Weed Killer For Lawns: A Quick Introduction

Weeds are any homeowner’s arch-nemesis, and many find themselves quickly reaching for the weed killer for lawns. Having spent hours fertilizing and mowing your lawn to perfection, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing weeds sprouting.

Weeds are not only bad to look at, but they can also take valuable nutrients away from your grass, causing it to brown and wilt if left untreated. Furthermore, weeds can also crowd out your grass, taking up valuable space in the soil and reducing the density of grass on your lawn, causing it to look thin and less verdant.

Weeding by hand might work up to a point, but the weeds often quickly return and you’ll soon find yourself stuck in lengthy and repetitive battle. For quicker solution, chemical weed killers remain your best option – so in this review we have picked out the best options for a variety of use cases.

Broadly, weed killer for lawns is divided into a couple of groups. Selective weed killers target and kill specific types of weed, but not grass. Non-selective herbicides will kill any plant they come into contact with. We’ll go into more detail in the article below.

Weed Killer For Lawns: Our Top Picks

Best for Lawns

1. Southern AG Amine 2,4-D Weed Killer

Our Take

Southern AG 2,4-D Weed Killer is a very popular selective herbicide. This means it won’t kill grasses, but instead targets specific weeds, which makes it a great choice to use on lawns, golf courses and other grassy areas. The formula contains an acid formula which controls broad leaf weeds particularly effectively, and works in a pre and post emergent fashion.
 
For lawn owners in particular, this product is a great fit as it takes care of the majority of weeds you’ll find in your lawn with no damage to the grass. Unlike non-selective weed killers, you don’t have to be as precise with your application.

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Key Information

How much area will it cover?
Amine 2,4-D comes in a concentrate form, 1-quart bottle. Mixed to the recommended ratios, that should cover approximately 1 acre. Some customers choose to add a little soap or a similar surfactant to their mix in order to help the weed killer stick to leaves. 
 
What does it kill?
This product selectively targets a wide range of broad leaf weeds and does not kill grasses. As a result, it’s a great choice to control broad leaf weeds on your lawn, but will not be the best choice if you need to control grassy weeds.
 
How do I use it?
First, you’ll need to mix it to a ratio of 2-3 table spoons to 3-5 gallons of water. Then you’ll look to apply it liberally to your weeds. Since it selectively targets broadleafs, you should be careful in applying to flower bed areas where it could kill your flowers. This is explained in more detail on the bottle.
 
Are there long-term effects?
Since this does act on some weeds in a pre-emergent capacity, it should help to prevent longer term broad leaf weed growth. We don’t expect you to observe any long-term detrimental effects if used as instructed.
 
What area is it best for?
This weed killer is a great choice for lawns particularly, but also golf courses and other grassy areas. Really anywhere you are looking to control for a broad leaf weed, it’ll be a good choice.

Best General Purpose

2. Compare-N-Save Concentrate Grass And Weed Killer

Our Take

Popular with a huge number of consumers online – Compare-N-Save’s Concentrate Grass and Weed Killer is a great value non-selective herbicide. This product is glyphosate-based, a fast-acting, and rainproof chemical. Like other general-purpose herbicides, this will kill any plant it comes into the contact with, so it needs to be used carefully.
 
It works by absorption through a plant leaves, then attacks the plant throughout and down into the roots. This makes is a very effective substance, and you’ll typically see plants die within 2-4 days.

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Key Information

How much area will it cover?
This 1-gallon container will mix up to 210 gallons of solution, which can treat up to 63,000 sq. ft.
 
What does it kill?
This is a non-selective weed killer, so it will kill any plant it comes into contact with. That makes it a great choice for heavily weeded areas such as fence lines and pathways, where you could find a variety of different types of weeds growing.
 
How do I use it?
Supplied as a concentrate, you’ll need to mix this product into a sprayable solution by combining it with water. After mixing the solution, you’ll apply to areas of weeds. If you’re using it in a lawn setting, be careful to spray only small areas since it’ll kill the grass. Some owners do occasionally “reset” laws that are heavily weed-infested by applying it all over the lawn, but they will have to fully replant the lawn afterward.
 
