Nothing ruins the look of a meticulously manicured lawn like pesky weeds. Fortunately, there are a number of products on the market that can kill weeds without affecting your other plants too much. In this post, we’ll look at the best weed killers and help you make an educated decision, whether you want to kill broadleaf weeds or crabgrass.
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Crabgrass is a common lawn nuisance in North America, and these annual plants can distribute over 150,000 seeds each. Crabgrass is the scourge of many a lawn, so it’s likely you’ll want to know which products can best take care of these problematic weeds.
Finally, we’ll talk about the best pet-friendly weed killers. There are over 150 million pet cats and dogs in America, and they need to be safe when they play in the yard. There are a ton of weed killers on the market that advertise themselves as pet-friendly, but we take a look at which ones are the most safe and also the most tough on weeds.
Table of Contents
- Top 5 Best Lawn Weed Killers
- Features of weed killers
- Broadleaf Weeds
- Grassy weeds and crabgrass
- How to Apply Weed Killer to Lawns
- Pet and child safety
- Save Money and Kill those Stubborn Weeds
- General weed killers for broadleaf weeds
- Crabgrass weed killers
- Pet and child-friendly weed killers
- What Weed Killer to Buy - Conclusion
Top 5 Best Lawn Weed Killers
Last update on 2021-04-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Features of weed killers
It may seem like a weed killer is a fairly straightforward product. They are cocktails of chemicals that are meant to kill the plethora of weeds that can affect your lawn without affect the grass itself. However, there are many different products out there.
The best defense against weeds is having a healthy, water, nutrient-rich lawn. Weeds tend to grow well in nutrient-poor, under watered soils that your grass does poorly in. Because there are so many species of plant pests, there are weed killers with a variety of active ingredients. Some types of weeds are better controlled by certain chemicals, and other types are better controlled by other chemicals.
Here is a helpful YouTube video that will show you the basics of weed control. In it, the importance of using weed killer in an environmentally friendly way is discussed, as well as how to decide which type of weed killer you need for your lawn.
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To determine which weed killer should you buy, you first need to find out exactly what type of plant pest is growing in your yard. Below, we’ll discuss the most common types of weeds and their corresponding weed killers. We’ll also talk about special considerations to take if you have children or pets that will be playing near the treated areas.
Broadleaf weeds are plants that typically grow in the patchy parts of your lawn where the grass may not be doing so well. They thrive in nutrient poor environments, and are easily identified because they look so different from the grass itself. Common broadleaf weeds in North America include chickweed, dandelions, ground ivy, and poison ivy.
Broadleaf weeds can be difficult to fight because they have such varied life histories. There are species that are annual, biennial, and perennial. They also respond differently to different chemicals, so broadleaf weed killers have to have a wide range of active ingredients.
Grassy weeds and crabgrass
Crabgrass is a common grassy weed that grows rapidly and looks similar to regular grass, just bigger and more gangly. They die during cold weather, but each plant can produce thousands of seed that will remain dormant during the winter, ready to spring up as soon as the warm weather returns. If your lawn has grown out of control use our guide to whip your lawn back in shape.
Crabgrass control involves both pre-emergence control and post-emergence control. When spring begins, pre-emergence control involves spraying weed killer throughout your lawn to kill crabgrass as the dormant seeds try to germinate. Post-emergence control involves killing the visible stalks of crabgrass that are in your yard.
Crabgrass can be frustrating and difficult to get rid of, but below we will talk about some products that can help with this lawn scourge.
How to Apply Weed Killer to Lawns
Much like stump killer, improper application of weed killer can cause major complications to your lawn.
Proper application of weed killer to your lawn can make or break its effectiveness. There are several different application methods, and also several different considerations to make before you spray these chemicals in your yard.
First, the most common way of spraying weed killer is by putting it in a spray bottle and diluting the product with water. This both increases the longevity of your weed killer and also makes the product easier on the environment. Spray bottles are inexpensive and can be purchased at any home improvement store or online.
There are also several climate conditions that need to be right before you spray your yard. First, avoid using weed killers during drought conditions, as the chemicals in the weed killer can harm your lawn if it’s too dry. You should also only use weed killer when there is no rain expected for at least six hours, as the chemicals need time to be absorbed by the weeds.
Some weed killers are meant to be applied with a push spreader, as they are in solid form. Similar to how you would spread fertilizer, these solid weed killers are little pellets of chemicals that can be spread throughout your yard. You will need to buy a spreader for this, however.
You should also wait to spread or spray weed killer until a few days after mowing to avoid harming your actual grass. Also, you shouldn’t use weed killer within a few days of fertilizer. Proper application of weed killer is easy, but there are several things to keep in mind!
