63% of all occupied housing units in the US include a garage and a driveway. Driveways are helpful for your car, but they’re also an added maintenance headache. Weeds get everywhere, especially after the concrete has settled and has had time to expand.
To make matters worse, weeds embedded in concrete are incredibly hard to remove since you can barely reach the roots. If you want to properly kill a weed down to the root, you need a specific kind of weed killer. But what weed killers fit that bill? There are so many on the market, where do you even begin?
Thankfully, we’ve done the research for you. We’ve examined what weed killers are available and which ones work best to keep a driveway or a gravel hardscape clear of weeds. No more worrying about intrusive plants poking out from where they shouldn’t be.
In this guide, we’re going to cover the best weed killers for driveways, we’re going to show you how to choose your ideal weed killers, and we’ll show you what else you can do to keep your hardscape clear of weeds. Read on to find out the best weed killer for driveways!
- Top Seven Weed Killers For Driveways And Gravel
- Roundup Weed & Grass Killer Concentrate Plus
- Roebic FRK-1LB FRK Foaming Root Killer
- Roundup Concentrate Max Control 365 Vegetation Killer
- Compare-N-Save 016869 Concentrate Grass and Weed Killer
- Spectracide Weed & Grass Killer Concentrate
- RM43 76502 32Oz Total Veg Control
- Ortho 0436304 GroundClear Vegetation Killer
- A Buyer’s Guide To Weed Killers For Gravel
- Alternatives To Weeding Out Your Driveway
Top Seven Weed Killers For Driveways And Gravel
There may be a lot of weed killers on the market, but only a few can claim the title of the best weed killer for gravel. The following seven are our top choices for that purpose, and you’ll see why we’ve chosen them.
First on the list is one herbicide that we all know. No conversation about herbicides is ever complete without mentioning Roundup, thanks to its effectiveness and its availability. There might be better weed killers, but nothing is as common or as easy to recognize as Roundup is.
Roundup is a non-selective herbicide whose active ingredient is glyphosate. It kills weeds by interfering with their metabolism, preventing them from creating the amino acids they need to survive. Weeds starved in this manner generally start showing signs of yellowing and wilting within 12 hours. It takes about a week or two to reach complete plant death, down to the roots.
This variety of Roundup is concentrated and made for use in a tank sprayer. That makes usage quite simple since all you have to do is dilute it. The recommended ratio is 6 ounces of Roundup concentrate to 1 gallon of water. Mix thoroughly, put it into your tank sprayer, and apply directly to your driveway or gravel path. Spray each targeted weed until it’s thoroughly wet, then leave it to dry.
Also, consider the time of day when you’re applying Roundup. The ideal conditions are sunny weather, a temperature above 60 F, on a day with no wind and no rain forecast for the next 24 hours. This will avoid accidental drift onto somewhere you don’t want to get sprayed. While the manufacturer says it’s rainproof in 30 minutes, avoiding rain for the rest of the day means there’s less chance of losing the already-sprayed product.
This variety of Roundup is available in 16oz, 36.8oz, and 64oz containers. At standard dilution ratio, that gives you 3 gallons, 6 gallons, or 10 gallons of weed killer, respectively. This gives you quite a lot to work with, so you can be generous in your spraying.
However, Roundup has its problems. We can’t discuss Roundup or any glyphosate-based weed killer without also discussing its bad press and its potential toxicity to both humans and animals. The good news here is that in the quantities you’re using at home, you aren’t in danger. More relevantly, since it’s seen so much use, some plants may have developed a resistance to glyphosate. You as a home user might not run into such species, but it’s still a possibility.
Even with its bad reputation, there’s no beating the classic commercial weed killer when you want unwanted weeds dead. There’s a reason it’s earned the top spot as the most recognized weed killer on the market.
Unlike the other products on this list, Roebic Foaming Root Killer is not a typical weed killer for use in your garden. Its normal use is as a tree root killer, used to clean out toilet lines that have been infiltrated by tree roots. However, the manufacturer also allows for its use for root control along driveways and sidewalks, which is why we’ve included it in our list.
The active ingredient is dichlobenil, which kills weeds by destroying roots and inhibiting growth. It works best against non-established weeds, and it isn’t that effective on grown plants, because it can only kill the roots that it touches. As it’s intended to clean out pipes, this is to be expected. It generally takes about 2 days to 1 week to see results, so it’s similar to more typical weed killers in speed of action.
Application is quite simple. Dig a 3-inch or deeper trench along the side of your driveway, and for every foot of length, pour 2oz of Foaming Root Killer into the trench in a thin strip. After application, cover with soil, then apply water toward your driveway so that the foaming root killer spreads underneath it. Avoid entering the treated area until you’ve watered it in and the treated area is dry.
