Ever since there have been gardens for people to enjoy, there have been unwelcome parties trying to get in. Rats, slugs, snails, aphids, all these tenacious little creatures are a gardener’s bane as well as being worthy opponents on the chessboard that are our gardens.
However, as every keen gardener knows, there is one group of opponents who unlike the rest never tire, never quit, and never leave. These are the weeds.
Don’t get us wrong, as people, we think weeds are incredible. They are incredibly tough and hardy little plants that can grow everywhere.
Most plants require love and care to get good growth in the best of soils, but weeds can grow to full strength in a literal crack in the pavement and the tiniest amount of water.
Yet, as gardeners, we find ourselves pulling my hair out at the sight of them. It seems that nothing can rid us of these troublesome weeds, or at least that’s how people used to think. In the modern world, we have herbicides or weed killers to deal with this problem.
These chemicals are fantastic for ridding your garden of these difficult plants. But what is the best one for getting rid of weeds? Are some better than others? In this article, we will explore the best weed killers on the market and just how they work.
How Do Herbicides Work?
It would be understandable if all weed killers destroyed all plant life in an area, but in fact there are many types of weed killers that do different things.
Some, like selective weedkillers, only target specific plants, while others like non-selective (or total) weed killers kill all plants in an area.
The idea that weed killers can target and be specific is amazing, and the way they do it is by interfering with plant hormones. See, most modern weed killers are synthetic chemicals that are made to mimic a plant’s hormones.
Hormones, in every living creature, control the functions of that creature’s body. For example, hormones in humans make us sleep (melatonin), make us calm (serotonin), and make us happy (dopamine) and without them, we would struggle to do any of these.
The hormones that are targeted by weed killers are normally the ones that deal with growth. If you can stop a plant growing, it will get less sunlight and start to die. It essentially cuts the legs from under the plant and keeps your garden weed free.
We mentioned selective and non-selective earlier, but there are actually quite a few weed killers you should know about. So, without further ado, here they are:
Persistent And Non-Persistent
Persistent weed killers keep working after the initial application to stop weeds from regrowing in that area, and non-persistent weed killers stop working after the first application.
Systemic weed killers attack the entire plant system from leaves to root, even if only applied over a small area.
Topical weed killers only attack the areas where the herbicide has been sprayed on the plant, often leaving the roots and bulb untouched.
Pre-emergent weed killers are sprayed on the ground before the weed has sprouted. It will attack the seed underneath the ground before they are able to grow. This type of weedkiller only works if the plant hasn’t sprouted.
Post-emergent weed killers are sprayed on weeds during their growing seasons, after they have sprouted. This weed killer works only on the plant itself and is best applied to the leaves.
Selective And Non-Selective
As stated earlier, selective weed killers kill only specific plants and weeds, while non-selective weedkillers kill any plant in the area.
With this in mind, you should carefully select your weedkiller before applying it to your garden or property. If you wanted to maintain your garden’s ecosystem,
this is especially important, yet if you wanted to go scorched earth and get rid of everything, say if you are building something on your property, you can be less considerate.
Knowing Your Weeds
If we take the actual definition of weeds, they are simply plants that are in the wrong place. They are not malicious or evil, they are just growing where they land.
Nonetheless, they are in the wrong place and many of them won’t leave. Due to the broad definition of this group of plants, there are many types of weeds, and it is essential for you to know what they are to deal with them:
These weeds are often flowers and, much like other broadleaf plants and trees, a lot of them are seasonal, but some can be perennial or biannual in nature. Although these weeds are easy to break or pull out, their roots are incredibly tough, and they can regenerate from them well.
This type of weed does well in soil that is lacking in nutrients, and a lot of them can be drought resistant. They are also varied enough where one herbicide may work on one plant,
but not a different kind of broadleaf weed. The most common types of broadleaf weed are dandelions and clovers.
These are weeds that seem similar to grasses but have some key differences. The stems of these weeds are taller, wider in circumference, and tend to be hollow inside. The leaves of these plants also tend to be less flat and more triangular in shape.
A lot of this type of weed has become a staple food in people’s diets, like onions and garlic, and they often end in a bulb, which if you don’t get rid of, the plant just regenerates.
Grass weeds look very similar to lawn grass and like grass they grow one blade or leaf at a time. However, they can grow in the toughest conditions and require much less to grow than actual grass.
Unlike the other weeds, where the body is weak, but they regenerate, these weeds are insanely tough in all aspects. If you’ve ever tried to get rid of crabgrass, then you know what I mean.
Without weed killer, you can’t just clip or dig up the bulb, you have to physically pull up every piece of this plant, otherwise they will just come back, and pulling them up is difficult in and of itself.
