Decorative Garden Stones: Cleaning and Maintenance Guide

Pebbles, gravel, cobbles, slate chippings, and slate monoliths can all be amazing complementary features for your garden. The choice of texture, size and colour depends on the overall layout of your garden and should be consulted with a professional. Such features are not only helping to make the garden more varied but are also a good solution for for pathways, patios and spaces that cannot be easily mowed. One of their main benefits, however, is the relative ease of maintenance. Nevertheless, there are a few things you should know about their cleaning and maintenance.

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Precautionary steps to make future maintenance easier

Before going into the actual cleaning and maintenance stuff, we should not forget to mention the steps you should take before even putting decorative stones in place. The absolute must-have is a weed control membrane. Its goal is to keep any type of weed at bay, making digging out the weed a thing of the past.

The membrane still allows for nutrients and water to get through, so you don’t need to worry about any of your precious flowers or succulents dying from starvation.

Surely, there still might be an occasional patch of especially stubborn weed settling in the stones but taking it out is a piece of cake as it does not have any deep roots. Furthermore, by using the membrane, you don’t need to do much preparation beforehand. Levelling out the ground and taking out any larger weed and plants will suffice. The membrane will take care of the rest and it will subdue any start-up weeds hiding in the soil as it blocks them from the light.

Keeping the area free of leaves and debris

This is perhaps the most common problem with pebbles and smaller stones, and it might be worth considering if these are your best option for areas with plenty of leafy trees.

There will always be an occasional need to do a quick clean-up of debris. We recommend carrying this out on a regular basis, especially during Autumn. Leaving the leaves and debris in place for a longer period of time could eventually lead to making the stones darker as the leaves decompose.

There really isn’t any science behind this task. If your area covered with stones is not very large, you can simply take an afternoon stroll through your garden and pick them up. In case the area is larger, a leaf blower is your friend. With smaller stones, it is a good idea to set the blower into its lowest settings to avoid displacing the stones.

Moss and dirt removal

Unfortunately, it is not just leaves attempting to make your life more difficult. Moss can have a negative impact on the look of your stones and likes to grow in places that have a high level of moisture. It creates a low carpet of a greenish colour and can cover large areas. This, along with dirt and algae, will call for more thorough cleaning than just a simple leaf blower.

Sometimes, simply a hose with a decent amount of pressure will suffice, but for more stubborn dirt and moss, it is a good idea to use a pressure washer. This is usually a highly effective and quick process.

When initially choosing the type of gravel or stone you want to use, it is worth thinking about not just the aesthetics, but also about practicality. For example, quartz and granite are much more resistant to discolouration and accumulation of moss than limestone and marble. You should consult with a professional, who will be able to recommend the right type of stone depending on your location.

Naturally, brighter coloured stones and gravel will tend to discolour the quickest, but this should not discourage you from using these lighter shades as they are still very easy to clean and maintain. If a simple wash is not quite enough, we recommend using a mixture of water with vinegar to spray the pebbles with. This is a completely natural and highly effective way to restore your white pebbles.

Heavy-duty cleaning

If you maintain the surfaces regularly as described above, the chances are that there will be no need for anything more thorough, but if the gravel or pebbles have been left untouched for a while, you might need to step up your game. The approach detailed below should restore even heavily covered stones.

You will need a hardware cloth, wheelbarrow, 50 ml of vinegar and a sheet of tarpaulin.

  1. Get rid of any loose debris by sifting the stones through a hardware cloth.
  2. Cover the inside of a wheelbarrow in tarpaulin and transfer the stones into it.
  3. In the wheelbarrow, mix 50 ml of vinegar with enough water to cover the stones and leave to soak overnight.
  4. After the vinegar has done its magic, transfer the vinegar water into a bucket and restore the stones in their original place.