How do I get rid of weeds in a flowerbed that I want to put rocks in?

Angela Elder
by Angela Elder

I already have an established flowerbed with a sprinkler system that is overgrown. I have lots of established plants that I want to keep in there. I also have weeds (dollar weed, invasive morning glory, and a few others) that are 2 feet tall in and around all the established plants. My back is not the best and I am unable to weed a section at a time due to back pain and the Texas heat. My goal is to put down landscape fabric around all the plants already there that I want to keep, and then cover that in rocks. How do I accomplish that without having to dig everything out completely and starting over? If I lay down the landscape fabric on top of the existing weeds (perhaps cut them down with clippers to reduce height) will it kill them or do I have to truly get them out before I begin? The two pics are of "before and after" of just weeding the outside part. That does have landscape fabric and lava rock on top, but still gets weeds as well. I just need help! Takes all day just to do around the outside of the bed, and another two days to do inside if I work at it for 8 hours a day. Three days later it is all starting over again. Also, these pics are a couple of years old. Much more growth since then, bigger plants, and you can't see the mulch at all anymore, too many weeds.....Side note-I have lots of frogs and other living things that I want to keep, so any type of chemical won't work for me.

I did try laying down newspaper that I put a few rocks on for a week or two, and there is no way to actually keep it wet, not in the Texas heat, but it didn't do anything to help so gave that up.

q how do i get rid of weeds in a flowerbed that i want to put rocks in

After weeding the outside of the bed

q how do i get rid of weeds in a flowerbed that i want to put rocks in

Before weeding the outside of the bed

  14 answers
  • Joan Joan on Jul 25, 2018
    Angela - I have the same problem with grass coming up in my flower beds probably because the landscape fabric I put down years ago is now no longer working. I would have to rip out everything and replace the landscape fabric, unfortunately, to stop the grass from coming up.

    I'm also open to anyone's suggestions.

  • Mocha Mary Mocha Mary on Jul 25, 2018

    I can understand your frustration. No matter what you use, weeds have a way of making themselves at home. I love mulch, at least 3 inches. I hardly get weeds in the mulch, and when I do, they are easier to pull.

    I'm sorry to say that if you want to be "green", mulch is probably the best answer. Unfortunately for you, with your mulch overgrown, you may well have to dig it down.

    If you want to reach low in the bed, a garden cart can make it easier. With me, it's my knees! Do the work in sections and drink plenty of water. :)

    But with the extent of the work you have to do, you should use long handle tools to pull/dig weeds. You may want to divide keepers, but I wouldn't think that you have to remove all your plants to start fresh.

    I had lava rock and I've done pea stones, but again, weeds (as you know) still make home in them. I use just a "ditch", but I've also used mulch in the ditch and packed it with my foot. God bless you, and I hope that some kind person will help you. I would but I'm in Massachusetts.


  • Angela Elder Angela Elder on Jul 25, 2018
    Thanks very much for your reply! I have done the mulch route since the bed was new and have not been able to control the weeds, however I never did the landscape fabric to start out. Maybe that would still work using it. Still cheaper than rocks most likely, and easier to put down. Also, when doing the mulch, I have never made it very deep, usually just enough to cover the ground and that's it. Maybe deeper is the solution!

    I have always done sections, usually after work when I go out to check the mail or set up a sprinkler, I will pull weeds for 15 or 20 minutes, and try to work my way all the way around the bed. But, I stopped for a couple of weeks and it has all grown back. I have wanted to try those stand up weed pullers they make but just have not done so yet. Still reading reviews on them.

    Yes, as you well know, lava rock is the perfect host for roots lol. I may actually try pulling out all the lava rock, more landscape fabric, mulch that, then put the rocks back! You did give me an idea! I also appreciate your offer of help, not sure if you would make it too long outside here, as I assume Massachusetts is a (hopefully!) cooler climate. We sweat as soon as we turn off the shower down here ;-)

    Thanks for the input!!

  • Toc15434384 Toc15434384 on Jul 26, 2018

    weeds are hard to get rid of white viniger might help & hand pick weed s or buy weed killer!

  • Ohhhdear Ohhhdear on Jul 26, 2018
    I know you say you have a lot of frogs and want to avoid chemicals. But are the frogs really in the lava rock? More likely they’re in the grassy area? i use deep cedar bark mulch over landscaping fabric and Preen to help control weeds. Preen hasn’t killed off the ants! In Florida, our landscaping guys mowing shoots bits of weeds right back into my planting beds so I’m constantly battling weeds regrowing. Maybe whoever’s mowing your lawn could be more careful to not get weed pieces kicked up into your garden? and possibly you could hire a kid to do some yard work for you. I know my boys would have been happy to work for a couple hours if I would get them an iTunes gift card.

  • Angela Elder Angela Elder on Jul 26, 2018
    Yes, lots of frogs, and they live in the flowerbed itself, inside the moss rock retaining wall for the bed, and lots of times down under the lava rock. I may check into Preen, see what that is about thanks!
    I am the only "mower" and it is funny but I don't have weeds in the yard, just grass. I do have some neighbors with kids, but they are all really young right now, so maybe in a few years that will be an option! :-)

  • Sweet Things - Pili Sweet Things - Pili on Aug 21, 2018

    Weeds have a hard time surviving without adequate sunlight. You can kill existing weeds and prevent new ones from growing using a little bit of old newspaper and some garden mulch.

  • Deb K Deb K on Jun 07, 2020

    Hello, try watering (watering loosens the roots to make pulling easier) then pulling what you can, then use an artist brush and paint vinegar /and roundup on the ones you can get out, frogs won't go near the vinegar smell, so they won't get harmed

  • Angela Elder Angela Elder on Jun 07, 2020

    Thanks Deb! Yes, I have found that water definitely helps with getting out weeds by the roots. I had not thought about vinegar, maybe something to try.

    Update!! I have continued to plant new stuff in the bed, and it is finally almost to the point that what I want in there is finally choking out the weeds! I figured if I just filled the bed that day would come eventually!

  • Kathleen Church Kathleen Church on May 02, 2021

    What would say about carpet ? I have a back lot of rock and weeds. So I took leftover carpet from a dealer. Most pieces are fairly big. Good size. Laid it over the cut weed and left it. Carpet looks great. With stand the snow. It's better than grass.. I just plan on leaving it.

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Jul 31, 2021


  • Pat Pat on Aug 01, 2021

    I use Preen in the spring and again in June. in my flower beds. It prevents weed seeds from coming up. You can't use it on beds that you have planted with flower seeds but I use it on my perennial beds that have no mulch, just bare dirt and is amazing how it works. What a difference between the bed I used Preen on and the ones I didn't use the Preen sprinkled on. . I use it around rose bushes, iris, daises cone flowers and even around the Hostas.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Nov 28, 2022

    Spray weed killer , Burn them out or dig/dig /dig

  • Mogie Mogie on Dec 08, 2022

    I have found that old dog food bags make a great barrier from weeds. I covered mine with pea gravel and it has keep the weeds at bay for over 10 years.