These are the general types of weeds you will find in your garden, but the issue is that what a weed is is subjective. For example, I love purple clovers and I love having them in my garden, but most people would consider them a weed and an annoying one too.
Therefore, it is best to find out about the plant you are having trouble with before looking into a herbicide, as it may not be in the categories above, and you may need to look further afield to find the right product to deal with it.
5 Best Weed Killers
With such a lot of people wanting to maintain a healthy garden and with such a variety of plants that are considered weeds, there are going to be a lot of herbicides available on the market.
Still, there are only going to be a few that truly rise above the rest in terms of quality, and these are the ones we are going to look at today.
Roundup is probably one of the best-known names in the weedkiller game. They are a company that have been around since 1976 and most of their products use a glyphosate-based herbicide to allow for a broad application against many types of weeds.
Despite competition from glyphosate producing companies abroad, Roundup has continued to dominate the market thanks to their quality products.
The first thing to note about Roundup is that it works. Even tough weeds and unwanted plants find it difficult to grow when they are sprayed with Roundup and the spray actually goes all the way down to the root, killing the entire plant.
This spray is touted as being able to get you visible results within 12 hours of application, which is incredibly fast for a weedkiller.
Not only that, but Roundup does quite well with rain, as it becomes rain proofed within 30 minutes of it being sprayed. There are also a variety of weedkillers to choose from, so if you have a bigger or smaller lawn, then you can make a suitable purchase for your needs.
Unfortunately, Roundup is a non-selective herbicide, meaning that if you apply it haphazardly then you will kill a lot of the plants in your garden as well.
It is not only dangerous for your plants, but it can be dangerous for pets and, even, people too, so if you decide on this weedkiller you will need to keep your beloved animals away from the garden for a while and any food you may be growing can no longer be consumed.
If sprayed in a concentrated and specific manner, though, you can use it on almost any surface. Fences, walls, flower beds, pavements, patios, anywhere, but again it must be in a controlled and safe manner.
Variety of sizes
Clear and quick results
Harmful for your flowering plants
Harmful for pets and people
Also, available to purchase from
Ortho is a brand that belongs to the ScottsMiracle-gro family, however unlike Roundup, which is marketed by Scotts, Ortho was an original brand of Scotts.
It is a company that entirely focuses on pest control and weed eradication in a garden. With such a single-minded focus, it is no wonder that one of their products has made the list.
For Ortho Groundclear, the results are staggering. Weeds and other plants in hard to reach places will begin to visibly disappear within 15 minutes and within 2 hours will clearly be dying.
Although the spray itself works best when plants are growing, it can also be used when they have reached full size.
The spray also becomes rainproof within 2 hours of use, which while not as good as Roundup, is still an incredibly quick amount of time to be able to resist water. This becomes even better when you realize you can use it on most surfaces as well.
From hardscapes to vegetable gardens, Ortho promises a range of areas where this weed killer would be the perfect product to use. Yet, even though Ortho says it can be used around vegetable gardens, you may want to hold off on that.
Many people have been commenting on how strong this weedkiller is, and of those a great majority say they would not let their pets near the stuff. If it is too strong for your pet, it will be too strong to spray around food you plan to eat.
Another issue with this spray is that it is a powerful plant killer, as in all plants. Should you accidentally spray one of your plants or bushes with this, expect to see it start to die in 15 minutes time. Therefore, if you plan to buy, be careful where you spray it.
While it is strong, the amount you receive when you purchase it is very small as well. It only comes in one size, there is no variation from that size, and it is only a small amount. If you have a large area to cover, it might be worth looking elsewhere.
Very quick results
Quite quick waterproofing
Can be used in a lot of areas
Harmful to all plants
Harmful to animals and sometimes people
Comes in a small amount
Southern Agricultural Insecticides has been around longer than most of the competition. In truth, it has been around since the 1930s and was started by Hans Diem, at a time in history when the most effective way to dust crops with pesticides was by hand with a sack.
Yet, this company has continued to grow and now jostles with the big boys while still being owned by the same hardworking family.
So, the Southern AG is devastatingly powerful. As in, if you use it carelessly, it will kill everything on your lawn. Make sure to apply it right, however if you do, you should see that your lawn is spotless and clear.
This is because although Southern AG is very dangerous to weeds, plants, and trees, most common grasses have a resistance to the chemicals used within, meaning as long as you know your grass can withstand it, you should be fine to use it on your lawn.
Although Southern AG comes in one size, it is quite a lot for what you are getting. The supply should actually last you through a summer, even two if you are lucky, and meaning that it shouldn’t be difficult to keep your lawn spotless.