Are there long-term effects?
There are no long-term effects with this product since glyphosate is a post-emergent herbicide. This means it only attacks growing plants and will not affect seeds in the soil. You can replant with grass within a few days, and details for other plants are included on the label. 
 
What area is it best for?
As a great value general purpose herbicide, Compare-N-Save’s Concentrate Grass and Weed Killer will work well anywhere you need to kill an emergent weed. This could be used very carefully on lawns, but as previously mentioned it works particularly well on patios, fences and paths. As mentioned previously, some owners will use it to treat entire areas that are heavily over-run by weeds.

Best Pre Emergent

3. Scotts Halts Crabgrass & Grassy Weed Preventer

Our Take

Scotts Halts Crabgrass & Grassy Weed Preventer is what we would classify as a pre-emergent weed killer, which aims to provide preventative protection to your lawn from weed growth. Available as a granulated product, it is sprinkled across the lawn and absorbed into the soil.
 
The chemical formula acts to prevent weeds from germinating in the soil, providing a longer term weed killing solution. It specifically targets grassy weeds, and should be applied to a lawn twice a year. Worth noting however, is that this product will not kill weeds that are already growing, so you’ll need to either weed your lawn or treat it before applying this product.

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Key Information

How much area will it cover?
This 10lbs bag of granulated herbicide will treat 5000 sq. ft. of lawn area.
 
What does it kill?
Scotts Halts Crabgrass & Grassy Weed Preventer is formulated to stop grassy weeds such as crab grass, poa annua, henbit and chickweed, amongst a variety of other weeds. It works by preventing these weeds from germinating in the soil while leaving your grass to grow as normal.
 
How do I use it?
You should look to apply this weed killer no more than twice a year. It is a granulated product, so although you can sprinkle it by hand, we recommend using a spreader to cover large areas quickly. Once in the soil, it will continue to act for six months, and won’t be affected by rain.
 
Are there long-term effects?
This product is designed to produce a long-term effect by design. You should expect to see grassy weeds suppressed and controlled for up to six months. For many homeowners, this will be a huge relief from the tedium of continually weeding their lawns.
 
What area is it best for?
This product is designed primarily for lawn use and has been formulated to control grassy weeds that you commonly encounter on a lawn. It will not be effective in general purpose weed killing, as it is designed to be absorbed into the soil and is highly selective by design. For more general purpose uses, we suggest looking to other products in the review.

4. RoundUp 5200210 Ready-To-Use Weed & Grass Killer III

Our Take

For an easy to use general purpose weed killer, look no further than RoundUp 5200210. Sold in a pre-mixed container, with a applicator pump and sprayer, this package contains all you need to start treating weeds right away. Roundup has been a leader in this industry for many years now, and have responded well to customer desire for quick and easy solutions.
 
This is a non-selective, emergent herbicide (weed killer), so it will kill any plant it comes into contact with. This makes it a great all-purpose choice for removing weeds from patios and paths, but it needs to be used with great care on lawns. If you have a large broad leaf weed in your lawn to remove, you could use this in a very careful manner, but should take care to not get any on your grass.

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Key Information

How much area will it cover?
This bottle is sold in a 1.33-gallon pre-mixed container. That should treat around 400 sq.ft if used according to the manufacturer’s specifications. There are several other container sizes available at the location above with different applicator options as well.
 
What does it kill?
As a non-selective weed killer, this product will kill any plants it comes into contact with. That makes it a great general-purpose choice on patios and paths as well as lawns, where you can carefully apply to it broadleaf weeds, avoiding spraying the grass itself.
 
How do I use it?
RoundUp 5200210 comes in a pre-mixed container ready to be used with the supplied sprayer attachment. Everything you need to start killing weeds is included. You will want to use it sparingly using a “spot” technique to target the weeds you want to kill, rather than treating your whole lawn.
 
Are there long-term effects?
Roundup Weed And Grass Killer III acts by being absorbed through the leaves of the weeds and into the weed roots, so it should not leave long term effects on your soil.
 
What area is it best for?
This is a great general-purpose herbicide – it can be used to treat perennial broadleaf weeds on lawns by treating them individually, or it can be used on patios and paths. You can even use it on flower beds, but be careful not to spray your flowers.

