In this article we’re going to cover a wide range of products that can be considered the best weed killer for lawns — also known as herbicides. In a perfect world you’d just place a sign on your lawn telling weeds to stay out and they’d obey you but as you know, this is the real world and weeds have a mind of their own. Weeds will take over your lawn if you allow them to.
Before we get into our product roundup for the best weed killer for lawns I think it’s important to understand how weeds infiltrate your lawn in the first place and how you can minimize and prevent weeds from wreaking havoc on your lawn in the future. Prevention really is the best medicine when it comes to garden care.The three categories of lawn weeds are as follows:
- Grassy Weeds
- Sedge Plants (grass-like plants)
- Broadleaf Plants
The majority of weeds complete their life cycle over one growing season —from germination to seed production — and are referred to as “annuals.” The more difficult type of weeds to control and get rid of are “perrennials,” which can live for many years and can spread beneath the surface, and also by seed.
The best way to prevent weeds is actually quite simple but not enough homeowners spend the time on prevention. If you truly want to keep weeds away then grow a thick nutrient-rich lawn that is both healthy and robust. A thick lawn will prevent weeds from ever taking hold.
Not only will a thick lawn prevent weeds but it will also be more resistant to insects and lawn diseases.
The best way to reinvigorate your lawn and make it vibrant begins with dethatching. You can read our in-depth review of the Greenworks dethatcher which also covers the theory behind dethatching and why you need to do it. We also touch upon aeration, which is another important step in maintaining a healthy lawn.
A crucial component of any healthy lawn is to insure that your pH levels are correct and your lawn is properly fertilized consistently throughout the year. The only way to know when to fertilize is to do a soil test. The Luster Leaf Soil Test Kit is inexpensive and will tell you within 10 minutes what your pH levels are, as well as give you a reading on your nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels.
Don’t waste money on fertilizing until you’ve tested your lawn. Fertilizing isn’t the answer to all of your lawn problems, but if you do need to fertilize I recommend the most popular fertilizer on the market — Scotts Turf Builder, which is also safe for your kids and pets. Yes, there are many other fertilizers on the market that will also serve you well. Pick your favorite at your local garden store.
You’ll also need a spreader to distribute the fertilizer and Scotts also makes an inexpensive model for homeowners: Turf Builder EdgeGuard Mini Broadcast Spreader — or something similar. Don’t pay too much for a fertilizer spreader; it’s not necessary.
The best weed killer for your lawn will depend on the type of weeds you have so it’s important to identify the weeds that you’re trying to kill — more on that later. After this long winded introduction I’ll be showing you nine effective weed killers for your lawn. My hope is that by the time you finish this article you’ll be confident in selecting the right herbicide for your lawn.
Oh, and when buying weed killers, insecticides, fertilizer or any type of pesticide, make sure you buy the correct product and read the labels before spraying or applying anything. Sounds obvious, right? Well, you can learn a lot from this news story:
A once green fingered Minnesota man is ruing not reading the labels on the weed killer he bought after it killed all the grass on his 40,000 square foot lawn. (Read the full story)
Tips | Best Weed Killer for Lawns
- Attack weeds as early as possible in the growing cycle.
- Choose the appropriate herbicide. Make sure it can destroy the weed you’re attacking.
- Weed killers are best used when your weeds are actively growing (Mar to Dec).
- If you intend to replant after clearing weeds, use a weed killer with a biodegradable formula (Avenger).
- Increase weed killer absorption by crushing or crumpling leaves prior to spraying. If you have a large patch of weeds, hit plants with a suitable object, or tear leaves before spraying.
- Water lawn lightly before application or apply in early morning to take advantage of dew
- Don’t water your lawn for 2 days following spraying.
- Stay off the lawn for 24 hours following spraying.
First thing that you need to realize when choosing a weed killer for your lawn is that all synthetic weed killers are toxic and should be handled with care. You want to ensure that you store your weed killer properly and keep it away from your kids and pets. Only use weed killers when necessary and use sparingly.
