Can remove grass with a tiller

Weed killers for paving stones: allowed or forbidden?

Weeds grow in all possible and impossible places, unfortunately also preferentially in pavement joints, where they are safe from every weed hoe. However, weed killers are not a solution for removing the weeds around the paving stones: The Plant Protection Act clearly regulates that weed killers - regardless of the active ingredient - may not be used on sealed surfaces, i.e. not on paved paths, terraces, sidewalks or garage driveways. The ban goes even further and also applies to all areas that are neither horticultural nor agricultural. It therefore also applies to embankments, green strips in front of the garden fence and even the currently popular gravel garden or gravel areas in general.

Weed killers for paving stones are only allowed under one condition: If a special permit from the city or local government is available. And it doesn't matter in the garden, private users practically never get it. Only the railway regularly receives special permits for spraying between the track systems. On paved surfaces in the garden, only green growth removers are allowed to remove algae and moss coverings which, as biocides, go through a different approval process as pesticides.

Why are weed killers banned for paving stones?

The ban on weed killers for paving stones is neither chicane nor money-making by manufacturers of joint scrapers or thermal devices. According to the Plant Protection Act, plant protection products may not be used if "harmful effects on groundwater and surface water or the natural balance are to be expected". If you spray paved surfaces, the active ingredient gets into the next gully and the sewage treatment plant or from gravel surfaces into surface water - without the soil organisms being able to break it down into harmless components. These do not exist on paved or gravel surfaces. The cleaning performance of the sewage treatment plants is overwhelmed by the active ingredients. If the agent is applied to "horticultural areas", microorganisms have enough time to break down and convert the active ingredient before it gets into the groundwater.

What are the penalties?

In extreme cases, a violation can result in fines of clearly five figures. The risk of being caught is small, isn't it? Perhaps, but many cities and municipalities are now even sending out inspectors in the evening - after all, the income from fines is always welcome. Most of the clues, however, come from neighbors. Injected quickly in the evening and nobody saw it? That too can quickly become expensive. Because there is no denying it, soil samples are taken in case of doubt and weed killers can always be detected in them. Probably none of those caught pays the full penalty of 50,000 euros, which is possible by law, but even the realistic fines of a few hundred to several thousand euros are not worth a violation. The amount depends on the severity of the offense: repeat offenders pay more than unknowingly acting people, who at the same time declare that they have not read the instructions for use - in which the application is described correctly. Of course, the highest penalties are paid by experts who knowingly have acted wrongly.

What about home remedies as a weed killer?

Even if there are numerous suggestions and recipes on the Internet: You are not allowed to make herbicides yourself. Be it from vinegar, salt or other supposedly biological active ingredients: You inevitably sit down in the nettles first and risk legal proceedings. It's not even about the active ingredients, but about the Plant Protection Act. Because according to this, every plant protection product and therefore every herbicide must be approved for every area of ‚Äč‚Äčapplication. The moment you use mixed substances against weeds, you use them as pesticides and apply them in the garden. And then that is not allowed. Salt is not that effective anyway and salt water causes considerable damage in adjacent beds - just like road salt does after winter.

In this video we introduce you to different solutions for removing weeds from pavement joints.
Credit: Camera and Editing: Fabian Surber

How can you kill weeds between cobblestones?

Heat, manual labor or mechanics: the permitted methods are often more laborious than weed killers, but just as effective. If weed killers are taboo, special joint sand or special grout can be used as a preventive measure. Weeds can be removed between paving stones with special joint brushes or they can be killed with heat. For this you use boiling water, weed burners or hot water devices that work similarly to steam cleaners. The use of grout scrapers is tedious, motor brushes are more convenient, they don't bring you to your knees and, thanks to electric or battery drives, fight weeds even on larger areas. Weed burners are available in different sizes with gas cartridges and open flames, but also as electrical devices that release an equally effective heat beam on the weeds. Caution is advised in dry summers: the heat causes combustible materials such as dried grass or paper to go up in flames.

Electricity as a weed killer

Attacking weeds with tasers or drovers? Not quite, but XPower from Case IH, Electroherb from zasso GmbH or the system from RootWave show that there are now technologies for agriculture that fight weeds with electricity and remove them root-deep with the right voltage. The use of electricity as a weed killer is residue-free, effective, without heat and therefore also perfect for paving joints. So far, however, there is no ready-to-use device for the garden (yet).