You have a beautiful yard, but there is something that doesn't seem right. In your carefully mowed and curated lawn, there are some eyesores.
These are the weeds that keep sticking out like a sore thumb. You have researched several articles on “how to get rid of weeds in lawn” but didn't have much success. After all, you want to kill weeds, not grass.
If that seems like you and you seem to be losing weeds battle and feel like giving up, then you're not alone. There are several gardeners like you in a similar situation. They also faced the challenge of how to get rid of a lawn full of weeds.
But don’t lose hope.
There are tricks to get rid of the weeds. Plus, some weeds have surprisingly good health benefits. Maybe once you know these benefits, then you can look at these weeds differently and bring it to your dining table.
Let’s dive in and know more about weeds so you can control and get rid of it.
What are the common weeds types?
It’s essential that you first identify the weeds in your yard before you start removing them. Correct identification of the plant is vital to handle it most effectively.
There are different types of weeds, but we can classify lawn weeds into three main categories.
Unwanted grass: These aren't actually a weed, but anything that’s undesirable in your yard and is difficult to remove can be classified as a weed.
Sedges: These are grass that has a triangular stem and has a textured and attractive color. Depending on the landscaping, you may want to keep it as it gives a different appearance in the yard. But if you’re looking uniformity in your yard, then you can remove it.
Broadleaf grass: As the name suggests, these grasses have broad blade-like leaves and most commonly found in yards in North America.
Weeds aren't always an annoyance, and sometimes you may want to keep it due to its several medicinal qualities. Here are some common plants with medicinal qualities.
5 Natural Ways to Remove Weeds
- Use mulch to cover the ground. It keeps the underneath soil cold and moist while depriving weeds of sunlight and nutrients.
- Pour hot water on the weeds to kill it's delicate tissues.
- Use vinegar as home made solution to pour on weeds. It kills weed naturally without harming the soil.
- Spray baking soda to kill weeds slowly and prevent the weed growth forever.
- Apply corn gluten before the weeds germinate as it prevents the formation of weed roots in the lawn.
Weeds with medicinal quality
Dandelion is the most universal type of weed that can grow in the most stringent condition. You may often identify it with its bright yellow color flower. Dandelion is also a rich source of vitamins, minerals, fibers, and antioxidants such as beta carotene.
People with high blood sugar levels or conditions with diabetes can crush dandelion root and drink it in herbal tea.
Red clover has a bright pink flower with a similar texture ad dandelion. It’s also a natural fertilizer that fixes the nitrogen in the soil. The soil with high nitrogen level helps with the growth of the plant.
Red clover is very hardy weed and can grow in the most challenging condition. Once the roots take hold in the soil, it becomes tough to remove.
But red clover has several benefits, especially to women, as it helps in providing relief from the menopause symptoms such as hot flashes or breast pain. You can also rub red clover to get relief from skin sores, burns, and chronic skin conditions such as eczema.
Purslane is another green weed that is most often found in yards. Although it’s an eyesore, it has omega-3 fatty acids and a rich source of vitamins and minerals. It has antioxidant properties that can provide relief from several medical conditions such as asthma and type 2 diabetes.
Purslane is also claimed to be helpful in weight loss, skincare, and gastrointestinal treatments, but more scientific studies are needed to validate those claims.
Chickweed is a rich source of fiber and vitamins. The whole part of chickweeds can be consumed to help with weight loss, reduce joint inflammation, and to prevent open wound infection. Chickweeds grow in patches and are a bit easier to control than other weeds.
You have to be cautious with growing chickweed as once overgrown, it can hamper the growth of other plants in your yard. You can plant chickweed in raised garden beds or in containers to control its growth.
Let’s talk about some common weed that you don’t want it your yard. These weeds have no medicinal benefits and often give the rusty appearance in the yards.
10 Weeds that you don’t want in your yard
The following weeds are most commonly found in any garden. These are often difficult to remove.
Oxalis is a broadleaf type weed that grows up to 20 inches tall. It has light green leaves and often has a yellow flower that blooms in summer and fall. It most commonly grows in the partial sunny or shaded area of the yard.
Crabgrass has broad leaves, and it can grow quite tall. Full-grown crabgrass can reach 18 inches high and 20 inches wide. Once fully grown, it often becomes difficult to control the crabgrass due to its agility and fast growth cycle.
Each mature crabgrass plant can produce up to 150,000 seeds. These seeds often spread to other areas of the yard with a wind. The crabgrass starts growing in summer and lasts till the winter frost.
It’s an annual weed and dies off once it produced the seed. But many seeds often get spread out and germinate in the spring.