The main ingredients in these weed killers for lawns are: diquat, 2,4-D, and glyphosate. Each brand will have their own formulation and proprietary blend but most products will include at least one of these ingredients.
Before you use any weed killer it’s absolutely essential that you read the directions thoroughly and follow them as indicated by the manufacturer. Please don’t overlook this important step.
To learn more you can view or download the following document: How Herbicides Work.
Alternative to Chemicals | Propane Weed Torch
If you’re not aware, there are natural methods to kill weeds, without the use of chemicals, such as the highly effective Red Dragon series of propane weed torches. Below you can see the Red Dragon VT 2-23C (100,000 BTU weed torch kit).
This weed torch generates heat up to 2,000°F and quickly connects to any refillable propane tank (barbecue cylinders are a good example). Includes a hand-tighten tank fitting adapter so you don’t need tools to attach.
Overall length from torch bell to back of handle is 27 1/2″.
It may be necessary to repeat weeding several times per year, depending on the plant species and whether seeds germinate during the growing season. Some weeds are more heat resistant than others and may require more than one treatments.
As a homeowner, your main concern should be building a thick, lush, healthy lawn to prevent weeds from growing in the first place. Weed killing is focused on the symptoms. Which means, if you don’t improve the health of your lawn, you’ll always be pulling weeds. A healthy lawn is essentially a defense that prevents weeds from bullying their way into your lawn.
Identify your weeds
You can’t choose the right weed killer for your lawn if you can’t identify the weeds you’re trying to kill so here are some resources to help you:
- Identify weeds where you live : Preen
- Learn about identifying weeds at the University of Maryland Garden center.
- University of California : Weed photo gallery
- Broadleaf Weed Identification
- Grassy weeds
- Weed identification from Garden.org
Garden Hose Sprayer
In order to distribute your weed killer effectively, you’ll need a quality hose end sprayer. We have an in-depth article on the Best Hose End Sprayers that will help you choose wisely. Or you can use a garden sprayer such as the highly effective Chapin 20000 1-Gallon Lawn and Garden Sprayer.
Now, we can finally move on to the meat and potato’s of this article —
my picks of the best weed killer for lawns are…
This is highly effective weed killer for lawns. It works as you’d expect. For some weeds you’ll be able to see visible results within a few hours of spraying. The tougher weeds could take up to three weeks to get rid of so if you need to, repeat treatment after a few weeks if necessary.
As with all the weed killers on this list, please read the labels and follow the manufacturers directions. Don’t assume you know how to apply the weed killer based on a different brand of weed killers that you used in the past. Each product is unique.
Here’s a helpful video from Spectracide that gives you a broad overview of their weed killers.
The packaging on this products stresses the following. Do not use on Floratam variety of St. Augustine Grass in Florida. I guess it’s important but I can’t imagine what would happen if you actually used it on this weed variety. Why only this weed type? I don’t know.
Ingredients: 2,4-D dimethylamine salt (7.59%), Mecoprop-p dimethylamine salt (1.83%), Dicamba, dimethylamine salt (0.84%).
- Results visible within hours.
- Kills more than 200 weed types.
- Treats up to 16,000 sq. ft.
- Won’t damage your lawn.
- Mix with water.
The wonderful thing about Ortho Weed B Gon MAX Weed Killer is how easy it is to use. The sprayer is included and attached to the side of the bottle. All you have to do is screw it into the top opening and you’re ready to spray your weeds. Ortho has made this very consumer friendly while being effective at killing weeds. It’s no surprise that this is one of the most popular and best weed killer for lawns available on the market.
This product also has added crabgrass control. The Ortho Weed B Gon herbicide won’t damage your lawn so you don’t have to worry if you accidentally over-spray onto your grass. Not all products can target weeds as effectively as Weed B Gon. It’s nice to know that you can preserve your lawn while targeting your weeds.
