Weed Growing Through RocksGardeners are always looking to prevent weeds under rocks to keep their landscape pristine. Using rocks as landscape features have become one of the most popular ways to keep a pristine garden without a lot of maintenance.

A rock garden without weeds can be one of the most calming scenery one can enjoy due to the natural beauty of the stones.

To prevent weeds in rock landscaping, we’ll need to understand the different factors in order to stop weeds growing through rocks. Here, we will present several methods for you to determine which one best suits your style and budget.

Why Are Weeds Growing under Rocks in the First Place?

Weeds are extremely hardy plants that can grow anywhere where there is a little bit of soil and some moisture. As with everything else, gravel will accumulate fine particles like soil, organic matter, and other materials in between the spaces that could enable weeds to grow. Before you know it, weeds will be sprouting from your gravel rocks.

– What to Do Before Everything Else

The first step to laying rocks in your garden is to identify which area you will be utilizing. Picking the site is mostly a personal choice that takes into account your preferred visual style, your gardening lifestyle, and your budgetary scope.

Once you’ve established your designated area for rock landscaping, make sure that weeds are not a huge concern. Before we begin to even think about placing a weed barrier under rocks, we’ll need to eliminate any existing weeds. Additionally, we will also need to look at several ways to contain weeds or discourage them from growing back.

Woman removing weeds from her garden

How to Fix and Eliminate Weeds

There are several ways to kill weeds, although these do not always guarantee that the weeds will be killed off. Some gardeners recommend using commercial horticultural vinegar. While the weeds may be killed at the topmost layer, most of the time the roots stay alive. 

Boiling water also kills off the upper parts of the weeds while the roots can remain relatively safe. Boiling water is also not advisable nor practical for large areas.

Salt is highly discouraged, as this can kill all your plants by changing the salinity of the soil. Salt makes the treated soil extremely inhospitable to plant life and can take years to naturally return to a fertile state. 

Herbicides are the quickest way to ensure that you can stop weeds from growing in rocks. Using a non-selective herbicide can make quick work of weeds, although you must protect your plants when spraying.

Remember that you must also wear protective clothing and a safety mask when spraying herbicides. If you are not in a hurry, placing a large plastic cover over the area can kill off the weeds. The process may take around six weeks or more, but will not work in cold weather.

A great rock garden begins with a great layer underneath the rocks and stones. The more you put into ensuring that your rock garden discourages weeds, the easier your maintenance is.

– Steel Edge Border

If you are so inclined, you can place a steel edging border around the area approximately three to four inches high. This steel edging border will block weeds, plants, and grasses from invading your rock landscape area.

– Mulch And Compost

Many gardeners prefer to add another layer to the soil that discourages weeds. Mulch is a great material to layer on prior to covering the ground and layering your rocks. You will also have to note that you can no longer place mulch once your rocks are in place.

Once you are ready to lay your landscaping rocks, you have a few options to put down under them to prevent weeds. These options will help find great solutions to keeping your rock garden landscape free from weeds that grow under the rocks.

– Placing Cardboards And Newspapers

These are good short-term solutions to prevent weed growth. You can use these as green alternatives to other materials, although you may need to reapply them every time they decompose. Degraded cardboards and newspapers will allow weeds to grow through them and make the landscaping rocks sink into the soil.

If you choose to use these materials, place several layers of cardboard and newspapers on top of another. Refrain from using colored pages to prevent chemicals from seeping into your garden soil.

Extremely cost-effective, cardboards and newspapers degrade quickly when exposed to the elements. While recyclable, cupboards and newspapers have to be regularly replaced, making this material usage a time-consuming activity.

– Plastic

Black garden plastic sheets are often used as covers under the landscaping rocks. These come in large sheet sizes, so you can choose the appropriate length to cover whatever ground you need to use. Using plastic material ensures that any weeds underneath cannot access water or sunlight and will die quickly.

While the plastic material is not permeable, it is also not environmentally friendly. Plastic does not decompose easily and can be quite difficult to remove and dispose of.

– Landscape Fabric

Landscape cloth is a great weed barrier that allows air, water, and nutrients into the soil. Before we install landscape fabric under rocks, we’ll need to determine which kind we will need. Landscape fabric usually comes in 3 types, which are:

– Spun Landscape Fabric

This material is strong and durable. The material usually has a circular or swirling pattern. Spun landscape fabric does not easily puncture or tear, so you may need to cut holes in it if you want some plants or trees to grow through them. This material is more expensive than plastic, but it can last for many years.

– Woven Landscape Fabric

The woven landscape fabric has criss-cross woven patterns that allow water and air to pass through into the soil. This material is usually as strong as the spun landscape fabric material.

– Perforated Landscape Fabric

This material has pre-cut holes that allow air and water to pass through. The material is often lightweight and can easily tear more than the spun landscape fabric material.

Landscaping fabric is the most ideal material to prevent rocks, gravel, or sand from sinking into the garden soil. Reducing erosion and promoting soil stability, landscape fabric can be particularly helpful when you experience a lot of regular rainfall.

Landscape fabric often comes in a roll, which makes the material incredibly easy to handle.

Once you start layering your landscape fabric as a weed barrier, ensure that the pieces overlap. Doing so reduces the chances of weeds growing through any cracks in the fabric. Hold the fabric in place with rocks, or you can use landscape staples to hold them in place along the edges.

While landscape fabric is undeniably one of the best materials to prevent weeds from growing under rocks and stones in your garden, it is not foolproof. Even the best and the most expensive landscape fabric will eventually degrade over the years.

Weeds may grow again, however, you are guaranteed that they will be lesser to none when you use landscape fabric as a weed barrier for rocks and stones.


Should I put rubber under rocks to prevent weeds?

Yes, placing rubber under rocks can help prevent weeds by blocking sunlight and suppressing their growth.

Will weeds grow back under my rocks after applying vinegar?

Applying vinegar can temporarily kill weeds under rocks, but they may grow back if the roots are not completely destroyed.

Will salt kill the weeds under my rocks?

Salt can kill weeds under rocks, but it can also harm surrounding plants and leach into the soil, causing long-term damage.


Picking weedsRock gardens can bring a sense of zen and tranquility to any space, also rock gardens are far easier to maintain than many traditional gardens.

This makes rock gardens the most ideal type of garden for many individuals who are busy and prefer a low-maintenance outdoor space that provides a sense of peace and calm.

To achieve that clean, natural look without any weeds growing out from under rocks, let’s recap what we’ve learned so far:

  • You can easily get rid of weeds using commercial horticultural vinegar and boiling water, although this method does not always kill the weeds at their roots. Using salt is highly discouraged as this can make your soil extremely inhospitable to plant life.
  • You can use a layer of mulch before you place any kind of material as your foundation for rock landscaping. Cardboards and newspapers make a great ecological choice as a cover material over the mulch, although they degrade easily and need to be replaced frequently.
  • Plastic sheets are a strong alternative since they are not permeable although they are not environmentally friendly.
  • Landscape fabrics are great choices to place under rocks to prevent weeds. Landscape fabrics come in spun, woven, and perforated forms, with each one possessing specific advantages depending on your needs.
  • All these materials can eventually break down and allow some weeds to grow through, so you may need to do some form of maintenance depending on the material you use.

Whether it’s making a minimalist modern garden feel or a low-maintenance garden lifestyle, having a rock landscape garden can be remarkably rewarding. Keeping these landscapes free from weeds just became easier now that you’ve learned what you will need to keep weeds from growing under rocks.

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