Clover is a very sturdy plant and often hard to remove. It’s a broadleaf plant that grows 8 to 10 inches tall and spread 12 inches wide. The clover is also a nitrogen-fixing plant that helps improve the nitrogen level in the soil.
Clover has distinct broad leaves and white round flowers. It grows in a set of 3 leaflets and has stripes around it. Most clovers have a white color flower with a brownish-green centre. Clover is drought tolerant and quickly grows without needing much water.
So, although clover is a weed, it helps with the growth of other plants in your yard.
Plantain is another most usually sighted weed in the lawn. It grows up to 9 inches tall and 12 inches wide. You can often find in the shaded and moist area of the lawn. Identifying plantain is easy as it has a distinct broad and flat-leaf.
It’s a robust plant and can produce several seeds that often get spread over quickly and makes it hard to contain.
Quick weed is a small size plant that grows up to 2 feet tall and wide. You can often find it growing on the sunny side of garden areas. It has rough hairy leaves with a small white flower at the top.
As its name suggests, it’s a fast-growing weed that blooms and produces seeds in a large quantity.
Unlike other weed seeds, it doesn’t wait to germinate in the next season. The seeds can start growing in the same season.
Canada Thistle is another versatile weed that has spiked, green leaves, and blooms purple flowers. It grows up to 7 feet tall and 3 feet wide.
It’s a very fast grower and can start growing anywhere it can find soil. You may have often seen it rising from the cracks of sidewalks or driveways.
It’s challenging to remove as it has long, deep roots. These networks of roots interwind with each other and grow several feet beyond the main plant.
Most of the weeds we have covered so far and innocuous and don’t have any side effect on human health. But poison ivy is different, and it may cause serious health issues.
Poison ivy is very irritative, and once it rubs to your skin, it causes itches rashes. It’s a very enduring weed and can grow in any harsh condition.
The roots of poison ivy contain a poisonous resin called urushiol. Once you get in contact with the plant, the symptoms start developing within 24 to 48 hours.
Black medic is a short-lived weed that grows up to 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide. It can grow in any harsh condition, such as from dry soil to bright sunlight. It has clover-like leaves and blooms a small yellow flower at its tip.
Black medic has overgrown roots that are very sturdy and make it tough to pull it out.
Quack grass is a grassy perennial weed that grows up to 3 feet tall and spread several feet wide. It grows in both sunny and shaded areas of the yard. The quack grass is also known as couch grass or twitch grass.
The quack grass grows through its seed and rhizome. Each plant produces up to 25 grains, but these are potent and robust grains. It can stay dormant for several seasons and sustain harsh weather.
The biggest strength is its ability to grow fast. It can grow up to 2.5 cm per day, and new grass can shoot through anywhere from the weed stem.
Musk thistle is a unique plant as it has a weird looking leaf and has a tall stem. It can grow up to 7 feet tall and 18 inches wide. At its top, it produces a large 3-inch purple flower.
The leaves of musk thistle have a smooth, waxy surface that helps it to remove excess water.
It most often grows in mid to late July and blooms in the summertime. The musk thistle flower can produce a thousand seeds that quickly spread in the yard and making it difficult to control.
How to get rid of weeds permanently
There are three common ways you can control and get rid of weeds.
Preventive Method Of Controlling Weeds
The preventive method relies on the proactively taking steps to not let weed to take hold in your lawn. It needs some work in the beginning, but then it makes it easier to control the weeds later.
Here are some preventive ways to control the weeds.
1. Strategic Lawn Layout
Weeds like to grow in their favourable condition. For example, areas in the lawn that is at a lower level have a higher chance of pooling water than the high ground areas.
You may likely find weeds that like a wet and humid place to be growing in those areas. You should work on improving the drainage at that part of your lawn. It helps with controlling the weed in those areas.
On the other hand, some weeds like to grow in shadier areas. Remove or trimming the branches, and long stems from that area make the sunlight to pass through it and control the weed growth.
Knowing the layout of your lawn and strategic design helps with controlling the weeds and prevents it from growing further.
2. Suffocate The Weeds
Like any other plant, weed needs space to grow. These are opportunistic plants that grow and thrive in areas where it finds space to allow its root to dig deeper into the ground and receive adequate sunlight.
You can deny weeds the required space to space by keeping the small plant gaps. It obstructs the weed roots to spread further and deprive it of sunlight.
This kills any weed germination that may start in your lawn and kills it permanently before it hits maturity and produces more seeds.
3. Optimal Fertilization
Fertilization is necessary to help grow other plants and grass in the lawn, but don’t over fertilize it. Over or under fertilization disturbs the stable balance of nutrients needed for desired plants to grow and encourages the growth of the weeds.
