Although a healthy, lush green lawn is the dream of many homeowners, sometimes, despite your efforts, it becomes necessary to kill the grass and start from scratch. There are several options for killing unwanted grass which include natural methods and the use of chemicals. Natural methods are inexpensive and environmentally safe but take longer than chemical alternatives. Chemical methods are fast and effective in killing unwanted lawn grass but are costly and leave a residue in the soil that affects the microbial activity.
One of the most inexpensive yet effective ways of killing unwanted grass is to smother it with newspapers. Mow the grass as short as possible and slightly wet the area with a garden hose. Spread layers of eight to 10 sheets of non-glossy newspapers over the entire area. Make sure the edges of adjacent newspapers overlap to eliminate any chance of sunlight or air reaching the grass underneath. Mulch the area to weigh the newspapers down so they remain in place. Although this process takes longer than using herbicides, it is environmentally safe and kills the grass in two to three weeks. The sheets of newspapers eventually break down in the soil without causing any harmful effects.
Regular household white or pickling vinegar is another effective way to kill unwanted lawn grass. Pour vinegar that contains 9 percent or more acetic acid in a spray bottle or container and douse the area with it to burn the grass. Vinegar works even better when outdoor temperatures are high, so select a hot summer day or work during the warmer part of the day. The acid in the vinegar burns the grass in several days to a week. Repeat application to kill stubborn grass that did not die in the first attempt. Keep in mind that vinegar kills other vegetation that comes in its way, so use a spray bottle for targeted grass, or cover nearby plants with a tarp.
The fastest way to kill grass involves using chemicals, such as herbicides. Examples of weed killers or herbicides containing glyphosate include Roundup, Spectracide Weed & Grass Killer and Ortho GroundClear Vegetation Killer. These and other brands are available in garden supply centers and hardware stores. Follow label directions for application and precautions. Always wear a face mask, long rubber gloves and protective eyeglasses during handling to prevent the risk of inhaling any fumes or contact with the skin. Although costly, these usually kill the grass in a single application. However, such herbicides contain chemicals that remain in the soil, and are dangerous if children or pets play outdoors. Keep in mind that most broad-spectrum herbicides kill all vegetation that comes in their way, so spread a tarp or plastic sheet over plants you do not want to kill.