Gardening and having an abundance of green on your property is some kind of therapeutic. Be it the lush and vivid fusion of colors, the fresh breeze that envelopes you as you stand outside, or just the overall growth you see your precious greens go through every day.
But sometimes, the inevitable happens and you start to notice some unwanted visitors that stick out like a sore thumb! If you think about it, a lot more time goes into weeding than the actual planting.
Sometimes these pesky grass weeds find their way into cracks on the sidewalk or driveway, or in areas that have the exact conditions that weeds thrive in: specific temperatures, just the right moisture levels, or even just bare areas that weeds can place themselves in because these encroachers find themselves growing almost anywhere, as long as there’s room.
At first, it seems oddly satisfying, looking at your handiwork and noticing the intruders are no longer a sight for sore eyes, but eventually, it ends up being like a maddening game of Whack-A-Mole, where they’ve gone for a time but comes back again, each time maybe even more than the last!
So, you’ve kind of run out of solutions. You’ve tried every trick in the book, read every article on how to get rid of the pesky things but they never seem to stop! Each thing you’ve tried solves the problem temporarily or not at all. You’re stuck in a rut because there seems to be more weeds than healthy grass overall.
You’re looking for a permanent solution to your problem and there are a couple of them, each with their own pros and cons, of course. It’s best to read through and decide which one can be suitable for you, your environment, and your lifestyle.
How to Kill Grass and Weed Permanently
1. Identify what kind of weeds are growing. As maddening as this sounds, your entire garden is probably teeming with weed seeds right now, but thankfully only a fraction of them receive enough nutrients to actually germinate and become a full-blown trespasser.
There are actually three different types of weeds based typically on their lifespan:
- Annual Weeds – These weeds germinate and grow for a time, usually one season, and then end up dying off. They are spread by setting seeds. Common examples of this type of weed are bittercress and chickweed.
- Biennial Weeds – These types of weeds typically last two years. During the first half of their growing season, any germinated seeds will produce a plant, usually a leafy one. The following half is when the plant produces flowers which also includes the distribution of more seeds to restart the entire cycle. Common examples of this weed include clovers, wild carrots, and prickly lettuce.
- Perennial Weeds – These weeds thrive during multiple seasons and spread by setting seeds or through their root system. Common examples of this weed include dandelion, thistle, and ivy.
Some weeds also have medicinal and aesthetic properties, but most just steal the nutrients your plants need. Dandelions, red clovers, and chickweed all contain some degree of medicinal properties that may be useful later on.
Crabgrass, poison ivy, and different types of thistles don’t really account for much in your lawn and it’s best to dispose of them as soon as you can. This brings us to the next tip,
2. Reduce soil disturbance – Now I know this isn’t exactly what you were expecting, but it’s important to just let some weeds be!
Digging around and poking at your grass may actually trigger hidden weed seeds to erupt on the surface of your garden, which will cause more harm than good.
Again, it’s best to identify the kind and type of weed to determine if you should uproot them or just leave them be. Perennial weeds are usually more of a pain to get rid of, as they are present for most of the year.
Minimize disturbing your soil by using narrow shovels or knives to slice the roots of other weeds. This will cut them off from their main source of food instead of just digging them out but leaving the seeds.
Some herbicides also work better on certain types of weeds than others, which is also why knowing which kind you’re targeting is important.
3. Herbicides – Any home improvement or gardening store will probably have a bunch of options, the most popular ones being RoundUp and Ortho.
Check what kind of ingredients they use to make sure you’re getting the right kind for the type of problem at hand.
Some of them work on weeds deeply-rooted, some work on those with lateral roots, others work on both. However, they are pretty temporary as most only have lasting results up to 12 months.
Selective herbicides can work as a spot-on treatment if there is only a certain area that may need weed-eliminating. This targets photosynthesis and basically suffocates the weeds from receiving beneficial nutrients.
But some chemical herbicides like RoundUp contain glyphosate and it is non-selective which means that they can also kill healthy grass and plants.
These can also be great for infestations as they do not require much but the chemical and a spray bottle.
But it is extremely important to remember that this can be toxic to animals and children, as well as adults. Be sure to use gear like long-sleeves, gloves, and protective eyewear.
4. Mulch – Mulch is any material laid over soil that pretty much acts as that extra layer of protection that you’ll need to keep the weeds at bay, or even prevent them from growing at all.
This benefits plants and grass by retaining soil moisture, which means the plants will need less watering. It also improves your soil’s overall structure by breaking down clay and making airflow better.
You can go the organic route with materials that are readily available like shredded or chipped bark, shredded leaves, grass clippings, pine needles, and even newspaper or straw.
Organic mulch also helps host different beetles and crickets who like to feast on thousands of weed seeds!
