How to Get Rid of Weeds in Grass

How to get rid of weeds in grass

Weeds are taking over your lawn and it’s a problem, but you don’t know how to get rid of weeds in grass and you have no clue where to start. From hand-pulling to proper lawn maintenance, there are many different approaches to dealing with a weedy lawn.

Whether you want to maintain a safe environment for your kids or you just want the cheapest way to get rid of your weed problem, there are many ways to control weeds.

How to get rid of weeds in grass

From grassy weeds to broadleaf weeds, there are many types of weeds that come sneaking into your yard, especially if the grass is sparse or weakened from rough weather or improper lawn maintenance.

Once weeds have appeared in your yard, you’ll have to pull them up or find some remedy to kill the spouting weeds. And the sooner you treat growing weeds, the better.

Here are a few methods for getting weeds out of your lawn:

Vinegar weed killer

vinegar and baking soda on a table
new look casting | Canva Pro | License

One of the natural ways to kill weeds is vinegar. For effective results, you need a horticultural vinegar with the right amount of acetic acid. This is a more potent brand of vinegar than the vinegar you usually have around your kitchen.

For the most effective vinegar, look for a product that contains 20% acetic acid. The higher the acetic acid content, the more potent a vinegar weed killer will be.

Vinegar is a non-selective herbicide that will dehydrate the plant it is applied to, meaning it will kill whatever grass it touches. This is best for weeds growing in pavement, walkways, or in areas where you do not want any vegetation.

To make a vinegar solution for killing weeds:

  • 1 gallon white vinegar (5% to 20% acetic acid)
  • 1 tablespoon Dawn or any type of dish soap 
  • 1 cup salt

The dish soap acts as a binder so the vinegar can stick to the weeds. Just like vinegar, salt is non-selective and it dehydrates plants and disrupts the internal water balance of plant cells. 

Making these recipes is a simple matter of mixing the ingredients together and pouring them into a spray bottle. Once the solution is ready to go, simply spray it onto the pesky weeds in your yard. Routinely apply the vinegar solution until the weeds are all gone.

With this mixture, spot-spray targeted weeds if you do not want to kill every plant in that area. Spray as close to the targeted weed as possible, and do your best to avoid getting it on the grass. You can see the impressive result in as little as 30 minutes. 

The vinegar solution will give you three to four days of dead brown weeds, but it is not a permanent solution; weeds will grow back up in the next couple of days, particularly in perennial species. It takes multiple applications to kill a weed, so keep applying vinegar again before they recover.

It’s best to apply vinegar in the heat of the day. The sunlight supports the mixture in dehydrating the plants. This method still works if done in a cooler temperature, but it might not be as effective. 

Be careful with vinegar and only handle it when you are wearing gloves and safety goggles. Remember, it contains acetic acid, so it can burn exposed skin. 

Propane torch

For a less orthodox weeding method, you could try a propane torch, also known as a weed burner, flame weeder, or weed torch. A flame weeder is basically just a wand that is connected to a propane tank.

The way a flame weeder works is by overheating the weed until the cells burst due to an excess of heat.

Although propane targets the top portion of a weed, it doesn’t target weed roots. Because of this, you will likely have to burn the same weed multiple times before it goes away.

To use a flame weeder, follows these steps:

  1. Make sure the area around the weed isn’t too dry. Remove any flammable leaves or twigs.
  2. Water the area around the weed to protect it from heat damage. This is also a safety precaution that prevents fire from spreading. 
  3. Use the wand to burn away unwanted weeds.

Don’t use flame weeders when your area is experiencing droughts or dry spells. If you attempt to eradicate weeds with a flame weeder in a drought, you are playing with fire and might end up starting one. 

Additionally, be weary of using flame weeders around mulch. Certain types of mulch, such as wood mulch, are flammable and catch fire easily. 

Boiling water

closeup of boiling water in pot on stove
Scott Akerman | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Pouring boiling water onto weeds can be another simple home remedy to get rid of weeds.

  1. Heat water in a tea kettle on the stove to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to use a tea kettle, since it is shaped a bit like watering can. This shape of container makes it easier to pour water onto lawn weeds. 
  2. Then take the kettle outside and pour the boiling water on the weeds you want to get rid of. As much as possible, avoid pouring the water on the healthy parts of the lawn.

The downside of boiling water – and the reason why this treatment method is not readily recommended – is that you can’t easily control what plants the boiling water will kill. For this reason, the boiling water method might be best for weeds growing in gravel or pavement.

Unfortunately, while boiling water will kill the top part of a weed, it doesn’t kill the roots. With the root system still intact and unharmed, it’s likely that the weed will grow back, so you will probably have to apply boiling water multiple times to fully rid your yard of weeds.


