We explain how to get rid of weeds between pavers. This is a huge problem for many homes throughout the United Kingdom. Some paths, driveways, patios and yards are made using paving stones. The gaps where the paving stones meet suddenly start sprouting a variety of weeds.
There are a lot of common weeds in the UK and it takes just some simple conditions for them to grow. Seeds carried on the wind land on sand and take root quickly. Add a touch of rain and some light and up they pop.
Unfortunately there is no such thing as a weed-free surface. If organic material is allowed to accumulate on a surface it will only be a matter of time before weeds and other plants begin to grow.
3 options for getting rid of weeds between pavers
There are 3 main options for getting rid of weeds between pavers:
- Pull those out manually and dispose of them
- Spray the weeds with weed killer and then remove them
- Use a weed burner for fast removal.
Removing weeds manually
This is a very effective method for removing weeds. Quite literally you try and pull the weed out by the roots and then safely dispose of them. In a lawn or garden bed it is easier to remove weeds as you can usually get through the soil and completely remove the weed and its roots. On pavers and patios this can be more difficult.
There are a couple of useful tools for doing this that can help.
- Weed scrapers - the better ones will have a stainless steel blade that fits between the gap and you scrape it along to remove the weeds. You can buy one of these for around £10-£15 and they work very well. With some of these you can also attach them to a handle and that means you don't have to get down on your hands and knees. The weed scraper we would recommend for this is the GARDENA combisystem Patio Weeder (available at Amazon UK and other stores.)
- Patio weed removal brush set - these contain wire brushes where one brush has a straight head for removing moss and there is another brush with an angled head that allows you to get between pavers. Usually there is also a smaller weed puller available. Some users prefer these as they are faster and most sets have telescopic handles so as you don't have to kneel down. The weed brush patio weed removal brush set we would recommend is the TDBSWeed Remover Tool Wire Brush Scraper Set (available at Amazon UK and other stores.)
Removing weeds using a weed killer
There are a wide range of weed killer options available for paving stones. They should not be used on lawns and flower beds. Of these weed killers, Sodium Hypochlorite appears to be the most effective. It is a form of bleach and can be applied directly or diluted and sprayed on to weeds. It will also control weeds and will deter re-colonisation for a period of weeks, even months.
This works for weeds, algae, moss and lichen and really useful on patios. Some people don't like using it as it does have a level of toxicity. You would not want to use this if you have animals or children present. Usually it is applied and then washed off and it works extremely well. Once washed off properly then there is minimal risk with this method.
We would recommend the PowerChem sodium hypochlorite driveway cleaner (available at Amazon UK and other stores.) There are may brand of weed killer available but the one above gets the best reviews and best results.
There are also some organic weed killers for those who want to stay away from chemical weed killers. Those also work really well on paving slabs and are a more environmentally friendly option. The one we would recommend is the WeedKil Fast Acting Weed Killer (available at Amazon UK and other stores.) It is an organic product which means it poses no harm to children, pets and other wildlife once dried.
Removing weeds using a weed burner
The third solution is to use a weed burner. These are also a popular choice for many people in the UK. These burn any weeds quickly and effectively by blackening their leaves and killing off any growth.
There are two types, one which uses gas canisters and flames and the other is an electric version that uses very hot air. Both types work very well and no bending over is required as they all have long handles, often referred to as sticks. They are particularly useful if there are a lot of weeds to deal with, and can be used on lawns as well with a bit of care.
How to prevent weeds from coming through pavers?
Pavers can certainly be a very attractive option for creating a path, a patio or a yard. They are made from different materials such as stone, concrete, brick, cobblestone, slate, porcelain and granite. Both sandstone and limestone are particularly popular.
Typically when pavers are laid they should be laid on a hard core base using an aggregate which should be compacted and levelled. On top of this, there should then be a 40mm base of concrete laid on which the pavers will be laid.
When the pavers are laid they should be pushed into that layer to a depth or around 15mm. There should also be a gap between them of around 10-15 mm.
The gaps between the pavers should then be filled with a weatherproof jointing compound which is a type of grout. That will make sure that no weeds can push through. Some builders will just use mortar instead. Other builders will use sand between the pavers.
Why do weeds come through pavers?
There are various building errors that allow weeds to come through the gaps between paving slabs:
- Laying pavers directly on to soil
- Not using an aggregate
- Filling the gaps with sand
- Lack of DIY knowledge or skills
Laying pavers directly on soil
You should never do this as it is almost certain that weeds will come through regularly if you do. Some people will though and they will usually compact the soil to make it even for the pavers. You can lay on soil if you then add a fabric on top that helps prevent weeds coming up. To be effective this does need to be a heavy duty one, as the lighter ones simply do not work.
Not using an aggregate
With no solid base for your pavers, you really can open up a whole world of pain. There is nothing solid to lay your pavers on and that can cause a host of problems. The pavers can start to sink, soil gets exposed and weeds can easily start and grow very quickly. Some builders will use a base of sand to lay pavers. That is OK as long as that is on top of an aggregate. If they use only sand that will not work and will still give lots of problems.
Filling the gaps between pavers with sand
Many people including home owners and some builders use a fine sand to fill in pavers and bricks on paths, patios and driveways. It does leave a neat if slightly dusty type of finish. The huge downside is that weeds can easily grow in sand.
It also gets carried on the feet and needs to be re-filled regularly. Almost always it is better to use a jointing compound jointing product or mortar rather than sand.
Lack of DIY knowledge or skills
Getting builders or landscape gardeners in to make paths, patios or driveways is going to be expensive. The quality that they offer can also vary a lot. That is why many people decide to do this or at least give it a go.
Depending on the size of the project this can be a whole lot of work. The bulk of the work is in the preparation as you really need to have a solid foundation. this should be 6" (150mm) deep at least and that means a lot of digging, and then a lot of setting the hard core and compacting it.
Almost always that needs small diggers and heavy compactors which you can hire. However many people want to avoid the expense and hassle and try to take short cuts by laying pavers on top of soil, and then filling the gaps with building sand.
That's just never a good idea and while it may look ok at the start, it will cause major weed problems in the future.
Hopefully we have explained the options for getting rid of weeds between paving. They will all require intervention from you and it will come down to your preferred method.