The problems for Southern AG lie in its power. The chemicals used in this herbicide were some ingredients used in Agent Orange, and, though the main chemical that caused adverse health conditions in Agent Orange (TCDD) is not in this herbicide, it is still quite dangerous.
No matter what you do, wait until this weedkiller is dry, before letting any animals or children on the treated areas. Once it is dry, it is harmless, but until that moment it could seriously affect anyone in close contact with it.
The other thing is that while it is powerful, it takes a long time for it to work. While others take hours, Southern AG takes days and although it does kill every weed effectively, it is still a long time to wait to use your lawn.
Lastly, this herbicide can only be used in certain areas. Lawns, pastures, golf courses, anywhere where it is solely grassed. It cannot be used on fences or walls, meaning that it only really impacts broadleaf weeds or grass weeds that are in the grass.
Insanely strong and damaging to weeds
One size but quite a lot of it
Useful for lawns and pastures
Very dangerous for plants, trees, pets, and children
A long wait for results
Can only be used in certain areas
Spectracide are a relative newcomer to the herbicide game, but they have been making big waves in recent years, and this newest product certainly has a lot to say when it comes to dealing with pesky weed plants.
Although not as fast as some of the others, the results for Spectracide are still very quick, with noticeable effects happening to the weed in as little as three hours.
This weedkiller will not only attack the weed plant either, but it will also attack the root of the plant, dealing with it effectively and permanently.
Still, this product rain proofs incredibly quickly and is ready for a downpour in as little as 15 minutes after spraying. If you live in an especially wet area, this might be the weedkiller for you. Its rain proofing can also be used in tandem with this product’s distribution ability as well.
For Spectracide can be used on almost any surface. Fences, walkways, patios, walls, almost anywhere that a weed can appear Spectracide can be used there. The only issue is that in difficult places, like gravelly areas, weeds need to actually be growing for the solution to take effect.
The downside of this spray is that, once again, it will kill your other plants if they even touch the spray. Yet, Spectracide has come up with a solution, even if it is a little extreme. You see the soil and area where the spray has been used can be used for planting once again in just one day.
This means that if you are completely overrun by weeds, you could go for a nuclear option and start again. It is not the best option, but it is there.
Another problem is the amount. Spectracide only comes in a small 62oz bottle and if you have a big garden, lawn, or other area to cover, it is not really ideal. I would suggest this product for a very messy and tangled small garden, but not for bigger gardens.
Incredibly quick rain proofing
Great distribution range
Nuclear option for a really badly impacted garden
Harmful to all plants
ScottsMiracle-gro is probably the oldest and largest lawn and garden care company that exists in America today. Of the five products on this list, three of them are either owned, partially owned, or marketed by Scotts.
They have been selling garden products since 1868 and now have a virtual monopoly on the industry, thanks to the quality and care they put into their items.
This product is a little different from the others we have shown, as it is a two in one product. It is a fertilizer for your lawn grass and a weed killer for broadleaf weeds.
The idea is that this product will thicken the grass you have and then using weed grip technology will suffocate the weeds in your garden, including the roots underground.
Does it work? Absolutely it does! The only issue is that it works over quite a long period of time, from a minimum of 24 hours to a maximum of weeks. It is not exactly a quick solution, but if you have the time and the patience, then it could be a good way to rescue your lawn.
One of the great things about this product is that it comes in a big bag worth up to 5,000 square feet of grass. This is a huge amount of weedkiller and since most people don’t have that much lawn, it should last you into the next season or two before running dry.
There are some downsides, though. As we stated before, it takes time to work, and it also takes time to be safe. Lawns treated with this weedkiller need to be left alone for 24 hours minimum.
If you let pets or children out on the lawn during that time, it could cause them some health issues without you being the wiser.
This weedkiller can only be used on grassy surfaces as well. Part of the strategy that it uses is to boost the lawn grass into, basically bullying the weeds into submission. If there is no grass to put this herbicide on, then it can’t do much about the weeds.
Great, long-lasting results
Huge amount of product
Long time before it is safe
Limited distribution range
Applying Weed Killer In Your Garden
The key reason that people have problems with weed killers is that they have applied it wrong. Since weedkiller is a substance designed to defoliate and kill plants, then this can have disastrous consequences for your garden.
The first thing you need to do with any weedkiller is to look at the bottle and see whether you need to dilute it or not. Even if your weedkiller comes in a liquid and spray form,
this does not mean that you do not need to dilute it with water first. Pure herbicides will kill everything in their path, so make sure that your product is the right strength.
