Anyone who has ever worked with pavers knows what a wonderful hardscape element they are. But for all its benefits, pavers have a nemesis: weeds. How can we deal with weeds? Is a weed burner effective?
Pavers have been used for centuries in many cultures across the globe and exploded in popularity in the modern world since the 1970s, when the first concrete pavers started being used in the USA.
During all this time, weeds have always been a problem. Pavers thrive when placed in something we call a dry installation, which consists simply of placing the pavers on top of a sand bed and filling the joint with polymeric sand.
Unfortunately, this is a perfect environment for the development of weeds, especially if the installation is not properly done.
So let’s talk about not only the effectiveness of weed burners – but as well as other strategies you can use to fight weeds and how to avoid them from the get-go, right at the very first steps of the installation process.
Is a Weed Burner Effective?
Yes and no.
They can be a good solution in the short term, eliminating weeds for around a year. However, they don’t kill the roots of perennial weeds, the more resistant ones, making them come back as soon as spring arrives.
Weed burners have many big pros and cons, making it difficult for the hardscape industry to reach a consensus about their effectiveness, or lack thereof.
The first big advantage of weed burners is that they dispense the need for harsh chemicals that comes from herbicides. Chemicals can be very damaging to pavers, so avoiding them is a very good side of using weed burners.
However, the use of fire can also be very damaging to pavers. Depending on the material, even more so than chemicals.
Some people also consider weed burners much easier to handle and maintain, as well as much safer than using herbicides. Not everyone agrees, though.
Weed burners require propane tanks, some small, some big. Either way, some consider the cost of carrying around propane tanks just as dangerous, or even more so, than being exposed to such herbicides.
Another advantage of weed burners is that they are much cheaper than herbicides. The cost of the entire equipment you’re going to need ranges between $50 and $90, and you have them for life. You only need to pay for the propane gas afterward, which usually costs around $25.
However, some people argue that, since weed burners only get rid of weeds for a year or so, the yearly investment of time and money ends up being more expensive than investing a little bit more on the right herbicide and potentially getting rid of weeds forever.
So, as you can see, the subject is controversial – even in the hardscape industry itself. But let’s discuss some other ways in which you can fight and prevent weeds.
Ways to Fight Weeds
Let’s start by talking about how to prevent weeds from growing in your paver installation in the first place. There is only one thing you need to remember: drainage is everything.
Weeds need water to grow in the first place. The better your drainage, the less chance you have of weeds growing beneath your pavers.
So really, the job starts at the installation. First, always use a geotextile fabric at the bottom of your installation. Second, never use second-hand base material. Make sure to always use proper road base and sand during an installation.
Something very common for people to do is to add some borax in the sand layer before placing the pavers. The borax is toxic for both plants and insects, but completely harmless to anything else, so they are a great way to prevent weeds from growing.
So let’s move on to ways in which you can get rid of weeds, from worst to best.
1 – Pulling them by hand
Bad idea. Never do that. Pulling weeds by hand only shifts the ground beneath them, moving the pavers and completely ruining the base.
2 – Cleaning up the joints mechanically
There are some tools out there that are designed to reach the space between pavers and clean up the weeds. They are not much better than pulling weeds by hand, also shifting too much of the ground beneath the pavers and causing irreversible damage to the installation.
3 – Using white vinegar
Pouring a mix of 2 teaspoons of dish soap in 4.5 liters of white vinegar is a very common way to get rid of weeds. However, that’s a lot of vinegar and, in some cases, it can cause damage to the pavers and the sealer.
4 – Use baking soda
This is more to prevent than actually kill the weeds, but it is a very successful method of doing so. The idea is to spread baking soda (or even borax, as we already mentioned) around your installation, focusing on the joints between the pavers. After spreading the baking soda, slightly mist your installation and let it dry normally.
5 – Boiled salt water
This is the cheapest and easiest method to get rid of weeds. Simply mix a solution of 3 parts water and 1 part salt, boil it and pour it on the weeds.
6 – Herbicides
All the other methods are cheaper and easier than using store-bought herbicides, but none of them guarantee 100% that you’ll get rid of weeds forever. Herbicides do, and that’s why they are considered the best method.
Professional Help Fighting Weeds
Weeds can be a huge problem for some homeowners – especially if they are left unchecked for a long time. Weed burners can be a very effective method, as good as any other, and the best in the opinion of many professionals.
Still, handling a weed burner is not exactly something we can recommend. We have seen some accidents happen, and we don’t wish that upon anybody; advising the DIY use of a weed burner would be irresponsible and dangerous. That’s why we always recommend hiring a professional around your area you can trust with your weed problems.
We here at SS Pavers, over our 12 years of activity, have performed that job countless times. We know how tricky things can get, and how not every method is the right for every installation, so there’s no need for you to risk it.
And if you happen to be around our area of activity, the Sarasota and Manatee counties, in Florida, why not give us a call to help you out?
You can contact us any time for a free estimate on our services. Call us right now at 941-773-3098 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be more than happy to help with weeds, as well as any other hardscape needs you might have.