An M.E. gardener’s nightmare: how to control the weeds on the drive?

June 6, 2011

If anyone can help with the following inquiry received today, please comment to our blog on this page or email We'll pass any good advice on.

I have had M.E. for several years and am no longer able to use conventional herbicides such as Round Up. In have used sodium chlorate for several years to control the grass on our long drive and that has been effective but it is no longer legal to use it.

Do you know of anything else that would be safe for me to use – not too expensive for use in a large area but deadly for grasses and weeds ? I should be very grateful for any advice you can give or if you could put me in touch with someone who would know about this. Most alternatives we have tried haven't really been effective and the grass keeps growing.

Thank you.

6 thoughts on “An M.E. gardener’s nightmare: how to control the weeds on the drive?”

  1. Hi,
    I have heard that potato water is good for this – i.e. the water that you have boiled potatoes in should be allowed to cool then poured onto the grass/weeds. Not sure how effective this is but might be worth a try!!

  2. Hi

    Would it be worth rethinking your garden? An elderly friend of mine, who uses a wheelchair, changed all her garden beds so that they were exactly the right height for someone sitting in a w/chair to weed. It involved garden beds being raised and contained within stone wall parameters.

    As for me, I collect wildflower seeds from verges and sprinkle them among my chosen plants in my garden. It all looks a bit riotous – tall daisies nodding among the vetches and lavenders – but (apart from dandelions) I decided to see most weeds as wildflowers and – hey presto – no weeding!

    Perhaps this isn’t helpful but it saves on all sorts of nasty concoctions.

  3. I’m afraid I’ve gone right on using the sodium chlorate, which is also sold as a great compost booster – it doesn’t affect me or the birds visiting my garden, unlike the chemicals still available to buy as branded weedkiller which are frankly horrific! It’s not good for water creatures though, so I’d never use it near a stream, pond, river etc. I’m careful when we have frogs and toads too, just in case!

    A friend of mine who simply dislikes chemicals in her garden uses one of those blow torches on a long pole designed for patio weeds, and another friend swears by some sort of combined water blast/steam clean gadget she bought from a TV ad to clean her gutters with.

  4. I don’t know if this works or not but once the area is clear try vinegar and salt mixed in hot water to prevent new growth of weeds. You probably have to treat the area regularly though so that would mean being consistently well enough.

  5. My mistake! The compost accelerator I’ve been using this year is ammonium sulphamate, which used to be the ingredient in Root Out for stump removal. Looks like I ran out of sodium chlorate last spring. I haven’t had any major ill effects from either.

    For a path or driveway where nothing is ever meant to grow, I reckon that plenty of plain salt (sodium chloride) ought to work to prevent regrowth. Either road grit or table salt.

  6. I have been boiling water in our kettle and using it to kill weeds that grow up through our paving stones and stone walls around our house for years and find 8 or 10 kettles of boiling water a year eliminates all the weeds.

    This year I decided to experiment with using boiling water on our weedy gravel drive (you can park five cars on it), and reckon I have killed at least half the weeds and moss so far by pouring 4-5 (1 litre) kettles of boiling water on it most days.

    Reckon its going to take me at least a year to get it fully weed and moss free, but figure if I can get the weeds under control it shouldn’t take much effort to keep it that way.

    While this method uses some electricity, I reckon it will not cost any more than chemicals in the long term and doesn’t need any extra equipment.

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