Another way to combat weeds is weedeating. This is a great way to trim patches of grass and weeds around trees, bushes, walls, fences, and your house.

Weedeaters are used for edging the sidewalk, flowerbeds, and borders around trees. When you edge with a weedeater, you flip it upside down and use just the very tip of the string to dig a little bit to establish a sharp edge.

When weedeating your lawn, keep the string trimmer at a 90-degree angle, or you can hold it while the weedeater’s engine is laying on top of your shoulder. The process is the same when you are edging a flower bed or the area around trees.


gabort71 | Canva Pro | License

Although it may be tedious, hand-pulling is always an effective way to rid your yard of weeds. However, it may not be a feasible solution if you have weeds all over your yard. But if there are only a few weeds in your yard, it is easy to pull them out by hand.

When you pull out weeds, make sure you pull out the entire plant, roots and all. Otherwise, weeds can grow back if their roots are left intact.

If soil is tough or you are meeting strong resistance, try using a weeding tool to help you pull out weeds by their roots:

  • Garden trowel
  • Dandelion fork
  • Screwdriver

To manage weeds in your yard with hand-pulling, it’s important to stay on top of the task and pull out any new weeds as soon as they emerge. This will ensure that weeds don’t continue to spread around your yard. 

Tip: Weed when the ground is moist. This makes it easier to pull up weeds. Wait for a time when the ground is moist but not soaked, otherwise the earth will be a mushy mess and you’ll end up covered in mud!

If the soil isn’t moist, you can moisten it with a garden hose to water the area before you get to work yanking up weeds.

Post-emergent herbicides

Herbicides should only be used as a last resort, so before turning herbicides, homeowners should try other weed removal methods first.

But if worst comes to worst, you may have to turn to post-emergent herbicides to resolve your weed problem. Usually this happens when the weed infestation is too large to treat without an herbicide or the other methods aren’t working. 

Post-emergent herbicides target existing weeds that have already sprouted and grown roots. There are two types of post-emergent herbicides:

  • Selective herbicides. Selective herbicides only target specific weeds. These are the best type for lawn weeds because you can apply them to kill a specific weed without killing grass.
  • Non-selective herbicides. Nonselective herbicides kill everything, both weeds and grass. For that reason, they aren’t the best choice for lawn weeds, although they might be a good choice if your lawn has been almost completely overtaken by weeds.

Herbicides are not environmentally-friendly. They pose a risk to kids and pets, so keep your pets locked indoors and have children avoid the areas of application after a herbicide is used on the yard. 

Tips for applying herbicides:

  • Identify what type of lawn weed you have so you know what kind of weed-killer product to buy. Different herbicides target different types of weeds, so it helps to know what kind of weed you are dealing with.
  • Carefully read the instructions first. Don’t skip this step; the instructions provide warnings and information needed for a proper DIY application.
  • Never apply herbicides on a windy day. The wind might blow the chemical onto other plants or a neighbor’s lawn.
  • Wear gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, and mask. Chemical herbicides might irritate exposed skin. Inhaling chemical spray can irritate your throat as well, so consider wearing a mask while you work. 
  • Know when to apply herbicides at the right time of day and year. Usually it’s best to apply herbicides in the spring up until late summer. The best time of day to apply herbicides is in the morning on a clear, sunny day. 
  • Check for rain before you apply herbicides. Moisture washes away the herbicide, so check the weather forecast to make sure that your herbicide has plenty of time to dry before a rainstorm hits your area. 

If you don’t want to mess with the hassle of spraying your yard with weed-killer, hire a pro to do the job for you. 

How to prevent weeds in grass

The best way to deal with weeds is to make sure you never have them at all. There are several preventative measures you can take to keep your lawn weed-free, and it starts with maintaining a healthy lawn. 

Proper lawn care

As a preventative measure, the best way to prevent weeds is to keep your grass healthy with proper lawn maintenance. Improving your lawn care routine can make a world of difference for your lawn’s health. 

A bare patch in the yard is a perfect opportunity for weeds to take over. When grass grows dense and healthy, it prohibits weed growth. But once your grass starts thinning out, weeds have room to grow in your lawn.

Improve your watering schedule

Set of automatic sprinklers watering fresh grass
Aqua Mechanical | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Water is one of the most important basic necessities plants need to survive. Here are the basics of good lawn watering:

  • Water your lawn deeply and less frequently, about 1 inch of water every week
  • Water two to three times a week
  • Water in the morning between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Grass develops shallow root systems if it is frequently watered with light sprinklings, so it’s best to avoid light waterings. It is better to water grass for a longer duration but less frequently. By cultivating deeper grass roots, deep watering sessions increase the health of your lawn.

