stop weeds from growing in rocks

A weed-free patch of ground makes the best base for a rock-covered landscape area. Inspect the area before you place landscaping rocks to identify weed problems. You have several options for getting rid of existing weeds. If you aren’t in a rush to put down the rocks, cover the area with plastic and leave it for at least six weeks of hot, sunny weather. This sun solarization method kills the weeds underneath. Digging the weeds out to remove the full roots gets rid of many unwanted plants. Throw away the weeds and roots so they don’t grow again. You can also spray a premixed, post-emergent, non-selective herbicide onto the weeds.

Despite your best prevention techniques, you may notice a few pesky weeds sneaking into your rocks. Pull the weeds as soon as you see them, but don’t leave the plucked plants in your rocks. If possible, move the rocks back from the weed so you can get its root out when you pull. A handheld weeding knife or other small weeding tool helps reach the weed roots between the rocks.

If you don’t get all of the weed roots out of the ground, you’re likely to see more unwanted growth popping up. Additional weed-killing methods can keep the population under control so the rock area isn’t overrun with weeds. A weed flamer is one option that works well since the rocks can withstand the heat and aren’t flammable. A quick blast of heat from the flamer kills the weed. Keep the weed flamer away from any flammable materials, such as your house or wood mulch. Boiling water can have a similar effect on weeds. You can also use a premixed herbicide, such as glyphosate, directly on the weeds.

Start With a Clean Slate.

Landscaping rock creates a low-maintenance ground cover that stays put, unlike lightweight mulch, which can blow away. The rock helps smother unwanted plant growth, but some stubborn weeds find a way to thrive. Weed prevention starts before you put the rocks down and continues with regular maintenance to stop a large-scale weed invasion.

A layer of landscape fabric over the soil blocks the growth of any weeds that you miss when you prepare the site. Secure the fabric using landscape staples so it doesn’t shift under the rock layer. When you start with a new piece of fabric, overlap it with the last piece so you don’t give the weeds a gap to grow through. A border around your rocky area creates a barrier between the rocks and the lawn. Weeds from other areas of the landscape may eventually make their way into the rocky area if nothing is there to block them.

Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.

Use Your Muscle.

Create a Barrier.

You’d be surprised how many people are dealing with this same issue. Weeds are just so stubborn they will grow even through rock, driveway, sidewalks, pavers, gravel, and mulch. It’s quite impressive, actually.

Note: Don’t overuse rock salt as it can change the structure of the soil and make it uninhabitable to other plants for an extended time.

Selective herbicides target only the specific weeds while spearing the other non-invasive plants. Buy a selective weed killer if you have decorative flowers, grass, and succulents planted in your rock bed.


Non-selective weed killers kill all plants. They are ideal for removing weeds from rock beds without decorative vegetation and for clearing driveways, sidewalks, and paver patios.

Not just any kind!

Another natural way to kill weeds in rocks is to use good old rock salt or table salt . The salt kills weeds by drawing the moisture out of them and dehydrating them. This applies to other plants as well! Be careful not to get any on the plants that you want to keep.

Liquid weed killer will get into nooks and crannies where your garden hoe can’t reach. You won’t need to lift a single stone to kill the roots underneath.

Sprinkling rock salt directly on the soil doesn’t give you enough precision . Precision is critical when working on rock gardens adorned with decorative plants. The root systems of the plants may be reaching further than you think. You might be sprinkling salt right where the roots are.

Contact weed killers kill only above-ground parts of the plants that come in contact with the active ingredients. This type of herbicide destroys the seeds that lay on the soil as well, to prevent them from sprouting.

Dilute Rock Salt In Vinegar.

Mix rock salt with hot water in a 1:3 ratio. Add a little bit of liquid dish soap to it. It will help break the surface tension of the water and increase the absorption as a result.

The best long-term solution for your weed invasion is landscaping fabric . If you are planning on building a new rock bed in your backyard, or plan on renovating the old one, don’t hesitate to lay down landscaping fabric first.

Turns out, you don’t have to spend loads of money on the best weed killer for rocks either . You can simply use some of the staple pantry items that you already have at home. Let’s take a look.

You don’t have to look far to find the best weed killer for rocks. You have all the ingredients to make a natural weed killer in your pantry. Try out different methods and see which one works for you the best.

Selective Vs. Non-Selective.

A natural weed killer for rocks will let you solve your weed problem in a safe and environmentally-friendly way . An organic weed killer will give you a sense of security, knowing that your kids and pets are not exposed to harsh or potentially toxic chemicals when playing in the backyard.

Concentrated herbicides are super potent and need to be diluted with water before use, according to the instructions printed on the packaging.

Another natural weed killer for rocks is white vinegar. The acetic acid will burn the foliage and kill weeds in your rock bed within hours.

Systemic weed killers destroy the weeds from the roots . They are good for eradicating perennial weeds , like bindweed, ragweed, dandelion, and others.

The most effective way to kill weeds in rocks is by using a weed killer .

Even the best landscape fabric will break down after a few years, meaning weeds will grow again.

Add plenty of compost to the soil before you lay anything under the landscaping rocks. You will not be able to do this after you have covered the ground and laid your rocks on top.

