Weed Control Methods

Weeds are any type of vegetation that's unwanted. They can appear anywhere, such as in your lawn or in your flower beds, and need continuous control to keep them from overwhelming your landscape. Gardeners can tackle the vegetation with various chemical or physical removal methods to defend their yard's beauty and health.

Pre-Emergent Herbicides

Pre-emergent herbicides stop weed seeds from germinating and are usually applied in the spring. They are an important step in breaking the weed's life cycle, helping to ensure a complete eradication of the unwanted vegetation. When applied to mature plants, the herbicide doesn't harm the existing vegetation. This makes such herbicides popular in areas like lawns, where individuals want to prevent weed seeds from sprouting among the existing grass. Example pre-emergent herbicides include pendimethalin and oryzalin.

Post-Emergent Herbicides

Post-emergent herbicides kill existing vegetation and come in dozens of formulations to help control and kill weed growth. Such herbicides can typically be classified into two categories: selective and non-selective. Selective herbicides like fluroxypyr and imazapic target specific types of weeds, leaving other types of vegetation untouched. Non-selective herbicides, like glyphosate, kill all vegetation. Landscapers and gardeners can choose one or more different herbicide products depending on the situation.


Mulch serves various purposes. It can be ornamental, like wood chips in a flower bed, and also helps the soil conserve moisture, keeping plants hydrated longer. Mulch also has weed control benefits, because it covers the soil and helps reduce the chances of weed invasions by blocking out the sunlight and air needed for seeds to germinate and weeds to grow. Examples of mulch include plastic sheeting, wood chips, straw and gravel.

Manual Control

The manual removal of weeds can be hard labor, but it's an effective method of reducing unwanted vegetation. Tactics include scorching the weeds with a flamethrower and digging out the weeds with a spade. Mowing the weeds continuously with a lawn mower or string trimmer can also effectively control the spread of weeds for those species that propagate largely by seed, since it keeps the weeds from sending up seed heads.

Keywords: weed control methods, controlling weeds, removing weeds

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.