You should know the layout of your garden and the types of plants you have. It gives you a rough estimate of the fertilizer needed in your lawn.
Also, pay close attention to the packaging of the compost and use the measured amount of fertilizer. You may also use fertilizers such as sulphur coated urea or IBDU.
The slow-release fertilizer release nutrients in a more controlled manner. This allows you to better manage your fertilization schedule.
Mulching is a natural and effective way to control weed growth. There are many materials that can be used as a mulch. Most commonly, using decaying leaves, compost barks, and wooden chips provide the ground with a protective coating.
Mulching keeps the underneath soil cold and moist. It deprives the weeds of getting sunlight and hinders weed growth. Organic mulch, such as homemade compost, also contains several insects such as crickets and beetles that devour soft weeds roots.
For an established garden, you should put a thick layer of mulch around the grown plants, so it prevents the growth of weeds surrounding the plants.
5. Water The Plant, Not The Weed
Another arsenal to control weed is to deny the primary ingredient needed for its growth, and that is water. Mulching helps the plant to deprive of sunlight, and you can take it further and deny it much needed rain. You can achieve this objective in several different ways.
You can start with the drip irrigation system that facilitates targeted irrigation. It’s the most effective way to water your plants and not let weed to take any share of it. You may place a drip or soaker hose around your plant or under the mulch to water your plants.
The contained irrigation prevents the water from moving to the surrounding areas and hinders weed growth. When you’re placing these drip hose, be aware of the weeds likely surrounding your plants.
As weeds with more profound and more prolonged roots, it may still be able to reach under the ground in search of water.
6. Reduce Soil Disturbance
Most weeds produce thousands of seeds that can be easily spread all over the place. But fortunately, not all those seeds will germinate and build a new plant.
Weed seeds, which are at the top inch or two from the topsoil, will have a chance of growing into a weed with enough sunlight and water supply.
Digging or tilling makes these deep undergrounds weed seeds to get exposed to the top layer, where it has a much higher chance to develop into full-grown weed.
Tilling is a typical yard maintenance routine and helps with the growth of desirable plants, but don’t dig where it’s not required. You may reduce the soil disturbance by using sharp gardening tools to sever it from its roots rather than digging the whole root out.
7. Grass height
Mowing is essential to keep a tidy yard. Depending on the grass you have, you may want to cut the grass at a uniform height. You should start by identifying the most common weeds that you have seen in your yard and determine its average height.
Then you should mow your grass bit higher than the weed height. This makes the long grass to shade the small weed that dies down due to lack of sunlight.
If you mow too low, then you run the risk of removing the grass altogether. It may give the weed enough space to space its root and overcome surrounding grass. Usually, mowing at the height of 2 to 4 inches is ideal.
Paying attention to the growing grass and mowing it a bit longer to the weed height can give you better weed control. You shouldn't just rely on a mowing schedule or calendar but be flexible to mow when required and mow it as needed.
8. Commit To The Weeding Schedule
For a beautiful lush green yard, you have to stick to the weeding schedule. This makes it far easier to contain the weed before it gets a chance to grow its root.
Committing and sticking to the weeding plant help you later as you need to spend less time removing it.
Controlling Weeds Physically
Removing weeds manually is the most effective but labor-intensive method to control weeds.
But it helps you remove weed without any side effects. Here are some ways you can physically control weed growth.
9. Pull Out The Weeds
This is the most common and rudimentary approach to control the weeds. Depending on the grass type, this may or may not be very practical. But it’s useful in a small to medium size yard that has small patches of weed growing.
When pulling a weed, make sure that you pick the whole plant in its entirety so it doesn't have any parts left in the soil that may regrow. You can pull weed either by bare hands or use a weed removal tool. To be most effective in removing, do so when the ground is moist.
You should always put on the gardening gloves while pulling weed as some weeds have more robust and deeper roots. You may have to apply more force when pulling deep-rooted weeds, and gloves prevent your hand.
If you’re using tools like trowels, then make sure to go underneath the roots of weed to pull it out. For plants that contain seeds, avoid pulling it with your hand as it may cause the seed to fall off. The fallen seeds on the ground cause it to regrow. You should use the gardening tool to dig or cut the plant.
You should also dispose of the removed weed safely to prevent any contamination. Place the removed weed plant in a plastic bag and dispose of it safely.
10. Weed barrier fabrics
The weed barrier or landscape fabrics prevent weed growth by providing a physical barrier that stops it from growing from the ground. It works the same way as mulch but is more effective. The specially designed fabrics are made of polyvinyl material that takes longer than mulch to decompose.
