A yard full of weeds is a daunting prospect.
It takes time to clear the unwanted vegetation. And you want to make sure your efforts aren’t wasted.
So it’s important to find the best way to remove weeds from large areas.
In this article, I’ll show you the 7 most effective ways to take care of your problem. And how you can stop your yard from becoming overgrown again.
Let’s dive in.
The Best Way To Remove Weeds From Large Areas
All of these methods can be used on their own. But depending on your situation, you might want to combine more than one of them for the best result.
Chemical Weed Killers
One of the most effective ways of killing weeds over a large area is by spraying them with weed killer.
Chemical weed killers often have the benefit of being able to kill weeds all the way to the root. This means they won’t regrow again. Which reduces the amount of work you have to do in the future to keep the area clear.
Some chemical weed killers also have a residual action. This means they stay in the soil and prevent the growth of new weeds for a period of time, often up to a year.
This has obvious benefits, but there are also drawbacks to this method.
Firstly, you won’t be able to plant in the treated area for the length of time that it takes for the residual action to expire.
And some people don’t like adding chemicals to their soil. Particularly if they want to use the area for growing fruit and vegetables in the future.
You also need to be careful when spraying them. The negative health effects of chemical ingredients such as glyphosate — found in roundup and many other popular brands — have been speculated upon in recent years.
But if these things aren’t a concern for you, then this is often the best way to remove weeds from large areas. And because you can get weed killer that’s selective, it’s suitable to spray on your lawn, as it won’t kill the grass.
Related: The Best Weed Killer For Large Areas
Natural Weed Killers
Not all herbicides consist of man-made chemicals. In fact, you probably have ingredients around your house that can also be used as natural weedkillers.
Two examples of these are vinegar and salt.
While you can try using table vinegar, for the best results you ideally want something stronger. Solutions of around 20% acetic acid are more effective and can be purchased online.
When sprayed onto the weeds the vinegar will burn them on contact. It can quickly cause the disintegration of parts of the plant it touches in just a matter of hours.
But, if it doesn’t make contact with the roots it won’t stop the weeds from growing.
This method is better for the environment than chemical weed killers, but you will have to use it more regularly. And because vinegar is a non-selective herbicide, it also kills grass and any other desirable plant it touches. So you have to be very careful when using it.
You also need to make sure you use the appropriate protective gear to prevent yourself from being burnt upon contact.
Salt also kills weeds and prevents them from growing in the soil. Mix it with water to make a solution and then pour it on to the soil around the base of the weeds.
The problem with this method is that salinated soil is unsuitable for most other plants to grow. And this can last for a long time. So it’s not the right choice if you want to replant the area.
Kill Weeds With Steam
A relatively quick way to kill weeds above the soil is to use a steam weeder.
They’re quick and easy to use. There’s no bending over or hacking weeds with a heavy tool. Or digging down into the soil with your hands. You just pull the machine along, using the hot steam to kill the vegetation as you go.
As well as being quick and easy to do, one of the great things about it is that it’s environmentally friendly. So it doesn’t involve the use of chemical pesticides. Which means you can replant the area immediately after you finish clearing the weeds.
Are there any drawbacks?
The main drawback is that because it only affects the plants above the surface of the soil it doesn’t kill the roots. So unless you take the roots out via another method the weeds will regrow. This means regular maintenance.
Kill Weeds With Fire
Gas burners function similary to the steam weeder above. But instead of vaporizing the weeds with steam, gas burners fire flames in their direction, incinerating then upon contact.
This tool can be a lot of fun to use and it’s very easy to quickly clear your backyard as you walk around. It’s also good for precise work in tight spaces and difficult nooks and crannies. And it’s a good choice for working around vegetables and flower beds as long as you’re careful.
But it’s not as quick at cleaning a wide area of your yard of weeds compared to spraying a chemical weed killer.
Trim The Weeds
One of the quickest and easiest ways to clear weeds from a large area is to use a trimmer.
Whacking weeds with a trimmer requires minimal effort: just walk around your property and direct the trimmer in front of you cutting the weeds down at the stem.
Although it’s far easier than doing the job manually, it does still have the problem that it doesn’t kill the weed roots. But if you’re happy to use the trimmer regularly, this is a very effective way to keep the weeds down.
After you’ve dealt with a thick growth of weeds with your trimmer it becomes easier to use other methods to complete the job. Such as digging the roots up by hand or by using a garden tool.
Trimmers are a popular choice for dealing with patches of tall weeds.
Manually Removing Weeds
One of the most reliable ways to remove weeds from larger areas is to do it yourself by hand.
The big advantage of digging the weeds out of the ground yourself is that you can completely remove the roots of the plant.
Why is this important?
