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The Best Way To Kill Weeds – Four Methods Examined!

No matter how good a gardener you are you would unfortunately experienced weeds in your yard.

They are a pain, BUT they can be banished easily.

What is the best way to kill weeds? Check out four top methods.

Let’s jump right in…

Whenever weeds are mentioned, the first image that would probably come to your mind would be of unwanted plants that grow where they shouldn’t be. And that would actually be an accurate description.

In this article we will look at the best way to kill weeds – and get your yard in good shape.

Boom – lets destroy these things!

So What Are Weeds?

Weeds can be defined as plants that grow where they have not been intentionally planted and generally become a nuisance. These plants have some unique traits that make them dangerous and stubborn. Such traits include;

  1. Rapid growth rates – They are able to quickly multiply and can take over a very large area in little time if left unchecked.
  2. Ability to adapt – Weeds have a resilient quality that makes them able to quickly adapt to hostile environments. As a result, they are able to thrive in conditions that are typically considered unfavorable for most plant species.
  3. Ability to stay dormant for long periods – Weeds often produce seeds that can stay dormant in the soil for over a year. You can therefore be easily fooled to think that you have successfully eliminated all weeds only for them to appear again when the right conditions are present.

The most common weed species include chickweed, dandelion, creeping thistle, knotweed and the ground ivy.

The Impact Of Weeds

The most harmful effect of weeds is usually experienced in large scale crop production.

However:

Weeds can also become a bother when they appear in your home garden or backyard lawn, driveway or pavement.

Some of the common problems caused by weeds include;

  1. Reducing the overall yield of cultivated crops – Weeds growing alongside cultivated crops deplete vital nutrients and water from the soil. This deprives other crops of nourishment leading to their gradual withering and death.
  2. Hosting pests and pathogens harmful to other crops – Weeds can sometimes provide a conducive environment for destructive living species to reside. Such species may include pathogens capable of infecting nearby crops or plant-eating animals.
  3. Producing toxic chemicals – Some weed species are highly toxic to both humans and animals when unintended contact is made with them or when they are accidentally consumed.
  4. Causing structural damage on buildings and infrastructure – Unwanted plants sometimes sprout around man-made structures. As they grow, their roots work their way into the concrete leading to cracks. This is most noticeable when weeds grow around concrete pavements and driveways leading to cracks and eventual disintegration.
  5. Ruining the beauty of a landscape – The presence of weeds on lawns and sidewalks can be an eyesore.

Methods of Eliminating Weeds

Weeds can completely cover any space if no action is taken to curb their spread. Failure to act promptly can result in a total infestation that can be difficult, costly and time-consuming to deal with.

And you don’t want that.

It is thus advisable to take swift measures to eliminate weeds whenever you notice them. There are several methods through which you can successfully eliminate weeds.

The most appropriate method to use will depend on the species of weed being removed and the extent of infestation.

1 – Pulling Them Out By Hand

If there are only a few weeds around your garden or lawn you can consider pulling them by hand. This method sounds quite easy but it requires a lot of patience and care to be done effectively.

First:

You will have to make sure that you pull out the entire plant including its roots. It is advisable to do this when the soil is wet. You will need a pair of heavy duty gloves to protect your hands since some weeds might contain toxins or tiny thorns.

Then:

You should then hold each weed firmly at the bottom of the stem and gently pull it out with one hand. If you encounter any resistance, do not use excessive force as you may end up breaking the stem and leaving the roots in the ground.

You should instead dig out some soil from around the stem using a trowel to expose the roots before pulling it out.

Pros

1 – This method is the cheapest since no chemicals or expensive tools are needed

Cons

1 – It is a tedious and time-consuming method since each weed has to be pulled out individually.

2 – This method can only be applied effectively on shallow-rooted weeds which are easier to pull out..

2 – Mulching

Mulching basically involves burying the weeds under a thick layer of organic matter. Inorganic materials such as polythene and pieces of cloth can also be used although this can destroy the environment.

In short:

Mulching works by suffocating the weeds underneath the layer, cutting off access to light and air which they need to grow.

Pros

1 – It is less tiresome compared to other methods.

2- Mulching with organic material such as manure can provide nutrients to the soil while at the same time suffocating the weeds underneath.