5. Roundup Extended Control Weed And Grass Killer Plus Weed Preventer II

Our Take

Roundup’s Extended Control Weed and Grass Killer II is what we refer to as a combination herbicide, in that it is both pre-emergent and post emergent. This product is primarily designed for use on driveways, patios and other areas where you don’t want any weed or plant growth at all.
 
As a non-selective herbicide, it will kill any plants it comes into contact with it, including grass and other plants you might want to protect. And because this product is a combination formula, it should help to prevent further week growth for months after application.

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Key Information

How much area will it cover?
This product is available in several formats, including concentrated and ready-mixed. A 1.3-gallon pre-mixed bottle should treat around 400 square feet.
 
What does it kill?
As a non-selective herbicide, this product will kill and plants which it comes into contact with. It works by absorbing through the plants’ leaves and then travels down into the stem and roots to kill the plant completely. 
 
How do I use it?
This product is best used when sprayed on small patches. Since it contains a pre-emergent treatment as well, it’s best used very carefully in areas where you don’t want any plants growing at all.
 
Are there long-term effects?
As a combination herbicide, Roundup Extended Control II is designed to provide longer-term protection against future weed growth. To achieve this, it includes a pre-emergent chemical in the formula which is designed to prevent plants from germinating in the soil.
 
What area is it best for?
The weed killer is a great choice if you are looking to remove weeds from your drive, patio, pathway, or other areas where you never want weeds to grow. It is not a good choice for lawns, because it is designed to prevent future plant growth.

6. Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer

Our Take

Green Gobbler’s Organic Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer is becoming increasingly popular among gardeners as a potentially more environmentally friendly weed killing solution. Unlike many traditional weed killers which use glyphosate to kill plants, this herbicide uses very highly concentrated vinegar.
 
As a non-selective herbicide, Green Gobbler’s Organic Vinegar will kill any plant it comes into contact with. The active chemical is derived from corn, so it is not your normal table vinegar! Organic growers will be pleased to see that it has received an OMRI certification for safe use on organic products.

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Key Information

How much area will it cover?
Available in a variety of sizes, this product is supplied pre-mixed so there is no need to dilute it. Generally, a 1-gallon container should give you about 400 square feet for sprayed area, similar to most other general purpose weed and grass killers.
 
What does it kill?
Like other non-selective weed and grass killers, this herbicide will kill any plants it comes into contact with. This includes most weeds but also includes plants you may be looking to protect such as grass or shrubs.
 
How do I use it?
This herbicide should be used very carefully in a spot patch technique to remove clumps of weeds. Green Gobbler recommends application using the sprayer nozzle available with the weed killer itself. Given it is a post-emergent non-selective product, you should spray it directly onto the plant’s leaves you are looking to control. You should shield plants you are looking to maintain by using a barrier such as a piece of cardboard.
 
Are there long-term effects?
This is not designed to produce long term effects. It should be used as a post-emergent weed killer for application to living weeds. There are no fertilizers or combination chemicals included in the formula
 
What area is it best for?
This weed killer is an excellent alternative to the traditional glyphosate chemical herbicides. It is extremely effective for general purpose weed killing and will kill all manner of plants. This makes it a great selection for use along fence lines, driveways, and other areas where you are aiming to totally remove weeds. You can use it on broadleaf weeds in a lawn setting but we recommend doing so very carefully so you don’t damage your grass.

7. Preen 2164169 One LawnCare Weed & Feed

Our Take

Another granulated pre-emergent treatment, Preen 2164169 One LawnCare Weed & Feed is a hybrid product that also includes lawn fertilizer. Herbicides of this type are designed as an all-in-one treatment and can be a great choice if you’re short on time. 
 
This is a selective weed killer and will target many broadleaf weeds such as dandelions. However, it is worth pointing out that it isn’t suitable for use on all types of grass, and should not be used on St Augustine grass, colonial bentgrass, dichondra or carpet grass.

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Key Information

How much area will it cover?
Similar to other granulated products, this 18lb bag should cover a 5000 sq. ft. area of grass.
 
