How to Kill Tough Weeds

Hey there, I am Chelsey, founder of Good Grow.

Ah, weeds, the enemy of every gardener, they grow everywhere, anywhere and it seems like they just can't be stopped!

Don't be overwhelmed! Even if your garden is completely infested with those tough weeds there are ways to kill them and stop them growing back, sometimes it may involve some effort but it can be done!

There are some obvious ways to kill tough weeds, you can do it the "ole" fashioned way using your hands, you can use weed killers or some tools.

Whichever way you choose, your first task is to identify the weeds your dealing with.

Rule #1 - Know your enemy, once you know what your dealing with you can use the best method to kill them!

Tough Weeds in the UK

How to Kill Tough Weeds Manually

Ready to get dirty?

Manual removal of weeds is by far the quickest way to kill weeds, the results are instantaneous, it's natural, doesn't require any expensive chemicals and can be done by anyone.

Not only is manual removal an effective way to eliminate weeds it is also good exercise and less harmful to the environment that dousing your garden in chemicals.

  • Use gloves: Some weeds like stinging Nettles and Thistles can hurt when touched, invest in a sturdy pair of gardening gloves - your hands will thank you for the extra protection.
  • Grip the base of the stem: Get as close to the ground as possible, if your dealing with multiple stems try and bunch them together, a firm grip is needed...
  • Pull!: With all your might! It won't take much effort, go slow and try not to snap the stems. You want the roots to come out along with the stems, leaves etc.
  • A trowel can help: Use the trowel to root around in the hole and remove and remaining roots. Perennials such as Brambles and Ivy can regrow from even the smallest fragment, be sure to get them all!

How to Kill Tough Weeds Naturally

By far the best way to naturally kill weeds is to do it manually.

However if you have a lot of weeds, picking them one by one will take a long, long time.

  • Mow them down. Got lawn weeds? Regular mowing will weaken most kinds of lawn weeds. Once weakened allow your grass to grow taller, longer grass prevents weeds from taking root.
  • Use a brush cutter. Got tough large weeds? A brush cutter can make short work of thick, large weeds like BambooRagwort and Ground Elder, cut them down at the base, they may regrow from the roots but at least they won't take over your garden!
  • Burn them away! Fire kills most things including weeds. There are many weed blow torches on the market, powered by butane gas it's like a mini flame thrower. Simply burn the weeds away.
  • Mulch like a pro. Plants require sunlight and water, deprive them of both and they will die. Thick weed control fabric or natural mulches such as bark, newspaper & cardboard all work.
  • Power wash them away. Weeds on your gravel, driveway or block paving? If they are shallow rooted a power wash will sweep them away plus a clean surface is a surface weeds can't grow on.
  • Try some homemade recipes. We're not fans of homemade weed killers (they don't work!) but you can try using salt, vinegar or boiling hot water - if your weeds are weak or small it may just work!

How to Kill Tough Weeds with Weed Killer

You've tried everything else and you just want your weeds gone! 

Strong weed killers should be used as a last resort but it is satisfying watching those PESKY weeds die!

Step #1 : Read the label / instructions

Different weed killers have different safety and uses. For effective & safe use it is imperative that you read the instructions and label. Not only will this keep you safe it will ensure you get the best results.

Step #2 : Dilute or mix into a sprayer

I can't believe it is 2023 and people are still using weed killer in watering cans! If you use a watering can to apply weed killer not only are you wasting it, it's less efficient and it may leak onto ornamental plants.

Invest in a 1.5L or 5L pressure sprayer, you don't need to fill it right up, just measure what you need. You will use less weed killer, it will be more accurately applied, you will save money & you will get better results!

Step #3 : Coat all the leaves

Pretty much all weed killers available to home gardeners in the UK are absorbed by the leaves of the plant you wish to kill. That means when you spray the weed killer, make sure you spray it onto the leaves.

DO NOT spray it onto the roots, most effective weed killers contain Glyphosate which is absorbed by the leaves and inactivated in soil, you will waste it if you spray it onto the roots.

Step #4 : Be patient!

Unlike hand weeding or natural weed killers, commercial weed killers take time to work. The exact amount of time depends on the time of year you apply, the types of weeds you want to kill and of course the weather conditions when you applied it.

In general most weed killers will work within 30 days. They are absorbed by the leaves and translocated throughout the entire plant, killing it from the inside out, right down to the roots.

It is important that you apply the weed killer on a day with no chance of rain (if it rains it will get diluted) and preferably sunny, this will make the weeds absorb it much quicker.

Smaller, grassy weeds like Dandelions will die quicker than large, deep rooted weeds like Bindweed.

Step #5 : Enjoy your weed free garden

Once the weeds are gone you can take a moment to enjoy your weed free garden. Put your feet up and smile at a job well done. Don't be complacent! Your weeds are not gone forever.

Most weed killers only kill actively growing weeds, they don't stop new weeds from sprouting or blowing in from your neighbours. Be vigilant, keep your surfaces clean and kill those weeds as they pop up.

You could also try a long lasting weed killer, these chemicals promise to keep weeds away for upto 6 months but please note you cannot stop nature forever. 

If you want to get rid of weeds permanently, you need to work on it permanently.

How to Kill Weeds in Lawns without Harming Grass

Lawn weeds can be some of the trickiest to deal with.

I mean you want to kill the weeds but you don't want to kill your grass - regular weed killers aren't going to work here (they will kill your grass).

Worse still if you manually dig or remove the weeds in your lawn you will likely have to repair the area where the weeds once were...

Why? Because bare spots attract new weeds, so once your done you need to repair the bare spots with a fast growing grass seed, otherwise more weeds will colonise the area.

If you thought that was the worst of it then consider some of the most common lawn weeds: Dandelions, clover, moss and buttercup, these 3 weeds have the capacity to spread over your whole lawn - do you realise how much work this will take to remove each part?

It's enough to make you want to cry or sweat!

Let's just say, when killing weeds in lawns without harming your grass - the rules are different.

Don't fret though, there are some ways you can kill weeds in grass.

  • Mow them to weaken them. Regular mowing will weaken weeds, don't let them spread, try to cut your grass as short as your lawnmower will allow - eventually they will succumb.
  • Fertilise your lawn. A well fed lawn is less susceptible to disease and weeds. You should aim to fertilise your lawn 2-3 times per year (once in Spring, Summer & Autumn) bonus points if you use a fertiliser with built in lawn weeds killer like Shake no Rake.
  • No bare spots! As previously discussed bare patches or empty soil will attract new weeds. Ensure you prepare your ground, use a fast growing seed and make sure you plant it at the right time of year.
  • Pick out large weeds. Some weeds like Stinging Nettles or Docks thrive in grassy areas, these can usually be manually removed without harming the grass, grab the stems and pluck them out - roots & all.
  • If all else fails. You can use a specially formulated weed killer such as Shake no Rake or Triclopyr, both of these will kill common lawn weeds but not harm your grass - be sure to read the label!

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