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Controlling Weeds in Landscape Stone

Originally Published on Yahoo Voices

Landscape stone is a beautiful way to accent a garden bed, but weeds can be a problem.All the grass has been removed and landscape cloth laid, shrubs have been planted and covered with a layer of beautiful landscape stone. But this doesn't necessarily mean weeds are something you will never have to deal with.

Dust carried by the wind and washed in by the rain soon will deposit itself into the spaces between landscape stones, providing weed seeds with the soil they need to grow. Think of the layer of dust that accumulates in a home every week. Multiply that by 52 weeks a year, and that will give some idea of how weeds manage to grow in landscape stone.

Weeds generally won't grow up through the landscape cloth, but their roots will grow downward through it, making them almost impossible to pull. Small weeds may be easily pulled, but once established, another alternative is needed.

Using Chemical Herbicides to Kill Weeds

Although not the safest alternative, commercial herbicide spray, used carefully, is effective at controlling weeds in landscape stone. Always mix commercial herbicides according to label directions. Using more won't be any more effective, and can be harmful to surrounding plants. Never use commercial herbicides around smaller flowering annuals or perennials, because the inevitable drift will damage them. Weed roots and flower roots often intertwine underground, and herbicide that gets into the weed roots can also kill the flowers.

Using a large piece of cardboard or some other shield to keep from getting over-spray on plants is always necessary. If over-spray or drift occurs, plants may exhibit signs of leaf burn, but the plant won't die.

Weed Control in Annual and Perennial Beds

Pre-emergent herbicides are always best to use in flower beds. Pre-emergent herbicides should never be applied after the plants are established, or into a newly seeded bed. 4 weeks after the beds are planted is a good waiting period before application.

Using Natural and Organic Weed Controls

If using chemicals is not an option, first try apple cider vinegar sprayed full strength directly onto the weeds. Several applications may be necessary. Apple cider vinegar is a non-specific herbicide, so always shield your desirable plants from the spray. Vinegar purchased in the grocery is usually a 5% solution. 10% apple cider vinegar is sold online or at some garden centers.

Corn gluten is an effective, if expensive, natural pre-emergent. The drawback to using corn gluten is that it must be applied at precisely the right time, or it will do nothing but feed the weeds.

Gardeners need not assign blame when weeds grow in their landscape stone mulched beds, because there is absolutely no way to keep weeds completely out. Unfortunately, the best methods will only control them before or once they are there.