Don’t mow too low

mower mowing a lawn

Avoid cutting your grass too short. Instead of scalping your lawn, set your lawn mower height to trim your grass to the recommended height for your variety of turfgrass. 

Here’s a chart of recommended mowing heights for different types of grass:

Type of grassBest mowing height
Augustinegrass2 to 4 inches
Bahiagrass2 to 3 inches
Bentgrass¼  to ¾ inches
Bermudagrass½ to 1½ inches
Buffalograss2 to 3 inches
Centipedegrass1½ to 2½ inches
Fine fescue1½ to 2½ inches
Kentucky bluegrass1½ to 2½ inches
Ryegrass1½ to 2½ inches
Tall fescue2 to 3 inches
Zoysiagrass½ to 1½ inches

When grass is long enough, it shades weed seeds underneath from the sun and prevents them from germinating.

Proper fertilization 

If you have a weed problem in your yard, try testing your soil. Weeds often pop up in yards where there is a problem with the soil. Homeowners can purchase soil test kits to determine what nutrients your soil lacks.

Once you know why your soil is unbalanced, you can figure out how to correct it and fertilize your lawn with the nutrients it needs. 

Different types of turfgrass require different types of lawn fertilizer, so it’s important to know what type of grass is in your yard so you can give it the right amount of fertilizer it needs.

When you are selecting a fertilizer, the three most important nutrients in fertilizer are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K), which is usually known as N-P-K. All three nutrients will bolster your lawn’s wealth by increasing root health, grarss density, and disease resistance.

Over-fertilizing your lawn can have the opposite effect and may actually encourage weed growth, so be careful to find the right balance of fertilizing your yard without overdoing it. Crabgrass especially thrives in over-fertilized areas.

Aerate your lawn

picture of a lawn after aeration
Aerated Lawn
ArtBoyMB | Canva Pro | License

Another good lawn care practice is aerating your lawn. Aerating is the process of poking holes in the lawn in order to loosen up the soil. To aerate your lawn, you will need a lawn aerator to push around your yard, a bit like how you would push a lawnmower over your yard. 

When soil gets too compacted, the dense soil isn’t good for your grass. It blocks your soil from receiving enough nutrients, water, and oxygen. Aerating your yard gives your soil breathing room and grants soil access to essential nutrients that grass needs. 

As a result, aerating improves the health of your turfgrass, which in turn makes your lawn more weed-resistant.

Dethatch your lawn

illustration explaining thatch on grass
Infographic by Juan Rodriguez

Over time, a layer of dead grass and other organic matter called thatch builds up in your lawn. Some thatch is okay and even healthy for your turfgrass, but once thatch buildup gets ½ inch thick, you need to dethatch your lawn, which means removing the layer of thatch from your yard.

You can manually dethatch your lawn with a dethatching rake or rent a dethatcher or vertical mower from a local hardware store. Dethatching your lawn every so often improves the health of your grass and makes it more weed-resistant. 

Apply corn gluten meal

Corn gluten meal contains nitrogen, which makes it a pre-emergent weed killer that stops weed seeds from germinating. It is especially effective against annual weeds. However, once weeds have sprouted, it shouldn’t be applied as it won’t be effective against existing weeds.

As a precaution, don’t use the corn meal solution if you have recently added grass seed or other type of seeds to your yard. Otherwise, it might negatively affect the new seeds.

Spring is the best time of year to apply corn gluten meal to kill weeds. Since corn gluten meal is typically used to prevent crabgrass, It’s best to apply it before crabgrass germinates, which is usually in late March to the middle of April. 

To apply corn gluten meal, simply sprinkle a layer of corn meal around areas where weeds are a problem. After you apply the corn meal, don’t water it. It’s better to leave it dry in your yard for a while. Corn meal isn’t toxic to pets or humans.

Pre-emergent herbicides

Unlike post-emergent herbicides, a pre-emergent herbicide does not target existing weeds. Rather, a pre-emergent herbicide’s job is to prevent weeds from ever spouting in the first place. 

  • Apply pre-emergent herbicides before weed seeds germinate, long before the weeds’ growing season starts.
  • For spring and summer weeds, the best time to apply pre-emergent herbicides is usually mid-March.
  • To combat winter weeds, apply pre-emergent herbicides between August and November.

Like with post-emergent herbicides, you need to choose between selective and non-selective pre-emergent herbicides

After you apply pre-emergent herbicides to your yard, water within three to five days. Regardless of the type, whether it be liquid or granular, nearly all types of pre-emergent herbicides require water for them to work.

