In order to kill weeds without killing your grass, use a herbicide that is designed to target weeds but will leave grass unharmed. There are even formulations that will kill grassy weeds, like crabgrass, without harming your lawn. Once you’ve killed the weeds in your lawn, use a lawn-safe pre-emergent herbicide or an organic pre-emergent to stop new weeds from sprouting. You can remove weeds naturally by hand pulling them. However, avoid weed killers that contain vinegar and/or salt. These are dangerous to grass.
Can You Spray Weed Killer on Grass?
There are several weed killers that are formulated to be safe for grass but harmful to weeds. These herbicides work by including ingredients that target broadleaf weeds and pest grasses, but don’t attack your lawn grass. The best weed killer for your lawn depends on the type of grass you are growing, but a grass-safe spray can be easily found for every grass type:
- Use this Quinclorac-based weed killer for lawns where you are growing Bermuda, Kentucky Bluegrass, Zoysia, Fescue, Ryegrass, or Buffalo Grass.
- Choose this weed killer spray for St. Augustine and Centipede grass lawns.
- By using the right spray for your grass type, you’ll kill weeds and protect your lawn.
- Kills weeds without harming your lawn.
- You can expect results within only a few hours.
- Easy-to-use on a variety of grass types.
When you use the correct weed killer for your lawn, your grass won’t be harmed but the weeds will be wiped out in just a few days. This allows your lawn to thrive.
Will Vinegar Kill Weeds but Not Grass?
Vinegar attacks weeds and grass equally. This makes it a very poor choice for killing weeds in your lawn. This is because white vinegar (as well as all other types of vinegar) contains acetic acid. This acid burns the leaves of any plant it touches, whether it’s grass or a weed.
- Vinegar attacks both weeds and grass—it is not a lawn-safe weed killer.
- Vinegar burns the leaves of grass and weeds but does not kill weeds to the root.
- If you spray vinegar, weeds will regrow faster than damaged grass, leading to a weed takeover in your yard.
- Avoid all commercial and homemade weed killers that include vinegar.
Do not use any natural weed killer with vinegar in it. Also, do not use homemade weed killers that direct you to mix white vinegar and other ingredients in a spray bottle. These sprays will harm grass and weeds alike, but since they don’t kill weeds to the root, the weeds will come back to life and take over your damaged lawn.
The 7 Best Ways to Kill Weeds Without Killing Grass
If your grass is being overrun by common lawn weeds, grassy weeds, or tough perennial weeds, you can fight back without harming your grass. The following methods and products will wipe out weeds without doing any damage to your grass, leaving you with a healthy lawn.
Use a Grass-Safe Weed Killer
The easiest way to wipe out common types of weeds, such as dandelion, clover, and chickweed is to use a selective post-emergent herbicide. By following the instructions on the product label, you will get rid of weeds without harming your lawn.
- Use this selective post-emergent herbicide to kill weeds without harming grass.
- A post-emergent weed spray will attack all the broadleaf weeds you see growing in your lawn.
- The selective herbicide in weed sprays attack broadleaf plants only. No grass will be damaged.
Selective weed killers work because the chemical compounds in these weed killers are designed to ignore grass while they kill weeds down to the root. Weeds will die off and your grass will flourish.
Attack Crabgrass Without Killing Your Lawn
The best way to kill crabgrass growing in your lawn is to use a lawn-safe crabgrass spray designed for your grass type. Quinclorac and Tenacity-based weed killers are the best options for getting rid of all grassy weeds in your lawn. Just choose the type that is safe for your lawn.
- Use an all-in-one weed control spray to kill broadleaf weeds and crabgrass in lawns. However, it’s not safe for St. Augustine and Centipede grass.
- To kill crabgrass growing in St. Augustine and Centipede lawns, use this weed killer.
- Always review the product label for directions before spraying your lawn.
Pest grasses are among the toughest weeds to control because chemical herbicides designed to kill common weeds may not affect crabgrass. However, it’s still possible to spray your entire lawn with a product that wipes out crabgrass without damaging your desirable grass.
Spread Pre-Emergent to Prevent New Weeds from Sprouting
Pre-emergent herbicide is a great way to stop weeds without harming your grass. Once it’s spread, pre-emergent herbicide enters the soil and remains there for weeks or months. As long as the pre-emergent is in the soil it kills weed seeds as they sprout. Even better, it won’t harm mature plants, so you won’t damage your grass with pre-emergent.
- This pre-emergent will kill weed seeds as they sprout underground.
