How to Kill Weeds and Not The Grass:  Weed Control 101

A healthy lawn is a weed-free lawn. Even the most nutrient-rich and gorgeous lawns can be turned into an eyesore by a few pesky weeds. They’re the nightmare and just come out of nowhere. Once they take root, they’re incredibly difficult to get rid of. 

Weeds can strangle healthy plants, steal nutrients from the soil, and reduce your lawn’s aesthetic appeal.

Aside from being an eyesore, weeds are also difficult to get rid of. You can’t just yank them out, as that will only leave behind the roots, which will continue to grow.

Herein lies the problem: typical weed killers will also kill your grass. Finding a solution that kills the weeds without harming your lawn is challenging.

Luckily, we’ve done the research for you and compiled a list of 5 effective ways to control weeds without affecting your grass. So, if you’re looking for ways to get rid of those pesky weeds, read on!

How to Kill Weeds Without Killing Grass

Yes, there are many ways to kill weeds without killing your grass! While most weed killers are broad-spectrum and will kill both weeds and grass, there are a few methods you can use to kill weeds without harming your grass.

Here are 5 ways to get rid of weeds without killing your grass:

Hand-Pull the Weeds

This is the most labor-intensive method, but it’s also the most effective. Hand-pulling requires you to get down on your hands and knees and pull the weeds out by their roots.

To do this, you’ll need to:

  • Wet the soil around the weed, so it’s easier to pull out.
  • Grab the weed close to the base, near where it meets the soil.
  • Gently tug on the weed until it comes out of the ground.
  • Make sure to pull out the entire root, so the weed doesn’t grow back.
  • If the weed is particularly stubborn, you can use a weeding tool to help pry it out of the ground.

Once you’ve taken care of the weed, smooth over the area of soil where the weed was so it’s level with the rest of your lawn. From there, you can use other preventive measures to keep weeds from growing back.

If you’d like to keep doing this method but want to make it a little easier, try using a hula hoe. This tool will help loosen the soil around the weed so you can pull it out more easily.

Use a Pre-Emergent Herbicide

If you have a weed-prone area and prevention is your goal, a pre-emergent herbicide is your best bet. Pre-emergent herbicides work by creating a barrier on the soil’s surface that prevents weed seeds from germinating.  Most weeds will die within a few hours.

It’s important to note that pre-emergent herbicides only prevent weeds from growing; they don’t kill existing weeds. The best thing about this is that it doesn’t harm mature plants. So if you have a particularly weed-prone area, using a pre-emergent herbicide brings peace of mind.

For this to work, weeds shouldn’t have had the chance to establish themselves in your lawn yet. This herbicide works for a couple of weeks to months, depending on the brand. So, you’ll need to reapply it regularly to keep weeds at bay.

Apply this once you’re done getting rid of existing weeds, so they don’t have a chance to come back.

Spot-Treat with Vinegar

Vinegar mixed with water is an effective weed killer. However, this option is only recommended for small patches as it’s not selective. This means that it will kill any plant it comes in contact with, including your grass.

To use this method, mix white vinegar and water in a spray bottle at a ratio of one part vinegar to three parts water. Then, simply spray the mixture on the weeds you want to get rid of. White vinegar is a better choice than apple cider vinegar as it’s more acidic.

Use Selective Herbicides

If you’re open to using chemicals, there are a few selective herbicides on the market that will kill weeds without harming your grass. These herbicides work by targeting specific plants, such as broadleaf weeds, and don’t affect grasses.

This means that you need to identify the type of weeds you have before you can purchase the right herbicide. Once you’ve done that, simply follow the instructions on the label and apply it to the affected area.

Most selective herbicides need to be applied directly to the leaves of the weed for them to work. Using a brush or sprayer, apply the herbicide to the leaves until they’re saturated. You should see results within a few days.

Make It Difficult for Weeds to Grow

One of the best ways to prevent weeds is to make it difficult for them to grow in the first place. This means keeping your lawn healthy, so it’s thick and lush. Making it less hospitable for weeds will ensure that they don’t take over.

To do this, you need to:

  • Mow your lawn regularly. This will prevent weeds from getting the sunlight they need to grow.
  • Water your lawn deeply and less frequently. This encourages deep roots, making weeds harder to take hold.
  • Fertilize your lawn. This will help your grasses to outcompete weeds for nutrients.
  • Aerate your lawn. Improving drainage and preventing compaction are two key ways to reduce weeds.
  • Mulch regularly to conserve moisture. This will also prevent weeds from germinating.

What You Should Avoid Doing

Vinegar, salt, and boiling water may sound like effective weed killers, but they’re actually quite harmful to your lawn. Using these methods will kill weeds, but they’ll also damage your grass.

The same goes for using a non-selective herbicide. This will kill the weeds, but it will also harm any other plants it comes in contact with. So, if you’re going to use herbicides, be sure to use a selective one.

Final Thoughts

Nobody likes dealing with weeds, but it’s an unfortunate reality of being a gardener and homeowner. Among all the methods, hand pulling, smothering with mulch, and using a pre-emergent herbicide are the most effective.

Of course, the best way to deal with weeds is to prevent them from growing in the first place. This means keeping your lawn healthy and maintaining it on a regular basis. Following these tips, you can keep your lawn looking great all year round.

Related Article: Best Way to Remove Weeds From a Large Area