16.9.12

How to Make a Weed-free Brick Driveway (that Stays that way!)

Intro by Robin
Steps by Ed

how to make a weed free brick driveway or patio that stays that way


Do you have an interlocking paver driveway?  Then you understand my frustration.  Do you have a brick patio?  Then you can feel my pain.  Weeds.  The little SOBs are pervasive and persistent.  


We were fortunate enough to buy a house with an interlocking brick driveway.  A great feature for any home.  But, often I would find myself envying neighbors with asphalt driveways.  They weren't out there for hours on the weekend weeding their driveway.  About once a year I'd get fed up with the weeds and sit on the driveway and weed until my hands throbbed.  I'd feel satisfied with my hard work, until less than a week later the weeds returned with a vengeance.  They wanted revenge.


So, as you can see so clearly in the Before shot above, I'd give up.  The weed gangsters could loiter as they pleased in our driveway.  We'd avert our eyes and mind our own business.  We had coping strategies:  
  • Ed would run the mower over the driveway when he did the lawn.  
  • I'd park the van in such a way to hide the worst of them. 

Four years ago, after we renovated, we needed to build a new walkway to our front door.  It was then we discovered Polymeric Sand.  I describe it as sand that glues itself together and makes no room for weeds to infiltrate.  We used this product on our walkway and have had little to no problem with weedsWe needed to use this to take our driveway back from the weed mob.


You can find lots of instructions and advice for using polymeric sand on a brand new install of bricks.  I could find nothing for how to change your sand over to polymeric. So we improvised.  What follows is Ed's description of what we did and what we do differently if we had to do it again.  (Which we won't because polymeric sand is da bomb.)


So, without further ado, here's how to make a weed-free brick driveway...



before and after weedless driveway polymeric sand how to


Our driveway, it was an eyesore.


We had full intentions of tearing it all up this summer, levelling the bed and relaying the bricks.  We had blocked off some time for this.  Summer rolled along.  Time grew short and we started to realize that the time we had for it was likely not enough to get it all done.


Robin devised a plan whereby we remove the weeds and sand and re-lay new, polymeric sand without actually moving the bricks.  Genius!  But could it be done on time and without us dying of sunstroke?


OK, let's just have a good look at how bad the driveway/our maintenance of it was:


before driveway with too many weeds
Add caption


before brick driveway with weeds in the cracks and edges


Here's where Robin had started edging with our lawn edger.  You can see how far the lawn had crept in over the bricks:


first step to getting rid of weeds in patio or driveway edger edging tool


Just Brutal.  Here is what we did, in the order we did it.  At the end, I have a suggested sequence that I would likely do if we had to try it again.


What we actually did:


1.  Used an edging tool to find and cut the driveway edge.  Pulled up the clumps of grass and tossed them in the composter.


2.  Rented a 36" Sweepster for the day.  

rented sweepster for driveway weeding project fit in minivan
As a random aside, being able to transport a 36" Sweepster is reason #429 
why mini-vans are wicked awesome.


We lowered the brush as low as it would go and swept back and forth, up and down over a dozen times each way.  It was crazy hot and dry and it made the area very dusty, but it cleared most of the sand out of the accessible joints (see step 2 for what made a lot of the area inaccessible).


using sweepster sweeping machine to move sand out of brick driveway


3.   Hand weeded.

We purchased what we initially thought was a crack weeder but discovered was actually a "garden knife" (you know, for dividing clumps of perennials and stuff).  Never mind what it was called, it was perfect for getting weeds out from between bricks. We used, and broke three.


garden knife for patio or driveway weeding


The Sweepster was a rock star at removing the existing sand/brick dust mixture, but wherever a weed had dug its roots in, there were issues.  And you saw how many weeds there were, right?


Anyhow, we hack attacked the cracks for the better part of 4+ hours in the afternoon.  We have no pictures of this, as we were worried that if either one of us stopped, we would never start again.  It sucked.  No, really, it did.



after weeding driveway before adding polymeric sand
After shot of weeded and Sweepstered (sp?) driveway.   
It is tough to see, but most joints have 1"+ of sand removed.




4.  ReSweepstered the weeded driveway to take care of all the last bits.

perfect driveway with no weeds after sweepster



5. Polymeric Sand the Joints.

I could give you the rundown, but Techniseal has this video that does it so much better and faster than I could.  We didn't do the plate compaction part, mostly because we just topping up the existing joints and we didn't want to rent another big "thing" to add to the cost of this project.





