It’s getting to that time of year again when we’re all thinking about long summer afternoons and barbecues in the back garden. If you haven’t ventured out of the back door all winter, chances are that your patio is in need of a little care and attention. Weeds grow easily and very quickly through the cracks between patio stones, but there are some very quick and effective ways of removing weeds, and minimising the chance of them returning.
Let’s take a look at the ways you can remove these pesky weeds from your patio.
The quickest and easiest way of removing weeds from the patio is by using commercially available weed killers. These are reasonably cheap to buy, and are sold in all large garden centres and DIY stores, alongside power sprayers that can get the weed killing job done quick. There are a few problems associated with using chemicals though.
Some will kill off the weeds but may not stop them returning. Some weed killing products are also very toxic, and if you have children or animals using the garden regularly then you may want to avoid them. Finally, there are concerns about the environment, with the chemicals used in weed killers leaching into the soil and affecting water and your garden soil for years to come.
I try to avoid using chemicals as much as possible for the above reasons, but don’t lose hope just yet.
Every keen gardener should keep a large family-sized box of salt in the shed, as it ideal for treating weeds, particularly dandelions. Salt is non-toxic and not dangerous for animals and children, and it is cheap to buy too. Just pour some salt onto the weeds as they pop up between the patio stones and it will kill the plants.
Alternatively, make up a solution of 1 part salt to 2 parts warm water, allow the salt to dissolve, and pour it all over the affected area. Once the weeds have died, pull them out and wash the patio with water to rinse away any remaining salt.
Plants need both light and water to grow, and one of the best ways of killing them off is by blocking out their light. Use several layers of newspaper to completely cover the weeds, and if you are treating weeds in an area other than the patio, you can then cover your newspaper with a layer of soil, compost or mulch. Over time the newspaper will rot away and biodegrade, by which time the weeds should have been killed off completely.
If you are laying a new patio, bear this concept in mind and consider putting down a layer of membrane which is specially designed to keep weeds from sprouting in the first place.
No plant likes to be covered in boiling water, but there is no need to boil up water specially to kill off your garden weeds. Every time you cook pasta or potatoes, drain off the water and then use it to pour over the cracks between the patio stones. The hot water won’t damage the patio or the soil of your garden, but will kill off any weeds which are starting to grow.
To make the hot water treatment even more effective, add a cup of vinegar to the hot water as this will kill off the weeds even more quickly. Soap has a similar effect, so use your washing up water to treat weeds too.
One of the quickest ways of removing weeds from paths and patios is with a gas powered flame gun. These might sound scary, and they are certainly not something to be used around children, but they are relatively easy to use. The idea of the flame gun is that you use it to burn off the top couple of inches of the plants and the rest dies away naturally. This is a quick way of treating a large area (and it looks kind of cool too!).
Sometimes the only option for treating weeds on your patio is to get down on your hands and knees and dig them out using a sharp tool or scraper. This will guarantee you are getting rid of the plant, but it can be difficult to tell whether or not you are getting the roots out too, which may mean the weeds keep returning.
Once you have scraped out as much of the plant as you can, pour salt, bleach or weed killer between the patio stones to complete the process.
Do you have any methods you use that we haven’t listed here? Let us know in the comments below!
The image above was adapted from a Flickr photo under Creative Commons.