How to kill Weeds

Without Injuring Your Lawn

How to kill weeds without killing grass is one of the most frequently asked lawn care questions.

What are the weeds telling you?

Weeds are often clues that something is wrong with your lawn, they are indicators of soil compaction, poor drainage, low soil fertility or other environmental conditions limiting the growth of a healthy, vigorous lawn.


Here's a simple plan to help you control weeds, keeping them from taking over your lawn. This is also a good example of an Integrated Pest Management approach to lawn weed control:

  1. Identify the weed.
  2. Determine why it is growing in your lawn.
  3. Choose the best control.

Weed Identification

Start by identifying the weed. This will help you understand its life cycle and then choose the best way to kill it and keep it from returning.

Our Lawn Weed Identification Guide is a helpful reference. You will find pictures and details of common lawn weeds as well as control options.

What Is The Weed Telling You?

Before heading out to the home improvement store to purchase a weed killer, try to determine why the weed is growing in your lawn and what cultural practices (mowing, watering, fertilizing, core aeration) you can change or add to limit the spread or return of this pest.

Some weed species are giving you clues that you need to change your lawn care. Is you soil compacted? Do you need to fertilize? Too much water? Too dry? Yard too shady?

Good lawn care practices keep weeds out and create conditions that favor growing grass. Weeds are very good at seeking and finding places to grow. A healthy, vigorous lawn won't allow weeds the opportunity to invade.

Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.

How To Kill Weeds Without Killing Your Grass

  1. Hand Weed With Weeding Tool
  2. Spot Spray With Weed Killer For Lawns
  3. Use Preemergent Crabgrass Preventer

Hand weeding works well in small lawns and lawns with a few weeds. Weeding tools - like the Weed Twister, Weed Hound or a large flat-head screwdriver - will help you get the roots out so they don't grow back.

If you choose to use chemical or organic herbicides - ALWAYS read and follow the label. It is illegal to use lawn weed killers in ANY way that is inconsistent with the label . Timing, exact rates and weather conditions are extremely important. A good option is to hire a professional lawn care specialist to apply chemicals.

Spot spraying with a selective broadleaf herbicide (weed killer for lawns) is a good way to kill your weeds without damaging your lawn.

I spot spray (as opposed to applying herbicides to the entire lawn) most of the lawns that I manage because it uses less chemicals and is the responsible approach to take.

Lawns that are full of weeds get blanket coverage at first and are then spot sprayed once the problem is under control.

Common brands that can be found in garden centers, home improvement stores or purchased online at sites such as Do Your Own Pest Control include:

  • Spectracide Weed Stop
  • Trimec Lawn Weed Killer
  • Ortho Weed-b-Gon Weed Killer for Lawns
  • Gordon's Speedzone
  • Recommended Product: Clear Choice

Using a preemergence herbicide - commonly called "Crabgrass Preventer" - will keep weed seeds from growing. These need to be applied in the spring before weed seeds germinate.

How to Kill Weeds with Organic Herbicides

Most of the organic herbicides are non-selective and will kill grass as well as unwanted plants. The good news is new products are being developed for organic lawn care.

New eco-friendly product for the pros! Fiesta® is an iron based (active ingredient is Iron HEDTA) that is safe, eco-friendly and will kill or suppress several common broadleaf lawn weeds as well as moss, liverworts, algae and lichens. The first effective bio-herbicide turf weed killer available in the United States. Perfect for spot spraying weeds. Click to read more about Fiesta®

A natural weed and feed that won't harm your lawn and actually contains a high percentage of nitrogen fertilizer is Corn Gluten Meal.

How to Kill Weeds


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