How to clean landscape rocks

You don’t need fancy tricks to keep your garden stones clean.

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Landscape rocks are a wonderful decoration to add to your garden. They can be used in a variety of ways. You can add them to planters, pathways, ponds, and more. 

Unfortunately, landscape rocks and stones are prone to gathering dirt and debris from long exposure to all sorts of weather. On the bright side, it’s fairly easy to clean your landscape rocks. 

What do you need to know before cleaning garden rocks? 

Garden rocks can be cleaned with a bit of effort. You will need to consider several factors before choosing your method, as these factors can affect the complexity, frequency, and ease of cleaning. 

1. How big are the rocks you need to clean?

Garden rocks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Think about how much time you’ll need to dedicate to cleaning them. The bigger the stone, the more straightforward they are to clean. Smaller stones will need a little more time as they will likely need to be cleaned in batches. 

2. What kind of material are they? 

Soft materials like marble, limestone, and sandstone will discolor much faster. If you’d like to preserve the color of your stones, you might want to refrain from washing them too often. Place them in locations that have ample protection from the weather. You may also want to opt for more hard-wearing materials like quartz, granite, or flint. 

3. What kind of weather or temperatures are they exposed to?

Dark, damp places promote algae build-up. Layering your rocks directly over soil can also be challenging to clean more often. Using protective materials like weed membranes will go a long way in minimizing how often you’ll need to clean.

How to clean light-colored stones

Top view, close up. White poultice and trowel in a bucket. For cleaning light-coloured garden stones

  1. Create a poultice or liquid cleaner. Choose a cleaning agent to help brighten back up your stones: ammonia, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide. Dilute a half cup of your chosen cleaning agent with a gallon of water.

  2. Wet the dirtied stones with water before coating them in your poultice generously. A quarter to half an inch of thickness will be enough.

  3. Cover the treated stones with plastic and tape them down by the edges. Let dry for 1-2 days.

  4. Remove the plastic and allow another 1-2 days for the cleaned stones to air-dry.

  5. Rinse the poultice with water and dry down with a cloth.

A poultice is a paste-like substance used to absorb stains from natural stone surfaces. It is made by mixing a liquid cleaner or chemical with an absorbent material, typically to a consistency similar to peanut butter.

When selecting and applying a poultice, it is best to seek the guidance of a natural stone expert.

How to clean decorative landscaping rocks

Cleaning dirty paving stones in the garden with a pressure washer

  1. Sweep away any initial dirt and debris from the rocks in your garden. In case of stubborn spots, you can also use a leaf blower or a rake to pull dirt away.

  2. Once free from the debris, do an initial rinse with a hose putting water pressure on high. 

  3. You can opt to soak the affected area with vinegar for a more thorough cleanse.

  4. Using a scrub brush, wash the rocks with soapy water.

  5. Rinse with a garden hose. For best results, a power hose will help strip off any stubborn gunk easily. Power hoses work best with bigger rocks as they will move a lot less under pressure.

How to clean small rocks

Woman cleaning small garden stones in sieve by pouring water in sink

  1. Using a shovel, sift out dirt and debris with a sieve. 

  2. Wash the rocks down with a hose.

  3. Use your preferred algae remover for larger areas where you need more efficiency. Apply onto stones and let sit for 1-2 days.

  4. Do one last rinse with water before letting them air-dry.

Eager to keep your garden in pristine condition? Find gardeners near you to help with your regular rock cleaning, general landscape maintenance, or exploring new designs for your outdoor space. 

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FAQs on cleaning garden stones

Layering and strategic stone placement can lessen the frequency of cleaning garden stones. Add a layer of gravel between the soil and stones to limit dirt exposure to the stones. Location also matters. Always consider where you place your stones based on exposure to weather, soil, and harsh temperatures. Moreover, you can use a weed membrane to keep stones cleaner for longer.

To make rocks look wet and vibrant, you can use water-based artificial oil solutions or create your own DIY solution with products like toothpaste, vinegar, car wax, or clear nail polish. The type of solution you use will depend on the material of the stones and where you plan to display them.

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