Laying rocks and keeping weeds out!

sonicJuly 30, 2003


I live in Texas and would like to cover part of the area around the front of my house with some white marble chip rocks, with some bushes also. I tried it once, and laid glad garbage gabs over the ground and then put the rocks on top. BUt to my demise alot of these grass like weeds were growing through the plastic and taking over my yard!! Yes through it. What would be the best way to prevent the weeds from growing up. I am trying to do this because I want low maintence!!!!

thanx mark

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bananarama_1(z9b E Cent FL)

When you find a way, let me know!!! We put down river rock because cyprus mulch is much worse. Used the black gardening tarp with the little teeny holes! They still pop up! For the areas away from plantlife, we use RoundUp. All other areas, we use my fingers! :-)

    Bookmark   July 30, 2003 at 9:22PM
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"What would be the best way to prevent the weeds from growing up."

You have to regularly apply a "pre-emergent" herbicide to keep them from sprouting, regularly apply Roundup to the seedlings, or pull and how them.

None of the plastic or fabric stuff is going to give you what you want.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2003 at 9:26PM
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rebow(6 Philly)

i JUST moved a bunch of rocks to a drier area because of the weed problem, I don't like herbicides so I decided it would be easier to pull weeds from mulch than rocks. Where the rocks are now is drier so the weeks hopefully will have less of a chance. Alot of people are talking about cornmeal as an organic weed preventer so I may look into sprikling that on the rocks. check the organic forum for more info

    Bookmark   July 30, 2003 at 10:03PM
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I looked on some other places too, and I should have waited to all the weeds were gone before I layed the rock down. I pulled all the rocks and plasteic up and found that the weeds that were growing through were like creepers. One root had a bunch of sprouts of it!!

I am going to kill everything..won't be hard in AUgust in TX!


    Bookmark   July 31, 2003 at 8:18PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Isn't that white rock hard on your eyes in that Texas sun? How do you keep it clean? With a blower?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2003 at 1:17PM
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The white rock is chipped marble. It is very bright, but I don;t sit and stare at it. It makes a nice contrast against the green bushes and the burnt grass.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2003 at 3:00PM
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To prevent weeds from coming up under rock. You should lawyer at least 9 pages of newspapers down in the area to be rocked, cover that with a DOUBLE sheet of the black landscape fabric. It will take a super long time for the newspaper to breakdown. Also you can put down stuff like vinyl table cloths, pool covers then the black fabric. It's all about the layering of things that prevent the weeds from emerging. You can do it.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2003 at 2:31AM
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I have dug up all the rock and killing the weeds. Well actually teh 108 degree days and the sun are killing the weeds. I will try that layer thing. It sounds like it would work. I just have to remember to leave holes around the bushes to let the water in.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2003 at 1:12PM
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Sonic and all,
It's a battle I have won! I have learned the hard way that effort at first is less work later. I always layer before I lay stone in my landscaping. Did 2 tons of stone this year and put down anything I could get my hands on. Can get stuff to use cheap at garage sales to layer. Table cloths of vinyl really work well. I have used a pool liner and they are very thick. Then use plastic, newspapers, shower curtin liners, or whatever you can that will deter them pesty weeds. Layer it on and no headaches-forever.
But digging out rocks sure sounds hard to me, you are my hero.
You did it.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2003 at 12:06AM
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The rock digging up part sucks... but money wise it was the only option. I put about $100 of rocks down. I need them all!!


    Bookmark   August 7, 2003 at 9:45PM
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Janine Starykowicz

Even if you keep the weeds from growing up, you will get more weeds on top growing down. I have tightly packed pavers set in limestone screenings, and dirt still blows in on top and weeds root in that. Not to mention birdseed.

