How to Use Weed Killer

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Weed control can be tricky to get right in the garden. Sometimes it seems like no matter how much work you put in, those pesky weeds keep appearing. Part of the problem is that different weeds need different weed control products. What keeps lawn grass free of daisies won’t necessarily work on the prickly nettles threatening to take over the border.

check out this post on the best weed killers from Gardeners Dream.

What are Weed Killers?

Put simply, weed killers are chemical-based solutions designed to be sprayed on unwanted plants to kill them and prevent them from coming back year after year.

There are 2 main types of weed killer – selective and non-selective – each with different active ingredients.

Selective Weed Killers

Selective weed killers usually get used on lawns. They are also known as ‘weed-and-feed’ solutions because they target unwanted lawn weeds while nourishing the grass. Selective lawn weed killers get rid of broadleaf weeds, such as clover and dandelions, but don’t harm the grass.

Non-Selective Weed Killers

Also referred to as ‘contact herbicides’, non-selective weed killers destroy all plants they come into contact with. They usually get used to target stubborn weeds in flower beds, borders, paths and driveways. Non-selective weed killers are ideal for tough perennial weeds, such as creeping thistles.

When Should I Use Weed Killer?

Ideally, weed-killing products should get applied while the plants are actively growing, but before the seeds start germinating. Spring and summer are usually the best times of year to rid your garden of unwanted weeds. However, another application can get sprayed in autumn to catch any weed seeds that may have spread unnoticed or finally eradicate stubborn weeds that one application wasn’t quite enough to handle.

Plan weed control for dry weather when the air is still. Rain can dilute herbicides, making them ineffective, while wind can blow chemicals over plants you want to keep.

Noon is the best time of the day to spray herbicides. It affords time for the morning dew to evaporate, so it doesn’t dilute the mixture. Lunchtime application also allows the weeds to soak up plenty of sunshine, which helps the herbicide penetrate the whole plant.

Do You Need to Mix Weed Killer with Water?

The answer to this question depends on the form of weed killer you buy. Many weed killers sold in supermarkets and DIY shops come pre-mixed and ready to apply. Others are supplied as a concentrate and need combined with water before use. Product labels will tell you all you need to know about dilution rates and active ingredients.

How to Apply Weed Control Products

Before you apply weed killer always read the label of the particular product you’ve chosen. Bear in mind that the chemicals you’re working with can be hazardous, so ensure you follow all the safety instructions carefully.

Different types of weed killer can get used in different ways:

Selective Lawn Weedkillers

Use a Watering Can

Concentrated weed killers are easily applied using a watering can. Read the label to determine how much product and water to use and mix them. Then use a sprinkle bar or a fine rose to spray the product over the area. Apply evenly over the lawn, lightly wetting the weed leaves. Ensure you use a separate watering can for weed killer to prevent transferring residue onto healthy plants – it’s a good idea to use a different colour.

Spread Granules

The easiest way spread weed-and-feed granules is to use a spreader designed for the purpose. These can be wheeled up and down the garden until the lawn is covered. However, they can be expensive and take up a fair amount of storage space.

A cheaper way to spread granules is to mark out metre squares on the lawn using pegs and string. Then simply sprinkle the granules into each square by hand to ensure an even spread.

Spread outwards from a corner of the lawn, so you don’t need to walk over an already treated area when you’re finished. Leave the weed killer for 24 hours before watering in the granules, and wait a few days before mowing the lawn.

Contact Weed Killers

Aim a Spray Bottle

Many ready-to-use weed killers come in a hand-held bottle with a spray nozzle attached for easy application and spot treatment. One application is usually enough, so these are ideal for targeting sole weeds in borders and are often used to control weeds between paving slabs. Bottles are easy to grab, point and spray whenever you notice a stray weed, so you don’t need to allocate a whole afternoon to kill weeds.

Use a Pump or Pressure Sprayer

Ideal for treating larger areas without getting a sore hand from bottle triggers, sprayers can hold more weed killer solution and are more comfortable to use than hand-held bottles. Sprayers are commonly used for concentrated herbicides that must get diluted with water before use. Fill the sprayer bottle with the appropriate volume of water, then add the recommended amount of chemicals before mixing them. Then all you have to do is point the nozzle around 10-12cm from the weed and spray.

After Applying Weed Killer


Keep pets and children away from treated weeds at least until the weed killer has dried. Where granules have been spread, it’s best to stay off the lawn until they have been watered in, either manually or by rainfall. Wait around 3 days before planting new plants or crops.

Removing Dead Weeds

Once the weed killer has done its job and the offending plants have been destroyed, you will need to remove the dead weeds. Hand weeding is effective at quickly tidying them up. But to minimise the chances of weeds returning the following year, it’s best to dig them up. Digging or forking spent weeds helps to ensure the whole root gets removed from the ground. If any roots get left in the soil, they might grow again next season.

Whether you’re aiming for a pristine lawn or are dealing with strong perennial weeds, a good weed killer can be the answer. The golden rules of applying weed killer are:

  • Read the label on the weed killer packaging and follow the instructions carefully.
  • Wear protective clothing and keep children and pets away.
  • Apply weed killer to actively growing weeds.
  • Remove the roots.

Follow these weed killer application rules, and your garden will soon be free of troublesome weeds.




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