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No one wants weeds taking over their yard, and if you have too many to pull by hand, it might be time to bring in a weed killer. These herbicides are extremely handy for lawn maintenance, as they can help control crabgrass, dandelions, ragweed, and other common weeds that may pop up around your home.
There are a few things to consider when buying a weed killer—namely, where you plan to use it and what weeds you’re targeting. Certain herbicides will kill any plant, which makes them ideal for walkways or gravel driveways, while other weed killers can be used to target specific weeds in your lawn or flower beds—without harming other greenery.
Here, the best weed killers for your yard.
Best Overall: Spectracide Weed and Grass Killer Concentrate
Volume: 64 ounces | Plant Type: Grass, Poison Ivy, Clover, Broadleaf, and Other Listed Weeds
Available in various sizes
Kills both weeds and grasses
Rainproof after 15 minutes
Must dilute yourself
Whether you’re hoping to control weeds on a sidewalk, flower bed, or around trees, you can’t go wrong with the Spectracide Weed and Grass Killer Concentrate. This chemical herbicide is available in 32- and 64-ounce containers, as well as 1-gallon jugs, and because it’s a concentrate, the jar will go a long way, allowing you to treat more of your lawn.
The Spectracide Weed and Grass Killer kills both weeds and grasses, and it can be used on driveways and walkways, as well as around fences, trees, flower beds, and shrubs. You’ll see visible results as soon as three hours after application, and the formula is “rainproof” in just 15 minutes, so you don’t have to worry about it washing away. For best results, you should apply the diluted formula with a tank sprayer during warm, sunny weather, and completely spray the leaves of any weeds you’re hoping to kill.
Best for Lawns: Ortho Weed B Gon Weed Killer for Lawns
Volume: 1 gallon | Plant Type: Dandelions, Clover, Broadleaf, Crabgrass, and Other Listed Weeds
Targets weeds without killing your yard
Comes in various sizes
Can kill your grass if used improperly
It’s quite tough to kill weeds that grow in your lawn, as many herbicides can damage grass, as well. One of your best options to target pesky weeds like dandelions and clover is Ortho Weed B Gon Weed Killer, which kills more than 250 weeds without harming your lawn (when used as directed). You can buy the herbicide in both 32-ounce and 1-gallon containers, and the 1 gallon of the concentrate formula covers up to 64,000 square feet.
The Ortho Weed B Gon Weed Killer dandelions, clover, and other broadleaf weeds to the root, and you’ll see results in a matter of hours. It can be used on both Northern and Southern lawns, and the formula is rainproof in just one hour. Just be sure to use the product as directed to avoid harming your grass.
Best for Flower Beds: Roundup Ready-To-Use Weed & Grass Killer III
Volume: 1.33 gallons | Plant Type: Annual Bluegrass, Bermuda Grass, Bindweed, and Other Listed Weeds
No diluting needed
Rainproof after 10 minutes
Will not harm flowers and other vegetation
No smaller sizes available
Keep your flower beds looking pristine with the Roundup Ready-To-Use Weed & Grass Killer III, which comes in a convenient Pump ‘N Go container—no diluting needed! This herbicide kills tough weeds and grasses down to the root, and its extendable wand allows you to easily target pesky weeds without harming your flowers.
This formula comes in 1.33-gallon containers and can be used in and around vegetable gardens, flower beds, tree rings, and mulched beds, as well as on cracks in driveways, walkways, and patios. It’s rainproof just 10 minutes after application, and once you spray it over weeds, you’ll see visible results in around three hours. The convenient no-mix formula is ideal for those times when you just want to grab it and go, and Roundup sells refills of the herbicide that you can simply pour into the original container.
Best Natural: Green Gobbler Organic 20% Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer
Volume: 1 gallon | Plant Type: Crabgrass, Dandelions, Moss, and Other Listed Weeds
Doesn't contain harsh chemicals
Can be used in various places
No dilution needed
No smaller sizes available
Many weed killers contain harsh chemicals, but if you’re looking for a natural option for lawn maintenance, the Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed and Grass Killer is glyphosate-free and made without any synthetic ingredients. In fact, its main ingredients are ethanol, which is distilled from corn grain, and vinegar, but don’t worry—it will still take care of unwanted crabgrass, dandelions, clover weeds, white clover, moss, and more.
This natural weed killer comes in 1-gallon jars, and it can be used on driveways, sidewalks, concrete, mulch, flower beds, and more. (Avoid spraying the solution on healthy grass, as it’s harmful to all plants.) You can use the weed killer straight out of the bottle, and the natural acid starts drying out weeds on contact. You’ll see visible results in less than 24 hours, and the company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with the performance.
Best Professional: Roundup Pro Concentrate
Volume: 2.5 gallons | Plant Type: Annual Weeds, Perennial Weeds, Woody Brush, and Trees
Great for large areas
Has to be used in certain sprayers
Must wear protective clothing
If you have a large area to treat or just have tough weeds that haven’t responded to other herbicides, you might want to consider a professional-grade product like the Roundup Pro Concentrate. This weed killer is used in industrial vegetation management and agricultural farming, and it contains 50.2 percent glyphosate for fast and powerful results.
This professional herbicide comes in 2.5-gallon jugs, and its mix rate is 1 to 10.5 ounces per gallon of water, depending on the type of weed you’re treating. It should only be used in clean stainless steel or plastic sprayers, and you should wear protective clothing while applying the powerful solution.