Between cracks I pull. For stone I rake.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2003 at 12:51AM
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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

You can always use a propane flamethrower to kill the weeds. No pesticide residues, nothing to clean up, and it works instantly. Cost about $60 plus tank.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2003 at 8:45AM
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botanicals4u(zone 6 WV)

I haven't tried this yet, but I have some old carpet that I am planing to put under the rocks I'm laying around my flower beds. I have tried the landscape fabric which in addition to being costly only works a few seasons. I think that any kind of material that water can go through and is thick will work. The many layers of newspaper sounds good, why not discarded linens or clothing with sand between the cracks and underneath. It takes a while, but I 'make' my own sand by washing the soil until all thats left is the sand. Instead of letting weeds grow between the rocks I encourage violets and moss, etc. by stuffing the cracks so the weeds don't get purchase. We don't use chemicals, but have tried a small propane torch, which DOES work on most weeds but burdock. Using low creeping plants for mulch keeps the weed seeds from germinating. Works for me.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2003 at 10:09PM
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You know that strip of grass between the suburban sidewalk and the street? Well, mine was baked to a crisp a couple of years ago, so I replaced it with hardscape -- limestone flagstone.

It is true that weeds will grow no matter how much plastic, landscape cloth, or newspaper you put down first. In fact, newspaper makes a great seed starting medium! Holds moisture!

I have my rocks sitting on sand, with sand between as well. All it takes is one little seed blown from afar, or a teeny scrap of Bermuda grass flung by a weedeater to turn my walkway into a scraggly, fuzzy mess.

I, too am going to relay a section of the stone. This time I may actually set the stones in Quickrete. Or, how bout this for deterring weeds? SALT!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2003 at 5:26AM
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Just my opinion and I know others disagree, but I will never use rock as mulch. No matter what you put under it, it will break down eventually and weeds will come through or start from the top. The job of removing the rocks and whatever is shreadding under it is horrible. You can't just lift and replace, the decaying stuff underneath tears and the rocks get mixed in the soil causing you to have to do a lot of picking, or it falls through the holes where the plants were. It is worse if the rock is sharp like the white marble(I have experience there and my hands will never be the same even with gloves). Also, if you put down an underneith layer that is impermiable to water and air it is very bad for your shrubs. Even the stuff that is supposed to be permiable is not as permiable as nothing. I have removed plastic around a shrub bed and the soil actually had a sour stink to it. My suggestion use wood chips or other organic mulch and add more each year. You will not have nearly as may weeds as bare soil. The ones that you do get will be much easier to remove than with rock and you will be inriching you soil instead of killing it.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2003 at 9:32AM
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gardnpondr(Zone 8)

yeah when you find out, tell me to! ;) The ONLY thing that I know of is Round up. I've heard of using vinegar and I have used salt to kill weeds in areas that I didn't plan to plant anything. But other than that I don't know.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2003 at 6:10PM
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Connie K

Boil water and add table salt, lots of it, about one cup per gallon. Pour this between the cracks, and that should permanently take care of your problem. The salt alters the make-up of the soil so that it can't sustain growth, so be careful you don't let it get near an area you want to be productive.
Also, my experience with vinegar is that it is an excellent weed/grass killer, but needs to be used full strength. Even so, the grass will start to grow back after about six weeks. Plain boiling water will kill weeds/grass also. These methods can be used where you want to continue growing vegetation.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2003 at 8:08PM
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sandra_NY(z4 NY)

I can ditto the problem of using stone as mulch or in pathways.
When I first started gardening in my clay and rocky NY soil I thought I was making clever use of the stones I dug up. I carefully sorted small flat ones and laid them down over weedblock on winding paths I dug out. For two years of drought the paths looked beautiful.
I did start worrying however when I realized the leaves falling onto the paths were turning in topsoil. And then the rains came. Now I have every plant and weed imaginable in the paths. Even friends don't want all the Rose of Sharon, daisies, bleeding hearts, self-heal, ferns.....etc, etc, etc growing there. The plants sheltered by the rock look better than the ones I planted in the beds!!
Now I have to rake all those stones up. I'm overwhelmed- not only at the thought of the backbreaking job but I also don't have the fortitude of the in-control gardening gurus who compel you to rip out anything growing where it shouldn't.
In all, my stone pathways were idyllic in the mind's eye only.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2003 at 9:36AM
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Vinegar (preferably white) sprayed undiluted in the heat of the day on rock bed weeds will kill them - I prefer this as an organic control method to commercial chemicals. It's a lot safer especially if you have kids or pets around.
If the weeds tend to shed the acidic vinegar add only a drop or two of a liquid dish detergent to a quart(the less the better)to allow the solution to "wet out" the vinegar and stick to the leaves. Too much neutralizes the acidity of the vinegar.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2004 at 9:45AM
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Ratherbgardening(PNW 7 or 8)

