Gravel can provide a visually pleasing and cost effective landscaping option in areas where you want permanent mulch, such as along paths, in low-water garden beds, or in dry creek beds. One of the main concerns is preventing weed growth in these gravel areas. Weed prevention starts at installation. The following tips can help you avoid this issue.
Tip #1: Install a strong base
The base beneath the gravel will go a long way toward preventing weed encroachment from below. Digging out the top 6 inches or so of soil will remove most existing weed seeds. Then, lay down a layer of crushed stone to a depth of a couple of inches. Most weeds have issues penetrating through crushed stone, especially if it is tamped down firmly. You can then top this with your gravel of choice. If you aren't sure whether you want to keep the gravel forever, install a layer of landscape fabric beneath the crushed stone to make future removal easier.
Tip #2: Use edging
Often weed growth is actually no more than encroachment into the gravel from the neighboring lawn. You can minimize this issue by installing a suitable edging around the gravel section. Keep in mind grass roots can spread beneath edging or grow over the top if the wrong type is chosen. To prevent this, choose an edging that extends about 4 inches underground and protrudes a couple of inches above ground. You can use vinyl edging, bricks, concrete curbing, or large stones – but you will need to bury them partially in the soil to block root encroachment.
Tip #3: Practice routine maintenance
Even proper installation may not prevent all weed growth. This is because new seeds will blow into the gravel area and sprout. You can cut down on this by first cleaning out the gravel regularly. Pull up plants as they die and use a leaf blower to blow out fallen leaves. This cuts down on the amount of organic matter that turns to soil. Then, treat the area with a broad spectrum herbicide. Treatments in spring, midsummer, and early fall will tackle the worse of the weed problems. The key is to kill the weeds before they can set seed and reproduce. You can try to pull the weeds, but this can be difficult to do in a gravel bed.
For more help, contact a landscape materials company in your area.