Ultimate Guide: How to Get Rid of Weeds Once and for All

Team McFly Mar 18, 2024
9 People Read
weeds in garden

Battling weeds in your garden can feel endless. Pulling them out by hand often leaves roots behind, leading to regrowth.

This guide offers proven methods to eliminate weeds, from natural remedies to chemical solutions permanently.

Keep reading for a weed-free garden!

A person uses natural weed killer in a lush garden.

Key Takeaways

  • Use selective herbicides to target specific weeds without harming other plants and non-selective for areas needing all vegetation cleared.

  • Natural weed killers like vinegar mixed with water can be effective, but be careful around desired plants.

  • Pouring boiling water on weeds kills them by destroying their cells, which are useful for driveways or between paving stones.

  • Smother weeds with a thick layer of mulch to block sunlight and prevent growth.

  • Pre-emergent herbicides stop weed seeds from sprouting, while ground covers can suppress weed growth and add beauty.

Chemical Herbicides

Chemical herbicides come in different types: selective and non-selective, contact and systemic. They are effective in eliminating weeds in your lawn or garden.

Selective vs. non-selective

Selective herbicides target specific types of weeds without harming surrounding plants. Homeowners find this type ideal for lawns or gardens where desirable plants coexist with unwanted weeds.

Conversely, non-selective herbicides eliminate all plants they come into contact with. This makes them suitable for areas where complete vegetation removal is the goal, such as driveways or patios.



Use Case


Specific weeds

Lawns and gardens with mixed vegetation


All plants

Areas needing total vegetation clearance

Selective herbicides benefit lawn or garden health by removing only weeds. Using the correct type ensures desired plants thrive while unwanted vegetation is managed.

Non-selective options offer a powerful solution for clearing areas of all vegetation, useful for creating new garden spaces or managing overgrown areas. Knowing the difference aids in selecting the best approach for your garden's needs.

Contact vs. systemic

There are two main types of herbicides: contact and systemic. Contact herbicides work on the plant's surface, killing only the parts they come into contact with. On the other hand, systemic herbicides are absorbed and move within the plant, killing it from the inside out.

Understanding these differences can help in choosing the right approach for targeting specific weeds more effectively.

Additionally, when using contact herbicides like vinegar or boiling water, it's important to know that they may not kill the roots of the weeds entirely.

Systemic herbicides move within a plant to eradicate it completely from root to tip.

This helps prevent regrowth and ensures a more thorough elimination of persistent weeds.

In contrast, contact herbicides act quickly on visible parts but may require repeated applications as new growth appears due to incomplete root kill.

Therefore, homeowners seeking long-term weed control should consider both approaches carefully based on their specific needs and desired outcomes in their lawn maintenance routine.

Organic Solutions

Vinegar and boiling water are organic solutions for weed elimination. These effective and environmentally friendly methods are popular for homeowners seeking natural weed control.

Using Vinegar

Vinegar is an effective natural weed killer.

  • For a potent solution, mix vinegar with water in a 1: 1 ratio and add a few drops of dish soap.

  • Apply the mixture directly to the weeds, covering the leaves thoroughly.

  • The acetic acid in vinegar helps to break down the weed's cell structure, causing it to wither and die.

  • Be cautious when applying vinegar, as it can also affect nearby plants.

  • Reapply the vinegar solution as needed until the weeds are eliminated.

Pouring Boiling Water

Pour boiling water directly onto the weeds to kill them. The heat destroys the weed cells, effectively eliminating them from your garden.

This method is best used on weeds growing in areas where you don't want any plants to grow, like between paving stones or along a fence line.

  • Boiling water is a safe and natural way to kill weeds without using chemicals.

  • Pouring boiling water directly onto the base of the weed will damage its cells and prevent regrowth.

  • Be cautious when pouring boiling water, as it can also harm nearby plants, so aim carefully.

  • This method works best on young, small weeds with shallow roots.

  • After pouring boiling water, wait for a few days to see if the weed has died. If not, repeat the process.

