Ahh, Fall in the Midwest! The temperate transition from stifling humidity to bone-chilling cold. Bugs go into hibernation and the explosion of weeds that annually seizes dominion over our landscape slowly withers away.
Weeding has been the bane of our summer that last couple years. We have an aging paver patio that was installed over just dirt, and has begun to settle. This settling has opened up relatively large gaps between some of the pavers, and the weeds have run rampant.
Long-term, we’d like to replace these pavers, either with smaller pavers or a ground-level deck – still working out the final setup off the back of our house. But for now, we decided to tackle the issue at hand to try to cut down on the weed explosion, pictured above.
Reading about the process for installing a new paver patio, I had come across the use of polymeric jointing sand to fill the cracks between pavers. Polymeric sand is very fine-grained sand, mixed with additives that bind when exposed to water. Essentially, it fills in the voids between the stone and then locks everything in place. More importantly for our application, it’s very hard for weeds to grow through once set.
The typical application for a new patio or walkway involves dumping the sand out on the paves and sweeping it into the cracks. In our case, though, the cracks were full of sticks and leaves and little rocks, and with our large textured pavers, this didn’t seem like an efficient way to apply. Instead we decided to go with the somewhat tedious method of scraping out each crack, sweeping away the junk, and pouring in sand – pictured below.
We went with Sakrete PermaSand in tan (though you can also get it in gray, to match different pavers). We didn’t do a ton of research into different brands; this was just easily available at our Home Depot.
The overall process took four or five hour-long sessions, most of them after toddler bedtime. Thank goodness for the trusty headlamp. The neighbors probably think we’re really weird.
Step 1. was to use an old knife to scrape as much of the debris out of the wider cracks as possible, then brush off the surrounding area. This took the majority of the time.
Step 2. was to fill in the cracks with the PermaSand and level. This was done with the extremely sophisticated tools of two tiny paper cups stacked together and a random brush from the garage.
Step 3. was to hose the sand down enough to thoroughly soak it, but not enough to wash it out or make the color and additives run out.
Here’s a few before / after shots of the pavers.
Our goal here was definitely not to get a perfect result – our settling pavers weren’t a great starting point. Overall, though, the sand addition really improved the look of the patio more than we’d hoped – it looks a lot cleaner now than when we started!
Fingers crossed that next year, we won’t have many weeds! As always, we’ll update here!
**UPDATE JULY 2020** While the filler held strong through the winter and into spring, the weeds got a foothold again and took over! They are relentless this year! We think maybe these old pavers are shifting quicker than we thought, so the sand filler has cracked and collapsed in a lot of areas, allowing for weeds to take root. Kind of a bummer- but now we are giving the filler we had left a shot on the driveway cracks and seeing how that goes!