The second is to make sure your lawn and garden can stand up to the treatment. Freshly cut grass is vulnerable and has already taken damage from a lawnmower, it will not be able to stand up to weedkillers.
If you do apply herbicides on your freshly mown grass, expect to see it all dead and brown by the next day. Always wait a couple of days after cutting for the grass to regrow, before applying weed killer.
Water and sun can actually stop your weedkiller from working as well. Rain will wash it away and if the sun is too intense, your grass will struggle to combat both the sun and the weedkiller.
This also applies for watering. If you plan to use weedkiller, water a couple of hours before putting on the herbicide, otherwise it’ll just wash away.
As much as we dislike weeds in our gardens, you can really have nothing but respect for them. They can survive so much punishment and often outlast the gardener’s desire to get rid of them.
But there are ways in which you can tackle your weed problem and all you need is patience, water, and gardening equipment:
Weeds can survive in the toughest conditions. Drought and heat mean little to these tough plants, yet surprisingly, water can be their undoing.
Grass can survive pretty well with minimal water, but the more water you give it the stronger it gets and the stronger the grass is the harder it is for weeds to get a purchase.
Watering your grass really well will make its roots grow large, and it will make them grow deep. If your grass has deep roots,
then weeds will have a tough time growing their own roots without them being strangled by the grass. Just make sure that you water the grass infrequently, as grass can still become waterlogged.
Feed Your Lawn
Many people apparently don’t feed their lawn. It is these same people that also complain about their lawn being overrun with weeds on the regular.
Any lawn that is not getting enough nutrients will leave gaps in the grass and, like a chink in a piece of armor, weeds will exploit this and move in. As such, it is important to feed your lawn with fertilizer or other such substances, so your grass can grow thick and healthy.
These are the two best tips we can think of for preventing weeds from invading your garden, but if you still find yourself under siege, then there is always the option of weed killers as well.
For products such as weedkillers, it is significant to know what you should look for. It would be easy to get a weedkiller that kills everything and call it a day,
but then all your hard work in the garden would be ruined for nothing. As such, we came up with some criteria that would help you decide on the perfect weedkiller.
The first and, arguably, the most essential criterion for a weedkiller is the results. If you buy a herbicide, you actually want it to be able to kill the weeds. Applying it to your garden and then finding out later on that it did nothing would be a waste of your time and of your money.
Gardens can be quite large and the battle against weeds is near constant. Therefore, if you have weedkillers, you want to have a lot of weed killers.
There is little point in buying a small bottle only to have to order another one the very next day, because you ran out. Also, it would be useful to have some spare in case weeds start popping up at random times of the year, as they can be perennial.
Weedkillers are designed to kill plants and even if that is their purpose, being something designed to kill means it can be harmful to anything living, even if it doesn’t kill it. This is especially true for smaller animals or those who are closer to the ground.
Pets and children are very vulnerable to these products and can breathe it in unknowingly, which is a huge concern for most people. As such, you want your weedkiller to be safe.
The rains are great for gardens, but they can be a nuisance for products used on gardens. Since the rain is just water falling from the sky, it can wash away your herbicide before it has the chance to do anything to the weeds, making its purchase pointless.
Rain proofing in weedkillers is quite a recent phenomenon, but it is a huge bonus to have on your product for any gardener.
Weeds are tenacious, determined, and they can get anywhere. They climb walls and fences, come up through pure concrete, and even latch onto other plants to reach the sun.
If you are to deal with these plants, you need a weedkiller that can be applied to any surface or area without it losing effectiveness.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Kills Weeds And Grass Permanently?
If you are asking what will kill weeds and grasses on your lawn, almost all weed killers can. However, if you are asking whether there is something that will stop weeds and grasses appearing on your lawn in the future, then unfortunately your only option is to replace your lawn with Astroturf.
Weeds are tenacious and will always come back every season, and really the only way to stop this is to stop having a lawn for them to come up in.
Is There A Weedkiller That Only Kills Broadleaf Weeds?
Yes, there is. Actually, most herbicide suppliers make multiple different kinds of weed killer that are better for different varieties of weed.
Manufacturers have realized that gardens have different soils, weathers, temperatures, and nutrients, all of which have produced different weeds in these areas. As such, they have made lots of weed killers to be able to treat them all.
Choosing the right weedkiller for your garden can be daunting, it may even be intimidating. With weed killers being able to kill or harm a lot more than just weeds, you may want to tread carefully and try to take a safer approach, which is very sensible.
Yet, at some point you will have to use the stuff if you want the perfect lawn. If you follow the advice and use the products laid out here, you needn’t be afraid of your weedkiller, and you should have a wonderfully luscious lawn all to yourself.