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No pavement surface is without maintenance and there are pros and cons associated with each. Though interlocking pavers provide a surface with the most benefits, they can become unruly when overwhelmed with weeds. There are solutions available for those surfaces that have weeds in the joints, though it is more important to take preventative actions rather than reactionary actions.
When not properly maintained, weeds can take root in the joints of pavers. Anybody that tells you that the jointing compound that they use for their paver project, whether it be a polymeric sand or other product, weed seeds will take root anywhere from the top down. This can be caught on the grains of the jointing compound or over time the movement of the pavers could create slight cracks in the jointing compound leaving room for the weeds to take root.
However, with ongoing maintenance of any weeds that begin to sprout, this should never be a problem. Over time with traffic, that jointing compound may need to be replaced with a pressure washing and re-installation.
Weeds in Pavers
There are both preventative measures and reactionary measures to be able to control weed growth between pavers. Ultimately it is best to take the preventative measures to reduce and maintain weed growth between your pavers. However, there are times where this is not completely in your hands. This may happen when you move into a new residence that has already been overwhelmed with weed growth. The faster you take action on the problem, the more it may be able to save you in the long run. Here are some preventative and reactionary measures that you can take to prevent and remove weed growth in your pavers.
Preventative Measures to Prevent Weed Growth Between Pavers
Installing your pavers properly with a well draining base and a sufficiently installed jointing compound along with professional products will help towards preventing weed growth. Installing an open graded base will help in preventing this weed growth as there are no fines in the aggregates of the base material and bedding layer. Though weeds will grow anywhere from the top of a surface that it will take root in, the lack of fines in an aggregate will make it easier to be able to remove the weed at the root preventing further growth.
Weed growth in pavement typically does not occur from the bottom-up, but a geotextile is always important in the installation of any paver surface. This not only provides multiple benefits including separation of the subgrade from the base material, filtration and drainage, as well as reinforcement to the base material.
Choosing the right jointing compound for your project and following the properly installed methods is going to prevent the weed growth that can be established in the joints of your pavers. This may mean installing polymeric sand and possibly re-installing in the future depending on the load that the pavement experiences. This may also mean that you will need to seal the area and re-seal depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations also depending on load and traffic of that space.
Reactionary: Kill Weeds in Between Pavers
There are homemade methods that you can utilize to kill weeds between paver joints. These are not guaranteed to discolor or degrade your pavers, but household items like vinegar, baking soda, and / or salt are meant to be a natural weed killer for pavers. If you opt for either of these solutions, work in a small area that is less noticeable to see how this works and how it may affect the surface of the pavers before moving on to the remainder of the patio. This may be an option to pursue with your paver weed growth, but may not be a long term solution. Ultimately, you need to investigate why your paving surface is allowing for the weed growth. This may mean that your jointing material requires a replacement in order to solidify the joints of your paving to reduce the ability for the joints to bear weed growth.
If the above solution does not work, there are three more labor intensive options to kill weeds in pavers.
- Removing Weeds from Pavers with Pressure Washer
- Block Paving Weed Remover
- Lifting and Re-laying Pavers
This would be the next option beyond using a solution to kill the pavers. Prior to this step would be moving through the space and removing by hand the large weeds to be able to remove them at the root to prevent future growth. Following this, using a pressure washer with at least 1,800 psi to blow out the remaining weeds with shallow roots will work. When using a pressure washer, a turbo head that disperses the pressure of the water over a wider area which helps to reduce the wearing down of the interlock from the water pressure. The focus of the spraying should be on the joints to remove the weed growth and not the surfaces of the pavers. Unless the pavers need to be cleaned as well, then a consistent pressure washing of the surface with a focus on the jointing compound would be beneficial.
Pressure washing will also remove the jointing compound that was installed. This means that you will need to remove a consistent minimum of 1″ or whatever is the recommended depth of the jointing compound to be re-installed. In addition to this, especially with a bedding layer that consists of fines like concrete sand, you would need to be careful not to undermine the bedding layer by pressure washing too deep into the joints of the interlock.
However, counting on a pressure washer to remove weed growth that has established itself will not work. This will just push the weed growth into the joints allowing future growth through the re-installed jointing compound in the near future. This will be a costly mistake for a short-term solution to the problem.
There is a tool to remove weeds between pavers. Though this option is going to increase the labor expenditure depending on the amount of weeds in between the pavers and the number of joints in the project. Additionally, you will want to focus on removing larger weeds by hand to attempt to pull out the root of the weed before moving through the space with one of these tools. A tool for weeding between pavers will help with not only removing the smaller weeds that have not established roots beyond the jointing material, but will also help to remove the jointing material. This will help in being able to install new jointing material to prevent future weed growth.
A weed removal tool for block paving will provide a very slim and sharp metal blade to be able to penetrate through the joints and to scrape out the weeds while also uprooting the jointing compound. This generally means that the jointing compound would need to be suctioned out with some sort of vacuum system, blower, or other option while being replaced with a new compound. However, if the jointing compound of the pavement surface is already compromised with weed growth then there may need to be a consideration of a further pressure washing of the entire surface to remove the jointing compound to re-install a new jointing material. Still, a weed tool for pavers helps in removing weeds that have not quite established their roots into the joints of the pavers however tedious this may be.
Best Tool to Remove Weeds from Pavers
The final option, and the most costly option, would be to lift the pavers and re-lay them. This may also consist of removing the bedding layer and re-installing the bedding layer to be able to further remove the weed growth and prevent future growth. This may be the best option for the paving surface depending on the consistency and level of the pavers. Projects that have been neglected may also be projects that have some inconsistencies in the paving surface which may lead to a lift and re-lay anyways.
In our business, we almost never lift and re-lay a portion of a project and always opt to do the entire project. However, in these cases it may make more sense to replace the entire base of the project if the structural integrity of the base that has already been installed is in doubt. Alternatively, you could opt to install a synthetic base in place of this base to reduce the amount that would need to be removed in the base and replaced.
With this being considered, you are then at the expense where for an additional amount of the cost of a paver per square foot, you may be best off to just install a brand new paving surface. This is where a lift and re-lay project needs to be considered depending on the condition of the pavers and whether or not the client still likes the aesthetic of that paver.
There could be the problem that the jointing material was never installed properly or may not be a jointing compound that prevents weed growth. This may be the case in older paver installations where a jointing sand was installed with no sealer installed over this. In this case, this loose sand with no binding material or sealant solution that helps to prevent weed growth provides a loos material for weeds to take root.
Unfortunately, weed growth can become overwhelming where pressure washing nor pulling weeds by hand is the solution to the problem. At this point, the roots of the weeds have extended into the bedding layer and into the fines of the base material. In this situation, pulling the weeds by hand leaves the roots allowing for weed growth to continue. Pressure washing the weeds out just removes the top portion of the weeds while pushing down the remainder below the paver height making it look like the problem is solved and allowing you to install a jointing compound into the joints of the pavers, but if the roots of the weeds remain then the weeds will continue to grow through the newly installed jointing compound.
The best solution to weed growth between pavers is always proper installation practices followed by minimal maintenance moving forward.