If you’re having major growth of crabgrass then I recommend you being proactive and killing it before it takes hold early in the growing season. For excessive crabgrass try using: Scotts Crabgrass & Grassy Weed Preventer.
Expect to see results in a few days. This product works a little slower than other weed killers but don’t let that dissuade you. The weed killers that work quickly also destroy everything they touch so please be patient. Overall this is an excellent product that consumers are really happy with and the built-in dispenser is as good as it gets, making spraying your weeds easy to carry out.
Will kill over 190 weeds, including: Barnyardgrass, Broadleaf Signalgrass, Bur Clover, Carpetweeds, Chickweeds, Creeping Charlie, and much more.
Ingredients: Quinclorac (.10%), 2,4-D dimethylamine salt (.12%), Mecoprop-p dimethylamine salt (.22%), dimethylamine, Dicamba (.05%).
- Kills 190+ weeds.
- Kill weeds on contact.
- Begins working instantly.
- Guaranteed not to harm your lawn.
Bayer Advanced All-in-One Lawn Weed and Crabgrass Killer Concentrate kills lawn weeds plus crabgrass in one single step. Their rainproof formula manages to eradicate tough weeds while protecting your lawn (when used as directed). Deserves to be on any list for the best weed killer for lawns.
Ingredients: Sodium methylarsonate, 2,4-D dimethylamine salt (3.18%), Mecoprop-p dimethylamine salt (1.6%), dimethylamine, Dicamba (.79%).
Same product — different bottle and delivery systems:
- Ready-to-Spray bottle (connect to hose): Bayer Advanced weed killer (704080)
- 1.3 gallon container with power sprayer. Bayer Advanced weed killer (704135)
- Spray bottle: Bayer Advanced All-in-One Lawn Weed & Crabgrass Killer (70412)
- Kills 200+ of the most common Broadleaf weeds.
- Also controls crabgrass and other grassy weeds.
- Won’t harm lawns when you follow the instructions.
- Rainproof in 1 hour.
- Treats 5,000 sq. ft.
Do not use on: St. Augustinegrass including Floratam variety, Bahiagrass, Carpetgrass, Centipedegrass or Dichondra.
The Roundup brand has been trusted to kill all types of weeds. Kill to the root. Guaranteed. From Ready-To-Use formulas to Concentrates, to Weed Prevention, Roundup brands have it. So feel confident and put the power of the Roundup brand to work for you. Fastest working Roundup Concentrate. One quart makes up to 10 gallons. Rainproof in 30 minutes.
Use a Roundup tank sprayer to spray the weeds you want to kill until thoroughly wet. If desirable plant is accidentally sprayed, rinse off immediately with water. Apply when weeds are actively growing. For best results, apply during warm, sunny weather (above 60-degrees F). Spray when air is calm to prevent drift to desirable plants. Weeds usually begin to wilt within two to four days and dead within one to two weeks. Use in and around fences, trees, driveways, and flower beds. FastAct Technology formula starts working immediately, with visible results in 24 hours. Kills weeds to the root so they don’t come back. Ideal for larger projects.
Glyphosate targets an enzyme found in plants but not people or pets.
Roundup Weed and Grass Killer Concentrate Plus starts working immediately, with visible results in 12 hours! Rainproof protection in 30 minutes. Kills weeds to the root so they don’t come back! Ideal for larger projects.
Ingredients: Glyphosate (18%), Diquat (0.73%).
- Fastest working Roundup® brand concentrate product.
- Kills the toughest weeds and grasses.
- Absorbs through the leaf and stem only so killing power won’t spread to non-target plants through soil.
- Concentrated and dilutes to cover big jobs.
- One quart makes up to 10 gallons.
- Rainproof in 30 minutes.
The Spectracide Weed and Grass Killer is a non-selective herbicide that will kill any vegetation contacted. It enters plants through the leaves and moves down to the roots. This will ensure that the entire plant is eliminated. Avoid direct spray or drift onto desirable plants, lawn grasses, shrubs, and trees. Protect desirable plants and vegetation with a piece of plastic or cardboard. If desirable plants are accidentally sprayed, wash plants with water immediately. This product has no soil activity and thus will not affect nearby untreated plants.
