White landscaping rocks can add a clean, crisp, modern touch to your yard or garden. However, over time dirt, debris, stains, and weeds can cause the rocks to start looking dingy. Learning how to properly care for and clean white landscape rocks will keep them looking as good as new.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover how to maintain and clean white landscaping rocks using simple methods and common household products.
Benefits of White Landscaping Rocks
Before diving into care and cleaning, let’s look at why white rocks make a great landscaping choice:
- Brightens up the yard with a clean, contemporary look
- Provides visual contrast against plants and greenery
- Reflects light which illuminates shady areas
- Gives the illusion of a larger space
- Low maintenance compared to lawns or mulch
- Provides good drainage for plants
- Acts as an effective weed barrier
- Long-lasting and durable
- Works with any style from modern to cottage garden
How to Do Routine Maintenance on White Rocks
Doing consistent maintenance keeps your white rocks looking better longer between deeper cleanings. Here are some easy tips:
Remove debris frequently:
Use a leaf blower or broom to remove fallen leaves, twigs and other debris from the rocks weekly or as needed. This prevents debris from getting wet and staining the rocks.
Spot scrub stains:
For mud splatters or other stains, spot scrub with a wet brush and plain water. Or use a mix of dish soap and warm water. Rinse thoroughly.
Hand pull weeds:
Don’t let weeds take root in the rocks. Hand pull any sprouts quickly while the roots are still small and easy to remove completely.
Top up rocks:
As rocks get kicked out of place or mixed into soil, add new rocks occasionally to keep an even layer. Match the size and color.
Check for drainage issues:
Make sure water flows through and doesn’t pool. Adjust rocks or slope as needed so the area drains properly after rainfall or watering.
Walk the perimeter and check edging material such as landscape timbers. Repair gaps or sections that have shifted. This stops the rocks from spreading.
How to Do a Thorough Cleaning of White Landscape Rocks
For a deeper periodic cleaning, follow these steps:
Remove the Rocks and Debris
First take out all the white rocks so you can clean the entire area underneath. Use a flat shovel to scoop the rocks into buckets or wheelbarrows.
As you remove the rocks, pick out any weeds, leaves, dirt or other debris. Discard any damaged or discolored rocks.
Use a leaf blower to clear any remaining debris from the now exposed soil. Consider amending the soil if compacted or poor quality.
Wash the Rocks
Choose a cleaning method:
- Pressure washer: Use for larger rocks. Avoid smaller gravel.
- Garden hose: Arrange rocks so they don’t scatter when sprayed.
- Bucket soak: Soak rocks in water and scrub with a brush. Use mild dish soap if needed.
- Vinegar rinse: Mix 1 cup white vinegar with 1 gallon water to remove stubborn stains.
Rinse off all rocks until the water runs clear. Allow to dry completely before replacing.
Refresh the Landscape Fabric
Examine any underlying landscape fabric. Remove fabric with lots of weeds or deterioration. Replace it with new landscape fabric to keep weeds out.
Or use a thick plastic tarp or non-permeable pond liner instead for a smoother look.
Remove All Weeds
With the rocks gone, you’ll have full access to remove weeds. Use a hoe or shovel to remove weeds down to the roots so they don’t regrow later.
Consider applying Preen or corn gluten to naturally prevent weeds without chemicals.
Reshape and Level the Ground
With open access, check that the soil underneath is properly shaped for drainage. Level any dips, fill low spots, and slope the ground away from foundations or structures.
Use a garden rake to smooth and remove any remaining roots or debris.
Replace the Cleaned Rocks
Evenly spread the clean white rocks back over the area 2-3 inches deep. Use a push broom to smooth. Mist the rocks with water to settle them into place.
Add edging or border material as needed to keep rocks in place. Stand back and admire your freshly cleaned white rock landscaping!
How to Remove Different Types of Stains from Landscape Rocks
Here are tricks for cleaning off common stains:
Mud or dirt: Spray off with water or scrub with dish soap and a brush. For dried mud, soak first before scrubbing.
Oil stains: Use baking soda or clay cat litter to absorb the oil. Let sit 1-2 hours before sweeping up.
Rust stains: Mix cream of tartar and lemon juice into a paste. Apply and let sit 20 minutes before rinsing.
Mold and mildew: Use a 1:1 vinegar and water solution. Scrub with a stiff brush.
Leaf tannins: Bleach will remove leaf stain marks. Use carefully avoiding plants.
Hard water stains: Soak in white vinegar and scrub with a cloth or brush.
Bird droppings: Scrub with dish soap using an old toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly.
Berry stains: Crush an aspirin tablet with water into a paste. Gently scrub the stain.
Wine stains: Spray with lemon juice and let sit 5 minutes before rinsing.
How to Prevent Weeds in White Rock Landscapes
Weeds sprouting up through white rocks can make the area look unkempt quickly. Stop them before they start:
- Maintain 2-3 inches of rock depth to block light from reaching weed seeds.
- Use high quality landscape fabric under the rocks to create a weed barrier.
- Hand pull weeds immediately while still small so roots don’t establish.
- In sunny spots, overlap fabric edges 6 inches to prevent weeds sneaking through seams.
- For gravel walkways, use a poured concrete, mortared stone or brick base first so weeds don’t grow up from beneath.
- Apply corn gluten as an organic pre-emergent weed controller (safe for kids and pets!).
- Reapply fresh white rocks annually before weeds take hold.
How to Remove Weeds From White Rock Areas
If weeds have already invaded your white rocks, here are ways to remove them:
Hand pull: Wearing gloves, carefully pull weeds out by the roots when the ground is moist for easy removal.
Hoe or shovel: Undercut weeds below the crowns and lift out the entire root system and surrounding rocks.
Torch weeds: Use a weeding torch for spot removal of weeds. Take safety precautions.
Boiling water: Pour boiling water directly on weeds to kill them down to the roots. Avoid getting on desired plants.
Salt water: Spray a salt water solution on weeds to thoroughly dry up and kill the foliage.
White vinegar: Use horticultural vinegar up to 20% acetic acid for tougher weeds. Completely coat unwanted vegetation.
Landscape fabric: Install fresh landscape fabric after removing all weeds. Overlap seams generously.
New rocks: Remove all rocks, eliminate weeds and roots, lay new fabric and replace with clean white rocks.
How to Edge White Landscape Rocks
Adding a border keeps rocks neatly contained and defines the space. Here are ideas:
Landscape timbers: Use weather-resistant wood pinned into the ground to frame in rocks.
Steel edging: Metal strips of various heights provide a contemporary border.
Plastic edging: Inexpensive black plastic edging attaches to the ground with stakes.
Brick or stone: Use solid masonry units laid on edge to firmly hold in rocks.
Concrete curbing: Poured concrete makes a permanent border flush with the ground.
Aluminum edging: Subtle but strong edging flexes for curves and prevents spreading.
Garden hose: Lay a hose in a curved shape and temporarily fill it with sand to contain rocks.
Tips for Maintaining White Rock Landscape Edging
Proper edging maintenance keeps rocks from spreading into lawns or planting beds.
- Check for damaged or leaning edging materials and fix as needed
- Refasten any sections that have come loose or popped out of the ground
- Adjust edging that may have shifted to redefine the border edge
- Fill any gaps or low spots with extra edging or rocks so it stays contained
- Use added pins, stakes or backfill