Best for Large Areas: Compare-N-Save Grass and Weed Killer Glyphosate Concentrate
Volume: 1 gallon | Plant Type: All Grasses and Weeds
Can be used in various places
Great for large areas
Can kill other plants if used improperly
When you have a large area that needs to be treated for weeds, a ready-to-use solution simply isn’t going to cut it. Instead, you’re going to want a concentrated solution, and one of the best options is Compare-N-Save Concentrate Grass and Weed Killer. A 1-gallon bottle of this concentrate can make up to 85 gallons of spray solution—enough to cover up to 25,000 square feet!
This herbicide can be used on walkways and driveways, as well as along buildings and fences, and it kills weeds, grasses, vines, and brush. The formula contains 41 percent glyphosate, and it is rainproof two hours after application—though, the company recommends applying the herbicide on a warm, sunny day with no rainfall in the forecast for 24 hours. You’ll see visible results in two to four days, as it kills the weeds down to the roots, but be careful to avoid wanted plants when you’re spraying, as the powerful formula will kill just about any vegetation.
Best for Gravel: RM43 43-Percent Glyphosate Weed Preventer Total Vegetation Control
Volume: 1 gallon | Plant Type: All Weeds, Grasses, Vines, Brush, and Trees
Can be used in various places
Prevents weeds from growing back
Not ideal for places with vegetation
Tired of weeds popping up all over your gravel driveway? You can eradicate them quickly with the RM43 Total Vegetation Control, a powerful weed killer that contains 43 percent glyphosate. This concentrated formula comes in a 1-gallon container that makes up to 21 gallons of spray and treats more than 17,000 square feet, and the product is ideal for locations where no vegetation is desired, such as gravel paths, driveways, parking areas, fence rows, and around buildings.
RM43 Total Vegetation Control is a combination of two herbicides and surfactant, and in addition to killing any vegetation that’s growing, it will also prevent new weeds for up to a year. The formula is rainfast in two hours, and it’s safe for people and pets after it has dried.
Best Weed Torch: Flame King YSNPQ-5000T Heavy Duty Propane Torch Weed Burner
Plant Type: All Weeds
Great spot treatment
Comes in various sizes
Can be used for more than weeds
Not great for covering a large area
Families with children or pets may not want to apply a herbicide to their yard—after all, many of the chemicals can be harmful if touched—and one alternative weed killer is the Flame King Weed Burner. This propane-powered torch can be used to spot-treat pesky weeds, as its 500,000 BTU heat output will quickly kill any unwanted plants.
This unit attaches to standard liquid propane cylinders, including a variety of sizes between 5 and 100 pounds. It has a 10-foot hose that allows you to work in a larger area without moving the fuel tank, and the easy-grip handle makes it comfortable to operate. In addition to killing weeds, the torch can also be used to melt snow or start fires, making it a versatile tool to have around the house.
The best product for eliminating weeds is Spectracide Weed and Grass Killer Concentrate (view at Amazon), which can be used in many areas, such as in flower beds, on sidewalks, and even around shrubs, and delivers visible results in just a few hours. For a product that’s a bit more preventative, the RM43 43-Percent Glyphosate Plus Weed Preventer (view at Home Depot) gets down to the roots and stops weeds from sprouting for up to an entire year.
What to Look for in a Weed Killer
Not all weed killers target the same plant species. If you need to kill weeds in your lawn, look for a selective formula that won't kill grass along with the weeds, and if you're using weed killer in your vegetable garden, make sure it's approved for use around edible plants. If you prefer to get rid of all vegetation, a non-selective formula is the best way to go.
Do you want your weed killer to work once, or would you prefer a formula that keeps vegetation from growing back for up to a few months? Check the information carefully so you know which kind of formula you're getting, especially if you're using a non-selective formula and plan to introduce new plants into the area at a later time.
How does a weed killer work?
Herbicides generally work to kill weeds by inhibiting root and shoot development or by affecting foliage. Usually, pre-emergent herbicides work on newly germinated weed seeds underground to stop the normal development of root systems or to prevent the plant from sending up new shoots. Post-emergent herbicides, on the other hand, affect foliage (preventing photosynthesis) or are absorbed into the root system of the plant, resulting in the termination of the weed.
Some herbicides are non-selective, which means they’ll kill all plants they come into contact with. Round-Up, a glyphosate-based herbicide, is a widely available type of non-selective weed killer. On the other hand, most gardeners prefer to use a selective weed killer, which only affects the growth of target species. It’s most commonly used for broadleaf weed control.
Is weed killer safe to use if you have pets?
If you have pets that frequently come into contact with your lawn or like to cut through the garden, it’s important to be cautious about using chemical weed killers. Many of these products have long-lasting residual effects on the area they are applied to. Pet owners should use caution when applying such products to areas where their pets are likely to walk or lounge since they could ingest the chemical–either directly, or by licking their paws and fur that have come into contact with the weed killer.
Organic weed killer may be a better option for pet owners since the compounds within it tend to break down more rapidly and be absorbed by the ground. However, it’s still important to read the directions for use and consider the warning label on any products you use, since the potential effects can vary based on the active ingredients of each formula.
Are natural weed killers effective?
Organic herbicides can be used with success as a weed killer. Formulas range from homemade solutions of distilled vinegar to ready-made formulas with clove oil, citric acid, and other natural, active ingredients. Whether you use a homemade weed killer or purchase an organic herbicide, the important thing to note is that these products are non-selective. While some inorganic herbicides will only affect specific invasive species, organic herbicides will kill all plants within the application area.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Camryn Rabideau, who grew up on a 70-acre farm and now owns a small farmstead herself. As such, she has firsthand experience fighting weeds such as bittersweet vines and crabgrass.