Weed eradication takes time and patience, and you’ll need both to complete the task. While the majority of weeds aren’t harmful to the gardener, others can be. A torn muscle might result from pulling established dandelion roots out of the ground, but poison ivy can trigger serious allergic reactions.

What are weeds and why do they cause such a problem?

Before you can fight weeds, you need to know what they are, how they get onto your land, and how much harm they cause. Here are a few examples of weed definitions:

  • Any plant that has grown out of place or was not planted on purpose.
  • A plant that is aggressive or has a negative impact on human activity.
  • A plant that obstructs the growth of other plants, flowers, or food.

Weeds, no matter how you describe them, are fierce competitors in the natural world. Weeds multiply quickly as a result of features such as copious seed production, long-term dormancy and survival of buried seeds, and their capacity to grow in places where cultivated plants wouldn’t (or couldn’t).

Around the world, there are an estimated 250,000 plant species, with roughly 8,000 of them acting as weeds. The following are the most prevalent weeds that impact homes in the United States:

  • Common lambsquarters
  • Morning glory
  • Foxtail
  • Palmer amaranth
  • Waterhemp
  • Waterhemp Redroot pigweed
  • Horseweed or mare’s tail
  • Common ragweed
  • Barnyardgrass
  • Velvetleaf

These weeds may demolish lawns and gardens, choke out beautiful plants, serve as hosts for pests and plant diseases, and have a detrimental impact on the appearance of your outdoor space if left unchecked.

Weed control: conventional vs. natural

If you want to get rid of weeds on your property, you have two options: conventional weed management and natural weed control. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each:

Natural 

For both households and businesses, natural weed management is a fantastic solution. Natural weed management solutions, in addition to being more environmentally friendly, take a holistic approach to improve your outdoor space.

Natural weed control does more than just get rid of weeds; it also gets rid of invasive plants, improves soil biochemistry, promotes the growth of healthy bacteria and the proliferation of beneficial creatures, and builds a more resilient outdoor ecosystem.

Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are not used in true natural weed control. Instead, it employs a range of holistic approaches to weed control. Natural weed management solutions are more expensive than traditional weed control methods, but they generate longer-lasting results that are safer for children, pets, and the environment.

Conventional

Chemical pesticides and fertilizers are used in traditional weed management procedures to remove weeds. While conventional weed management is less expensive than natural weed control, the outcomes are usually only superficial.

Traditional weed management may result in quick green-up and weed elimination, but it does not improve the health of the yard or garden. Many traditional weed control methods, in fact, deplete the soil of beneficial organisms and critters, making it more susceptible to disease, drought, and pest infestation. Also, traditional weed management employs harsh chemicals that can leach into local rivers, causing environmental damage.

10 Ways to kill weeds that grow in your yard

Begin early

If you target the weeds as soon as they appear, you’ll have less work to do in the future. Young weeds have little roots, making them easier to uproot and increasing the likelihood of removing the entire plant. It’s also simpler to weed after a rain, but don’t wander through your garden. Compressing the soil is not a good idea.

If the weeds have grown to the point of flowering, mow them with a grass catcher to gather any ripe seeds. Dispose of or destroy the clippings. Put them in the garbage instead of the compost pile, where weeds can grow and multiply.

Invest in a weed barrier

Weeds cannot grow in landscape fabric because it blocks sunlight. If you don’t want to spend the money on a ready-made barrier, consider utilizing black plastic strips or even old carpet. A solid piece of plastic or carpet would prevent water from soaking into the soil. If desired, cover them with a decorative mulch.

landscape fabric

Weed killer should be used

Weed killers can be challenging to employ since they will destroy your desirable plants if they come into contact with them. For example, if you’re spraying weeds on a windy day and the spray drifts, this can happen.

Glyphosates, on the other hand, are an effective herbicide that works by spreading from a plant’s leaves to its roots. They come in a variety of forms, including liquids, solids, and ready-to-use items, and eventually decompose in the soil.

