Today I spent an hour removing weeds from those spaces between my paving stones. It is not a large area. It could have been done in twenty minutes if I had thought a little harder about it. The area just leads up to the wheelchair ramp at the back entrance of the home. But how horribly the weeds had taken over. I had been putting this chore off; other gardening and other work really had priority.
It should have been relatively easy, the area was quite well watered since we have had torrents of rain almost every other day. But the rain just anchored the various plants more firmly and lengthened the root systems.
My ‘just pulling plan’ did not have a chance. I tried an old kitchen knife, a pair of long bladed shears, my fingers, tips of the garden fork. None of these were at all efficient or good enough.
Finally I remembered, went into the workshop, got the half-moon lawn edger, sharpened it and descended onto the enemy. I just plunged it in between the stones, straight up and down, levered a little to raise the stone, removed the garbage that grows or is planning to grow and that did it.
It is true that I had to go on all sides of the pavers which does take time, a courageous back, and a caring nature. When the job is all done between all the nice square pavers they look a little askew in places. Looking at the whole area it was easy to see which stones where a bit out of alignment; again with the edging tool pushed straight down I just levered slightly to push the stones back in place. The paving squares lie on a deep layer of crushed gravel so this part of the job was easy, the result satisfactory. It did not disturb the substantial gravel under layer.
This half-moon lawn edger is of course long handled so that all the work is done standing up instead of kneeling or bent over double. While cleaning up between stones of course I also edged along the grass side so that now we can see where grass is meant to be and where stones take over. This method is possible for a quite small area. I certainly wouldn’t want to do it for a paved patio or long walkway.
There are various methods advocated by other gardeners. I have tried the vinegar method. Either I didn’t do it correctly or the vinegar wasn’t strong enough. I did discover that the 5 % household vinegar will not work well. There are stronger vinegars, a hunting job to find them. But those who liked it obviously have success. I imagine one might go through a lot of vinegar.
I have tried salt, but gave it up since I didn’t know how it would affect surrounding areas.
An other non-toxic way is to use boiling water. It is effective, easy to repeat on those persistent perennial weeds and of course not expensive except in labor. How much area is there? You could rent a steam weed control machine. Or a Propane Flamer will do the job. I have seen it used in blueberry fields for weed control. It can be used in home gardens.
And then there is the ‘corn-gluten’ method. This corn-gluten meal is sold in some garden supply stores. A totally natural method which will stop plants from germinating between your paving stones. It is applied well before the seeds are seriously thinking of starting their life in the spring. Spread it evenly into the spaces and trust that the weather stays dry for a few days after application or you may have to repeat.
The installation of black plastic or better yet Landscape Fabric, a geotextile for weed control can be used. Weed control fabrics are porous and their permeability allows good drainage. This fabric is used around flower and tree plantings. It is just as useful under paving stones. Under the stones it will help, perhaps not a hundred percent. Dirt and weed seed accumulation in the cracks over all seasons might have you on your knees again.