These different organic mulches cater to different types of plants. Bark can be utilized better around shrubs and garden beds and even trees, where the digging is minimal.
Shredded leaves, on the other hand, cater to most plants which is why they are better known as “nature’s favorite mulch”. Apart from the fact that they are so easily found and collected, they also attract earthworms that cultivate the soil better. They are also great for woodland gardens.
However, organic mulches do decompose over time, which means you’ll have to keep placing and replacing them also depending on the season. Other synthetic mulches are available and last longer, like plastic, fabric, and gravel.
5. Soil Solarization – This is an environmentally-friendly way of keeping the weeds away because no chemicals are involved in the process.
It’s also a long-term solution and helps control other pests apart from weed, which is great for larger areas and full-blown infestations.
This is done using a transparent tarpaulin cover, usually made from polyethylene material. Others use a black or white tarp, but transparent is most likely your best bet.
Soil solarization also requires the right type of soil. You can do it to any kind of soil but it will work better on thicker and heavier soils including clay and loam as they are able to really hold moisture content than lighter soils. Water stored in the soil is important because the “cooking” process will need this moisture to generate steam to kill weed seeds, insect eggs, nematodes, mites, bacteria, and fungi that are housed in the soil.
Because of the fact, this may be a less effective method for sandy types of soil as they do not hold as much moisture and might produce little to no steam. For this to have any effect at all, try laying drip irrigation lines beneath the transparent tarp and remember to add water regularly. It will take a little more time for these types of soil.
Clear your area of any debris like sticks and stones. Hold the tarp down with heavy items like rocks or pots to ensure that it will stay put for the “cooking” process, or bury their edges into the ground to trap heat.
Usually, the best time this strategy works out is during the summer when the sun blazes hottest. You will probably need four weeks, and after that hopefully, the area is ready for new vegetation!
6. A similar composting and cost-free method is called lasagna gardening or sheet composting. Done by mowing or weed-whacking a certain area and then covering it with a combination of several cardboard and newspaper sheets, water, compost, and mulch (preferably bark).
The paper or cardboard layers eventually kill the grass, while the mulch will help break the paper into pieces that promote soil nutrition.
7. Landscape Layout – Weeds, just like any plants, thrive when conditions are favorable. Some areas are more likely for weeds to grow in than others. This is why it’s important to cut off any factors that will be doing them favors.
Different weeds may thrive in areas with much shade, so make proper adjustments. Cut off branches that may be giving them that so the sun peeks through. Improve the drainage or mulch of areas where the weeds thrive in moisture.
Some plants that are closer together doesn’t give weeds much room for any sort of growth. Keeping plant gaps at a minimum can help with this.
If there are any sort of “bald patches” in your garden, consider picking out plants that compliment your already-existing plants to further obstruct the weeds from growing and deprive them of sunlight.
But the correct distancing between plants also depends on their size and the direction in which they grow. Some plants thrive well when put together, but a little too close and they are susceptible to different diseases.
8. Vinegar – Found in the comforts of your home, vinegar is a great homemade solution for those pesky weeds, especially in places that are narrow, like cracks between the pavement or in between brick.
Ordinary distilled/undiluted white vinegar, cider vinegar, or horticultural vinegar has a higher acid content that will help kill weeds off faster and prove more effective.
This is applied by spraying on the tops of weeds. The vinegar then works to dry out the weed, eventually stopping the moisture distribution that weeds need to grow and multiply.
However, since this is applied to just the surface of the weed, it does not penetrate the root which means it may not be able to stop the weeds from growing completely. It definitely makes it easier to uproot them, though.
9. Salt – It isn’t uncommon to hear about using salt as a remedy to many things. Inexpensive yet highly-effective, most weed-killing recipes recommend Epsom salt. Higher concentrations of vinegar sometimes do the trick, but Epsom salt (or regular salt if that’s what you have) can be added to the vinegar to make it even more effective.
Salt, much like vinegar, dehydrates many things and can prove to be effective at doing just that to weeds. Adding this to vinegar is common for removing hard-to-remove stains and smells from surfaces. It helps with cat and dog urine, which is a pretty tough smell to remove.
Add 2 cups of salt to a gallon of vinegar, and maybe even a teaspoon of dish soap (which can also aid in weed-killing), and voila! Weeds are gone.
However, be careful where you apply your salt-solution as this can also dehydrate your already-healthy plants and grass nearby.
10. Baking soda – Another home remedy, baking soda is an effective alternative. Moisten those weeds with water if you live in a hotter climate or in an area where there isn’t much rain, and sprinkle an even amount of baking soda on the surface, the more, the merrier! Water actually helps the baking soda speed up its work right down to the root to do the damage. This method is probably the easiest method off this whole list as it only requires one ingredient.