Glyphosates, however, only work on developing weeds and are not pre-emergents. And, despite the fact that they’ve been employed in the United States for more than 30 years, there’s still dispute about whether they pose a health danger to humans. For the most up-to-date news and information on how to use them, go to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

Look for a hand weeder with an ergonomic design to lessen the strain on your hands. Its tiny point allows you to pry weeds out without causing damage to adjacent plants.

Digging and hoeing

This is a difficult approach to deal with weeds, especially when working near the roots of “good” plants. If you’re hoeing up weeds with shallow roots, use a sharp blade and slice the roots just beneath the soil’s surface.

Remember that loosening the soil exposes any dropped seeds to the light, which can allow them to germinate, so don’t over-disturb the soil. Use a garden knife, dandelion digger, or hand weeder, a long, slender tool with a forked point that looks like a screwdriver, to get rid of weeds with deeper roots.

Spot killers

Pour a little bleach on weeds that are growing through cracks in your patio or sidewalk and pluck them up after a couple of days. A solution of one cup salt dissolved in two cups hot water can also be used.

Some gardeners use full-strength apple cider vinegar or white vinegar to spray, but rain dilutes the effectiveness of these products. Take care not to get any of them on your grass or the plants in your borders and beds that you want to keep.

Mulch

Mulch after you’ve gotten the weeds out of your garden to prevent them from growing, cover it with a 3″ layer of mulch to keep them from coming back. Straw will suffice as long as it is free of weed seeds. Weeds are also suppressed by pine straw, wood chips, and bark chips, which block sunlight and slowly decompose to amend your soil.

firewood lot

As pine straw decomposes, it tends to acidify the soil, making it ideal for use around azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Because straw and sawdust mulches degrade, you may need to supplement with nitrogen fertilizer if you use them. Check out our article on the best mulch you can use.

Cornmeal

cornmeal

Are you aware that corn gluten meal prevents seeds from reproducing? It will prevent weed seeds from sprouting and growing into plants if you sprinkle it in your garden. Of course, corn gluten meal will prevent any seed from germinating, so wait until your plants are established and you’ve completed planting seeds before trying this on your veggie garden.

Vinegar

vinegar

Use a spray bottle, a pump sprayer, or a brush to apply the vinegar. Vinegar, like other natural herbicides, is unable to distinguish between weeds and other plants. To avoid contaminating surrounding plants, do this early in the morning when there is little wind. Because the sun activates vinegar’s deadly qualities, do this on a clear day to ensure that rain doesn’t wash it away before it performs its magic.

Newspaper

Classified page 5 newspaper selective focus photography

Cover weeds with old newspapers to suffocate them and prevent new ones from sprouting. Weed seeds will not sprout if sunlight is blocked by a thick layer of newspaper. Wet the soil first, then lay your newspaper down, thoroughly soaking it again before mulching. This is a terrific way to recycle, and you’ll also attract soil worms to your yard.

Boiling water

white and pink floral cooking pot on stove

Boiling water can scald those nasty weeds. Simply remove your kettle off the fire and place it in the garden. Apply a gentle stream of water to the crown of each undesired plant. It may take two or three sprays to kill tough perennial weeds with long tap roots, but they will eventually die. Of course, use your hot pads, and make sure you’re wearing long pants and closed-toed footwear.

Salt

brown wooden spoon

Weeds can be effectively killed with regular table salt. Just a pinch at the root of each plant will suffice. Within a few rainstorms, it will kill the weedy culprit and be diluted. Because salt will make the earth inhospitable for several months, use just a little amount and only where necessary. It’s best if you don’t get it on your grass or other plants.

Getting rid of dandelions

The fact that the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a perennial is one of the most important things to remember about this common lawn weed. Because they’re perennials, they’ll stay on your lawn until you get rid of them completely.  The extensive taproot of dandelions makes them tough to control in the yard. Because of that taproot, the following three methods for killing dandelions will not work:

  • Pulling the top of the plant off and leaving the root behind produces another yellow blossom rapidly.
  • Using a weed killer designed for use on lawns to spray around the dandelion; the leaves will die, but the root will remain.
  • The dandelion will survive if you use a solution that is a combination of weed killer and grass fertilizer because it won’t reach the taproot.

