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How to Stop Weeds in a Gravel Driveway?

This guide will discuss how to stop weeds in a gravel driveway and whether or not weed killer is worth the money.

Weeds, weeds, weeds – they’re a nightmare. Weed control is a significant concern for homeowners, especially those with gravel drives. When considering the cost of a new gravel driveway, pesky weeds are the last thing you want.

There is a vast range of common gravel weed species. From grassy weeds like henbit and purslane to woody weeds such as broadleaf or dandelion, these plants are not afraid of residence on your decorative gravel surface.

Thankfully, with some elbow grease, there are ways to prevent weeds in easy and low-cost methods, from landscape fabric, hot water and salt – we’ve tried them all.

Let’s look at how to stop gravel weeds on your drive and pathways.

5 Ways To Stop Weeds Growing Through Gravel

1) Weed your gravel by hand

If you are dealing with a relatively small area or have only a few problem areas, weeding gravel by hand might be the best solution. Grab the weeds as low down as possible above soil level and gently pull, ensuring you take the roots out with the weed. This will prevent new weeds from regrowing.

This solution will take the most effort; however, it is also the most environmentally friendly method to remove weeds – and will prevent you from using a chemical-based solution that could affect nearby plants. That said, it’s not always the best long-term solution.

Following weed removal, if your gravel driveway has accumulated mud and dirt, it may require a gentle yet effective cleaning. For expert advice and the most effective methods, consult our guide to cleaning gravel driveways, featuring industry-proven techniques regularly used by professionals.

2) Sprinkle rock salt

Rock salt is a great natural way of killing weeds for gravel driveways. It would be best to sprinkle the rock salt around any weeds you can spot. The salt will desiccate the weeds within a few days, killing them on sight.

However, it is essential to note that the salt will eventually seep entirely into the ground, stopping weeds and other plants from growing for quite some time. While this can benefit gravel driveways, keeping them away from flower beds and lawns is always wise. Be conservative when you sprinkle.

3) Use dish soap and vinegar

If you want to avoid using a chemical weed killer, this is an easy-to-make solution that will not damage your garden. You will need an ounce of non-degreasing dish soap for around a gallon of vinegar (or equivalent).

Mix in a spray bottle, spray it on and around the weeds, repeating the process until everything’s covered. For the best results, only use the solution on sunny days without rain. You should also avoid watering any surrounding plants or lawns close to the gravel, as it could wash the solution away.

4) Use weed killer

An obvious solution for weeds in gravel driveways is weed killer. Ideally, you should use glyphosate-based weed killers to kill the existing weeds and prevent more weeds from growing in gravel again soon. 

However, avoiding getting a non-selective weed killer is essential as it will kill any plant life with which it makes contact. Therefore, it will destroy plants, shrubs, and lawns close to your gravel driveway.

Chemical weed killers should get rid of weeds in gravel within a week to two weeks; however, you should re-spray the gravelled area if the weeds have not disappeared.

5) Use a weed burner

Weed burners are still relatively new but have proven to kill weeds efficiently. They essentially burn the whole plant to the roots, thus destroying them and preventing them from regrowing.

However, if your gravel driveway is made of light-coloured pebbles, this may not be the best solution as it can burn the stones of the gravelled area and mark them permanently. You should also be careful where you aim the burner as it could quickly burn the surrounding plants, animals, or people. It is, however, an excellent option for a long driveway as it requires minimal effort!

Why Do Weed Seeds Grow In Gravel

Mastering the prevention of weed growth in gravel driveways is simpler than you might think. The key factors that facilitate weed growth include sufficient moisture in the soil underneath and ample sunlight exposure.

This issue is highlighted as a drawback in our comprehensive gravel driveway pros and cons list, where we explore the various advantages and challenges of opting for a gravel driveway.

Weeds are not common problems for newly laid gravel driveways, as the gravel has not yet settled, and there is nothing to spark their growth.

However, once a gravel driveway has been down for a while and has the chance to deal with a good amount of rain, sun, and travel, grass and grassy weeds tend to grow. 