Spectracide has a strong reputation for being a brand that consistently creates the best weed killer for lawns and this product continues their tradition of creating excellent products for lawn and garden care.
- 32 fl oz concentrate makes up to 10 gallons.
- Visible results as fast as 3 hours.
- Rainfast in 15 minutes.
- Suitable around trees and shrubs, in flower beds, driveways, patios and walkways.
Concentrate Grass & Weed Killer 41% Glyphosate will kill almost all annual and perennial weeds, grasses and other unwanted plants. Mix Concentrate Grass & Weed Killer 41% Glyphosate with water and use to control weeds on driveways and walkways, or around fences, trees, flower beds, shrubs and other areas in your yard.
This product can also be used for large jobs such as lawn restoration/renovation and garden plot preparation. This products kills weeds by stopping the production of a substance found in plants. Whatever is not absorbed by the plant breaks down into natural materials and will not move throughout the soil to untreated plants.
Ingredients: Glyphosate, N-(phosphonomethyl) glycine, in the form of its isopropylamine salt
- Rainproof in 2 hours.
- Visible results in as little as 2 to 4 days.
- Contains 41-percent glyphosate.
- Covers over 25,000 sq. ft.
- Makes up to 85 gal. of ready-to-use spray.
No mixing required. This dual-action forumula is ready-to-use. The Extended-Control Weed and Grass Killer Plus Weed Preventer II handles 2 tasks at once — it kills weeds and grass down to the root while preventing new weed growth for up to 4 months. Spray on existing weeds or spray the areas where you don’t want weeds to grow.
Ingredients: 1% Glyphosate, 0.017% Imazapic, and 2% Pelargonic acide and related fatty acids.
- Dual-Action formula.
- Kills existing weeds to the root!
- Prevents new weeds from growing for up to 4 months!
- Starts working immediately with visible results in 3 hours.
- Rainproof in 10 minutes – control that won’t wash away.
- Ideal for large jobs.
Eco-Friendly, Deadly to Weeds
Avenger Weed Killer is a non-selective, post-emergence herbicide that quickly and effectively kills weeds, grasses and broadleaves without causing harm to the environment. The active ingredient d-limonene (citrus oil) naturally strips away the waxy plant cuticle, causing it to dehydrate and die. University and independent testing results prove that Avenger Weed Killer is as effective, but faster acting when compared against leading synthetic herbicides. When tested against non-organic ‘natural’ herbicides that contain vinegar (acetic acid), citric acid, clove oil or fatty acids (soap), it is more effective with quicker results.
Kills most weeds, including: grasses and broadleaves including: Spurge, Sowthistle, Redroot Pigweed, Tumbling Pigweed, Annual Bluegrass, Shepherd’s Purse, Common Purselane, Common Chickweed, Clover, Hairy Fleabane, Crabgrass, Smooth Crabgrass, Dandelion, Whitestem Filaree, Bermuda Grass, Bindweed, Shepherds Purse, Prickly Lettuce, Lambsquarters and Little Mallow.
Ideal for a wide variety of areas: Gardens, Spot Control in Lawns, Shrubs, Flower Beds, Driveways, Sidewalks, Patios, Borders, Outside Walls, Mulch Beds, Gravel Beds, Mature Trees & Ornamentals, Greenhouses, Fencerows, Foundations, Buildings, Golf Courses, Athletic Fields, Parks & Recreation Areas, Bike & Hiking Trails, Kennels and Animal Enclosures.
This Avenger product is one of the few organic products on the market and should be on your list for the best weed killer for lawns.
- Quick acting – results in less than 2 hours.
- Biodegradable – breaks down quickly.
- Non-toxic. Can be used in areas near to people, pets and wildlife.