Most non-established weeds will die to Foaming Root Killer, but its real value is in prevention; it’s more of a pre-emergent weed killer that has some post-emergent capability. It’ll last for quite a while, as the manufacturer recommends repeating this annually to keep your driveway clear.
It’s sold in 1-pound canisters, so at 2oz per foot of driveway, one canister can protect 8 feet of driveway. Note that since Foaming Root Killer is a solid, we’re using standard ounces measuring weight, not fluid ounces measuring volume. Keep that in mind when you’re measuring it out.
It’s a pretty good product, but there are still some concerns. One is that it’s far more effective as a pre-emergent weed killer than a post-emergent one. While it will kill any root it touches, it was specifically formulated not to spread too far inside a plant beyond that. Its original purpose is to clear out roots intruding in sewer lines, so it’s not supposed to kill a whole plant. You’ll have to combine it with another weed-killing method if your driveway already has established weeds growing.
But if you’ve already done the work and just want to keep your driveway clear of any further weed growth for the rest of the year, Roebic Foaming Root Killer is just the thing for that need.
So you may be looking at this and thinking, “Haven’t we covered Roundup already?” Yes, we have, but this is a different variety. This is Roundup Max Control 365, which doesn’t just kill today’s weeds, it keeps an area weed-free for up to 12 months.
On the face, it’s still a typical herbicide, using a combination of glyphosate, imazapic, and diquat dibromide. Glyphosate and diquat are typical weed-killing ingredients, but it’s imazapic that does the long-term work. Glyphosate and diquat handle the standard work of killing any already-grown weeds, while imazapic settles into the soil with its long half-life and stays there, killing any seeds that are already there or that might settle in.
We note that imazapic is vulnerable to water, so if your driveway is prone to heavy rainfall or other significant immersions of water, you may need to re-treat the area in about 6 to 8 months. Without water to interfere, the claim of 365 straight weed-free days is plausible. If you want to keep a gravel area clear of all weeds and don’t want to think about it further, Max Control will do it in one application.
In its concentrated form, the recommended dilution ratio is 6oz of concentrate to 1 gallon of water. Beyond the extra protective qualities, it acts the same as its Roundup labelmates, with the same speed of action. Targeted plants will be visibly affected within 12 hours, with full death down to the roots occurring in 1 or 2 weeks.
It comes in several formats. The standard type is a 32oz bottle of concentrate, but it also comes as a ready-to-use formula in a 1.25-gallon container. The next two options have further extras added on. You can get a 1.33-gallon container of ready-to-use formula that also has an included screw-on spray wand, for easy dispensing. And if you’re willing to shell out some more cash, the power option is a 32oz bottle of concentrate and a 2-gallon tank sprayer.
It’s got two significant issues. One is the same as all its other Roundup labelmates: glyphosate’s bad press and potential toxicity to humans and animals, so if you’re worried about your pets being affected, you may want to select a different product. More specific to Max Control is that you can’t use it for any other purpose other than a scorched-earth denial of an area to all plant life. It’s a specialist tool, and it’s very good at its job, but that also means it falls short outside its narrow scope.
If you just can’t be bothered to keep spraying and want a solid one-and-done application, Roundup Max Control 365 is the weed killer for you.
The patent on Roundup expired years ago, which has led to the rise of other glyphosate-based weed killers. It’s popular because it’s effective, and ‘generic’ versions of Roundup often go for much cheaper than the original. Compare-N-Save is one of these ‘generic’ glyphosate products and a label of the agricultural supplier Ragan & Massey of Louisiana.
Similar to Roundup, the active ingredient is glyphosate. That means the mechanism is the same: it kills a weed by starving it of the amino acids it needs to survive. Visible effects start showing within two days, and plant death is complete by 1 or 2 weeks. Glyphosate is glyphosate regardless of the label.
What makes the Compare-N-Save formula different is its concentration and its quantity. Roundup is 18% glyphosate; Compare-N-Save makes theirs with 41% glyphosate. Roundup sells its concentrate in bottles below a gallon; Compare-N-Save starts at 1 gallon and just goes bigger.
The recommended dilution ratio is 1.5 ounces of concentrate to 1 gallon of water. This is actually half the strength of a Roundup dilution, but still kills weeds just as effectively. For tougher brush or perennial weeds, the manufacturer recommends 2.5 ounces to 1 gallon, which is the same strength as Roundup. All other usage concerns are the same, apply on a warm sunny day above 60 F with no wind and no rain forecast over the next day.