Anyhow, that video is basically what we did, only substitute these tools and Permacon Polymeric for all the stuff you saw in the video.


tools needed to use polymeric sand on weedfree patio driveway bricks
I also used a shop-vac on blower setting in place of the leaf blower and silent swearing in place of helpful narration.

We guesstimated the number of bags to buy, based on square footage in our driveway, minus the fact that we were only topping up, plus the fact that most estimates are based on larger pavers (fewer joints per square foot) vs bricks.


We ended up buying 3 bags too many but are keeping them for future projects (and have already used one on a back walkway).


If you have never used Polymeric Sand, it is a wonderful product.  On new construction, if you follow all the steps in the video, you are buying yourself 4-5 years of completely maintenance free patio/walkway.  Even after that time frame, the weeding and upkeep are much less than regular sand, which means less time/ nasty sprays will have to be employed.


We cannot report on how long our driveway will go - but for now, here is how it looks:


after weeding and polymeric sand between bricks
Edge closest to the sidewalk
after weed-free brick paver driveway
Final shot again in large size. 

I didn't do as thorough a job as I should have when blowing, so some haze is evident in some areas.  I have decided to call those spots, "extra traction zones" for winter.  You can't argue the improvement in appearance, though.


We're very happy and total time was a little over 2 days versus the unrealistic week we thought we could tear the whole thing up and re-lay it in.



To do it again, I think we would:
  1. Weed everything thoroughly first - we thought the sweepster would tackle the weeds better than it did.
  2. Pressure wash the sand out of the joints.  If that didn't work, then rent the Sweepster (more people likely own pressure washers than Sweepsters.)
  3. Finish as above with polymeric.



Cost breakdown:

1. Rental of Sweepster (whole day) = $180.00 (having never used one before, I bought the extra insurance)
2. Weed crack tools (aka. garden knives) = $6 X 3 = $18
3. Polymeric sand = $5 bags at $20/bag = $100

Total cost = $ 298.00


Not cheap, but here's some perspective:  
Four years ago, after we did our walkway, our neighbour called around to see if she could get her sand driveway converted to polymeric sand.  She was given a quote of $4,000!  Her driveway is a similar size to ours.


So we figure we've saved ourselves thousands by doing two days of hard work.


Anyways, like I said, we're happy for now and our neighbours can make eye contact with us again.


Have you had any projects where you scaled them back and were still happy with the results?  Any questions we can help you with?


Want to know how to have a weed-free vegetable garden?  We've got that answer, too!





68 comments:

  1. Looks like all the hard work paid off!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Meaghan, we are so very happy with it. The brick driveway looks like a feature again, instead of an eyesore. Glad you stopped by. Thanks for your comment!

      Delete
    2. Can you guys post a photo of what the driveway looks like today?

      Delete
  2. boiling water kills weeds too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed! But on some scales, like our huge driveway, thats a LOT of kettles of water. Great tip for a small area though.

      Delete
    2. What do you guys think of using String trimmer to get rid of all the weeds from driveway? I recently stumbled upon this post here - https://reviewsbyexpert.com/top-10-best-weed-eater-2016/

      Do you guys suggest use of it? If yes, then which model do you guys prefer?

      Delete
  3. I was thinking of using my shop vac to vacuum up the sand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Black & Decker handheld vacuum is very good for vacuum sand on car. you can check it at bestcarvac.com

      Delete
  4. I just tried sucking out sand with a shopvac and got minimal results. The pressure washer idea might work better. Thanks for the great article!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope it works well for you! Let us know how it goes. :)

      Delete
  5. Hello driveway Expert
    My brick driveway is lawn on one side and a stone retaining wall on the other. To compound the problem it is sloped down to the retaining wall. With time the rain run off pushes the bricks against the retaining wall , which subsequently buckles. Brick movement also widens the gaps between the bricks, etc etc. Any ideas?. Polymeric sand should help but suspect the effect would be short lived
    Terry

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While far from an expert, I'll try my best to help with your question.

      We're big fans of Polymeric sand for filling the small gaps and preventing weeds from creeping up. While it does act as a binding agent between the bricks, it sounds like what you are needing might be more than it can handle.

      Your driveway may need a rebuild and leveling on the retaining wall side. When that is done, the polymeric sand would definitely help keep runoff from getting between the bricks and the water would shed away more completely, possibly keeping it in good shape for longer.

