driveway weeds

fusaJune 5, 2010

Hello all, IÂm not sure if this is the right forum, but IÂll give it a go.

I am having weed issues. I have a long gravel driveway, and weeds love the edges of the gravel as well as the center strip up the driveway where car tires donÂt run them over. Then beyond that on either side I have perennials, so any weed eradication needs to be done with care. The "grass" areas surrounding the driveway are very, very patchy, and are more weeds then they are grass. I have kind of an odd driveway and parking area, not a straight forward straight line, resulting in lots of small grass/weed patches. If you can picture it, my drive way is sort of shaped like a backwards lower case r , with two garages at the top (one facing east, one facing north, with a large "parking lot" in the middle of the two garages and the house. Lots of wasted space, really, and lots of area where gravel meets grass or a perennial bed or tree etc. The soil in those areas is in some places decent soil, in other places, extensions of the gravel driveway and not good soil. IÂm sick of the weeds, but not sick enough of them to spend 3 hours each week hand pulling them. Any suggestions? Here are some of things I have thought of:

Pave the whole driveway and parking area: not an option, too expensive.

Bring in sod: IÂm worried the soil would be too poor to support good grass, plus, we donÂt really cultivate our grass in that we donÂt water it or put herbicide or fertilizer on it, so IÂm worried it would just end up in more weeds. Plus, might be nice to not have to mow tiny patches here and there.

Weed killer: is an option, however, I would only use weed killer in moderation, so it would have to be a one or two application job, and I would not be willing to repeat this on a yearly basis.

Some sort of weed barrier covered with more gravel: not sure what barrier would work, and would that just end of in a bigger mess? And would I need a plastic barrier between driveway and lawn.

Sun solarization to kill weeds and seed: seems like it would take a while, and what would I use to hold the plastic down? Would we end up with a rainy slippery mess?

Flame weeder: I kind of like the idea of this, I like it better then weed killer, but they seem pricey, and maybe a little dangerous.

I suppress weeds in garden beds with newspaper and mulch, but of course donÂt want mulch in my driveway. News paper with gravel would of course smother some weeds, but would end up in a mess.

Any thoughts?

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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Weed barrier covered with more gravel: Sooner or later, leaves fall in the gravel, decay, and weed seeds have soil to grow in. Newspaper will also decay into a medium seeds can sprout in.

Sun solarization: Normally, you'd anchor the plastic with garden/landscape staples, but they're difficult to use in gravel. I allow 8 weeks or so when I'm using this method to convert lawn into a flower bed (but then, I've only done it during winter; I don't know how long it takes at other times of the year). But once you remove the plastic, it just takes one good rain and weeds begin sprouting again.

Provided you spray on a calm day and there's no run-off into the desirable plants or grass, one alternative to Roundup is vinegar, though that's not perfect, as you can see in this discussion:

I tried vinegar once on an ant nest, and it was very good at killing the surrounding grass and moss. (Killed the ants too.)

I'm intrigued by the idea of boiling water, but I'm not sure that would be efficient for the number of weeds in my (short) gravel driveway. As it's not close to any valuable plants, I pull the worst offenders and use Roundup two or three times a year.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 5:18PM
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tibs(5/6 OH)

By Hand. Pull 'em. That's what I did, which is now why we have a concrete drive. Our drive was 150' long plus the apron in front of the garage. I was nuts.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 5:30PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

There is a steam weed killer that is intended for use on hardscape. If you use it on gravel adjacent to grass or plants there may be some peripheral damage. I'm not sure what its range of effect is, but I imagine it's not that far - and maybe even your perennials can bear some edge control.

These units are mostly intended for municipal landscaping crews to use on hardscape, but if your driveway is big enough and you intend to live there long enough, it might be worth it. No idea what they cost.

And I guess that when you steam, you may still have to pick up the dead plant, or it decomposes and becomes soil that will host more weed seeds.


Here is a link that might be useful: Greensteam weed control unit

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 6:41PM
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Missingtheobvious: thanks for the info and for the link, that was an interesting read.

Tibs: so you've been there done that!

Karin: Interesting idea. I own a small scale indoor version of that, wonder if that would work?

Any more ideas or insights? What does everybody else do? Maybe I'm "missing the obvious".


    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 8:13PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

If my "small indoor version of that" is similar to yours, if it goes deep enough it would work for about 7 inches of driveway before running out of steam and needing to be cooled for refilling and then reheated, and that would be after getting an extension cord run out to wherever you're working.

But worth a try :-)

I think other people hire help or spray herbicide.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 4:23PM
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dsb22(z7 VA)

How about adding gravel to the center strip so it's good say, 6 inches deep? I have a very thick layer of gravel in a work area of our backyard and nothing is growing there. Along the sides, weed first then plant a perennial groundcover that grows thickly (but isn't invasive)? Sweet woodruff and mondo grass, for example. The groundcover would shade or crowd out emerging weeds.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 10:18AM
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karinl, hiring help is out of the question! Too bad, that'd sure be the easiest! Might have to resort to herbicide. I'm seeing some types that sterilize the soil...sounds drastic, but maybe in the end results in less chemicals if the application rate is less often.

The weeds just aren't all that "pullable". It's heavily compacted soil, it's amazing anything can grow. I tried some boiling vinegar water, that didn't phase them.

I'm thinking as you are about adding gravel, but I really think I'd like some sort of weed barrier as insurance. I'm thinking about trying a small area to see if it works or not. I think I'd have to add to the whole drive way, not just the center, as the center is already quite high compared to the ruts.

I am in the process of trying the other idea you suggested. I put down some news paper, then compost, then some ground cover in a strip along half of one side of the driveway. So far the ground cover hasn't grown much (it's been about a month), but the weeds have not come up through the paper and compost, so that is good. I like the idea of mondo grass, but I think that could get expensive. So far I'm trying a sedum I have that really likes to spread, but stays low enough that it wouldn't be too bad if it got into the flower beds...and it's easy to pull. Guess I'll just keep plugging along.

Would it be worth trying some sod in some of the more fertile seeming areas (areas that have grass but mostly weeds taking over)? What could I do to increase the fertiliy of that area, spread some compost first?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 9:09PM
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Take that back, I did see some dead greenery from the boiling water with vinegar (and salt for good measure) in it.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 4:29PM
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