When buying a weed barrier, make sure the gap in the barrier is small. It prevents the weed from passing through the small hole in the fabric. A good quality weed barrier should be firm and stiff and shouldn't tear or stretch easily.
11. Organic Ground Cover
The organic ground cover, such as newspapers, cardboard, or carpets on the soil, prevents the sunlight and air from reaching the weeds. As weeds need sunlight and air for germination and growth, the ground cover deprives weed of those essentials.
Newspaper and cardboard are made with organic matters like plant pulp. These matters eventually decompose after a while that improves the soil quality and encourages the growth of other plants.
You may also use old shower curtains sometimes, but these are made from plastics. The plastic won’t decompose, so you have to remove it at some point. You can also put mulch on the top of the curtain to give a natural appearance to your yard.
12. Hot Water
Pouring hot water on the weed kills the delicate tissues of the plant. It causes the grass to die in a day or two. It’s handy and works on most types of weed, but you have to be careful with this technique.
Be vigilant when pouring boiling water and make sure you don’t spill it to the surrounding plant or grass that you want to keep.
It’s convenient and most useful for controlling weed growth on a sidewalk or driveway. Since those sites have less risk of damaging other plants.
13. Nip The Weed Top
Sometimes, it may not be possible to either pull off the weed from the ground or to get rid of by other means. For example, you may want to hold off pulling the grass if there are lots of seeds on the plant. It won’t be wise to drop off weed seeds in the lawn.
Cutting the weed top allows you to securely remove the seeds pouch and reduces the possibility of re-seeding of the weed. The leftover weed slump can dry down its own.
14. Compost Precaution
If you're using compost, then sometimes you may still have weed seeds in it that may not get destroyed and can grow further. When you spread compost in the lawn and sprinkle water on it, the weed seeds start germinating.
You should avoid planting right after composting. You can wait a week or two before you start planting. This gives the weed seeds enough time to start growing that you can then remove it physically.
15. Burn The Weed
Burning is another more straightforward and effective way to get rid of weeds. You may have limited sites where you can burn the weed without damaging surrounding plants.
The most common examples are driveway or sidewalks, where there are no other plants that you may want to keep.
If you see the weed growth from the cracks of the concrete and you can’t pull it out completely, you should burn the plant. Burning it helps minimize the spreading of weed seeds.
For it to be effective, you don’t have to burn it entirely. You can run the hot flames over the weed plant, so it loses all its internal moisture. The weeds then dies naturally in a few days.
16. Unleash Livestock
Livestock that grazes on seeds and grass are allies in weed control endeavour. Now depending on the area, you live, it may not be practical. Most city bylaws prevent residents from raising livestock.
But if you live in some rural community, then you can let loose the animals on the weeds. Livestock such as goat or cow grazes on the grass and the weed. You should be careful about protecting plants that you want to keep away from the animals.
You can do it by fencing or raising some barriers. The preventative and physical method of killing weeds gives you temporary relief from the plants, but in a situation, it may not be practical or advantageous. In that case, you have to use herbicides to control weeds.
Herbicides and Organic methods to control weed
The use of chemicals such as herbicides is a very effective way to control weeds from large areas. But you should use it as a last option because of its several harmful effects.
Chemicals are indiscriminate as they may not only destroy the weed but may also damage other plants.
Moreover, these chemicals are also harmful to humans, especially children. A recent study found that common weed killer Glyphosate increases the risk of cancer by 41 percent.
17. Weed Preventer
The weed preventer granules stop the growth of several months. These chemical-based granules work by killing the weed or inhibiting its growth. There are several types of weed preventer available in the market. Some may be more effective than the other.
Remember that not all weed preventers are the same. You should first identify the weed type that you're trying to remove. Then find the location where these weeds are growing aggressively, such as in gardens, driveways, or patios.
The strength and weed preventer composition are based on the weed types, persistence, and the ability to spread.
Vinegar is a homemade solution to control the weed. We all use vinegar at home for various purposes. It’s natural to ask, “Will vinegar kills weeds?”
Surprisingly, vinegar is a cheap and effective option in controlling weeds. You can spray it on the weed plants that kill it naturally. You can also use apple cider vinegar as a substitute for regular vinegar. Both are effective in controlling weed growth.
You should do a single spray of vinegar either in the middle of the weed or to the weed flower that stops it from producing seeds.
Spraying it near the roots allows it to pass it quickly in the soil and get absorbed by the root. This prevents the weed from growing again and kill it naturally.
19. Baking Soda
Baking soda is another household item that can be used to control weeds. If you’re dealing with weed growing through cracks of your driveway or lawn, then you may use baking soda to wipe it out.