Pet and child safety
If you have children or pets, the most important consideration you have to make is their safety. Weed killers contain many toxic chemicals, so it is vital that you are careful when you use it around your loved ones.
There are numerous weed control methods that are sometimes effective without the nasty chemicals that commercial weed killers contain. Salt spread around the weed roots, vinegar and water poured over the affected area, or dousing the weeds in boiling water will have some effectiveness in controlling weeds in a safe way.
There are also organic, nontoxic products on the market that aid in weed prevention and are also safe for pets and children. We’ll talk about the three best products in our comparisons below.
Save Money and Kill those Stubborn Weeds
As with any product, price is also a huge consideration when deciding how to control weeds in your yard. The common, name-brand weed killers are instantly recognizable, but not necessarily the best product out there. If a product does the job just as well at a lower price, we gave more points in our rankings.
General weed killers for broadleaf weeds
Southern Ag 2,4-D Amine Weed Killer
Last update on 2021-03-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
This Southern Ag product is a bare-bones 2,4-D weed killer, but that’s just fine. 2,4-D is considered to be the most effective chemical to use on a wide variety of broadleaf weeds, and this offering from Southern Ag is inexpensive and effective. One quart of this stuff won't cost you much and that’s enough for more than 1000 square feet of spraying.
What we like:
- Contains all the necessary ingredients and nothing else
- Offered in a variety of quantities--buy in bulk to save money
- Works great for most species of North American broadleaf weeds
Don’t expect the Southern Ag 2,4-D Amine weed killer to come with any features other than broadleaf weed control. What you will get is a reliable, affordable, and simple product that is sure to help with your lawn care problems. Some customers have reported shipping problems that resulted in spillage of the product, but those reports are few and far between. For a quick, simple, and reliable fix for your weed problems, this Southern Ag product should be the first thing you try.
T-Zone Turf Herbicide
Last update on 2021-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
This weed killer from T-Zone has some special features that simpler weed killers do not. T-Zone contains four active ingredients that work to kill many weed species that other weed killers struggle with. These tough species include wild violets, ground ivy, clover, and even yellow nutsedge. It will cost you a bit more, though--a broad range weed killer like this is more advanced than a standard 2,4-D Amine weed killer, and that’s reflected in the price.
What we like:
- T-Zone has four active ingredients instead of just one
- Works better in colder climates and seasons
- Especially rapid control of dandelions, spurge, and white clover
- Wide coverage of most tough broadleaf weed species
If your yard has tough species than a cheaper weed killer is whiffing at, you should perhaps give T-Zone a try. Also, make sure that the common weeds in your area are covered by this product. For example, if you’re having problems with Virginia Creeper, you should know that T-Zone doesn’t list that species as one it can control. As with any product, it’s vital to do personal research before you purchase it.
Roundup Weed and Grass Killer Super Concentrate
Last update on 2021-03-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Roundup is the most widely known weed killer brand, and for good reason. It works wonders! This Roundup super concentrate is more heavy duty than what you would usually find, and it’s good for serious weed problems. Roundup is aggressive enough to kill many of the toughest broadleaf weeds, but gentle enough to use around other plants and on sidewalks and driveways.
What we like:
- Works very fast--weeds usually die in 2-4 days
- Becomes ‘rain-proof’ 30 minutes after application
- Different sizes so you can buy in bulk if necessary
- Great for use around other plants that you want to keep alive
This is the most expensive of our broadleaf weed killers, but it should work the best as well. But Roundup kills some broadleaf weed species that other killers might struggle with, so it’s a perfect product for the really problematic plant pests in your lawn.
Crabgrass weed killers
Ortho Weed B Gon Max Crabgrass Control
Many common broadleaf weed killers struggle with crabgrass, but Ortho Weed B Gon Max manages to be effective for both. Its active ingredients primarily tackle species of crabgrass, but it also kills many common broadleaf weeds as well.
What we like:
- Kills over 200 species of weed at the root, preventing regrowth
- Becomes ‘rainproof’ one hour after application
- Safe for use around other types of plants
40 ounces of Weed B Gon Max won't be enough if you have a large yard, so you might need more than one. If you want a reliable, well-rounded weed killer that works against crabgrass as well, this product from Ortho is a great first line of defense. It won’t work against many of the tougher species of broadleaf weeds, but Weed B Gon Max is inexpensive enough to be worth a try for almost any situation.
Scotts Halts Crabgrass & Grassy Weed Preventer
Scotts Halts is a solid weed killer meant to be distributed by a spreader. This product is a one-time application for the early spring, specifically targeting crabgrass and other grassy weed growth all summer long. It can also be applied in the fall to kill crabgrass seeds and mosses. If your yard consistently has problems with grassy weeds, trying Scotts Halts might be a good idea.
