We're thinking of paving the area under our second-story deck but aren't budgeting for it until next year at the earliest. The area, which is roughly 30 feet by 10 feet, has black lava rock partially covering it right now - because of price and general lack of availability where I live, I've been slowly moving it to the front of the house where the lava rock there was thinning out.

I'm tempted to remove the rest of the rocks under the deck, smooth out the dirt, and cover it up with landscaping fabric to make it easier to deal with weeds in that space in this coming summer. Because we may pave over this next year, I don't want to deal with the expense and hassle of putting a bunch of mulch down on top of this area. Would it be a bad idea to leave the fabric exposed like that, knowing that it's out of the way of foot traffic and otherwise isn't being used for plants? I've seen all sorts of mixed reviews on using landscape fabric, though. Is there a cheaper way to temporarily deal with this, perhaps leaving things as they are for now and occasionally using a weed control spray?

Here's a photo of the area I'm dealing with:

enter image description here

1 Answer 1


Landscape fabric was NEVER meant for weed fabric. I hate whoever decided to make more money perpetuating this LIE. This fabric is meant to go gravel, BENEATH rock, lava rock so that the fines in the soil below don't come up to the surface while your gravels go down into the soil profile. That is what they should only be used to do. (I've heard the word 'sumping' which is mainly when pressure is applied topside it pushes the larger rock down allowing the soil to come up replacing the gravel and allowing weeds to go nuts and you lose your investment).

By your photo, it looks like this lava rock is fairly recent and the rain dripping through your deck or prior to your deck has splashed up on your masonry. Pressure washer will take care of that.

Landscape fabric needs to go BELOW the lavarock or gravel or drain rock... which looks even better in this application. As long as the fines or soil do not come up into your rock that should be no shallower than 4" deep/thick, you'll have little weed problems. I'd pull that rock out of there, excavate and level the subsoil to get your 4", use PT 2X4's for edging the tops of which are level with the top of your gravel, secure with stakes and SCREWS not nails! Install your fabric. One thickness is JUST FINE. I'd use clean drain rock instead of this black lava rock or at least wash this stuff free of soil before installing on TOP of the fabric. Every other year when soil and weed seeds blow in just spray glyphosate to kill the weeds. This is pretty much the only time I even have to use a pesticide for which I am licensed. If you get contractors to do this make sure they are licensed and bonded or if they screw something up (water pipes, electrical conduits, posts, garf up your beautiful masonry, break windows) YOUR homeowners insurance will take the brunt of the financial downfall. A nice clean line of 2X4 edging at the foot of your posts will make your entire home project look far more professional and well thought out. Raising the value of your home!

  • Do you use this area for traffic? I don't see the need for pavement. Gravel (5/8 minus 4" thick over L.S. fabric) works well. There is also the county's regulation for permeable surfaces. Don't know how much property you have nor how much you have changed the permeability and percentage of changes but even gravel changes the permeability. Pavement is zero percent permeability.
    – stormy
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 18:47
  • And sure you could just cover all with landscape fabric but ugh. Guess that is why I was down voted, there are better alternatives to do now and lasts forever.
    – stormy
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 18:48
  • This area isn't used for foot traffic at the moment. While we've considered putting a proper patio there, I'm more interested in putting in place a measure to handle the weeds that turn up in this spot with the minimal amount of effort. And as you say, pavement isn't permeable, so I figured it'd be the best way to ensure that (at least until cracks form years later, and grass and weeds start to shoot up through them). I like your idea, though, to turn this into a more manicured looking gravel pit, so I may just leave things as is for now, and ask a landscaper about doing that next year.
    – Derek
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 17:19
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    Consider using concrete pavers versus poured concrete. Butted up against each other on top of compacted sand is beautiful and don't ever have to worry about cracks. Sure there might be weeds but so easy to manage instead of a slab of concrete. (Do not use COLORS just dove grey with a possible mixture of darker gray...this is the only color to go with brick...and you will also be able to use CMU for garden walls. Talk about a wonderful patio system that will increase the value of your home!! Hate to do anything twice. Cleaning up under your deck will form the basis of your patio.
    – stormy
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 19:42
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    Hire a licensed and certified Landscape Construction Project Installer. Do not mess with anyone without license or experience or references up the ying yang. Seriously. Low ball quotes run away fast!
    – stormy
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 19:44

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