me, as I am a landscape gardener and many of my clients struggle with weeds growing in their gravel driveways and parking areas.  Now that people are (thankfully) moving away from glyphosate-based herbicides, it is becoming a much bigger issue. Flame weeding is one option, but it uses fossil fuel, and can start a fire, and you have to do it again every couple of weeks. I have also used boiling water, by bringing a hot water jug out into the garden - plugged it into the garage, but one could use an extension cord, and keep filling it up and pouring the boiling water immediately onto the weeds, as I go about other gardening work, listening for the jug to click off.  That is satisfying, like the flame weeder, but the weeds do come back. I have not tried adding soap or salt to the water, which might help.

A hula hoe (aka stirrup hoe), is a great tool for cleaning out the new grass and weeds that come in. This is what the landscape crews use in my area. I like to use this option with high schoolers. The weeds need to be raked off with this option, and you end up losing some gravel.  

Which brings me to the next option: Having a crew come in and put more gravel down. Putting down several inches (at least 3) of 5/8 inch 'minus' gravel, and then compacted, is what I am in the process of doing right now for a client. We had a team get rid of the existing weeds with the hula hoe, and now before they can seed again, we will lay down more gravel and compact it. The 'minus' is important, because this fine material compacts into the spaces that would otherwise be great germinating spots for all kinds of seeds.

And then there is the 20 or 30% vinegar. This really works, but I dislike using chemicals at all, and I would need to have a pesticide applicator's license to use horticultural vinegar on my client's properties, since it is a registered pesticide in Washington State.  

One option I have not tried, but am going to, is the use of heavy cotton canvas laid out over a portion of the gravel driveway for several weeks in the driest part of the year. Lightly covered with pea gravel for camouflage, this will kill the weeds, and once that patch is weed-free, the canvas can be moved to another part of the driveway. Plastic tarps are too colorful, and too shiny, to blend in with the driveway. The light gray color canvas is the right color for the gravel in our area, and there is no plastic used.  One of my clients is keeping her gravel driveway weed free using this method, but she is using a plastic tarp, and it looks awful.  
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Diane Emerson wrote:
I have not heard of this before, Redhawk.  Muriatic (Hydrochloric) acid vs Acetic acid:  Is it the concentration that works better than the 30% acetic acid (horticultural vinegar), or is there something about hydrochloric vs acetic acid in general that makes it work better?



All my horticultural friends think this is extreme but for persistent plants it works fast and last, I use it as my "last resort".
HCL is the formula for hydrochloric acid, the formula for acetic acid is CH3COOH so HCL has one hydrogen atom, one chlorine atom and acetic acid has two carbon atoms 4 hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms.
What that means to gardeners is that the acetic acid can form many more compounds than the hydrochloric acid, the chlorine tends to either be bound up in the soil or it will gas off, meaning less opportunity for bad things to possibly happen.
I have used both on our land with no side effects I didn't want.

HCL is easier to find for most people too. With both you need to be careful of spilling it on yourself or others, including your pets, both can and will cause serious burns on exposed flesh.
I have one friend that made this statement "Most of the tools we use can be a hazard, hence it is wise to be careful and alert when digging in the dirt".

Redhawk
 
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Set aside 30 minutes to work on this project. Get in your vehicle. Drive up and down the driveway. For 30 minutes. Repeat when plants grow back.
Works in New Mexico.
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:The gravel parking area that I maintain is about 6"  deep of one size of gravel. Therefore it doesn't compact. And it's on the top of a hill, so organic matter doesn't accumulate on it. I only till the top inch. Just enough to break off the plants. I could maintain it by hoeing. That's rather against the zeitgeist of our age -- using chemicals, propane, or machines to do what can easily and joyfully be done by manual labor.



The no-till zeitgeist really only applies to areas where you want to grow stuff. Your real problem is the opposite: you don't want anything to grow in your gravel.

Therefore, it seems too me that you'd use hoeing to cut the existing plants. Perhaps, try blowing any fine soil particles out of the gravel, using a rake to stir things up (a two-person job). Be sure to wear appropriate protective gear.

Depending on how compactable your underlying soil is, you might  try a bouncing compactor to super-compact the soil under the gravel (you may have to rake back the gravel to apply the compaction). Then, routine maintenance to keep soil from reforming in the gravel. Dosing any volunteers with the vinegar might also help. If the runoff will not cause problems, you could try putting lime in the gravel and rake it so it settles below the gravel bed.

Physically cutting the weeds will eventually get rid of them, especially if you apply the vinegar on the re-emergant sprouts as soon as they appear. It will take persistance to keep cutting off the reemergence of weeds, so that the roots eventually run out of the sunlight nutrients they need to store energy.

Remember that the highly compacted soil wll increase runoff of precipitation, so you must also consider the ramifications of that vector as well. If you can manage with non-caustic methods, the gravel area might work as a rainwater collector to move water into areas where you actually can use some extra moisture.
 
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Finely ground stock salt works good on most weeds if you apply when they are wet. Bermuda grass likes salt though.
 
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Diane Emerson wrote: One option I have not tried, but am going to, is the use of heavy cotton canvas laid out over a portion of the gravel driveway for several weeks in the driest part of the year. Lightly covered with pea gravel for camouflage, this will kill the weeds, and once that patch is weed-free, the canvas can be moved to another part of the driveway. Plastic tarps are too colorful, and too shiny, to blend in with the driveway. The light gray color canvas is the right color for the gravel in our area, and there is no plastic used.  One of my clients is keeping her gravel driveway weed free using this method, but she is using a plastic tarp, and it looks awful.  



