Fix Your Foundation Before It’s Too Late

Using Gravel To Grow A Weed-Free Garden

by Howard Barnett

Gravel is often used for landscaping trim, but it also has benefits when it's hidden beneath the soil. Gravel can be used not just for drainage, but to keep pesky and hardy weeds from growing in your flower bed. Follow these steps to make a weed-free garden base.

1. Clear the weeds

This is a surprisingly overlooked step. Weeds are resilient things, and if you let them start seeding, they'll find a way to poke through any ground cover.

Some people recommend salting the ground or using vinegar to prevent things from growing. However, this step can do tremendous damage to your lawn. Salting the earth will prevent anything from growing possibly years in the future. Weed killer can also seep into the ground, polluting the water supply.

Instead, burning the weeds or going over them with a tiller will destroy them but leave the health of the soil intact.

2. Lay down fabric or plastic

To keep leftover or new weeds from growing in the future, lay down landscaping fabric or plastic. Plastic typically works better for controlling weeds, but either option is fine. Before you lay down the fabric or plastic, trim it. Trim it to around an inch less in surface area than the ground you plan on covering. This will make it so none of the edges stick out when it's covered.

If you're planting something with roots that need to grow very deep, you can choose to cut holes in the fabric beneath the gravel. Don't cut out gaping holes larger than an inch. Slits also work. Stick a flag or other marker where you've made cuts so you know where to plant later.

3. Place the gravel

In this step, you'll be surprised about how much gravel you'll need. You want a layer of gravel that's thick enough that you can't see any of the landscaping fabric or plastic underneath. If you want, you can also put up a trim made of wood, bricks, or larger stones to outline where you'll put the gravel fill. This will give you a neater edge and keep the gravel from spreading over time.

This layer of gravel is going to keep your topsoil in and also hold plenty of water for your plants. Don't worry about it being too thick. Once you can't see the plastic or fabric, you can stop pouring and spreading.

4. Lay down topsoil

Now that you have your base layer, you can lay down the topsoil. This soil should be very thick so your plants can grow through it. Don't skimp on this step. If you don't have enough soil, the plants will wither and die for lack of nutrients.

Once you've got a solid layer of soil, you can begin planting. Your plants will get plenty of drainage and you'll spend much less time weeding and more time enjoying the flowers.

For gravel and topsoil, contact a company such as Purdy Topsoil & Gravel.