a hoe lifting up a weed from off concrete pavers
Photo: Mark Weiss
Q: We have a driveway and parking area covered with gravel that weeds are constantly sprouting through. We've tried spraying with herbicides, but they keep coming back. Would it help to put landscape fabric under it?
Natalie Kiljanski, Chicago

A: Roger Cook replies: Perhaps, but it depends on the type of weeds you're battling. Pull one up and take a look. If it has a long, deep root, a landscape fabric will stop it. But if the weed has a small, contained root system that goes only a couple of inches deep, it would grow just fine in the gravel on top of the fabric. So even if you went through all the expense of removing the gravel, laying down a heavy geotextile fabric—the stuff made by Propex is much more durable than landscape fabric—and spreading gravel back over it, you'd still end up with a crop of weeds. So you might as well keep killing the weeds with herbicide.

I don't know what kind you're using, but I've had good luck with RoundUp, a systemic herbicide that kills the leaves as well as the roots. Follow the directions on the label exactly. There's no point in using this stuff more than you have to. If you prefer to use an organic weed killer such as vinegar, you'll probably have to put more effort into follow-up treatment. In either case, spraying will be a regular maintenance task because a new batch of seeds will land on the drive every time the wind blows or a bird wanders by. And that means you'll soon have another crop of weeds.
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