Cons

1 – This method is only applicable in gardens. Mulching on lawns is not practical since the mulch will also kill the grass around the lawn and create an ugly sight.

2 – It takes a long time before the roots of the weeds underneath the mulch are finally killed. In some instances, some roots might take over a year of mulching before they wither and die.

3 – Mulching can provide shelter for other undesirable pests and animals such as garden spiders and slugs.

3 – Using A Weed Killer

When the other methods listed above fail to produce satisfactory results, you can opt to use a weed killer.

But how does this work?

This method involves spraying chemical substances on weeds to kill them and completely destroy their roots and seeds thus ensuring their permanent elimination.

Weed killers can be purchased in gardening supplies stores. You can also make your own at home using a mixture of vinegar and salt.

Pros

1 – This method is perhaps the most effective as it destroys the weeds from the root in a matter of days.

2 – Most weed killers also serve as pesticides to kill other unwanted organisms that feed on your plants such as worms.

Cons

1 – Some synthetic weed killers contain chemicals that can harm humans.

2 – Weed killers can leave traces in the soil several months after use, making it difficult to grow other crops in the same soil even after the weeds are gone.

3 – Weed killers can cause environmental pollution. For example, traces of chemical weed killers can be washed away by rain and deposited in nearby rivers and lakes, posing a risk to aquatic animals in the process

4 – Using A Weed Eater

Weed Eaters, also known as string trimmers or weed whackers, are machines that basically cut through weeds and other  using plastic lines.

The premise is simple:

The line is held out from the head by centrifugal force. The faster the line turns the stiffer it is. They are hand held and powered by gas, electricity or a battery.

Pros

1 – A quick and effective way of removing weeds

2 – Easy to use

Cons

1 – Initial outlay is more expensive

2 – Maintenance and management of the weed eater is required

If you are thinking about getting one there are some fantastic weed eaters on the market.

For the record my top choice overall is the battery powered EGO Power String Trimmer, but there are lots of good options such as the electric Black & Decker GH900 or the gas powered Husqvarna 128LD.

USEFUL RESOURCES

Want to learn more about how to keep weeds at bay, check out some of these links:

About The Author

Steve Mann

Steve is a one time gardening hater turned into gardening obsessive. This was all thanks to going to University where a two year stint spent transforming the previously horrific garden of the student house he lived in left him addicted to all things horticultural! Now with a new house in tow and due to some fortunate circumstances he is free to test out a whole host of gardening equipment. Find out more about Steve or drop him an email at steve@suaveyards.com.

4 Comments

  1. Grant

    Hi, Steve. Thanks for the good information on weeds. Bindweed is a big problem in my area. Pulling doesn’t work because the root breaks off below ground and they always come back. I think I’ll try your homemade pesticide suggestion with vinegar and salt. Do you know what proportions to use? And can it be used with a pump sprayer?

    Reply
    • Steve Mann

      Thanks Grant, yes you can use it with a pump sprayer. The best way to do it is to pour a gallon of white vinegar into a container (you can use normal 5% household white vinegar) and add a cup of table salt, stirring it all together. You could also add a tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap. This will make solution stick to the weeds more effectively.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  2. Justina Wolfe

    Weeds sure can be an eye sore and I’m still sick and tired of them from last summer. We moved to a new place and the previous owners weren’t home much of the time so the weeds had overtaken the garden and last summer I struggled to get rid of them all. I went with the weed pulling method so believe me I know what you’re talking about when you say it is time consuming.
    But I still enjoyed it somewhat because it gave me fresh air and time to think about a lot of things so I think I’ll probably go with that method again this summer.

    Reply
    • Steve Mann

      Very true Justina, you get fresh air, some exercise and time to think as you suggest all very good things. Hope all the weeds are under control and you don’t have as much hard graft to do this year!

      Reply

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About Me

SteveHi, my name is Steve and I am the founder and editor of Suave Yards.

Once upon a time I was a complete gardening newbie, but over the last few years I have learnt a lot about yard care – all stemming from taking over a mess of a garden when I started at university!

My team and I have put together a comprehensive series of reviews and guides to help you create the perfect garden.

So please take a look around!

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