How to Get Rid of Weeds in Rocks Simply and Safely

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated June 17, 2022
A family pulling weeds from gravel in the garden
Photo: Thomas Barwick / DigitalVision / Getty Images


  • Weeds are stubborn enough to grow through rocks or gravel in your yard.

  • Vinegar, rock salt, and boiling water are three natural ways to get rid of weeds in rocks.

  • You should always pick weeds out by the roots.

  • Once weeds are removed, add a landscape border or install a weed barrier to prevent them from coming back.

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You wouldn't be the first homeowner to get frustrated or curse the sky when you see green weeds poking through your rock or gravel beds. Weeds are stubborn growers, and it's entirely possible that they can get out of control even if they don't have a lush lawn to grow on.

In this guide, learn four tips to get rid of weeds in rocks, as well as three strategies for preventing weeds from coming back.

How to Get Rid of Weeds in Rocks

Take these steps first to rid your gravel or rock beds of weeds safely and effectively.

1. Identify and Research the Weeds in Question

Weeds can mean a number of different undesirable plants in and around your yard. If at all possible, it's a good idea to figure out what type of weed it is. This way you can determine if it's a harmful weed that might infiltrate garden beds, a poisonous weed that could pose a safety threat, or if it's just an eyesore you can take care of when you have the time.

Common weeds in rocks include:

There are some universal steps that work for pretty much any weed in your rocks or garden—like removing them from the roots (see tip #3). But not all weeds respond to treatment in the same way. Dandelion, for example, can be controlled with herbicides, but ragweed is resistant to weed-killing chemicals.

Ask a local weed removal specialist for advice if you determine your weed problem is more than you can (or maybe should) DIY.

2. Use Landscape Fabric

Weeds, like all plants, need sunlight and oxygen to grow. An easy and low-maintenance way to stop weed growth in its tracks is to place landscape fabric over the affected rock areas. Hold it down with bricks or rocks, then wait four to six weeks. This should be enough time to kill weeds, which can then easily be plucked out by hand.

3. Always Pull Out the Roots

Leaves and stems are the unsightly portions of weeds, but if you don't pull out the roots, they're likely to come back. Manually pulling roots out of rock or gravel can be challenging. Use a trowel or remove stones to get access to the weeds. If there are old or damaged weed guard layers underneath the rock, you may need to cut into them to gain access to the roots. These can be reinstalled later if needed.

4. Use Natural Weed Killing Solutions

There are herbicides you can use to get rid of weeds in rocks. In truth, though, the best weed killer for rocks probably isn't chemical-based. Organic weed control is actually quite effective and typically better for your lawn.

You can kill weeds naturally using household items such as:

  • Rock salt

  • White vinegar mixed with water (1/2 cup vinegar, 1 liter water)

  • Boiling water

Be careful when applying any of these, especially if weed growth is close to perimeter flower beds. Rock salt, for example, can mess with your soil's pH and kill plants.

How to Prevent Weeds in Rocks

Even when you do a good job removing weeds, the process isn't a one-time thing. Here are maintenance tips to prevent weeds from growing in rocks going forward.

1. Add a Landscape Border

A pink cottage house with gravel driveway
Photo: Photos by R A Kearton / Moment / Getty Images

Creating a border using plastic edging, stone piles, or bricks helps prevent weeds that flourish in grass from making their way into your rocks (and vice versa). It's also a good way to give your lawn a polished look.

2. Place Weed Barrier Under Rocks

Weed barrier placed underneath makes it harder for weeds to pop through rocks. If you're installing new rock beds or changing the layout of your lawn as part of a garden overhaul, lay weed barrier fabric down before moving rocks over the area. 

Make sure to pin down fabric so it sits snug to the soil or surface below. The smaller the gap, the harder it'll be for weeds to pop through.

3. Regularly Spray Vinegar on Weedy Areas

Acetic acid in vinegar helps dissolve the membranes of growing weeds, which kills them.

Vinegar is a natural way to tackle the dilemma of weeds in rocks, but it likely won't do the job after one application. Regularly spraying your rock beds with a diluted vinegar solution helps prevent weeds from returning.

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