I wouldn't think it would be a good idea to lay rocks on a non porous material, but then I live in the rainy PNW where I'd end up with puddles everywhere.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2004 at 11:54AM
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I work for a rock yard and live in Arizona. We never suggest putting anything underneath your rock, as it peels up and cracks through your rocks. Good for us, as in a couple years you will order more material, bad for you.

Prior to putting down 2 inches of rock you should till your yard, and then spray your yard down 2-3 different times with something like round up. You then put down your rock and spray the couple of weeds that come up when you need to.

There is a product out there, some kind of beaded crystals, that you can put underneath your rock to prevent weeds. I haven't seen it but I've heard of it. I'm sure it can be bought at a Lowe's or Home Depot.

You don't want to layer down anything if you live in a hot climate. You don't want to put any material under period. It peels up over the years.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 1:49PM
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well roofing paper work as well as landscaping fabric under gravel to keep out weeds?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 11:06AM
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I do not use rocks as a mulch, but I do have a dry stream bed and another area with decorative rocks. I use a heavy amount of newspaper and then a double-layer of the good weed barrier.

My stream bed is made up of all pebbles that I have dug up during gardening (I live on Long Island - a "boulder" here is anything bigger than a foot; a "rock" is anything the size of a fist; we mostly have beach pebbles).

I literally wash all the dirt off my rocks before putting them in the stream.

The rocks you buy in bags MUST BE WASHED as well!!! I bought some pretty rocks for a walk-about around a planter, and I realized that there was so much rock dust in the bag that weeds were bound to grow in it, so they had to be washed first.

Here's my rock-washing technique (using pots with holes doesn't work - all the dirt collects in the bottom):

I have a 2ftx4ft garden cart that is made of a steel mesh, so it drains. I cut a piece of window screen to fit it, then dump a layer of rocks on top and use a sprayer hose to power wash them.

Note: Eventually weeds will grow down into both newspaper and weed barrier. Heavy newspaper will last a few years though. Weeds grow in cedar mulch as well, but they are easy to pull. Be careful with newspaper/ weed barrier if you have groundcover bulbs - they will eventually push their way up and it looks really bad. Also, if you have shrubs, do not put the newspaper too close - the newspaper will block any fertilizer you apply.

DO NOT use impermeable plastics as a weed barrier - you will kill your plants, create puddles, and DESTROY the beneficial soil microorganisms. Plus, when you lift up the plastic (even after a few weeks) it will REEK like a landfill (due to anaerobic decomposition).

Newspaper smothers weeds below ground, but I have just discovered that even doubled-up weed barrier does not stop small weeds from rooting into the ground. I have a small berm that I am trying to create a moss garden on with chunks of recycled concrete, and my moss keeps being invaded by grass, so I laid down a thick layer of weed barrier on the berm last year, then put in the concrete chunks, hoping that would stop weeds. Well, this spring I found a baby Maple seedling that rooted itself through 2-3 layers of weed barrier into the soil beneath. Now I have to remove all the concrete and smother the area with newspaper, then weed barier (seems to be ok for grass weeds), and then I'll probably put down a layer of sand-clay mixture that will harden into cement before the concrete chunks are put back. There is nothing worse than removing weeds from moss - the moss gets pulled up with the weeds.

Even though I washed the rocks for my stream, I cannot keep all the dirt out because leaves fall from the trees and then decompose into dirt. So, if I start getting weeds there I will try either the vinegar or salt-solution remedy (my mother sprays ammonia on weeds that pop up between the bricks along the driveway). All the plants along my stream are at least one foot away from the edge, so hopefully I won't kill them.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 1:02AM
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