It is also easy to handle as it comes in a roll. When you lay the weed barrier fabric, overlap the pieces so weeds cannot grow through any gaps. To hold the fabric in place, cover it with rocks; alternatively, you can use landscape staples along the edge. Spread the staples the same distance apart for best results.

Plastic does not decompose quickly and can be heavy to remove. It can also be cumbersome to dispose of.

If you choose these to control weeds, put them down as layers of several sheets. This will slow decomposition down. Ensure to overlap each layer to minimize weeds growing up in any gaps. Be careful not to use too much newspaper if you plan to grow plants in the area because this can lead to an excess of carbon in your soil. You may need to use a high-nitrogen fertilizer to compensate. Do not use any colored pages of newspaper to prevent chemical seepage into your soil.

Landscape Fabric.

Woven – this fabric, with its criss-cross pattern, allows water and air to reach the soil underneath. You may want to cut holes for bigger roots to get through. It does not puncture or tear.

Landscape fabric does not stop weeds from growing forever. Weed protection usually lasts a few years. Then organic material starts to build up between the rocks, weed seeds are carried in by the wind, and weeds grow again. Sometimes these new weeds can be hard to get rid of because their roots get tangled up in the fabric.

If you do not need to lay the rocks immediately, and the weather is warm and sunny, put plastic over the area and leave it for around six weeks or more. This process will kill the weeds under the plastic. This will not work in cold weather.

Household white vinegar will also kill some weeds, although it is not very powerful. A better solution might be to buy horticultural vinegar, which is available online or at a home improvement store.

A good idea is to put in a steel edging border around 3 to 4 inches high. This will stop weeds, plants, and grasses from laying down roots in the rock beds.

Cardboard or newspaper has to be replaced regularly, which can be time-consuming, but it could be recycled in your garden.

Spun – this is strong and durable and does not puncture or tear. It usually has circular or swirling patterns. You may need to cut holes in it to let plants grow and tree roots to spread. It is strong and can last for many years.

Salt is not advisable as a weed killer because it can kill your existing bushes by changing your soil’s salinity. It can also prevent new shrubs from growing.

Pouring boiling water on weeds will kill them, but is not a practical solution for a large area. Make sure you wear appropriate clothing so you do not get burned.

Landscape fabric generally comes in three types:

What To Do Before Laying.

While cost-effective, cardboard or newspaper degrade relatively quickly and lose their ability to stop weeds. Once they degrade completely, the landscaping rocks will start to sink into the soil.

If you do choose plastic, select one with UV protection to prevent it from breaking down after a few years.

A black plastic sheet for garden cover under the landscaping rock is effective at reducing weeds. You can usually get a large sheet, so you can cover whatever ground you need to in one go, without having overlapping pieces, leaving spaces weeds might grow through.

You could leave holes in the plastic around your bushes to let the air and water in.

Landscaping cloth is a useful weed barrier and will allow water, nutrients, and air to flow to your soil and plants. It is lighter than a plastic cover, and while more expensive than plastic, it lets your plants breathe.

Perforated – this has pre-cut holes, so air and water can pass through it. It is lightweight. It can tear relatively easily.

Landscape fabric prevents your rocks and supporting sand or gravel from sinking into the soil under their own weight. The fabric helps stabilize your soil and reduce erosion. This is particularly important if you live in an area of regular rainfall.


You can hide the cloth using a thin layer of mulch, such as stone or bark chips. Take care not to lay too much mulch. Mulch decomposes relatively quickly, which creates enriched soil lying on top of the landscape cloth. Weeds can grow in soil. As the mulch breaks down, it also creates a natural fertilizer for your ornamental plants – but the weed fabric underneath the mulch stops the nutrients from getting to your plants’ roots.

Table of Contents.

Firstly, carefully select the area to lay your landscaping rocks. Ideally, the area should already be weed-free. If it is not, and you need to lay the rock relatively quickly, you will need to dig the weeds out and remove the roots. Alternatively, you can spray the weeds with a non-selective herbicide. Do not spray your bushes as well, since the herbicide will kill them. You could put a large piece of cardboard between the spray area and the bushes, or cover them with plastic. Also, avoid spraying on windy days. Wear protective gloves and a face mask when spraying.

Landscaping rocks are commonly used as ground cover. Rocks for garden beds have many benefits, including reducing water use and the need to mow. The rocks also do not blow away like lightweight mulch and will not decompose. Rocks are also decorative and can improve the appearance of your garden beds. But, when weeds rear their ugly head, it can put a damper on your parade. Learn what to put under rocks to prevent weeds from infiltrating your garden!

However, it has some disadvantages. Plastic is not environmentally friendly. Sometimes the corners of the plastic will stick up through the rock, which ruins the landscaping. Plastic can also be prone to tearing. The most important downside of plastic is it is not permeable, so rain will not sink into your soil, and moisture cannot be used by nearby plants or your lawn. The lack of oxygen will suffocate any living organisms in the soil. This can lead to root rot.

Once you are ready to lay your landscaping rocks, you have a few options to put down under them to prevent weeds.

None of these solutions stop all weeds from growing. You will still need to weed your rock garden regularly to ensure it maintains its appearance.