Sunday, 26 April 2020

Weeding a slate mulched path

"Today I have been mostly... weeding a slate path"

This is one of those back-breaking but ultimately rewarding jobs.

Here's what I started with:

mmmm, lovely, I know. Not.

It's one of a series of pathways around a herb garden, with wooden edging, and an infill of rather nice purple slate bits.

Currently full of clumps of grass, brambles, thistles, you name it. Not lovely.

Well, to be fair, it did look lovely a year ago, but it's been somewhat neglected since then, and you can see that it is also still holding the dead beech leaves from last autumn, which is yet another problem with allowing paths to become infested with weeds.

So, what to do?

Answer, get down there on hands and knees and hand weed it.

"Hand weed it?" you say, in tones of horror.  "Can't you use weedkiller?"

Well, I could, but there are a couple of points against that course of action, first and foremost being my reluctance to use weedkiller unless I really have to. Chemicals are noxious, they cost money: ok, they are usually speedy to apply, but they have a couple of major drawbacks in this situation, to whit:

Secondly, weedkillers take a couple of weeks to finish working (don't bother with all those "24 hour" things, they just make the top growth wilt quickly, but the roots will survive, and grow back in no time) so the garden owner has to watch the weeds dying for two weeks or more.

Thirdly, the dead weeds then just sit there for several more weeks until they eventually disintegrate, so most of the time,  the garden owner begs me to clear up all the dead bits. This means that I am - fanfare of trumpets - hand weeding them. Yes folks, that's the only way to clear the mess, so why not just hand weed in the first place?

And fourthly, the decaying weeds are dropping their materials back down into the mulch/shingle/slabs, thus depositing another layer of organic matter which makes a perfect seed bed for - you guessed it, new weed seeds! So by using weedkiller, you are actually contributing to the problem.

So on balance, it's hand weeding every time.

Once the area is completely clear, then is the time to consider applying weedkiller: something like Pathclear, which stops seeds from germinating.  I do plan to spray these paths, now that they are clear.

Here's the finished article: can see that the weeds are gone,.

Much better!

I have also trimmed back the overhanging grass along the wooden edges (taking just that extra little bit of trouble, makes all the difference!), and have also flicked back onto the path any bits of slate which have found their way onto the grass.

Job done!


Did you enjoy this article? Did you find it useful? Would you like me to answer your own, personal, gardening question? Become a Patron - just click here - and support me! Or use the Donate button for a one-off donation. If just 10% of my visitors gave me a pound a month, I'd be able to spend a lot more time answering all the questions!!


  1. Worth raking first, or did you just set to with the daisy grubber?

    1. Hi Mal *waves enthusiastically* (that looks wrong, but there's no spell check on Comments so you'll have to interpret it!)

      I hadn't thought of raking first. For two reasons: I only have a spring rake with me, and spring rakes don't make much impact on slate or shingle. And secondly, if I did think about it (which I now have), I wonder if that would loosen the weeds, or just move soil about all over the top of the mulch?

      So my answer to your question is, no, I went straight in with the daisy grubber, oh how well you know me: but I'm always open to trying new things, so next time, I will see if I can find a soil rake, and give raking a try first, thank you!

  2. I've had success with diluted white vinegar. Not quite so bad.

    Found your pilewort piece helpful. Thank you!

    1. DarePeru, you might like to check this article;

      ...for my comments on vinegar and other non-chemical weedkillers.


Comments take 2 days to appear: please be patient. Please note that I do not allow any comments containing links: this is not me being controlling, or suppression of free speech: it is purely to prevent SPAM - I get a continual stream of fake comments with links to horrible things. Trust me, you don't want to read them....