      Sorry I'm not more help, but thanks for the question anyway. All the best with your brick driveway.

      Delete
  6. Just read this article after doing our driveway this weekend, the pressure washer works really well but a word of caution it makes a huge mess, I was covered in mud and got dirt everywhere make sure you use old clothes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right! There is nothing about this project that is tidy. Well, ecxept maybe the end product. Thanks for your comment. :)

      Delete
  7. does it take most of the weed out, or do you have to still get on your hands and knees to remove weeds

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you do a good job with the polymeric sand it keeps the weeds out for years. We did our front path 5 years ago and it is still almost perfect. We pull maybe 3 weeds a year from it now!

      Delete
  8. Where did you buy the garden knife?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We got it at Canadian Tire, but you could pick one up at most garden centres, I am sure. :)

      Delete
  9. Hey great article but here is another idea. You can use a gas trimmer and put the head of the machine on an angle and it does a great job in getting weeds out from the cracks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good idea to keep in mind for when company is coming and you want to make it look good in a hurry. Thanks for sharing,

      Delete
  10. Oh Robin and Ed I am so happy to have found this post!
    We bought a house with bit only a brick driveway, but brick paving entertaining area (which is huge) and brick walk ways and pavers around the pool and back of the house. The job is going to be huge. (Luckily minimal weeds in the entertainment area section) But the rest is a nightmare to maintain.

    We have been looking at this product to use, so glad I read your experience first so we get it right first time! It looks great. Hope it works just as well for us!

    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks - we hope you still thank us after the job (or during - it can be messy, hateful work).

      The Polymeric Sand has held up well - the best follow-up advice I can add is to try and get down as deep as possible in the grooves. The only spots we are currently fighting weeds are in areas that we didn't clean out as vigilantly as we could.

      Good luck and thanks for reading,

      Delete
  11. I like the red color of the bricks prior to the resanding--does it go away? pics look gray

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes - that gray haze goes away - with a bit of traffic and some weather it was gone by the end of the summer.

      Delete
  12. What about the combination of vinegar, salt, and detergent? I've used that a few times and it looks like it kills the weeds. Just don't know how permanent. You'd think for a good long while with the salt.

    ReplyDelete
  13. That was genius...I'm in awe! It looks fantastic! I can't bring myself to spray Roundup around every couple of weeks. This solves it! Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  14. where did you buy the Polymeric sand??? could you please add links it would be so much easier for people.. and what a fantastic transformation.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I got mine at Home Depot for $17 a bag.
    You can probably get it at Canadian Tire or other garden centres as well.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Just spent my morning crack attacking weeds and pressure washing away years of moss and buildup. Tomorrow I apply the polymeric sand but holy crow, what a difference already!! Thanks so much for your tutorial!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you so much for the information.

    ReplyDelete
  18. We have a large patio with colonial style bricks that were put in with sand approx 10 years ago, and they are overtaken by weeds. Our landscaper wouldn't even quote us redoing the patio (including regrading away from the house) because he said at about $10k... you have much better things to do with that money! So I think once we're moved in completely and projects are lessening... we'll take this approach. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  19. One way to maximize the power of corded or battery-powered weed eaters is to use a smaller cutting diameter. The Black & Decker LST136W takes this approach, and it is a wise decision. you can find out more

    ReplyDelete
  20. Is this brick driveway still permeable? We put in one a few years ago precisely to have a permeable surface that continues to allow water to seep down instead of running off. Would that new sand prevent this?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Great post! I m surely sharing this with my friends! 

    ReplyDelete
  22. I had the same problem and usef the same special sand. Sand colour not grey sand... Anyway i used a high pressure water cleaner to clean the weeds and dirt out. And used a flat edged shovel to move the breaks slightly further apart by digging in the gap between the stones and push back and forth a small gap to allow the special sand more space. It toke me 9 years of weeding before i got pissed off with it lol. Glad i did tho.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I had the same problem and a gas leaf blower is my solution.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thank you for this great information. You gave me the courage to fight these horrible weeds that are growing ferouciously allover my front driveways and paths. Now just waitting for the last snow storm to melt and I'm at it!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Any updated pictures on how the driveway looks today? Is it still holding up?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Awwwwwwwww, the weed always grow quickly and make my garden look ugly....i need to spend more time to cut off all of them, thanks for sharing your ideas !!!!