I use carpets, but learned this year that natural materials don't last long.  An old wool rug disintegrated quickly once exposed to weather.  But the carpet I scavenged from a local church renovation was a grey berber weave (not looped) and blended quite well with the gravel.  After 8 years, I can still grab a corner or an edge and drag it wherever it's needed.  Is it shedding plastic particles?  I don't know.  There is very limited traffic over it which might abrade and break the fibers.
 
pollinator
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I vote for more gravel. Of all my customers the drives with 6" of gravel hardly needs any weeding, compared to others which need reweeding every month or so during the growing season. By the time you factor in your time and money buying and applying spray etc several times a year in the long run more gravel is really the sensible option.

Personally I find the flame weeding rather slow and while the vinegar does work it is less effective when it rains, which can happen almost any time in England!
 
Diane Emerson
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Henry Jabel wrote:I vote for more gravel. Of all my customers the drives with 6" of gravel hardly needs any weeding, compared to others which need reweeding every month or so during the growing season. By the time you factor in your time and money buying and applying spray etc several times a year in the long run more gravel is really the sensible option.

Personally I find the flame weeding rather slow and while the vinegar does work it is less effective when it rains, which can happen almost any time in England!



Thank you for sharing your experience with the deep gravel. I suspected that was the case. When I researched creating gravel driveways from scratch, what I found was exactly that: really deep gravel!   I think people cut costs, and put down the minimum, and then sprayed Roundup to keep them clean.  I just got a bid in on 3 inches of 5/8 inch minus (with the fines included) for $3000, for around 4480 square feet, including compacting.  If this can keep the driveway pretty free of weeds for even 2 years, it would be cost effective, compared to hiring a team of folks to spray, hoe, or flame every couple of weeks in our very long growing season. Teams here charge $30 an hour per person.

In saying that, if the canvas works, that would be the cheapest solution of all, even if you have to buy a new heavy duty canvas tarp every year, at $60 for one 10 by 12 foot tarp.

 
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This is not a direct reply to the initial question, but....
Redhawk, regarding fire ants: I totally get why you want to get rid of them. However, those little suckers are useful for one thing at least. Ticks and fire ants do not coexist. Fire ants eat ticks. My sister has a  ranchette in Texas. She and her husband stopped going after the fire ant mounds when they discovered that fire ants eat ticks. They no longer have ticks on their animals, on their grass, on the trees or on themselves, while all their neighbors have a terrible problem with the wee beasties. And since I have just been diagnosed with Lyme disease, I think that's a really great thing!
 
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Holy cow Diane! That’s some expensive gravel! From your numbers, that’s just over 40 yards. Maybe in your area it costs that much, but 3/4 minus is usually around $10/yd, which would be $400 for the gravel itself. I realize you have delivery, raking and compacting, but that’s still not much trucking (4 trips) and labor (1/2 day maybe?) for the additional $2600. Might be worth getting a second price?
 
Diane Emerson
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Julie Reed wrote:Holy cow Diane! That’s some expensive gravel! From your numbers, that’s just over 40 yards. Maybe in your area it costs that much, but 3/4 minus is usually around $10/yd, which would be $400 for the gravel itself. I realize you have delivery, raking and compacting, but that’s still not much trucking (4 trips) and labor (1/2 day maybe?) for the additional $2600. Might be worth getting a second price?



Oh yes, it is very expensive here.  It is an island only accessible by ferry, and I want the gravel to come from on-island to support our local community.  And I am working on getting 3 bids, but so far, this is the only one that has come in.
 
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All interesting ideas here, most on the acidic side of the spectrum. May I suggest an alkaline solution?

I have been throwing my fireplace wood ash on my gravel driveway for the past months, maybe a quart a day or so on 200 sqft. It's just a trial. Of course the large chunks of ash will stay on top of the gravel, but the fine ash should travel down to the soil where it should give it a good whack to the alkaline. I do keep it away from the acid-loving azaleas and berries obviously. At the moment it's to early to tell if it's effective but I would be very surprised if it's not. Of course you do get these black ash spots but hey I couldn't care less what the neighbors think. Just don't walk it into the house (yuck).

Another solution is just to create shade for your area - duh!

And flameweeding is something I also find very effective. Here in The Netherlands I flameweed a different driveway (200ft long) gravel driveway in 2 hours. I do this every other week (don't let the weeds grow to big!) so that's about one hour per week, but it's a 2500 sq ft area I'm talking about.
 
Julie Reed
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Shade won’t kill weeds. Not long term. Black landscape fabric won’t stop them, and that’s about pure shade plus a physical barrier. Not sure about wood ashes. Maybe a lot over a very long time. But rain will spread the alkalinity.
What would work, is what kills lawns when you have dogs. But you’d have to put up with the odor of pure urine for awhile until it evaporated.
 
Patrick Eckl
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Shade certainly doesn't kill (all) weeds. But it certainly helps minimizing the number of weeds and keeping it weed-free (what this topic is about).
All the methods in this thread combined are probably the best way...
 
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Muriatic/Hydrochloric acid is easily obtainable as it is the acid they use for swimming pools, also called pool acid. Its about pH1 and super acidic can eat through even cement. It will just acid burn/turn white any organic material it comes into contact with and "bleach" it much like chlorine does in pools or to your clothes. Havent tried it myself as I just dig the weeds out and feed em to the chickens

I reckon putting on a layer of cement is still the best way to go. Just pour once and forget about the weeds. Can always put in self watering garden beds over the cement if you ever need to expand grow space.
 
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A rocket mass heater heats your home with one tenth the wood of a conventional wood stove
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