One of the main downsides of a gravel driveway is that it’s easy for grass and weeds to penetrate through to the surface, resulting in an unsightly driveway.
In this post, we discuss the best way to permanently kill grass and weeds in a gravel driveway. We also have some tips on how to prevent the grass from growing in the first place.
What You'll Learn Today
- How To Kill Grass In Gravel Driveway Naturally?
- Can Vinegar Permanently Kill Grass?
- Which Is The Best Herbicide To Permanently Kill Grass?
- How To Prevent Grass From Growing In Your Gravel Driveway
How To Kill Grass In Gravel Driveway Naturally?
While there are herbicides that can permanently get rid of grass growing in your gravel driveway, many homeowners are not comfortable using harsh chemicals.
Fortunately, there are plenty of natural ways to kill grass and weeds. These are gentler on the environment and will not harm your lawn, plants or pets.
Here are five natural materials and methods that permanently kill grass in a gravel driveway. Most of these are DIY and can be done easily with stuff from around your home.
High levels of salt in soil are toxic to plants. Too much salt not only kills plants, it can prevent growth for years in the affected area.
This is what makes salt such a great grass killer on gravel driveways. It works by blocking the grass roots from taking up water, gradually dehydrating the grass and eventually killing it.
Mix salt and water in a 1:1 ratio. You can use regular table salt or rock salt.
Add the water to a spray bottle or a watering can. Apply the water directly on the grass in the driveway. You can also apply it on weeds, moss and other plants that have invaded the driveway.
Be careful that the salty water doesn’t come into contact with your lawn or flowers as it’ll also kill them.
In a few days, you’ll notice the grass start to yellow and dry up. It should die completely in about ten days.
Grass will not regrow for years where you’ve applied the salty solution, but it could sprout elsewhere on the driveway. To permanently kill grass and prevent more from growing anywhere on the driveway, apply the salty water on the entire driveway.
2. Pull out the grass by hand
If there are only a few clumps of grass on your driveway, you can easily pull them out by hand. Make sure you pull the grass along with the roots and rhizomes to keep it from regrowing.
You’ll need to clear the gravel around the grass so that you can access the soil.
There are several kinds of tools to pull out grass and weeds. You can use a weeding knife, a garden spade, a gardening trowel or special weeding tools like this Japanese weeding sickle.
Whatever you use, the goal is to get under the clumps of grass and pull them out by their roots. Dump the clumps in a bucket and dispose of them far away from the driveway.
Place soil back into the empty hole and re-spread the gravel over the patch.
Pulling out grass by hand can be tedious on a long driveway, so we recommend it for smaller driveways. You may also need to do it regularly as new clumps sprout up in other areas.
3. Boiling water
Too much heat kills living cells. This is true for animals as it is for plants. That’s why we boil water to kill pathogens.
Boiling water is also an excellent grass and weed killer. When the hot water comes into contact with the grass leaves and roots, it kills them almost instantly.
The trick is that the water has to be very hot. So you need to boil water in a location as close as possible to where the grass is growing on the driveway.
You can boil water in a pot but an electric kettle is safer and easier to carry.
Pour the boiling water directly on the grass that you want to eliminate, being careful that it doesn’t come into contact with your lawn.
The grass will die off within a couple of days. If it starts producing new blades after some time, repeat the hot water treatment to kill it permanently.
For added effectiveness, you can add salt to the boiling water.
Tip: Be sure to wear gloves, long plants, a long sleeved top and closed shoes to avoid accidental burns from the hot water.
4. Use the sun’s heat to kill grass
Solarization is one of the chemical-free methods used in farms to kill weeds. It works by laying a tarp on the ground, which traps heat underneath it and prevents water from reaching the soil.
The plants underneath eventually die.
This method can also work on a gravel driveway. It is ideal for situations where the driveway is overrun by grass.
Solarization kills off a lot of grass in one go without using chemicals. On the downside, it is slow. It takes 2-3 weeks for the grass to completely die. You cannot drive on the driveway during this period.
It also works best in hot summer months.
- You’ll need a clear plastic tarp. You can get a 2 to 6 mil tarp at most local hardware stores. You can also use an opaque tarp, but a clear one works faster since it allows more heat through.
- If there’s tall grass on the driveway, cut it down first with a blade, mower or weed whacker.
- Lay the tarp on the affected area on your driveway and place heavy items like stones or wooden blocks at the corners to keep it down.
- Leave the tarp in place for 2-3 weeks until the grass underneath is dead.
5. Use a propane torch
If you have a propane torch in your home, that’s a good grass and weed killer. Much like boiling water, the extreme heat from the propane torch instantly kills the grass.
For safety, don’t use a propane torch if the grass is dry or if there’s dry grass nearby. The last thing you want to do is set off a fire.
Also make sure you wear the appropriate safety clothing.
When using a propane torch, the goal is not to burn the grass. Just a quick touch with the hot flame is enough to kill the grass.
One of the downsides of using a propane torch is that it doesn’t immediately kill the roots underneath, only the blades.
So you may notice new blades shooting up after a few days. Repeat the process with the propane torch.
After 2-3 treatments, you’ll eventually exhaust the roots and they’ll die.
Can Vinegar Permanently Kill Grass?
Using vinegar is a popular DIY method to kill grass. But I’ve not included it above because it does not kill the grass permanently.
Vinegar only kills the blades above the ground, leaving the roots intact. So new grass will keep popping up.
You could probably permanently kill the grass after a number of vinegar applications, but there are easier and faster ways to kill grass.
Vinegar works better at killing weeds than grass.
Something else to note is that household vinegar won’t work well to kill off the grass. You need concentrated industrial vinegar with at least 20% acetic acid.
That’s dangerous stuff so you need to be extremely careful when handling it.
Which Is The Best Herbicide To Permanently Kill Grass?
If you don’t mind using chemicals, there are herbicides that will permanently kill grass in your driveway along with any weeds.
Don’t use herbicides formulated for application on lawns. These are selective herbicides that only kill weeds while leaving the grass unharmed.
Instead, get a non-selective herbicide that will kill everything. Some good examples include Round Up 365 and RM43.
These herbicides kill grass and weeds within a few days to a week, and the results last several months. In most cases, you only need to spray once a year to keep your driveway grass-free.
Here are some tips for properly and safely applying a herbicide on your gravel driveway.
- Choose a day that’s warm and calm. This will dry the herbicide quickly (the area will be safe for kids and pets as soon as the herbicide is dry) and prevent it from carrying over to other plants or the lawn.
- Wear protective clothing including safety glasses, a mask and gloves.
- Always read the label for instructions before you use a particular herbicide.
- Keep kids and pets away from the area while spraying the herbicide.
Here’s a video showing the results of spraying a herbicide on a gravel driveway.
How To Prevent Grass From Growing In Your Gravel Driveway
The best way to prevent grass from growing in the driveway is to use an underlayment fabric. It blocks weeds and grass from growing through the gravel.
An underlayment fabric also increases the lifespan of your driveway by preventing the base materials from settling into the soil.
Of course, this only applies if you are re-doing your driveway or laying a new one.