Practice good cultural practices so when it’s time to apply pre-emergent herbicides, your lawn will be able to withstand it. Pre-emergent herbicides generally shouldn’t harm the lawn, but grass weakened or stressed by drought might not survive a pre-emergent application.

Common types of weeds

Common chickweed (Stellaria media)
Cynthia Shirk | Canva Pro | License

Weeds are usually split into two categories: broadleaf weeds and grassy weeds. Knowing what type of weed you have can help you decide on an effective strategy to eliminate weeds from your lawn. 

Here are some of the most common types of weeds you will find growing in your lawn:

  • Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare)
  • Chickweed (Stellaria media)
  • Crabgrass (Digitaria)
  • Creeping Charlie/Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum)
  • Lambsquarter (Chenopodium album)
  • Oxalis (Oxalis stricta)
  • Quackgrass (Elymus repens)
  • Ragweed (Ambrosia spp.)
  • Spotted spurge (Euphorbia maculata)
  • White clover (Trifolium repens)

Weeds are either annual (they live one year before dying), biennial (they live for two years), or perennial (they go dormant in the winter and grow back again for several years).

Annual weedsBiennial weedsPerennial weeds
• Annual bluegrass
• Chickweed
• Crabgrass
• Henbit
• Lambsquarter
• Ragweed
• Spotted spurge
• Bull thistle
• Evening primrose
• Queen Ann’s lace
• Sweet clover
• Broadleaf plantain
• Creeping Charlie
• Daisies
• Dandelion
• Oxalis
• Quackgrass
• White clover

The reason it’s important to know what type of weed you have is because it impacts the best treatment method. Knowing the type of weed you are dealing with also will help you figure out what the best preventative measures are and what herbicides you should use. 

DIY weed control or hire a pro?

By this point, you are probably debating whether you should manage your weed problem yourself or whether to hire a professional to get rid of the weeds in your yard. 

A DIY weed removal is entirely feasible, but it can be time consuming, especially depending on how thick the weed infestation is. If you’d rather focus your attention on other things, then it would be best to get a pro to tackle your weed problem for you and save yourself some time.

Weed control companies are trained to handle herbicides safely and they have a lot of experience with giving yards a proper application, so hiring a pro to handle your chemical treatments is the safer option.

However, it is possible to apply herbicides yourself:

  • Liquid herbicides usually come equipped with a sprayer and it’s a simple matter of spraying the liquid onto the weed. You may have to mix certain herbicides with water first before application.
  • Granular herbicides can be spread around the yard with a fertilizer spreader.

On average, weed control services for a quarter-acre of land cost around $65 to $120. For an acre of land, prices can go up to $200.

For a DIY job, you can expect to pay around $30 for a regular chemical herbicide. Organic herbicides are pricier, with herbicide products costing an average of $45. Keep in mind that any weeding tools, gloves, or other equipment will add to the total cost.

FAQs about how to get rid of weeds in grass

Can you compost weeds?

You can compost hand-pulled weeds and then add the compost dirt back to your lawn to nurture your grass. 

Can I use landscape fabric to get rid of weeds? 

Landscape fabric is a woven cloth that can be made of all kinds of materials, like linen, polyester, or recycled plastic. Typically, it’s used in garden beds to keep weeds at bay. Installing landscape fabric in your lawn won’t work since it kills grass along with the weeds.

However, landscape fabric might be good for sections where weeds have completely taken over and there isn’t much grass in that section to be found. Then once you get rid of the weeds, you can reseed that area with grass seeds.

What is the most weed-resistant type of grass?

Sometimes replacing the type of grass in your yard with a cultivar that has dense, thick growth can improve your lawn’s resistance to weeds. To create a more weed-resistant lawn, reseed your lawn with these types of grass:

  • For a cool-season yard, try planting tall fescue. It grows densely and the thick growth prohibits weeds from growing in the midst of the grass.
  • For a warm-season grass, Zoysiagrass is a good pick, as its dense growth will keep out weeds.

In general, healthy grass should be able to effectively resist weeds. So if weeds are sprouting in your lawn, it’s possible that your grass might be suffering from a lawn disease or improper lawn care.

Don’t wait to get a weed-free lawn

You can hand-pull weeds from your yard or opt for any of the other weed removal methods mentioned above. These methods may not be a permanent solution, so make sure to remedy your cultural lawn practices to prevent weeds from sprouting up in the first place.

If you need help with applying herbicides, Lawn Love can help you find professional weed control services right away. It’s time to reclaim your lawn and stop letting weeds overtake your yard.

Main Image Credit: Mabeline72 | Shutterstock | License

Danielle Gorski

Danielle Gorski lives with her family in Texas. She has a degree in Professional Studies and a minor in marketing. Her hobbies include reading, drawing, and writing.