Knowing how to get rid of weeds in rock landscaping is key to saving time and money. The rock landscape will keep its clean, pleasing look without much effort.

Read our guide to find out how to get rid of weeds in rock landscaping.

How To Get Rid of Weeds in Rock Landscaping

To stop weeds from growing in rocks, you have to do two things:

  • remove existing weeds to prevent them from spreading seed
  • stop the seeds already in the ground from growing again

Both steps are best done before you create your rock landscape. You can use any mix of barriers, chemical weed killers, and manual work to kill weeds in rock landscaping. Which ones you choose is up to your budget and skillset

Call your vendor if you have any questions about the best way to prevent weeds in rock landscaping.

What Is the Best Weed Killer in Rock Landscaping?

The best weed killer for rock landscaping is table salt. You can also boil 2 parts water with 1 part salt and pour it on the weeds. Use salt with abandon. Epsom salt works too, and you can combine either kind with dish soap.

Use herbicides only when you exhaust all other options, such as:

  • boiling water
  • salt
  • vodka
  • bleach
  • corn gluten meal

Is White Vinegar a Good Weed Killer?

White vinegar is a good weed killer as long as you don’t use the kind from the grocery store.

That one has a 5–10 percent acetic acid; what you need is a 15–20 percent solution. Buy the latter kind of white vinegar from a horticultural store or a home improvement store. If you have also trimmed the weeds or pulled them out, the white vinegar will be more effective.

Spray the white vinegar on weeds on a sunny day, and their leaves will get burned. You can also use pickling vinegar or apple cider vinegar of similar strength.

How Do You Stop Grass From Growing Through Rocks?

You can stop grass from growing through rocks by using herbicides. You can use them before the weeds appear (pre-emergent) or after (post-emergent). Whichever you choose, start to remove weeds from rock landscaping in early spring.

Some weed herbicides belonging to both categories are:

  • isoxaben
  • trifluralin
  • pendimethalin
  • oxyflourfen
  • fluazifop
  • glyphosate
  • benefin
  • dithiopyr
  • prodiamine
  • oryzalin
  • triclopyr
  • garlon
  • imazaquin

Each of them has its upsides and downsides. Some are liquids, and others are granules, which you spread across the ground and water. Contact a herbicide vendor to ask which one is the best for you.

Using a Weed Barrier To Curb Rock Landscape Weeds

Putting down a weed barrier before you create the rock landscape curbs plenty of weeds. Your best option is using a piece of fabric that blocks the sun from reaching weeds. This fabric is most often polyester or polypropylene. You can put a 2–3 inch mulch layer on top of the barrier for extra weed protection.

You can use cardboard for a weed barrier, too, but it will decompose over time. Even the fabric barrier will weaken with time and after each reuse.

Another kind of barrier you can use is steel edging. It looks like a tiny wall that goes into the ground and prevents the weed creepers from spreading. The steel edging helps you maintain a clear line of separation between rocks and grass. It also helps by keeping weeds out of rock landscaping.

How to Completely Remove Weeds From a Rock Landscape?

The best way to remove weeds completely is to pull them out with their roots. Wait until after rainfall, when the soil is wet, or water the soil yourself. You can also use a hoe to get rid of the clumps of weeds that are smaller than 2–3 inches. If you do it by hand, wear gloves, grab the weeds close to the root, and gently pull.

You will have to do a lot of work at first to thin the weeds. After you’ve thinned them, you will only have to spend 1–2 hours a week to remove weeds completely. Beware that some weeds can regrow if only a part of the root remains.

How To Remove Johnsongrass From a Rock Garden?

You need to rip out all Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense) shoots by hand in one piece. Using a hoe or any other tool won’t help much; all it takes is one part of a shoot, and this weed will regrow. Johnsongrass contains cyanide, so throw it in the trash once you’re done.

You can also use a post-emergent herbicide. Try fluazifop, glyphosate, or vinegar on rhizomes in spring.

How To Remove Wisteria?

Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) dies from a mix of herbicides with diesel or vegetable oil. Glyphosate, Garlon, and triclopyr are the best herbicides for removing wisteria. Mixed with diesel or oil, the herbicide will seep through every crack between rocks. It will also keep acting even if it rains.

Dip the wisteria vine tips into a bowl with the herbicide solution for 24 hours. Follow the vines to the wisteria root, cut off the plant using a saw or knife, and peel the bark. Use a paintbrush to coat the exposed root with the herbicide solution you used on rocks. Leave it be for 24 hours and repaint the herbicide.

After 7–10 days, wisteria should be wilting and dying. You should now cut out as much of the stump as you can. Don’t worry about the roots that remain; the herbicide painting likely did the job. Throw any wisteria cuttings or remains in the trash.

How To Remove Kudzu?

The best way you can remove kudzu (Pueraria montana lobata) is by pulling out each vine’s root from the ground. Spray the root with a 5 percent triclopyr solution mixed with a surfactant. Mow the place where it emerges regularly and remove dead weeds from rock landscaping. It will take several years to completely remove it.

How To Remove Nutgrass From a Rock?

Removing nutgrass (Cyperus rotundus) from a rock garden means pulling it out by hand every day. Your goal is to pull out the entire plant in one piece. If you can reach it, use a trowel and dig down to its roots, which can be as deep as 18 inches. Pull out as much as you can; nutgrass will regrow from the pieces that remain.

In the spring, evenly water the places where nutgrass appeared. Spread some table sugar on those places and water some more. Repeat twice more throughout spring; later, use a herbicide with imazaquin or bentazon. You might need to spray the herbicide up to eight times for nutgrass to die off.

Can Baking Soda Kill Weeds?

Yes, baking soda can kill weeds. You need 1 teaspoon sprinkled evenly across all the weed’s foliage. Wet the weed first so the baking soda sticks and repeat after 4–6 weeks if weeds reappear. You can just throw in handfuls of baking soda between rocks and down cracks.

Use baking soda during spring or autumn; it won’t work as well during summer. If you can’t fill the gaps, sweep the baking soda into them. Keep in mind baking soda doesn’t kill the roots.

Can Alcohol Kill Weeds?

Yes, alcohol can kill weeds that crop up in a rock landscape. Pour 4–20 tablespoons of alcohol, such a rum or vodka, into a gallon of water. Fill a spray bottle with this mixture and spray the weeds. Wear gloves and goggles during the job.

You can also use rubbing alcohol.

Can Dish Soap Kill Rock Garden Weeds?

Yes, dish soap can kill rock garden weeds but not on its own. It helps other weed-killing chemicals, such as vinegar, to stick to weeds.

For best results, make this mix:

  • 1 tablespoon of dish soap
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 gallon of vinegar

Pour this mix into a spray bottle and spray the weeds on a sunny, hot day. Repeat as many times as necessary.

Can You Torch the Weeds in a Rock Garden?

Yes, a weed torcher is a good solution for a rock garden. Use it in early summer or late spring, just as weeds emerge. Pass the flame over the weeds but don’t linger. You don’t want to burn the weeds but only briefly touch them, so they wilt.

Water the rocks beforehand so the torching goes smoother. We recommend torching weeds in your rock garden early in the morning. Repeat the torching every 2–3 weeks until the weeds disappear.

Can You Kill Rock Garden Weeds With Steam?

Yes, steam can kill rock garden weeds and might even be better than the flame. Steam cleaners or equipment that makes a jet of boiling water works too. Companies such as Dynasteam even have a special steamer for killing weeds. Apply steam to the weed for 5–10 seconds; it will die within 48 hours.


In this article, you’ve learned that:

  • You can use household chemicals to kill weeds in rock landscaping
  • The best way to remove rock landscaping weeds is to uproot them
  • You can also use flame or steam to remove rock garden weeds

A rock garden is a wonderful addition to a landscape. It requires a bit of effort when you’re planning it out, mostly to curb pesky weeds. Once you’ve got the weeds handled, you can make your rock garden, kick back and enjoy the view.

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