Instead, use a non-selective herbicide like vinegar, which has the drawback of leaving dead zones all over your lawn where the vegetation around the dandelion is also damaged. A two-step strategy is the best way to permanently kill these weeds while protecting the grass:

  1. Using a weed digger, remove the dandelion’s root using an inexpensive fork-like tool.
  2. Spray a little amount, about less than a teaspoon, of weed killer designed for lawn usage down into the small hole left after the dandelion has been lifted. The taproot will be killed without harming the grass using this method.

Getting rid of crabgrass

If you want to get rid of an annual weed-like crabgrass, you’ll need to use a different procedure. Every year, crabgrass (Digitaria) begins a new invasion. Crabgrass could theoretically be eradicated in the spring using a pre-emergent herbicide if the timing is correct.

But, if you fail to eradicate this weed in the spring, you’ll have to wait and apply post-emergent crabgrass killers on it in summer. Crabgrass may be treated with a toxin-free corn gluten meal and possibly dandelions. t’s also a good lawn fertilizer and a herbicide that keeps weeds from sprouting.

Getting rid of poison ivy

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is another sneaky weed that most homeowners will agree is better left alone. Before you try to get rid of poison ivy in your yard, make sure you identify it correctly. When removing poison ivy, exercise caution.

After you’ve removed the poison ivy, be sure to properly dispose of the weed. It’s vital to remember that poison ivy generates a toxin, urushiol3, that remains active for up to five years, even on dead plants, its sap, and on anything else that rubs up against it. Follow these important guidelines to stay away from urushiol:

  • Never burn a mound of poison ivy brush or plants because the smoke emits urushiol into the air, which can cause respiratory problems. 
  • Poison ivy and roots should be bagged in heavy-duty plastic waste bags and secured so that no one brushes up against the plant, even if you think it’s already dead.
  • Wash your clothes in hot water with a degreasing detergent after weeding poison ivy, and clean non-cloth things with some hot water and a powerful dish detergent.

Getting rid of Japanese knotweed

The invasive Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) is found in many yards, but despite its prevalence, it can be difficult to recognize. Cutting down a swath of it once you’ve identified it won’t solve the situation. Either the root ball will continue to send up new shoots, or your efforts to dig up the roots may leave a small rhizome behind, causing more knotweed shoots to develop.

This is one weed that requires the use of a glyphosate-based pesticide to eradicate. However, if you’re prepared to put in the extra effort, you can eventually defeat Japanese knotweed by suffocating it with tarps, shutting off its access to sunlight and water.

Getting rid of oriental bittersweet

Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is another difficult weed.  You can try to get rid of it by pulling and cutting it, or you can try to control its growth using another way. Simply cut the thickest vines from ground level to your waist to cut off the weed’s supply of nutrients and prevent it from covering the trees it grows around. The strategy will not completely eliminate the bittersweet weed, but it will slow it down enough to save your trees.

Getting rid of pretty woods: wild violets and moss

Certain weeds, such as moss and wild violets, may appeal to you. Some gardeners consider wild violets to be wildflowers and nurture moss plants as an alternative to grass lawns. However, if you want to get rid of the moss on your lawn, you should first learn why it’s there in the first place. It could be a sign of deeper issues with the soil, such as inadequate drainage and circulation, low soil fertility, and pH imbalances.

You’ll be able to permanently eliminate these weeds if you figure out how to remedy the issues. Although some people enjoy wild violets, you may want to remove these purple or white dots from your grass. In the autumn, spray the violets with a triclopyr-based herbicide5.

Last words

Weeds that grow in your yard create a barrier to having a healthy breeding environment for your plants. We hope that this article assists you in getting rid of these pesky enemies. Good luck!