Pebbles are an excellent ground covering. They come in different colors and sizes, can be used in many different areas, and suppress unwanted plant growth. However, some pesky weeds can grow quickly through pebbles and pea gravel.
To get rid of weeds in pebbles quickly, you can apply weed killer, salt, or boiling water. In order to prevent future weed growth in pebble-topped areas, you can lay landscape fabric, install a border around your pebbles, or top your pebbles off until it they are 3–5 inches deep. There are even more drastic measures, such as preparing your soil with sand and/or mulch before laying landscape fabric and pebbles, as well as flame weeding. We’ll discuss all of these methods so you can choose the best way to keep weeds out of your pebbles.
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8 Tips on How to Stop Weeds from Growing Through Pebbles
1. Weed Killer
There are several good weed killers that will get rid of weeds growing through pebbles. Glyphosate-based weed killers, such as Roundup, are good for killing weeds in pebbles because glyphosate kills the weed membrane and washes out of the soil relatively quickly. As long as you don’t spray any nearby desired plants with Roundup, they should be unharmed.
Often, you want to make sure no plants grow in pebble-covered areas. For those purposes, we recommend Roundup 365. It not only kills any existing weeds, but it also prevents plants from growing in that area for up to 1 year after spraying. It’s a great option for fighting back against pebble-invading weeds.
Apply a pre-emergent weed killer in spring or fall to prevent weed growth in the future. If the weed problem continues, considering using broadleaf weed killers like 2,4-D or a pre-emergent, post-emergent combo like Atrazine. Simply mix the right amount in a spray bottle and apply directly to any weed problem areas to kill weeds down to the weed root.
As an alternative to commercial weed killers, salt can be used to kill weeds growing through pebbles. Salt naturally dehydrates soil, killing plants, which makes it difficult for new plants to sprout.
To apply salt in small areas as a form of weed control, we recommend dissolving 1 cup of salt in 3 cups of boiling water. Once the salt has dissolved, pour the saltwater on the desired area. This method keeps salt from blowing away during the spreading process.
For large areas, boiling salt in water may not be practical. In this instance, spread salt on the pebbles or landscaping rock by hand and immediately water the area to pull the salt down into the soil beneath the pebbles.
Any time you are applying salt to the ground, keep in mind that salt kills all types of plants. Be careful to ensure saltwater runoff does not reach areas of your lawn and garden where you wish plants and grass to grow.
3. Boiling Water
Don’t want to bother with a chemical weed killer or salt? One of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to kill a few weeds growing through pebbles is to pour boiling water on them.
Simply boil a kettle and pour it out on the weeds you wish to kill. Boiling water destroys plant cuticles and essential systems, killing them. While this method may be effective on a few dandelions growing in your gravel driveway, it’s probably not optimal for weed control in large areas.
4. Flame Weeding
So, you want to destroy weeds growing through your pebbles but you want to do it without introducing chemicals or salt to your yard? Your answer is here—flame weeding.
A great flame weeder can be purchased for the same cost as a bottle of weed killer and will do the job just as effectively. Propane flame weeders allow you to easily weed large areas with pebbles, landscaping rock, or decorative stone. Simply roast the weeds and move on.
Flame weeders are a great choice for areas with pebbles, gravel, or paving stones because there is a decreased chance of setting other nearby vegetation on fire. However, it’s important to exercise caution, especially during dry weather or in drought-affected areas. We do not recommend using a flame weeder if there are wood chips, organic mulch, or anything flammable nearby.
5. Lay Landscape Fabric Beneath your Pebbles
If you’ve recently gotten rid of weeds beneath your pebbles, you don’t want them to come back. One of the best barriers against weed growth is permeable landscape fabric, which allows water to reach the soil, but keeps weed seeds from taking root.
You can apply landscape fabric as a ground cover beneath your pebbles by raking the pebbles to one side and applying the fabric in sections, or by temporarily removing the pebbles, laying landscape fabric, and then replacing the pebbles. Essentially, this creates a weed barrier to stop weed invasion.
We recommend using a weed fabric that is ultra-thick to prevent even a single weed seed or unwanted grass from getting through.
6. Install an Edging Border Around Your Pebbles
A metal edging border 3-5 inches high around your pebbled area or rock bed is a great weed prevention solution. It provides several benefits:
- Prevents weeds and other plants from sending roots under your pebbles and landscape fabric and invading from the outside.
- Keeps your pebbles contained, preventing spreading and thinning of your ground covering. The thicker your pebble covering, the less likely it is for weeds to sprout.
- Keeps dirt out of your pebbles, making it harder for weeds to sprout between them.
Think of edging borders around your pebbles as a wall discouraging weed invasion. They can go a long way toward keeping your pebbled areas weed-free.
7. Top Off Your Pebbles
To be effective as a ground cover, pebbles, gravel, and crushed stone work best when they are applied in a layer 3-5 inches thick. Any thinner, and it is relatively easy for seeds to reach the soil and take root.
If your pebble ground covering has grown thin due to compaction from foot and vehicle traffic, or from being spread beyond its original boundaries, it may be a good idea to top off the area with some additional pebbles to prevent weed growth.
8. Prepare the Soil Beneath Your Pebbles
Whether you’re trying to reclaim a weedy pebbled area or planning to lay new pebbles, it may be a good idea to go the extra mile. To prevent weeds from sprouting through your pebbles, follow these steps:
- Remove any existing pebbles from the area.
- Weed exposed soil via your preferred method.
- Apply a 3-inch layer of sand or mulch.
- Lay landscape fabric.
- Apply a layer of pebbles 3–5 inches thick.
This double layer of weed prevention, with the mulch or sand, should add a lot of extra protection against weeds. Even if your landscape fabric is punctured by vehicle traffic, mulch should work to stop weeds from taking root.
9. Consider Replacing the Gravel or Pebbles
If you’re dealing with weeds on a gravel driveway, and nothing seems to work, consider replacing the pea gravel drive space with asphalt or concrete. Just be sure to prepare the driveway properly to prevent weeds from growing through the asphalt.
You can also consider putting in a paver patio or brick patio if the area allows for it. Sealing pavers create a weed barrier and prevent weeds from reaching the surface level.
Pebbles and Gravel: A Weed-Free Zone
Weeds can mar the beauty of a beautiful pebble ground covering. To remove existing weeds in pebbles, you should use a glyphosate-based weed killer, such as Roundup. Natural alternatives to chemical weed killers include salt, boiling water, and propane-fueled flame weeders.
To prevent weeds from invading your pebbles, prepare the ground beneath the pebbles with a weed barrier fabric. Also, consider adding an edging border to contain the pebbles or a paver patio to keep even a single perennial weed from returning.
There are a number of very strong and long-lasting solutions for weed control in pebbles. By removing weeds and adding barriers against their return, you can keep your pebbles weed-free for years to come.