While we’ve linked the 1-gallon container here, it’s also available in larger and smaller containers, in 16oz, 32oz, and 2.5 gallons. For reference, 1 gallon of Compare-N-Save gets you anywhere between 85 gallons to 51 gallons of usable weed killer, depending on the strength you’re using. Consider how much ground you’re covering so that you know what size to get. Its other advantage over Roundup also comes into play here. Any container of Compare-N-Save comes in at a much lower price than a Roundup container of the same size.
The main downside is glyphosate’s bad press and potential health effects. This hits even harder since you’re dealing with a large concentration of glyphosate, especially whilst you’re diluting. Make sure that you have your PPE on. That’s long sleeves, long pants, closed shoes and socks, and eye protection. Handle with care, since any amount of Compare-N-Save is almost half glyphosate by percentage.
If you’re spraying in bulk, you’ll need a lot of raw concentrate to cover your needs. That’s exactly what Compare-N-Save is for. There’s a lot of it to dilute, and it comes at a very low price.
Glyphosate isn’t the only weed-killing ingredient out there, it’s just the most famous. There are other products that use different ingredients but are just as effective, and Spectrum Brands’ Spectracide range of weed killers is an excellent example of these. We’re looking at the standard Spectracide Weed and Grass Killer, in concentrated form.
Its active ingredients are several particular chemicals: diquat dibromide, fluazifop-p-butyl, and dicamba. Ignore the complicated names. Each ingredient has a different mode of action, and all three work together, killing a plant by forcing it to grow more than its usual rate and starving it of the nutrients it needs to survive. Results are usually visible within 24 hours of spraying, though complete plant death usually takes about 1 to 2 weeks.
The manual recommends several dilution ratios. 3oz is for newly-emerged weeds, 5oz for general weed control, or 7oz for ‘best results’, all of these to 1 gallon of water. Usage notes are the same as typical herbicides. Wait for a sunny day of at least 60 F daytime temperature or higher, with no wind and no rain forecast for the next 24 hours. Spray a plant thoroughly until it’s completely covered.
This is the ‘standard’ version of Spectracide, but there’s a wide range of weed killers sold under the label, so you may want to look around to see what type best fits your needs. This standard weed killer is sold in 64oz and 1-gallon containers, yielding 9 or 18 gallons total at the highest dilution ratio.
Compared to glyphosate-based weed killers, Spectracide works just as well for a lower cost, so it’s a viable alternative. There are some concerns to go with it, though. It’s not as thorough as glyphosate, for one. The ingredient mix is no doubt effective, and most plants will die, but sometimes it can’t kill the entire plant, especially the root structure. You may have to dig out the plant to be sure it’s dead or have to spray again.
The ingredients also have an environmental impact, as fluazifop-p-butyl is toxic to fish and other aquatic life, while diquat dibromide is not only toxic to fish but can also cause cataracts in animals over extended use. Make sure that no animals are exposed to Spectracide while in use, and that it doesn’t contaminate a nearby watercourse.
Beyond its downsides, however, Spectracide is still an effective weed killer and an excellent alternative to glyphosate-based herbicides. Few other products are as effective at killing unwanted weeds as Spectracide is.
Back when it was still patented, Roundup was the only glyphosate weed killer on the market. Now that the patent expired, other products that use glyphosate as the main ingredient are available, and some of them go in a different direction. RM43 Total Vegetation Control, supplied by Ragan & Massey of Louisiana, doesn’t just kill the weeds you spray it on. It also keeps the sprayed area free of weeds for an entire year.
A year might seem like a long time, but it’s all thanks to ingredients. It uses glyphosate just like Roundup does, but it also includes a percentage of imazapyr. Glyphosate handles the typical work of killing the weeds that you can see, while the imazapyr settles into the area you’ve sprayed and lingers there for a year, killing any seeds that land in the treated area while the imazapyr stays there. In this way, it’s both a post-emergent and pre-emergent weed killer.
Note that imazapyr is vulnerable to water, so if you live in an area with heavy rainfall, you may need to re-spray with RM43 every 6 to 8 months instead of the nominal 1-year claim. Drier areas can very easily claim the full year of a weed-free treated area.
The standard dilution ratio is 6oz of RM43 to 1 gallon of water, applied by a sprayer as normal. Apply it the same way as you would other herbicides. Spray on a warm sunny day above 60 F in temperature, with no wind to redirect the spray and no rain forecast for the next 24 hours.
We’ve linked the 32-ounce container above, but RM43 is also available in 1-gallon and 2.5-gallon containers, depending on how large an area you need to cover.