- By applying pre-emergent twice per year (spring and fall) you can stop new weeds from growing in your lawn.
- Pre-emergent does not harm mature grass in your yard.
Although pre-emergent is a great way to stop weed seeds from sprouting, it’s important to time your pre-emergent applications properly. Also, pre-emergent can harm new grass seed, so refrain from using it on lawns that have recently been overseeded.
Use Organic Weed Prevention Measures
If you prefer not to use a chemical pre-emergent herbicide, you can use this organic pre-emergent made from corn gluten meal. It works by absorbing moisture from seeds as they sprout. This kills weeds that attempt to grow in spring and fall.
- You can use organic corn gluten meal as a substitute for chemical pre-emergent herbicide.
- Organic pre-emergents will kill weed seeds as they sprout.
- Organic weed killers designed to kill mature weeds often harm grass as well, so they are not good options.
If you are wary of the active ingredients in commercial herbicides, there are organic pre-emergent options. Unfortunately, “organic” weed killer sprays that kill mature weeds typically contain vinegar or citric acid. These ingredients are harmful to both weeds and grass.
To get rid of stubborn weeds the natural way, pull them up by hand. A good weeding tool can make the job a lot easier and allow you to remove the weed roots, which prevents them from growing back. Even better, hand-weeding involves no chemicals and won’t harm nearby plants.
- Pull weeds using this tool to make the job easy.
- Hand-pulling weeds is completely natural and cost-effective.
- It’s easy to target weeds and preserve grass when hand-weeding.
Hand-weeding may seem like a lot of work, but you can remove unwanted plants growing among desirable plants easily with this method. Your grass will thank you and you won’t have to spend money on weed spray.
Vinegar is a common ingredient in many commercially sold “organic” weed sprays. However, vinegar is equally harmful to grass and weeds. Check the ingredients of any natural weed killer spray to make sure it contains no vinegar before purchasing it.
- Vinegar is harmful to grass.
- Many “all natural” weed sprays contain vinegar.
- Horticultural vinegar is often more dangerous to work with than herbicide sprays.
Similarly, homemade weed killer solutions that involve mixing vinegar in a spray bottle are dangerous to grass. Even worse, powerful types of vinegar (such as horticultural vinegar) are very caustic. They can be harmful to your skin, nose, and eyes. Vinegar is not a good weed-killing solution.
Never Use Salt
Do not add salt to any weed killer solution. Salt enters the soil and prevents all plants from growing there. This means you’ll kill weeds, grass, and garden plants with salt. Even worse, salt is easily distributed through the soil by water runoff. Even if you apply a salt solution in a small area, it’s likely to spread to other parts of your yard.
- Salt will kill grass, weeds, and all other plants wherever it is applied.
- Water runoff will cause salt to spread through the soil, creating a large dead zone.
- Avoid adding salt to any weed killer solution.
Beware of homemade weed killer formulas online. If you see one that contains salt, avoid it. You can poison your lawn for years by adding salt.
How Do You Get Rid of Grass Full of Weeds Naturally?
If you want to get weeds out of grass with a natural, chemical-free method, you’ll have to start hand-weeding. Natural weed killer sprays that contain vinegar, citric acid, eugenol, and other natural compounds attack weeds and grass equally. The selective weed killers on the market are not natural products.
- Hand weeding is the best grass-safe weed removal method.
- Natural weed sprays will harm your grass.
- You can stop new weeds from growing with an organic pre-emergent weed killer.
To prevent weeds from sprouting in your grass, you can use a natural pre-emergent made from corn gluten meal. You can spread this at the same time you would apply a chemical pre-emergent. The corn gluten will rob moisture from sprouting weed seeds, killing them. It’s best to dig up weeds by hand, then use organic pre-emergent to prevent them from coming back.
What Can You Spray on Your Yard to Kill Weeds but Not Grass?
In order to kill weeds growing in your yard without doing any damage to your grass you can:
- Spray a selective herbicide designed to kill broadleaf weeds and ignore grass.
- Choose a crabgrass-killing spray that is safe for your lawn grass.
- Spread pre-emergent in spring and fall to kill weed seeds as they sprout.
- Try an organic pre-emergent to reduce the use of chemical herbicides.
- Hand-pull weeds in grass to organically weed your lawn.
- Avoid vinegar—it will damage grass.
- Never use salt—it will wipe out both grass and weeds.
These methods will work to control even hard-to-kill weeds and pest grasses. By choosing the right product for your grass, you’ll wipe out weeds and leave your lawn free to thrive.