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Old 05-16-2004, 11:09 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Trenton, NJ
Posts: 4,415
What to do with little landscaping rocks when they start looking grungy?

You know the ones -- they come in many colors, frequently white, sometimes brick red like ours.
The prior owner did extensive landscaping in front of our house using those pebbles and it really looked nice five years ago. Nowadays, the weeds have conquered the impenetrable layer of landscaping fabric under the layer of rocks and everything looks like crap.

I had the crazy idea that I would simply remove the rocks from a small portion, clean them up, replace the underlayment, and then put down the rocks again. I spent a couple of hours this afternoon moving a few wheelbarrow loads of the damned things to a staging area on a piece of landscaping fabric in the back yard.

I then tried multiple techniques to clean them: using the leaf blower to see if all of the mixed-in weeds, grass, roots, and so forth would separate, like chaff from wheat; hosing them down, to no avail; putting small load in the wheelbarrow and then filling it with water, figuring the weeds would separate from the rocks and the water would wash away the mud. Nothing I did worked well.

My final solution? I finally ended up dumping the whole lot behind the shed. I am planning on, little by little, moving the forty wheelbarrows' worth of pebbles from our front yard to a big heap behind the shed. I will then lay down new fabric and put down more sensible mulch.

What the hell do you do with these pebbles when they start looking grungy? I can see few options:

1) Just keep pouring on fresh rocks each year.
2) Be lazy and lay down landscaping fabric over them and apply lots of mulch.
3) Scoop up the hundreds of pounds of annoying pebbles and replace them with mulch, as I am doing.

Any options I missed?

Oh, and if you are planning on putting those rocks somewhere, think carefully. It's like painting your walls with sand paint: once you do so, it's awful hard to go back to a clean slate.
Old 05-16-2004, 11:27 PM
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Tronno
Posts: 541
Hmmm, good question. I wonder if using a power-washer would be of any use. Those super-high-pressure thingies work wonders on patio stones, decks and fences and things like that, but I'm not sure about pebbles. Might be a pain to try to get both sides of them. But you can rent the machines fairly cheaply or maybe borrow one and see what happens.

Sounds like way too much work though, doesn't it. I think your behind-the-shed disposal plan is for the best, frankly.
Old 05-17-2004, 02:27 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Anderson, IN,USA
Posts: 14,583
I personally dislike rock mulches, because the plastic always breaks down to let the weeds grow. Before it does, the gathered water grows mosquitos and muck. After a few years, dirt will appear among the rocks, and weeds will grow there.

If you really want to clean the rocks, though, rent a cement mixer. Tumble the rocks with water (maybe detergent, too) in small batches, until the rocks beat the ugly stuff off themselves. I know some folks who could use some time in a cement mixer, to grind off the nastiness.

To really do it right, pile up the cleaned rocks on top of the hose from a rented steam jenny. Cover the pile with a tarp, and steam-cook it for several (?) hours to kill bacteria and plant seeds. Then it's ready.
"You know what they say about sleeping dogs; you can't trust 'em." --Oliver Faltz
Old 05-17-2004, 02:44 PM
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: in a Moot
Posts: 11,621
Minor - come on now. Are you trying to be thrifty? If so go ahead and wash the little suckers. I've done it too...then I got smart, and went to keeping up my lawn all and redesigning with a favorable mulch that looks very nice in the yard. I've got burms and little nodal areas all over our yard...nice landscaped areas. ALL were previously either not there, or had the John Deer hating little pebbles.....

I'd simply get rid of them (if you want to cart them all out back and dump them thats one idea...or you could cart them all out back dump them, clean them slightly (a hose for a few minutes) and sell the lot for $100 depending on how
much you had.

I had roughly 10 cubic yards of pebbles (thats a lot if you are wondering) several tons, and I put a huge 'FREE' sign on them down at the bottom of my driveway...this was in June several years back...7 I think...And one morning I awoke to three or four guys out front scooping it all up and into a landscaping truck...

I went out and said, "Thanks a lot fella's I appreciate it"

They said, your saving us about a $500 in pebble fill!


Anyhoo....I do not know if you have a green thumb or what...but a little work each week, and some nice mulch cedar if you like that stuff...and just a little time you'll be rid of the john deer hating little pebbles and you'll have a nice looking yard!
You are lead through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self. Dont turn away from possible futures before youre certain you dont have anything to learn from them. You are always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past.
Old 05-17-2004, 09:47 PM
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 839
oohh.. This is a very helpful thread. I was just thinking of putting down some pebbles, but now I see the enlitened side of mulch. Mulch on landscaping fabric. Regular found-in-nature color, not red.
Old 05-17-2004, 11:15 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Trenton, NJ
Posts: 4,415
A wise choice.

My wife asked me "Who puts these stupid rocks all over the place like this?"
My answer: "Someone who is selling their house."

They sure looked great when we bought the house. Little did I know how difficult it would be to keep them looking that way. Yup. That pile of pebbles behind the shed is going to get pretty high (not 10 cu yards, though!).

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