A rock landscape is generally much easier to maintain than a traditional lawn. There’s no weekly mowing and raking, and no fussing around with fertilizers.
Even so, a rock landscape is not maintenance free, especially if you have trees and plants growing in it. Deciduous trees will lose their leaves, and blooming plants with drop their flowers. Even if you have nothing planted, weed seeds will blow in from your neighbors’ yards and sprout given even a hint of water.
There are several tools that may come in handy. Which ones are right for you will depend on your property and any environmental considerations you want to incorporate into your landscape maintenance plan.
Landscape fabric: Some professionals recommend this before you put down your gravel or rock. Other landscape professionals hate it.
Landscape fabric can be made of a variety of materials, including linen or polyester. It covers the soil, preventing weed seeds that are in the dirt beneath from sprouting. It lessens the need to weed or apply herbicides to keep your rock landscape looking nice.
The problem is that it doesn’t prevent weed seeds from blowing in and sprouting in the rocks on top of the fabric, so you may still have some weeds. And eventually it will degrade and you’ll have bits of fabric showing up in your yard along with the weeds it’s no longer preventing from sprouting. But for a time, landscape fabric can be effective.
Herbicides. You can find both organic and nonorganic versions of herbicides in your local gardening/landscaping store. You may feel more comfortable using an organic version if pets or kids will be playing in your yard, although the organic versions tend to be more expensive and may require repeated applications.
You can also cook up something on your own by doing a web search for homemade weed killers. Be aware, though, that some homemade concoctions can be more damaging to your soil than commercial weed killers. Anything made with salt, for instance, will not degrade over time like commercial herbicides. So use it only in places you never want to grow anything. And realize that rain or irrigation water may wash the salt onto plants that you do want to keep.
Hoes and hands. You can dig up weeds the old-fashioned way with your bare hands or a hoe. It’s time-consuming, and you really have to stay on top of it or the weeds will get far beyond what you can control by hand. But if you hate the idea of using chemicals, yank those weeds out on your own. Just be sure to pull them out by the root, or they’ll be right back. It’s easier to pull the weeds relatively soon after a rain while the soil is soft. If the weeds have gone deep, you may need a trowel or shovel to get to the roots.
Leaf blowers. If your trees or flowers are dropping leaves, you may want to invest in a leaf blower to push all the debris to one spot and scoop it up to compost or throw away.
Like all methods, leaf blowers have their drawbacks. They’re noisy and they stir up dust, so your neighbors are probably cursing you. Leaf blowers also may blow some of your gravel away. And because of their two-stroke design, most gas-powered leaf blowers actually put out far more pollution than a car engine. An electric-powered leaf blower has less of a pollution impact.
Rakes. You can use a lawn rake on a rock landscape as well as a grass landscape. If the gravel and rock are disturbed, once you’ve removed the leaves and any other debris, turn the rake over and use the back side to smooth out the rocks.
When it comes to maintaining your rock landscape, you may find that a combination of methods works best for you.
If you need supplies for your rock landscaping project, give us a call. At MDI Rock, we’re happy to help you create a fun landscape. We supply a wide range of products for all sorts of uses at competitive prices. In addition to our many choices in decorative groundcovers, we provide rip rap, flagstone, topsoil, sand, gravel, and a huge selection of boulders.
Call us at 602-569-8722 or contact us online. We deliver anywhere from across the street to across the country!