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How To Clean & Maintain Decorative Garden Stones

Tuesday 06 July 2021 17:10

Decorative aggregates and garden stones are versatile and easy to use in any outdoor space and can help create beautiful, low maintenance features for landscaping, gravel patios, pathways and water features.

The maintenance required for garden stone is not onerous - whether you’re using slate chippings, decorative gravel, cobbles and pebbles or even slate monoliths, the process for cleaning and maintaining your garden stone is easy - an occasional wash and some basic care will ensure your decorative stone garden features look attractive all year round!

How to clean dirt & algae from garden gravel chippings

Some areas will impact the appearance of your gravel more than others. Depending on the colour of gravel you are using and its location within your garden, more regular cleaning may be required. Footpaths, for example, are more likely to see dirt due to foot traffic, and gravel that is less exposed to sunlight or used near water features will develop algae on the surface much quicker.

Softer decorative stone, such as marble or limestone, may discolour quicker than hard wearing stone such as granite and quartz.

During drier periods with no rainfall, garden stones are more likely to discolour from dust and dirt. However, dirt, algae and dust can be easily washed away from any gravel colour – all you need is a high pressure garden hose. Using a low setting, simply rinse off the garden gravel with the hose. As gravel is porous, the water will be absorbed into the ground beneath.

Read more on how to maintain your garden gravel in our ultimate guide to gravel.

Cleaning white garden pebbles & gravel

White is one of the most popular choices of decorative aggregate colours.  The elegant, white tones of Polar White Marble Gravel provide the perfect accent colour to contrast against darker shades of slate, brickwork or planting schemes, however they look equally stunning on their own when used for driveways, pathways, patios or decorative borders.

However, lighter coloured garden stone is also more likely to temporarily lose some of its beautifully natural bright sheen to dirt. The good news is it is very simple to clean, and usually a simple wash with a high pressure hose will do the trick.

If dirt still remains, the white aggregate can be brushed lightly with soapy water. For a natural alternative to washing up liquid, vinegar is an ideal home remedy for restoring white garden pebbles and gravel to their natural beauty.

How to make small garden stones white again

Sometimes, a deeper clean is required due to excessive soiling. Here is our simple but effective five step process for restoring small white garden stones to their naturally bright hue.

Step 1 – Sift out any loose debris from the stone using a metal hardware cloth or mesh cloth, and place the sieved gravel or aggregate into a wheelbarrow. Make sure that the wheelbarrow is covered in a sheet of tarpaulin.

Step 2 – Pour 50 ml of bleach into a large bucket and mix with approximately 20 litres of water.

Step 3 – Add the diluted bleach mix into the wheelbarrow, ensuring all the stones are submerged.

Step 4 – Leave for 24 hours. If you suspect it might rain, cover the wheelbarrow with an extra tarp sheet to prevent the cleaning solution from becoming more diluted.

Step 5 – Drain the bleachy water back into a bucket and place the stones back in their original position within your garden. Your stones should look whiter than ever!

Make sure to pour the cleaning solution down your drain as it may be harmful to plants and wildlife.

How to remove weeds from garden gravel

It is natural for weeds to make their way through the porous surface of the gravel. If this occurs, there are several techniques to quickly and effectively remove them.

Weed Killers & Herbicides

Weed killers containing glyphosate are highly effective at eradicating weeds and are perfectly suitable to use on gravel or decorative stone surfaces.

Salt Scattering

Salt is a cheaper alternative to using a weed killing chemical compound and works by dehydrating the plant – however, this is indiscriminate and may harm other plants within your garden, so make sure to spread this carefully.

Boiling Water

Boiling water is a very popular household method of removing weeds as no harmful chemicals are introduced to your garden, plants or potential wildlife. Simply boil the kettle and pour the water onto the area affected by weeds.

For larger areas, however, we would recommend a different method as carrying the kettle back and forth from your garden may be rather labour intensive!

Remove Weeds By Hand

Removing weeds by hand is certainly the simplest solution, but equally the most physically demanding. When removing weeds, ensure that you remove the roots and garden gloves are worn.

For more information on how to weed your garden, read our guide to weed-busting.

How to prevent weeds appearing on garden gravel

To avoid the backbreaking work of digging out weeds to maintain the beautiful finish of your gravel driveway, pathway or patio, we highly recommend first applying a layer of weed prevention membrane.

A weed prevention membrane provides long-term protection from weeds, meaning you can enjoy the beauty of your surface without the need for more regular maintenance.

Remember, garden gravel is incredibly easy to maintain – all it requires is an occasional sweep, clean and weeding. With a weed prevention membrane, the list becomes even smaller!

Removing leaves & debris from garden gravel

It is important to remove leaves and debris from your gravel pathway, patio or driveway regularly as the decomposition of leaves that have fallen on gravel may discolour it over time. 

Areas that are close to trees are more likely to require regular maintenance, particular during the Autumn months.

To maintain these gravelled areas, simply pick up any loose leaves you see on your garden stone during a stroll. If there’s a lot of leaves and twigs, a garden rake or leaf blower will make the job a lot easier. If you plan on using a leaf blower, remember to set it to the lowest setting as smaller and lighter gravel may be blown away.

If your garden has a wooded area with lots of plants or trees, this is an excellent spot to place all the fallen leaves. If this is not an option for your garden, rake the leaves into a pile and place them in a compost bin.

Gravel surfaces that have seen a lot of foot traffic, such as pathways, may be more difficult to tidy as the stones will mix more often with loose debris such as twigs and mud. The easiest way to maintain the aggregate is to shovel loose stone into a gravel sieve and sift out any loose bits. 

How to clean large garden stones

Large landscaping rocks such as slate monoliths, boulders and feature stones may require some occasional maintenance to ensure the natural stone colour is maintained throughout the year. However, like gravel and pebbles, they are simple to clean and maintain.

Simply brush the stone surface with a scrubbing brush using a mixture of water and washing up liquid or vinegar, and make sure to rinse off the large stones with a hose once the entire surface has been cleaned. This is a great method for removing algae in particular which is far more likely to surface near damp areas.

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