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When searching for the perfect weed killer for your lawn, you first need to know what type of weeds you’re dealing with. The type of weeds on your property will help determine the best way to treat them and the best residential weed killer to buy. While it’s always recommended to consult a professional lawn care company for advice, the more you know about which weeds you’re dealing with, the easier it will be to handle them. Here are some of the best weed killers on the market this season.
Types of Weeds
Before tackling those pesky weeds in your lawn or garden, you need to identify what types of weeds you’re dealing with. The following are some of the most common weeds you might see on your property.
These are the easiest weeds to identify because they look nothing like the fescue or bermuda grass you might be growing. Common broadleaf weeds include dandelions, oxalis, thistle, chickweed, and poison ivy. Because these weeds have different life cycles, you must be on the lookout year-round for the different varieties. These types of weeds don’t resemble grass at all—hence the term broadleaf—so they’re easy to spot on your lawn.
Grassy weeds can be a little trickier to spot than broadleaf weeds because they resemble blades of grass. Common grassy weeds include crabgrass, ryegrass, foxtail, and sometimes annual bluegrass.
Despite the similar name, grass-like weeds look less like grass than grassy weeds. Wild onion, garlic, and nutsedge are common grass-like weeds. These are easier to identify than grassy weeds because rather than flat blades, like grass, they produce tube-like singular blades that can be easily pulled out.
How to Apply Weed Killers to Your Lawn
There are many different ways you can apply weed killers to your lawn. It’s up to you which method you’d like to use and which form of weed killer you want to employ to fight weeds in your flower beds or vegetable garden.
Most weed killers come in concentrates. Mix about two-and-a-half ounces of weed killer concentrate with one gallon of water to make weed killer for your lawn. Once the mixture is complete, you’re ready to use your weed killer with a sprayer.
Sprayers are meant to be used with a pump action sprayer or a sprayer that has a trigger. Spray low and close to the ground for maximum impact on the weeds. Many sprayers even come as tank sprayers that you can wear as a backpack or carry with a suitcase-like handle.
Spray bottles provide you with weed killer on a much smaller, handheld level. You can buy large amounts of weed killer concentrate to mix with water and put into the recommended spray bottle, or you can get the mixture ready-made. This is the perfect tool for small-scale weed control because you can apply the spray directly onto the stubborn weed rather than the beloved plants they may be growing close to.
Weed killer spreaders resemble small wheelbarrows. You can use these to spread pre-emergent herbicides on your lawn. These are best applied in early spring before weeds such as crabgrass grow, as they will prevent weeds from sprouting.
You can also use a spreader to apply post-emergent weed killers. If you already have a weed problem, make sure to get the correct type of weed killer. Spreaders work best to distribute solid (powdered or granular) weed killers.
How Lawn Weed Killers Work
Just like weeds are not the same, neither are weed killers. Depending on the variety of weeds, lawn grass, and time of year, you’ll need to use specific lawn weed killers. Different weed killers may have different application methods, which can also influence your purchasing decision.
Weather and Timing
Make sure to apply weed killer on a dry day. Some sprays become rainproof within 30 minutes of being applied, but granular weed killer needs a bit longer to ensure it’s effective.
You should also not apply weed killer on freshly cut grass, as the grass just underwent trauma, and the weed killer could harm it. Don’t apply it when it’s too hot outside, either—you don’t want to cause your grass to get scorched while trying to use weed killer.
To keep weeds from germinating, apply preemergent herbicides before they grow. These herbicides target seeds and rhizomes (i.e. rootstalks), so your already-sprouted lawn grass will be fine.
If the weeds have already begun growing, you must apply a post-emergent herbicide. These herbicides are applied on the weed’s foliage and travel down the root system, so you must be careful not to spread it to nearby plants during application.
If you want to create DIY herbicides, vinegar is often considered an affordable and widely available option. The only caveat is there’s nothing selective about vinegar. It kills all plants. This isn’t a great option if you cannot apply an extremely direct stream to the weeds on your lawn without letting the vinegar touch the grass.
How to Prevent Weeds on Your Lawn
Although weeds do seem unavoidable to an extent, there are a few things you can do to discourage weed growth on your property.
Keep Your Lawn Well-Nourished
The weeds mentioned above love soil that lacks nutrients. If you keep your lawn fertilized regularly and ensure your grass is well-watered, you’ll create a harsh environment for weeds. You won’t have to kill weeds if they can’t sprout in your yard.
Keep Tall Grass
If you set your mower to trim your grass a little higher than you normally would, it can help block out sunlight that weeds use to grow. Most common weeds grow close to the ground and cannot survive without steady sunlight.
Don’t Water Too Often
When you water, ensure the ground gets soaked deeply, but do so sparingly so that your grass develops deep, strong roots resistant to weed infiltration.
Top 4 Lawn Weed Killers
- Ortho Weed B Gon
- Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed
- Preen Garden Weed Preventer
Ortho Weed B Gon
What We Like: Ortho Weed B Gon is a selective herbicide, which means it will attack and kill more than 200 types of weeds, but your grass will remain unscathed. You can apply this using a hose attachment or simply purchasing a handheld spray bottle, making it a convenient option for larger lawns.
