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Can pavers and tree roots get along?

Often the easiest plants to grow are the ones you don’t want – weeds. Sometimes, weeds like to take up residence between paving stones where they are not only an unsightly annoyance, they can also be difficult to get rid of.

To prevent and remove weeds between pavers, it’s important to understand where they come from and how they grow. Weeds don’t grow from beneath the stones. They grow between the stones when the jointing sand washes away leaving space for the seedlings to fall in. Here in a moist, dark setting, the conditions are right for weeds to germinate and grow. Even a couple seedlings can quickly spread across your patio floor.

Prevent weeds before they take root

Despite how determined weeds are, you can take steps to prevent them from taking root on your patio in the first place.

1. Ensure that your paving stones are properly installed to deter weeds. You need a tightly packed sand bed foundation. Once your pavers are in place, fill the  spaces between the stones with polymeric sand, which forms an effective barrier to weeds.

2. Never put plastic underneath the pavers. This will keep the joints wet and promote weed growth.

3. Ensure proper sloping away from the house to direct rainwater down the slope and prevent stagnant water from encouraging weed and moss growth.

4. Sweep your paving stones regularly to keep seedlings from settling in and taking hold between your pavers.

Ridding yourself of the weedy problem

If you already have weed growth between your patio stones, here are some tips to try.

1. First, manually remove large weeds from between the paving stones. Do your best to make sure you’ve pulled out the whole root.

2. Then, use a pressure washer to remove the existing sand from the joints. This will also remove all rooting zones. It is important to remember not to use the pressure washer on high power or too close to the surface when rinsing, or you risk damaging the surface of your stones. Always keep the nozzle at a 30° angle, 12’’ away from the surface and use the fanned nozzle setting.

3. Apply a solution of 20% dish soap and 80% water to the surface of your patio. You can also use white vinegar or just boiling water. Pouring any of these solutions over the infected areas will kill already existing weeds and prevent new ones from sprouting.

4. Let the surface dry and refill the joints with jointing sand.

While it’s hard to keep weeds from sprouting up on your paver project, a little prevention will go a long way towards keeping them at bay. Talk to a Unilock design consultant about professional installation of a weed-resistent paving project.

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