What does it kill?
This weed killer is highly selective and will control crabgrass, and 200 other common broadleaf lawn weeds. As a pre-emergent type product though, it will not be effective in killing living weeds. You can use it all year round, it works particularly well in the early spring as it can both nourish the lawn and kill weeds before germination.
 
How do I use it?
If you are looking to apply this product to a large area, we recommend looking at a lawn spreader as it can be hard to spread the granules easily by hand. Spring will be an excellent time to apply it, as the fertilizer will slow release over the subsequent growing period. This product should not be diluted or sprayed.
 
Are there long-term effects?
The Weed & Feed formula for lawns is designed to produce a longer-lasting effect and nourish your lawn. Firstly, the pre-emergent weed killing formula will target the 200 broadleaf lawn weeds. After that, the fertilizer incorporated into the formula should help to feed and nourish your lawn for a healthy season.
 
What area is it best for?
This is clearly a lawn focused product and works well with the majority of grasses. You should check the buyer’s notes above because it is not appropriate for a few types of grass and could kill them. All in all, it’s a great combination product so you can treat your lawn and once and sit back for the rest of the season.

8. Ortho Weed B Gon Weed Killer For Lawns

Our Take

Popular with gardeners online, this post-emergent selective liquid weed killer is a great choice for lawns. Formulated to control dandelions and 250 other broadleaf weeds, this product can be sprayed directly onto the grass without fear of damaging the lawn.
 
Buyers will be delighted to hear that the formula is rainproof in just one hour and is available in both concentrate and pre-mixed solutions. Given the wide variety of weeds this herbicide targets, its appropriate for use all year round and will be a fantastic tool in any homeowner’s arsenal.

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Key Information

How much area will it cover?
Available in a wide variety of sizes, a 32oz bottle will cover 16,000 square feet, and a 1-gallon bottle will cover 64,000 square feet when mixed. Smaller, ready-mixed solutions are also available, along with sprayer options as well.
 
What does it kill?
This is a selective weed killer designed for lawns and is designed to kill most broadleaf lawn weeds including clover, dandelion, chickweed, dollarweed, thistle and countless others. Furthermore, because it is a selective formula, you can confidently use it on grass without fear of damaging your lawn. 
 
How do I use it?
This is a liquid, spray-on product, designed for targeting post-emergent weeds. You could use it with a sprayer system of your own or use a hose sprayer attachment. Once ready to apply, you will spray it across your lawn, making sure to get all areas. You should see results quickly – often after a day. Some particularly tough areas might need to be sprayed again.
 
Are there long-term effects?
As a post-emergent sprayed weed killer, this product should not have any long-term effects and should be absorbed by the soil with little effect on your lawn.
 
What area is it best for?
This is a great choice for fast results on your lawn. Dealing with widespread weeds without damaging your lawn can be tricky when you haven’t used a pre-emergent weed killer. Products like this will enable you to quickly deal with the weeds on your lawn without having to use the potentially damaging general purpose weed killers. 

9. Harris 30% Pure Vinegar

Our Take

Industrial vinegars have grown in popularity among gardeners in recent years as a potentially less environmentally damaging approach to weed killing. Harris’s 30% Pure Vinegar is marketed for multiple applications, including as a weed killer, and has been we received by the gardening community.
 
Like other vinegar products, this is a non-selective post-emergent type herbicide, which is best thought of as a general purpose weed killer rather than a lawn specific product. You should be very careful when using it, as it will kill any vegetation it comes into contact with.

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Key Information

How much area will it cover?
This product is supplied as a concentrate, and can be mixed with up to two parts of water. Supplied in a 1-gallon container, that gives you a 3-gallon solution ready for use. 
 
What does it kill?
As a non-selective herbicide, this solution will kill any foliage you spray it on. That makes it great to use on hardy weed areas, such as retaining walls, walkways, and anywhere else you don’t want plants growing.
 
How do I use it?
After mixing up the sprayable solution, you will apply it to the leaves of plants you want to kill. We recommend using screening to protect other nearby plants. Using this technique, you should be able to carefully work your way around the weeds without damaging plants you want to keep.
 
Are there long-term effects?
Because the solution is highly acidic, you might expect to see the soil ph. tilt more acidic with extensive use. Obviously, this will depend on drainage, the amount of rain you get, and how accurately you spray. As a result, it’s hard to be specific.
 