Alternative Methods

Smothering weeds by covering them with a barrier or mulch can effectively prevent their growth. Another non-chemical approach to weed control is using salt or baking soda to dehydrate and kill weeds.

Smothering Weeds

To smother weeds effectively, cover the soil around plants and in garden beds with a thick layer of mulch. This will prevent sunlight from reaching weed seeds, inhibiting their growth and reducing weed infestation.

Choose organic materials like wood chips, straw, or shredded leaves for mulching to enhance soil health and prevent weed growth. Ensure the mulch layer is at least 3 inches thick to smother existing weeds and suppress new weed growth effectively.

Consider using landscape fabric under the mulch in areas where persistent weed control is needed, such as in perennial beds or walkways. Avoid plastic sheeting as it can hinder water penetration and harm beneficial soil organisms.

Regularly replenish the mulch layer to maintain its effectiveness in smothering weeds and promoting a healthy garden environment.

Now, let's move on to alternative methods for removing weeds.

Using salt or baking soda

Salt and baking soda can effectively eliminate weeds without using chemicals. Here's how you can use them:

  1. Salt: Sprinkle salt directly onto the weed-affected areas. This dehydrates and kills the unwanted plants.

  2. Baking Soda: Apply baking soda to the base of the weeds. It interferes with their natural pH balance, causing them to wither and die.

Utilizing salt or baking soda provides a natural and safe way to combat stubborn weeds in your garden and lawn, ensuring a healthier and weed-free outdoor space for your home.

Long-Term Solutions

Use pre-emergent herbicides to prevent weed growth and plant ground covers as a lasting solution for weed control.

Pre-emergent herbicides

Pre-emergent herbicides prevent weed seeds from sprouting by creating a barrier in the soil. These herbicides are best applied before the weeds germinate, typically in early spring or fall.

The application timing is crucial as it forms a shield against new weed growth. For effective use of pre-emergent herbicides, homeowners should carefully follow the application instructions to ensure proper coverage and adequate watering for activation.

Pre-emergent herbicides can significantly reduce the need for hand weeding and other labor-intensive methods while promoting long-term weed prevention in gardens and lawns.

Planting Ground Covers

Ground covers are an effective long-term solution for controlling weeds in your garden. They suppress weed growth and add beauty to your landscape.

When selecting ground covers, consider low-growing plants like creeping thyme or clover that can smother weeds and reduce the need for constant maintenance.

These plants spread quickly and provide dense coverage, preventing sunlight from reaching weed seeds and hindering their growth.

In addition to weed control, ground covers help in moisture retention and erosion prevention, adding value to your garden while keeping it free from persistent weeds and enhancing overall aesthetic appeal.

Integrating ground cover plants into your garden offers a sustainable way to maintain a weed-free space without harsh chemicals or continuous manual weeding.

With their ability to form a natural barrier against weed intrusion, these low-maintenance options contribute to long-term success in managing unwanted plant species within your outdoor space.


For a weed-free garden, use herbicides, hand-pulling, smothering, or vinegar. Remove weeds with their roots to prevent regrowth, and do it when the soil is moist. Tools like dandelion diggers can help in deep root removal.

Mulch is effective for weed control too. Explore techniques for large-scale weed removal and ways to keep them out of your garden.


1. What are the best ways to remove weeds from my garden?

The best methods include hand garden weeding, applying herbicides for persistent weed removal, and using organic methods for natural weed management.

2. Can I permanently kill weeds in my lawn?

To eradicate weeds permanently, you can use long-term weed elimination techniques, such as proper lawn care, regular garden maintenance, and selective herbicide application.

3. How can I control weeds without chemicals?

Try mulching your garden beds or boiling water directly on the weeds for organic weed removal. These methods help suppress and control weeds naturally.

4. Is it possible to prevent weeds from growing in paving cracks?

Yes! Paving weed control involves filling the cracks with sand or sealant and regularly removing any new growth to keep your pavement clean.

5. What should I do for large areas of land infested with different types of weeds?

Implement comprehensive weed management strategies, including mechanical removal, targeted herbicide applications for various species, and ongoing lawn care practices to mitigate further spread.