- Works in cool & cloudy conditions (as low as 40º F).
- Won’t stain brick, concrete or pavement.
- Emulsion technology – visually reference your spray target.
- Treated areas can be planted within hours.
- Made from oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits. Smells like citrus.
- EPA registered & approved.
- Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) listed product.
- OMRI provides organic certifiers, growers, manufacturers, and suppliers an independent review of products intended for use in certified organic production, handling, and processing.
- Approved for Use in Organic Gardening by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) Rule.
- Approved by the Washington Organic Food Program (WSDA).
- D-Limonene is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA – essentially no measurable toxicity for certain uses.
- Registered for sale in all 50 United States except South Dakota, Washington D.C., as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
- Made in the USA.
The Roundup Weed and Grass Killer III is effective around vegetable gardens, flower beds, tree rings, mulched beds, and on driveways, patios and walkways. It will not affect plants around the area you spray.
Note: All ornamental flowers, trees and shrubs may be planted one day after application. Lawn grasses, herbs, vegetables and fruit may be planted 3 days after application. Glyphosate targets an enzyme found in plants but not people or pets.
Ingredients: 2% Glyphosate, 2% Pelargonic and other related fatty acids.
- Convenient trigger spray.
- 1-gal. container provides up to 235 sq. ft.
- Rainproof in 10 minutes.
- Kills the toughest weeds and grasses.
- Absorbs through the leaf and stem only so killing power won’t spread to non-target plants through soil.
- Convenient, no-mix formula.
- Visible results in 6 hours.
- Works in warm, sunny, cloudy and cool conditions.
2,4-D AMINE WEED KILLER
2,4-D is one of the oldest and most widely available herbicides in the world, having been commercially available since 1945, and is now produced by many chemical companies since the patent on it has long since expired. (Learn more on Wikipedia)
Low, economical use rate of 1 to 4 pints per acre. Controls many broadleaf weeds & woody plants. Apply as a coarse low pressure spray. Best sprayed with a fan type nozzle.
Suitable for use on: Certain grasses in lawns, parks, golf courses, and pastures; fences, ditch banks, non-crop sites, small grains, and corn (pre and post emergent herbicide).
- 2- 3 tbs. in 3- 5 gallon of water to cover 1,000 sq. ft.
- Selective Broadleaf Weed Control
Prevent weeds before they take over your lawn. Here are two products that will make your life much easier in the future. It’s important to be proactive when it comes to lawn care. Don’t wait until weeds take over.
Preen Weed Preventer stops weeds from germinating in flower and vegetable gardens, in ground covers and around trees and shrubs. Preen will not kill existing weeds. It will prevent new weeds from sprouting — eliminating the need for difficult and time‑consuming hand‑weeding. Without weeds, your valuable plants can grow larger and stronger.
Learn more on the Preen information page.
Watch this video by Preen to learn more about this weed preventer and how it works:
Ingredients: 1.47% Trifluralin (Treflan).
- One 16 lb. pail covers 2,560 sq. ft.
- Biodegradable. Won’t harm plants.
- Apply in early spring before weeds sprout and reapply every three months to keep weeds out.
- Safe to use around existing flowers, trees, shrubs and vegetables.
Ingredients: 1.71% Pendimethalin
Excellent for preventing and controlling crabgrass all-year round, but will also prevent other common grasses from germinating to give you a nice looking lawn.
- Apply in spring to prevent crabgrass and weeds all year long.
- Fall application prevents winter weeds.
- Rain, snow or freezing weather after applying will not affect performance of this product.
- Not for use on dichondra and bent grass lawns.
- Prevents germination of the following: barnyard grass, corn speedwell, chickweed, crabgrass, fall panicum, foxtail, henbit, goosegrass, oxalis (common yellow woodsorrel), poa annua, purslane and spurge
- Safe to use on dormant grass in winter
- Can be used with a spreader
- Rain, snow or freezing weather after application will not affect results.
- Will not control mature crabgrass and other existing weeds