What Customers Are Saying
“This is the only thing we have found that works on wild onions. We had a lot of them, and this kills them—not quickly, but eventually. It only kills the ones that are above ground so you need to apply it whenever you see new sprouts. Connecting it to a hose and spraying large areas is easy to do.”—Thomas via Amazon
“Product was easy to use and had quick results! Within an hour, the weeds on my sidewalk began to brown and wilt. By the following morning, they were all shriveled up and dry. Exceptional results for the cost.”—Tiffany via Amazon
Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed
What We Like: Scotts Turf Builder is both a lawn fertilizer and weed killer, and you’re meant to apply it to your lawn after weeds have already sprouted. It’s best to apply this treatment after it rains or if the morning dew remains on the grass. It is more likely to stick and be effective on wet grass.
What Customers Are Saying
“We used to have to mow down the dandelions every 2 weeks in the summer when the grass wasn’t even growing. We used this product one time, and it took care of 99% of the weeds!”—Jennifer via Amazon
“Excellent product! My clover was gone within a few days, and grass emerged immediately thereafter!!”—John via Amazon
Preen Garden Weed Preventer
What We Like: You can apply this pre-emergent herbicide anytime in the spring, summer, or fall. It is in granular form and is intended to be incorporated into the soil before you plant your desired vegetation to prevent weeds from growing in that area.
What Customers Are Saying
“Used this in my perennial bed. I tried several weed killers before this one to no avail. So easy if you do exactly as directed. … Highly recommend! Saved me so much time.”—Kelli via Amazon
“I invest in this product every spring to spread in my garden bed prior to mulching. … This cuts down on weeding tremendously. It is the most effective preventative I have used.”—Amazon user “Ms. Periwink” via Amazon
What We Like: This weed killer gets right to the roots of the weeds and kills them from the base of the problem. It’s non-selective, but you can apply it precisely so that only invasive weeds are targeted.
What Customers Are Saying
“Wow, did the best job! Be patient because it takes about a week to fully see results.”—Lisa via Amazon
“…This concentrate, used as suggested, takes about 5 days to see it really work. … Make sure it’s not going to rain within a couple days also. It kills my unwanted weeds and grass, while not bothering my plants and trees. Love this mixture, and have bought it several years running now with great success.”—Rick via Amazon
What to Look For in a Weed Killer
Knowing what to look for in a weed killer can help you choose the best option for your property. You should make a few considerations before selecting a weed killer.
Always check the product label to ensure that it’s the correct weed killer you’re looking for. If you need a crabgrass killer, there are specific weed killers. Whether it’s a weed killer for a lawn, golf course, or garden, if you don’t get the correct type for the kind of weeds you have, it will not work.
Most liquid weed killers come in concentrated forms and must be mixed with water before use. Weed killers also come in solid form, typically in granules. Granular weed killer is usually a preventive measure applied once or twice a year. Sprays can be used that way or as a fast-acting solution to weeds currently growing.
How often you must apply the weed killer can be a huge factor in determining which one to choose. Most only need to be applied once or twice each year, but if you have a breakout of weeds on walkways or driveways or in your garden, you may need to increase that frequency.
Pre-emergent herbicides are a preemptive strike against weeds before their growing season. Which weeds grow during which parts of the year depends on your location. You will need post-emergent herbicides for the specific weeds you want to eliminate.
If you follow the instructions on your selected weed killer, you are sure to find success in eradicating these pesky invaders. With the tips above, you can select the best weed killer for you and your lawn. Don’t forget about the professionals: Lawn care specialists can help you create your dream lawn, free from unwanted weedy guests.
Lawn Weed Killer FAQ
What will kill weeds but not grass?
Several lawn weed killers will kill hundreds of types of weeds but will not harm your grass. Any weed killer with an active ingredient of glyphosate will do the trick, but it’s always great to peruse customer reviews on products you haven’t tried before. Spectracide is also a good brand. If you’re looking for a weed preventer to keep them from germinating in the first place, you can try Preen.
How often should you use lawn weed killer on your lawn to keep it weed-free?
Most weed and grass killers say to use it on your lawn only once yearly. If you must, you can give your lawn two annual treatments with weed killer, especially if you need to perform spot treatment on tough weeds.
How many weeds can you kill with one bottle of weed killer?
You can expect to cover about 3,000 square feet of lawn with a household-sized spray bottle. If you’ve got an excess of weeds in certain areas, that surface area may be less because you’ll have to spray them with more coverage. But one bottle should cover several thousand square feet of lawn.
How We Chose the Top Lawn Weed Killers
To help you select the top tools for your lawn, we’ve vetted hundreds of products.
Before recommending any products, we’ve analyzed and reviewed them based on the following factors:
- Customer reviews: We read at least 100 customer reviews for every product in our lineup, considering pain points and advantages cited by customers.
- Ratings: Each product we recommend has a high amount of verified customer ratings on sites such as Amazon and Google.
- Brand research: We conduct research into each brand to assess its reputation in the industry.
- Features: We compare products based on their key features, customization options, and other factors related to performance.
Our data points and review content are regularly updated to account for shifts in customer consensus, product availability, and overall quality.