What we like:
Several choices sized by yard square footage, so you get the perfect amount of product
Great preventative weed killer for tough crabgrass and grassy weed problems
Pre-emergent weed killer that won’t kill your own plants or grass
This weed killer works differently than the others on our list. It is a solid, ‘pre-emergent’ chemical that only works on crabgrass that hasn’t grown yet. If you spread this product on a lawn already full of weeds, it won’t do anything at all. For a preventative method, however, it doesn’t get much better than Scotts Halt.
Bayer Advanced 704080 All-in-One Lawn Weed and Crabgrass Killer
This weed killer from Bayer targets all types of weeds, including broadleaf and grassy weeds. The active ingredient, 4-D dimethylamine salt, is able to target over 200 of the most common species of lawn pests. It will make quick work of the most common types of grassy and broadleaf weeds, including crabgrass, dandelions, and clover.
What we like:
- Extremely well-rounded weed killer
- A little goes a long way
- Safe for your plants, even young plants
- Becomes ‘rain-proof’ one hour after application
There are a few things to consider before buying this product. First, this weed killer is not safe for use with St. Augustine grass, a species of grass common in Florida and other parts of the southeastern United States. For other common types of yards though, this product is a great choice for a well-rounded weed killer. It’s also inexpensive; a 32 ounce bottle is more than enough for a decent sized yard.
Pet and child-friendly weed killers
EcoSMART Organic Weed and Grass Killer
As we talked about before, if you have children and pets, their safety should be your number one priority when selecting a weed killer. Fortunately, there are a lot of safe products on the market, like the EcoSMART Organic weed and grass killer. It has been extensively tested and is safe for use with pets and children, because it only contains organic plant oils instead of harsh chemicals.
What we like:
Very safe for use around family members and pets
Effectively kills many types of weeds and grasses
Contains only organic plant oils
There is a huge caveat with this product--it’s not very safe for use in your actual lawn. It will likely kill some of your grass, as well as small shrubs and flowers. However, for weeds in flower beds, around trees, or in the driveway, there is no better organic product out there than the EcoSMART Organic.
A.D.I.O.S. Selective Organic Weed Killer
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This product from A.D.I.O.S. is designed to be safe for both children/pets and other plants, making it a more realistic weed killer for your actual lawn. It is odorless and chemical free, and will kill many species of broadleaf weeds. Unfortunately, it won’t work against grassy weeds.
What we like:
- Odorless and safe for children/pets
- Completely organic; no harsh chemicals
- Won’t kill your grass or ornamental plants
- Works very quickly--weeds will begin to die in just a few hours
This product won’t work well for all types of weeds, but as an organic weed killer, it does a great job for many common species, including creeping charlie, clover, and dandelion. It’s relatively inexpensive as well. If you’re looking for a yard-safe weed killer that’s safe for your family, this product from A.D.I.O.S. is definitely worth a look.
Espoma Organic Weed Preventer
Last update on 2021-03-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
This organic weed preventer from Espoma comes in solid form and should be spread with a spreader. This product won’t work as well as many of the other weed killers on this list. It says right in the name that it’s merely a “weed preventer,” so don’t expect it to solve your serious weed infestations. However, Espoma’s Organic weed preventer does provide a lawn feed that will nourish your grass while inhibiting weed growth from the root, making your lawn much more healthy.
What we like:
Organic and completely safe for pets and kids
Works as a fertilizer and a weed control
Applied twice per year, in the spring and the fall
Nitrogenous ingredients make your lawn lush and healthy
Again--if your yard is full of weeds that you can’t seem to get rid of, this is likely not the product for you. However, if you’re looking for a lawn feed and want to keep some weeds at bay in the process, this product is worth a look. It is a little pricey. But its organic nature and versatile uses make this Espoma product a useful addition to your arsenal.
What Weed Killer to Buy - Conclusion
We know how frustrating a weed infestation can be, especially when all other aspects of a lawn seem to be great. That’s why this guide has a wide range of products for a wide range of potential situations--weed killers can be your ticket to the perfect lawn you’ve always wanted.
If you have a serious broadleaf weed problem, we think the best product on our list is T-Zone Turf Herbicide. It combines four powerful active ingredients to tackle many tough species of broadleaf weeds, all while being relatively safe for your actual grass.
If crabgrass is the problem, try Ortho Weed B Gon Max, a well-rounded and powerful product that will take care of crabgrass, other types of grassy weeds, and many species of broadleaf weeds as well.
Finally, if you’re concerned about the safety of your kids or pets, you should check out A.D.I.O.S. Selective Organic Weed Killer. It manages to be an effective solution to many common types of broadleaf weeds while still being safe for kids, pets, and your actual grass.