The significant downside to all glyphosate-based weed killers is glyphosate’s health effects. This is especially relevant in high concentrations like what RM43 has, so make sure that you have your PPE on while you dilute it. The addition of imazapyr also means that RM43 is a specialist tool. Nothing grows in the treated area after you’ve applied it. No weeds, no helpful plants, absolutely nothing. This means you can’t use it for general weed killing, only for making sure an area is completely clear of all vegetation.
On the other hand, it also means it’s a one-use solution to all your plant problems. When you need to make sure that your driveway sees no annoying weeds poking through, RM43 Total Veg Control does the job.
Roundup is the main glyphosate-based weed killer available on the market. With a minor change in the formula, it’s also sold as Ortho, in the same containers with a different label slapped on. The good news is, it’s at least cheaper than ‘proper’ Roundup.
Ortho GroundClear Vegetation Killer uses glyphosate as an active ingredient, coupled with imazapyr. This makes it both a post-emergent and pre-emergent weed killer. Glyphosate handles the post-emergent part, killing plants by depriving them of their nutrients. Imazapyr handles the pre-emergent work by staying in the soil after it’s been sprayed and killing any seeds that end up in the treated soil.
The label claims it’ll keep the treated area clear for 1 year, but the actual duration will depend on soil conditions. Water is particularly good at removing imazapyr from an area, so if your driveway is likely to receive significant rain or otherwise see a lot of water, the duration may go down to about 6 months before you need to treat it with GroundClear again.
Since it comes ready-to-use, all you have to do is haul it out and spray the area you want to keep clear. As always, keep in mind the usual conditions. You want a sunny day with a daytime temperature of 60 F or above. You want no wind and no rain forecast in the next 24 hours.
Where it shines best is in format because you can buy GroundClear in any of four different types. You can get a ready-to-use 1.33-gallon container, either with a wand for easy spot-spraying or as a refill container. You can also get a 32oz hose-end sprayer or a 2-gallon container of concentrate.
As with all things, GroundClear has its downsides. These are twofold: it’s a glyphosate weed killer, and it’s both a weed killer and a weed preventer. The lower concentration of glyphosate in GroundClear means that it isn’t as much of a concern, but you should still strap on your PPE to be safe. On the other hand, its lingering effect of killing everything that grows in the treated area means that you can’t use it as a general-use weed killer; it’s only for those areas where you want absolutely nothing growing. Good for your driveway, not good for elsewhere.
Still, all specialist tools have their uses, and GroundClear is an excellent such specialist tool. It may be a cheaper Roundup knockoff from the same maker, but it’s still effective at its job of keeping an area fully plant-free for a year.
A Buyer’s Guide To Weed Killers For Gravel
You’ve seen our list of recommended products to keep your driveway weed-free. You may also ask, how did we choose those seven? In this section, we’ll show you what factors we examined when selecting the above, and therefore why they made the list.
Ingredients And Composition
All weed killers are defined by their composition, especially the active ingredient. To be sure that a weed killer works, examine its ingredients. If you’re not familiar with an ingredient, that’s what the Internet is for. Type the name into Google and read through the search results. A lot of information is available online about what ingredients work and what plants they kill. This way, you can be sure that the weed killer you’re considering does work and will kill the weeds infesting your driveway. The age of companies trying to confuse you with fancy names is over.
Selectivity And Affected Plants
Directly related to ingredients, what kind of plants does a weed killer attack? Weed killers can fall into two grades in this matter:
Non-selective herbicides kill all plants equally. No ifs, ands, or buts, so be careful how you spray.
Selective herbicides kill only a given range of plants. How selective depends on the precise ingredient, so check the product claims and cross-check with your research to be sure. Usually, this is between the two major plant groups: grasses versus broad-leaf plants. However, some herbicides can get even more specific.
Type: Ready-To-Use vs Concentrate
Ready-to-use or pre-mixed weed killers are simple. As the name indicates, they come ready to use, so all you have to do is just spray the product onto the plant. Nice, simple, no fuss, no headache. They usually come in varying package sizes, so you can choose the quantity that best fits your needs. Their only downside is that they tend to be a bit more expensive than concentrates, in terms of dollar per ounce.
Concentrates need to be diluted with water before you spray them on. You could theoretically use the concentrate directly on the weeds, but that would be overkill and a waste of money. Concentrates work better when you have a lot of ground to cover since a small bottle can often supply a gallon or more of weed killer. If you’ve got a tank sprayer or similar high-capacity dispenser, concentrate is always an option.