What area is it best for?
This is another great alternative to using glyphosate-based chemical weed killers. It will be difficult to use on a lawn but could be a great all-round weed killing solution to have in your garage.

10. PBI/Gordon 652400 Speed Zone Lawn Weed Killer

Our Take

Speed Zone is a great weed killer for lawn applications, being of the post-emergent and selective varieties. You can expect to use it directly on your lawn, as it should not damage the grass itself.
 
With a cocktail of three chemicals in this highly potent concentrate, results are apparent fast. The herbicide will target the leaves of the weeds and target them throughout, killing roots too.

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Key Information

How much area will it cover?
When mixed into solution, this bottle should cover circa 15,000 square feet, so it is well suited to large properties.
 
What does it kill?
As a selective lawn weed killer, this herbicide is particularly effective against lawn pests such as dandelions, clover, and other common lawn weeds. Due to the selective formulation, your grass will be unaffected.
 
How do I use it?
After mixing from concentrate, this product is designed to be sprayed directly onto weeds so it can be absorbed through their leaves. You should use it in patches with a sprayer – walking around the area and targeting specific zones one at a time.
 
Are there long-term effects?
As this product is absorbed by the weeds, there should not be any long-term effect, assuming reasonable usage per the manufacturers’ recommendations.
 
What area is it best for?
This is a great solution for the lawn owner – and will help them treat particularly pesky weeds without worrying about grass damage. Large property owners will also find great value in the concentrate which can produce a lot of weed killers at a competitive price.

Choosing a great herbicide: Our buyers guide for weed killer

There are many different types of weed killer on the market, aimed at a variety of specific use cases. When it comes to lawns, the two main categories are pre-emergent and post emergent, along with selective and non-selective.

You’ll also want to consider what kind of area you need to treat and how you’re planning to treat it. We will discuss all these considerations below.

If you are looking for more ways to look after your garden then check out our metal garden hose review.

Selective vs. Non-selective

Selective weed killers are formulated to specifically control certain types of weed. This means that generally they do not harm grass, which makes them a great choice on lawns. There is obviously a downside to this approach – because weed killers formulated to protect grass often struggle to kill certain types of weed.

For more general purpose weedkilling, you might instead look to a non-selective herbicide. These products will kill any plant they come into contact with and are very potent. This makes them a great choice for drives, patios, paths and other areas where you don’t want any weeds at all.

Pre-emergent vs. Post-emergent

Pre-emergent weed killer will prevent weed seeds from germinating in the ground. They achieve this by producing chemicals which reside in the soil. Pre-emergent weed killers work well on things like lawns where you have a large area to cover and can’t continue to control the weeds all season.

Post-emergent weed killers are sprayed directly onto the leaves of plants and absorbed through them. They will then travel through the plant and kill it. It’s important to remember though that they can’t kill seeds though, so weeds can grow back quickly after treatment.

Where are you using it?

Weed killers vary a lot, and some can be more appropriate for certain areas over others. The weeds growing in a specific area are also a function of the type of soil, light and moisture content of the soil.

If you’re using weed killer on your lawn, you should be careful to ensure it is compatible with your grass type. Vegetable patches, or other areas near households, water supplies or livestock should also carry additional considerations.

Generally, it’s best to use as little herbicide as you can, and if you can use a weed whacker or other alternative, to reach for that first.

Long term effects

Most weed killers are fine to use for periods of time, but extended usage can lead to chemical build up in the soil which can make it hard to grow plants in the future.

In addition, some weed killers can change the soil PH. with extensive usage and even lead to a build-up of carcinogenic chemicals in some cases. Generally, it’s best to use them sparingly and limit as many second-hand effects as possible.

Alternative Lawn Weed Control

You don’t have to use a weed killer to keep the weeds in your lawn under control.

Methods such as mulching, hand digging, are flame weeding can be just as effective. Grab a wheelbarrow and go around your garden digging up the weeds.

Another great technique is to increase the amount of grass, and therefore the competition for space, in your lawn. Raise your cutting deck on your ride on lawnmower during the spring to keep your grass dense.

These methods are good but they will often take longer than applying a weed killer.

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