The seeds of the gravel weed plants can easily make their way into your driveway with the wind from shoes, paws, etc. Once they have made their way into the soil, the gravel helps maintain the soil’s moisture by clouding it from the sun.

The seeds then benefit from the moist soil, the perfect soil pH, and the heat and necessary sun rays that come through, enough to make them grow strong.

Weeds grow in difficult circumstances, so we commonly see them on pavements, even imprinted concrete drives, sprouting from cracks in walls, etc. Your gravel driveway is the perfect, open space with good soil and other elements to help them grow ideally.

You will also commonly find grass sprouts among the weeds, especially as the gravel becomes more firm. Therefore, it makes sense to have a plan for getting those driveway weeds up and moving, whether that means filling up a garden sprayer or dishing out the salt.

How Do I Prevent Future Weed Growth in my Gravel?

First of all, if you don’t have any landscape fabric, weed control fabric, or weed membrane in place, you will need to take an alternative plan of attack.

Consider building a weed barrier around your driveway. The barrier should, ideally, separate your garden soil from your driveway. If you have planting beds, a lawn, or your garden directly touching your driveway, the seeds will have a much easier time developing in the gravel as the soil will eventually mix in with the stones.

Building a barrier will help back the soil and prevent people and animals from carrying too much onto the gravel. You can use pavers, bricks, stones, or tiles to help keep an adequate barrier between the gravel drive and the soil.

This is an excellent solution if you are looking at how to stop weeds from growing in gravel, as it is easy to do by yourself; it is cost-effective, durable, and a natural way to prevent weeds from ever-growing on your drive. 

Clean any organic matter that makes its way onto your gravel driveway, too. Even with a barrier, soil and other organic matter can enter your drive.

Whether you carry gardening equipment, come back from a walk with your dog, have people over, or have left autumn leaves on the drive, organic matter can find its way into gravel drives.

One of the best and most natural ways to keep your gravel weeds at bay is by removing any organic matter and debris that farms onto the driveway. The best thing to do is pull weeds in your gravel with a long-bladed trowel as quickly as possible to prevent potential growth. It could be worth investing in a leaf blower, a power washer (on a spray setting), etc.

You can also pour boiling water on your gravel driveway, although this is only a solution for small areas and during the summer, as you don’t want it to freeze during the winter months.

Remove grass clippings, leaves, plant pots, etc, to prevent unwanted weeds. Add the extra organic matter to a compost pile to keep your garden clean and eco-friendly.

FAQ’s

Does Weed Killer Work Permanently?

While weed killers will eliminate any weeds from gravel surfaces (and other plants if in contact with them), burning the plants at the root will not prevent weeds from growing back forever.

Chemical weed killers can keep gravel weed-free for months; however, weeds in gravel will eventually grow back. That’s why looking for preventative measures like boiling water, not just straight killers, is essential.

A DIY weed killer will also kill weeds but not prevent them from growing back.

What Type of Salt is Best for Keeping Weeds Away?

Since table salt is highly refined and purified, you will likely need more to kill all the weeds in your gravel. To make a decent weed killer, sprinkle table salt liberally or mix it in a garden sprayer with water.

However, rock salt has not been purified, giving it a more crystallised look. It is also much cheaper than table salt, making it a more cost-effective solution for weed problems. You can also use rock salt to make saltwater, although you could sprinkle it over the newly emerged weeds on your gravel driveway.

Do I Need to Purchase More Gravel Once I Remove the Weeds?

You shouldn’t have to buy any more gravel when you remove weeds. However, you must replenish the gravel area if you find yourself short over time.

Last Word

Want to know how to kill weeds in gravel? It might be as simple as removing weeds from the surface with a chemical product, but salt and boiling water work just as well. To prevent weeds from growing in gravel forever, try applying gravel to a weed membrane when laying and removing the entire weed with a trowel when it appears. A gravel surface will be a prime location for pesky weeds but it doesn’t have to be a significant concern.

To have any chance of learning how to stop weeds growing through gravel, it’s time to look for long-term preventative measures. You can hand-weed, remove weeds with chemicals, or even use a home solution for other weeds that return.