Restoring overgrown rock 'mulch'

newbiegardener101February 22, 2012

When we moved in four years ago, our house had an area about 20 ft by 10 ft that was covered in 1-2' stone. There were some bushes and one pine tree planted within that area. Since then, it has been a constant battle to maintain the stone. (I thought stone was supposed to be maintenance free!) Weeds have constantly been coming up between the stones and the pine tree is always dropping its cones and needles onto the stone. This spring, we want to renovate the area and get it looking clean and weed-free again. I'd like advice for the best way to go about this. Over the years, the stones have sunk into the ground several inches. In order to completely remove the stone and lay down new stone or dirt, we would need to dig down several inches... very labor intensive. Another thought was to cover the existing stone with landscaping fabric, then put new stone on top of that. We also considered weeding the area thoroughly, then just trying to use weed killer to keep the weeds out (no new stone). I don't like this idea because we would probably need to douse the entire area with weed killer on a regular basis and I'm not crazy about using so many chemicals. What would you suggest as the easiest or most economical remedy to this situation?

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stoneguy(Zn 7 MD)

You might want to try a weed burner

Here is a link that might be useful: Weed burner supplier

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 8:00AM
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I don't have much advice, but I certainly feel your pain (for the last 12 years). Every place in my yard where you might want to plant or walk was covered with the stuff. I've moved a lot of the rock (actually giving a lot away to some misguided soul who wanted it). I did keep one patch about the size of yours. It will never be maintenance free. I had some success with moving the top layer of rock, and scraping and blowing off the soil and debris below, and then putting the rock back and maybe adding a bit of a new layer. You can do that in sections. Landscaping fabric has its own problems, as the debris accumulates on it too. When you renovate the rock sections, kill as many of the weeds as you can then. You might find with regular maintenance after that there will be fewer weeds. Try high strength vinegar in place of weed killer. It will be easier to stay ahead of younger weeds. I have a little battery powered blower that I use every few days during the outdoor season to keep new debris from settling in. I truly hate these rocks.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 9:39AM
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Thanks for these suggestions. I will be trying them. The weed burner looks fun to use. :) I think a blower is a great suggestion too. I'm glad to know that we're not the only ones struggling to maintain our stone area.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 9:42PM
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Pudge 2b

If I were faced with your situation I would simply cover the rock with a thick layer of decorative mulch - not stone but rather bark or pine straw or something that will look just as good after the pine needles and cones have dropped, and there would be no need to remove them as it would look like part of the mulch. If it's a good and thick layer of mulch (4-6", it will settle after a while) then the weeds that do manage to germinate will have very weak root systems and will be easy to pull and they can simply be dropped to dry on top of the mulch to dry and become more mulch. Personally I would not use landscape fabric - it doesn't really seem to stop all that much from germinating or growing. You could lay down thick wet newspaper or, even better, wet cardboard and then pile the mulch on top of that. If you can get mulch delivered by the yard that would be a much more economical way than by buying it by the bag.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 3:33PM
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