How to Keep Weeds out of a Rock Garden

How to Keep Weeds out of a Rock Garden

Mar 16th 2023

Rock gardens can beautify any landscape. They are particularly appropriate for hot, arid regions where water is scarce. But they also can work well for steep slopes or practically any other area you want to beautify with a natural and tranquil look.

Part of the appeal of rock gardens is their low maintenance. Because much of the space is taken up by rocks, whether large or small, you will only have a limited number of plants to care for.

Because anything from gravel to river rocks to boulders can act as a natural mulch, the parts of rock gardens covered by rocks will naturally inhibit weed growth. Unfortunately, you're not entirely in the clear, weed-wise. The areas where you plant succulents, cacti, flowers, shrubs or trees will be subject to weed growth. If you are wondering how to keep weeds out of your rock garden, DripWorks is here to help with some easy tips.

An Ounce of Prevention

As with many things in life, a bit of planning and prevention early on can save a ton of headaches and work later. Weed barriers are one of the best preventative steps you can take to prevent weeds from sprouting and growing in your rock garden. Used as underlayment's or on top of the soil, they will allow water to trick down to your plants' roots but smother the weed seeds under them.

Although rock gardens often are grown in dry areas with drought-resistant plants, water will still be needed. Drip irrigation systems provide a smart way to water your plants and keep weeds away. Because drip systems deliver water only to your plants rather than broadcasting water over the entire garden, weeds won't be able to hitch a free ride courtesy of your irrigating. Besides saving you water and cutting your water bill, a drip irrigation system can save you the hassle of dealing with weeds.

Putting a barrier around your rock garden can help prevent weeds and grass from encroaching on the rocks. A good-looking barrier made of wood, stone or other natural materials can also enhance the appearance of your garden.

Some folks use pre-emergent herbicides to deter weed growth. Although these toxic chemicals can be effective, they also can have adverse effects on your plants, animals and the people you love. The same goes for post-emergent sprays some use to kill weeds after they have sprouted.

Weeding Out Weeds

For a less toxic approach, some gardeners apply salt to the soil before planting or directly on top of weeds to kill them. Though this method can be effective, it can also prevent your plants from growing. If you want to try salt, it's probably best to experiment with a small patch of ground before going all in.

Other natural methods of weed control include pouring boiling hot water or vinegar on the unwanted intruders. The problem with each of these approaches is that while they usually will kill the visible portions of weeds above ground, they won't affect the roots. So sooner or later your weeds will be back.

A much more effective method is simply to hand-pull the weeds. Though laborious, this type of work can provide a sort of Zen-like peace, especially if you have a small, manageable plot to work on. Hand tools like trowels, hoes and weed pullers can make the task less onerous. You can even try to get your family members to help in your war against weeds.