Strength And Concentration
Beyond just what’s in your weed killer, how much is there of the active ingredient? This is a bit easier to deal with if you have a concentrate, as you can always adjust the dilution ratio. On the other hand, a ready-to-use product has a fixed strength. Either way, strength affects two things: one, how quickly the target plant dies, and what plants it can affect. Some plants are notably tougher than others. Perennial weeds need more product to kill than shorter-lived plants, for instance. Depending on the weeds you’re dealing with, you may have to spray a bit more product, or try for a stronger concentration, to ensure you get everything.
Speed Of Action
How fast does the active ingredient take effect? How long does it take for the plant to die? This largely depends on the active ingredient and its mechanism of action. Most weed killers generally take about 1-2 weeks to kill a plant. This is complete plant death from tips to roots. Any shorter duration usually means that it’s only the external structures that have been affected. This isn’t always a downside, as some weed killers can only affect the external parts of a plant, but it means extra work for you.
Formats Of Purchase
When you buy the product, how many ways can you buy it? Is it available in different quantities? Can you buy it with a spray wand, or is it only available as a refill pack? Is it available both ready-to-use and concentrated? This is a matter of convenience more than anything, but it also gives you a lot of options. Herbicides need specialized equipment to dispense; you can’t just pour them out onto your yard. Having that equipment already bundled in with your purchase makes things much easier.
Persistence Of Effect
Is it just a straight weed killer, or does it also promise to keep an area clear of weeds? Some weed killers include that claim with a stated duration, sometimes months, sometimes even longer. They do this by including active ingredients that linger in the soil and kill any non-established weeds or seeds that have settled in the treated area. This is good for a driveway, as you want nothing growing there.
Alternatives To Weeding Out Your Driveway
The good news about weeding out a driveway or a gravel is that you don’t need to worry about any plants you want to keep alive in that area! This means you can use several other ways to get rid of weeds beyond just herbicides.
Dig Them Out
‘Pulling weeds’ isn’t a metaphor. Digging the weeds out is always a valid option, especially when you face the particularly tough weeds that no herbicide can ever properly cope with. For those weeds, the answer is your shovel. You’re rooting around in a gravel area anyway, so you’re already getting your hands dirty, and you may as well do something useful while you’re there. The downside is that this gets boring, tiring, and tedious very quickly, especially if you have a lot of weeds to dig out. Still, it’s the option with the least environmental impact and one that gets you a guaranteed dead plant.
The medical field says that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so if weeds never grow, you’ll never have to worry about them. Landscape fabric is specifically intended to keep weed seeds from sprouting, so putting down some landscape fabric underneath your gravel is a nice and simple answer. Once you’ve put it down, you can count on a weed-free driveway for about a year or two before you need to change it out.
Boiling water is an easy and low-impact weed killer, especially when you don’t have any other plants to be concerned about. Pour it directly onto the target plant to burn it down. There are no fancy chemical interactions to be concerned about here; this really is just direct application of heat to the target plant. It’s a simple, low-cost, low-energy, and low-effort solution to weeds, though you do still risk scorching yourself on the water.
If playing with boiling water isn’t your thing, salt water is also a good alternative. Heat 2 cups of water until it’s at a rolling boil, take it off the stove, and then add 1 cup of salt. Stir until it’s dissolved. Put it into a spray bottle and set it to stream (not mist or spray). Apply it to the weeds you want dead, coating them thoroughly.
Not only is this an effective weed killer, but one problem of salt as a weed killer stops being a problem when used for driveways or gravel. Too much salt in the soil affects fertility and inhibits plant growth. However, you don’t want any plants in your driveway anyway, so you can keep using salt water with no worry.
For a fast and effective solution, there’s always agricultural vinegar. This is a lot more acidic than table vinegar. The stuff you put on your food is about 5% acidity; agricultural vinegar is usually between 20% to 30% acetic acid. It’s an effective weed killer by itself, so you can just load up a sprayer with agricultural vinegar and hose down your driveway with it to kill every last weed that’s there.
Note that agricultural vinegar is also a strongly acidic substance, so remember to put on your protective equipment. Long pants, long sleeves, waterproof gloves, closed shoes, and a mask are all advisable to avoid endangering yourself.
It may feel like a tall order to weed out a driveway or gravel hardscape, but the right tools can make that job a whole lot easier. Our list of weed killers has the top products for just that job so that you’re never at a loss about what works for your needs.
If you need a long-lasting solution that can both kill weeds and keep your driveway clear, Roundup Max Control 365 does that job. If you need something to apply just once and never think about again, Roebic Foaming Root Killer is for you. And for all general weed-killing duties on driveways and elsewhere, the classic Roundup Concentrate Plus has your back.
No matter which one you choose, your driveway will remain clear and weed-free.