Baking soda kills the weed slowly and prevents the regrowth. You may use in areas where there are no other plants that you may want to keep.
You should use herbicide when the weeds can’t be controlled by any other means. There are two common types of herbicides in the market. You should choose depending on the plant you're trying to remove.
These are pre-emergence herbicide and post-emergence herbicide. The pre-emergence herbicide prevents the weed seeds from germinating. These are a preventive type of herbicides, and you have to use it for several seasons to see a long-lasting effect.
For example, crabgrass is a common sturdy weed that is hard to control once it takes hold in the ground. The use of pre-emergence herbicide is very useful in controlling crabgrass.
However, you have to a bit cautious when using these herbicides as it also kills the germinating lawn seeds.
Post-emergence herbicides are used on weeds that already germinate and grow. There are two types of post-emergence herbicides, contact and systemic.
The contact herbicide works only to the part of the plant where it made contact. These are useful in control annual weed types. The systemic herbicide works by circulating inside the grass and killing it internally. It’s most effective on perennial weeds.
You shouldn't spray the post-emergence herbicide on your entire lawn but use it selectively on the weeds that you're trying to eliminate.
If you have weeds growing around the foundation of your home or along the sidewalk, then you may also consider using borax.
Borax is also a suitable insecticide, so if you have trouble keeping away ants or other small insects, then Borax can take care of both.
Alcohol, such as vodka, is very useful in killing weeds. To use it, mix vodka with few drops of liquid dish soap and water and put it in a spray bottle. This prepares the homemade weed removal that is equally effective.
You can spray the mixture on weed on a warm sunny day. It works by quickly evaporating alcohol and takes the moisture out of weed by breaking the waxy layer on the weeds.
This exposes the delicate foliage of weed to direct sunlight heat. It results in the plant to dehydrate and kills it slowly.
If you're wondering can bleach kills the weed, then the answer is yes. You can use bleach and spray it on the weed to kill it. For ordinary weeds, you can dilute bleach with water, and for hardy plants that refuse to die, you can use undiluted bleach.
You can make a homemade weed killer by filling up bleach in a bottle and sprinkle the bleach directly on the weed. You may not see the immediate result of weed dying as it takes a day or two to wither the plant that you can pull out quickly.
Be cautious when applying bleach as it may result in the discolouration of the tiles or floor. Also, make sure it doesn’t get on the plant that you want to keep.
24. Corn Gluten
If you’re looking for an organic weed control method, then you may consider using corn gluten. It’s a by-product of corn mill processes and contains up to 10 percent nitrogen. To make it useful on weeds, you have to use it correctly.
Use corn gluten before the weed germinates as it works by stopping the formation of weed roots. The nitrogen in the corn gluten helps fertilize your lawn while it kills the weed.
Make sure you double the dose when trying to control the crabgrass, as those are very hardy. Apply it when there is no rain and don’t water lawn for at least 5 days after applying the corn gluten.
25. Essential Oils
Essential oils such as clove, cinnamon, and orange have weed-killing properties naturally. The essential oils work by destroying the weed leaf cuticles and destroying the inner parts of plants.
You can make your natural weed killer with essential oil. Here is the homemade killer recipe with essential oil. Grab a 16 oz spray bottle and add 14 oz vinegar, 1.3 Oz soap, and 3 drops of essential oil.
Clove, cinnamon, orange, and wintergreen are the most effective essential oils in controlling weeds. Once you're ready, spray it thoroughly on the weed plant. You may have to spray multiple times to get the desired result.
Salt is another effect and natural way to control weeds. Salt is a natural weed killer, and you likely have it in your kitchen already.
The salt has sodium as a chemical composition that changes the chemical balance in the plant. You can add 1 cup of salt in a 2 cup of water to make your homemade solution. Mix it properly and boil the solution. Then fill up the spray bottle and sprinkle it directly on the weed.
Repeat the process until the plant dies. Don’t spray on the grass that you want to keep as it may kill it.
27. Use organic compost
Organic compost is a recommended way to get rid of weed naturally. If you thought, “how to get rid of weed naturally,” then this is the preferred way to do it.
The use of organic compost has several benefits as it destroys the weed but also fertilize the garden plants. It’s a more natural way to cut down your yard maintenance task.
Unlike other chemical fertilizers, it’s safe to use organic compost. There are unusual side effects of using organic compost.
So, there you have it. The 27 innovative ways you can get rid of weed from your lawn. If you find the list helpful, then share it with your friends and other fellow gardeners so they can also have the same weed-free garden like you.
If you have used any other tips or technique which tell us what kills weeds permanently, then share in the comment below. Happy weeding.