    ReplyDelete
  27. The most ideal approach to handle weeds in an outskirt is to hand weed. On the off chance that the dirt is free or there is a decent profundity of mulch on it, this may essentially mean hauling the weed tenderly out. Assuming, be that as it may, there is a probability of the weed severing and leaving its roots in the dirt, utilize a hand fork or trowel to relax the dirt first. http://www.mordocrosswords.com/2016/06/tackles-weeds.html

    ReplyDelete
  28. Wow, it look like your hard work paid of. Saved thousands, your results is gorgeous , and you can pat yourselves on your shoulders each time you look at your beautiful work. Thank you so much for sharing. Your driveway look like specialist did it. Niceeee!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Great post@@.
    Can I share it on my facebook?

    ReplyDelete
  30. The garden knife sounds like a good idea to get the stuff out from between the bricks, but I saw a tool some years back ... a pole with something like a thin nail in the end to do the digging out. Since I am a senior, I can't bend the way I used to. Any know whee I can get one of these beasties?

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thanks for your sharing!!
    OMG weeds, I am so scared of them.
    Wish that I could make them disappear from my brick wall forever.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Are you still weed free? I think maybe the reason for suggesting the plate compactor would be the fact that it vibrates over the bricks and actually "rattles" the sand further down into the joints, thereby increasing the depth of the sand in the joint.
    Good job though!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Love how the plants look against wood! Love how this nifty little holder makes it possible! click here for more info

    ReplyDelete
  34. Nice job!!
    Did you seal the pavers again after you did the sand work?
    Should you?
    Or should you seal the pavers first, and then use the sand?

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  35. Mate! Sidewalk where I live have no grass like this, so this is the first time I know this device. It is wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thanks for the great tips. I will try to use the vacuum to do the task

    ReplyDelete
  37. this is a great guide, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I am glad I have come across this post! For future reference, a high pressure hose does a wonderful job removing both weeds and sand from between bricks in a driveway.... I had my husband spend hours a few weeks ago doing this as our bricks were discoloured and now the weeks and grass have gone crazy wild everywhere as we didn't resend straight away- opps! I'm off to find if we can buy that sand in Australia ☺

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to be of help, Kristy! I hope you can get polymeric sand in Australia - can you let us know? Could be helpful for other readers. Best of luck on your weed battle! :)

      Delete
  39. It's a nice post. Thanks for sharing this

    ReplyDelete
  40. I’m impressed, I must say. Really rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Wow great idea. I want to try it. I did complete this types work by pressure washer. Now i got the new idea that I didn't really know.
    Thanks Robin for your efforts! Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Sarah! Thanks for the kind comment. Hope it goes well for you! :)

      Delete
  42. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Omg, omg, omg!!! You can't even imagine how happy I am to have found your post!! Everything you said is exactly what I feel. Those damn pave stones are gonna have my skin before I turn 40!! Thanks so much, i am DEFINITELY doing this next week-end! Yaaaassssss!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to hear it, Rebecca! Let us know how it goes! :)

      Delete
  44. This is really interesting and I am thinking to give it a shot. But will it work for really, really rainy places like Ireland?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think so, Tom. The trick will be finding a long enough break between rains for the polymeric to set up. :)

      Delete
  45. Wow! What a difference! When you compare your results to a quote of $4,000 then 4 hours of hard work and a few hundred dollars seems totally worth it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It WAS worth it, David! Makes for much less creepy curb appeal. :) thanks for your comment!

      Delete
  46. outstanding description. Thanks a lot. One suggestion, albeit a bit costly, is to pre-spray with a weed killer, e.g., Roundup and wait a week or so. Getting the weeds out thereafter should be a breeze after the roots have died. As for the rainy periods post work, one can always use a water proof nylon / tarp.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Very good description of the work required Robin, pretty much the same as we did a couple of years ago. Unfortunately we weren't aware of the Polymeric sand - so we are now considering redoing it all again as the weeds are back with a vengeance.
    Further up the thread someone asked about re vibrating the sand into the joints. Not a practice I would recommend. With about an inch or less of sand removed between the joints the blocks still have over 60% of the original 'strengthening' between them. Applying vibration to the blocks, post refurbishment, presents a real risk of cracking the blocks - and that can be real frustrating.

    ReplyDelete

We love hearing from you! If you have a moment, leaving a comment would make our day.