How to Remove Weeds Between Pavers
Proper paving stone installation includes several layers of materials and a good polymeric sand to fill the spaces between the pavers. Not all installations include geotextile fabric, but we recommend including geotextile to help limit weed growth, improve drainage and assist in soil stability.
Pavers that have not been installed correctly, particularly if they were not installed using polymeric sand and geotextile fabric, may show significant weed growth coming up through the spaces. However, even with proper installation, dirt and seeds can fall into the spaces between paving stones, which may lead to some weed growth over time.
This guide will walk you through several options for removing weeds between pavers, and then move to how to prevent weeds from growing in the cracks in the future.
How to Remove Weeds Between Pavers
1. Pull weeds by hand.
This is the most tedious way to remove existing weeds between pavers, but it is also the most effective and offers the best chance of the weeds not growing back. Pulling weeds by hand is the least expensive, least harmful to the environment, and simplest way to remove weeds in cracks.
To make it a bit easier to pull them out, wet the area first, since it is easier to pull weeds from damp soil. It is best to pull weeds before they go to seed so that they do not have a chance to distribute seeds in the cracks and to avoid dropping seeds while you are removing the weeds.
2. Use weeding tools designed for narrow spaces.
There are several weeding tools designed for weeding in narrow spaces, such as in the cracks between paving stones. These tools can make the chore of weeding easier and help you pull out more of the taproot, which, when left behind, is one of the main reasons your weeds keep growing back in the same place. Options include Cape Cod weeders, v-notch weeders, soil or kitchen knives (best for particularly narrow spaces), and tools specifically billed as paver weeders available at home improvement centers.
3. Kill weeds with boiling water.
Boiling water is readily available, cheap, natural, and effective for killing weeds between pavers. It can even kill seeds and roots, which makes it generally more effective (and cheaper) than using some other popular methods, such as vinegar. Boiling water is a non-selective killer, so you will need to make sure you only pour it on unwanted plants.
4. Kill patio and driveway weeds with salt.
Salt is an effective way to kill just about any plant, so sprinkling it in your driveway cracks can kill existing weeds and help prevent future weed growth. However, like vinegar, salt can damage your pavers and should be used with caution. It is also important to note that irrigation or rainfall can cause runoff that will carry the salt to other parts of your yard where this indiscriminate killer can kill wanted plants or change the quality of soil to prohibit plant growth.
Also, because rain or irrigation will dissolve and disperse the salt, this is a not a permanent solution and will need to be regularly reapplied.
5. Use baking soda to kill weeds in cracks between paving stones.
Baking soda can be sprinkled in driveway and patio cracks to kill and prevent weeds. However, you have the same issues you would have with salt, since baking soda is also an indiscriminate killer and can be carried to other parts of your yard through runoff. Also, like salt, baking soda must be regularly reapplied to maintain any weed-killing or preventive effects.
6. Burn weeds between pavers with a weed torch.
If you feel comfortable using a blowtorch and do not have weeds near flammable plants or structures, a weed torch may be an option for you. You can purchase a torch specifically designed for killing weeds for under $50, so while this is more expensive than most of the natural options on this list, it is still affordable for most homeowners.
7. Choose an organic herbicide.
There are plenty of herbicides on the market that will kill the weeds growing up through the cracks in your driveway, patio or walkway. Any home or garden store will have several options from which to choose, but most of them will be toxic and are best avoided. Chemical-laden herbicides can damage your property, the environment and your health, so, if you are going to get a commercial herbicide, choose an organic one.
When choosing your weed killer, keep in mind that there are both selective and non-selective options. If you want to kill the weeds between pavers without harming nearby, wanted plants, it is best to choose a selective weed killer; however, most organic or natural options are non-selective. This means you will need to be careful to spray it only on weeds that you want to kill.
8. Kill weeds between pavers with vinegar.
Spraying vinegar on the leaves and stems of weeds will kill them, so this is a viable option. However, vinegar in an indiscriminate killer, so it will also kill any wanted plants with which it comes in contact. Using vinegar on paving stone driveways, patios or walkways also comes with the risk of etching the pavers, so you need to use caution when spraying vinegar on paving stone weeds.
This method is most effective when you use 20% acetic vinegar instead of the stuff in your pantry. This strength of vinegar has a higher chance of etching your pavers, so you will need to be even more careful when applying it. You should also protect your eyes and skin when using higher concentrations.
For an extra weed-killing kick, you can add about a teaspoon of dish soap to the spray bottle when you are mixing your vinegar-water solution.
Keep in mind that vinegar does not kill roots, so you will need to stay on top of your weed control with repeated treatments or take additional measures to remove and prevent weeds.
9. Remove weeds with your pressure washer.
Pressure washers can effectively remove weeds between paving stones, but you must use the correct nozzle or attachment to help ensure that you do not damage your pavers. Using a jet nozzle can noticeably etch your patio or driveway, so be sure to switch to your fan nozzle before using your pressure washer to clean your pavers or to remove weeds. You will still need to be careful not to push the sand out from around and under your pavers, which can happen when using a pressure washer. You can also use a rotating surface cleaning attachment to remove weeds and clean your hardscapes at the same time.
For more information about killing and preventing weeds throughout your property, check out 17 Natural Ways to Kill Weeds.
How to Prevent Weeds Between Pavers
Now that you know how to remove weeds growing in the spaces between paving stones, let’s look at how to prevent them so that you can spend less time dealing with weeds and more time enjoying life.
As mentioned above, the best way to limit weed growth is to have your pavers properly installed from the beginning. However, even with professional, proper installation, you may still find weeds popping up between your pavers over time. This is because dirt and seeds can get into the spaces between your paving stones.
One way to limit this is to re-sand your hardscape by pouring polymeric sand between the pavers. Replacing sand that may have been washed, blown or swept away over time can help smother the roots of weeds you just removed and can help keep dirt and seeds from finding their way into the cracks in the future.
For the best results, you should both re-sand and seal your patio, walkway or driveway. While handy homeowners can seal their pavers themselves, you are much more likely to achieve a satisfactory end result if you hire a professional that provides cleaning and sealing services.
There are several steps in the process of cleaning, sanding and sealing paving stones. Some of them are critical, such as watering the polymeric sand the correct amount to avoid issues that come with both overwatering and underwatering. You then need to wait for the sand to set, and then begin the sealing process.
A professional providing clean and seal services can help you choose the right sand and sealer for your pavers and can help ensure that the job is done right.