Because although it’s not completely necessary, If you leave any of the roots behind then the weeds can still grow back.
Many methods are quicker and easier than pulling weeds by hand. But because they don’t get rid of the roots you have to keep doing it at regular intervals to keep the weeds under control.
Of course, the big problem with doing it this way is that it takes a lot of effort. And it can involve a lot of time bent over. Depending on the size of the area, it may be impractical to do it this way.
To get the job done, you can remove the weeds yourself by hand or by using a garden tool designed for the purpose.
When using your hands, remember to put on gardening gloves. Having that protection makes the experience more comfortable and will avoid cuts and scratches.
When pulling the weed out remember to do it gently rather than quickly yanking it. Why?
Because this can cause the weed to break and leave parts of the root in the earth.
Using a tool first to cut the weeds closer to the ground often makes removal easier, particularly when they’re tall.
Let’s take a look at some of the tools you can use to help you.
The best way to remove weeds from large areas is sometimes as simple as using a garden tool:
A garden hoe is a traditional way of clearing weeds from your land and it can be very effective. Hoes come in a variety of types, but the best ones for weeding are scuffle hoes, also sometimes called “weeders”.
Although it requires quite a bit of effort to use a hoe it’s a good choice for removing large weeds from areas of land that are fairly level. And it’s long handle makes it easy to use while standing up.
If you just want to clear the weeds from the surface you can do it quickly by dragging the blade of the tool through the top of the soil. In the process, the stalks of the vegetation are cut away from the roots.
If you don’t mind doing it regularly you can leave your weeding job there. But you may want to use another tool to dig into the soil to help you remove the roots. Completing the job now will give you less work to do in the future.
A hoe isn’t the best choice for all conditions. If your ground is particularly uneven then it can be more difficult to use. And there are better methods if the weeds are particularly tall.
If you’re looking for a weeding tool that’s comfortable to use and doesn’t involve bending down too much while you weed then maybe you’d like to try using a weed puller.
This is a long handled tool that you twist and press into the ground in order to pull weeds and their taproots from the soil.
If your garden is overgrown, this probably isn’t the first tool to use. But after you’ve removed a lot of weeds from the area it’s an excellent tool for maintenance.
Related: How To Clear A Garden Full Of Weeds
This is a short handled tool that’s useful for weeding in vegetable beds and around plants and flowers where you have limited room. It functions in a similar way to a garden hoe. And it works by cutting and separating the weeds from their roots.
Using it is simple, you just pull the scraper towards you cutting at the base of the weed as you do so. The tool will cut the stalk and leave the vegetation lying on top of the soil for you to clear up with a rake. Alternatively, you can leave it to decompose and release it’s nutrients back into the ground.
For very small spaces you can use a fishtail hoe. You can insert the head into the ground and use it to lift the weed roots by pressing down, gaining extra power from the leverage. Some people like using this for pulling out dandelion roots.
Weed Suppressant Ground Cover
Like all plants, weeds require light, water, and nutrients to grow. By limiting their access you can prevent them from thriving in an area.
One easy way to prevent weeds from getting an adequate amount of light is to cover them with a material that blocks it out.
To do this, you can use a weed suppressant fabric. Or the cheaper alternative, cardboard. Let’s take a look at these:
Weed Suppressant Fabric
This weaved synthetic material is easy to get in large rolls from gardening centers and online stores. It’s specially designed to prevent any light from passing through, as well as being easy to lay across the surface of the ground.
Once you’ve rolled the black plastic sheeting out, you pin it down using rocks, bricks, tent pegs, or excess soil. This keeps it in place and prevents the wind from blowing it away.
Then you have to leave it to do its job. This can take quite a while. So be prepared to leave the fabric in place.
Does this always work?
Opinions on its effectiveness are mixed. Some people claim good results using weed control fabric. While others are less impressed and point out that weeds can sometimes still grow through it.
Cardboard works in the same way as the weed fabric with the biggest difference being that it will break down during the winter months and unlike the fabric it isn’t reusable.
Place the cardboard on top of the soil and then Weighted down with grass clippings, garden waste, or compost. This stops the wind from blowing it away from the target area. And it also helps to add nutrients into the soil as the cardboard decomposes.
Similar to the fabric, it takes time for this to have results. So you should leave it in place over the winter until the spring months arrive.
Long Term Prevention
Once you’ve managed to clear the weeds how do you keep them away?
It’s difficult to get rid of weeds forever. Keeping your land clear of weeds is rarely a once and done job. It requires continued effort into the future.
Depending on the method you chose to use, you may have regular maintenance to do. Alternatively, if you’ve used a chemical weedkiller with residual activity you may only need the occasional spray to keep the weeds gone.
But if you want to use the land for growing plants again, there are some methods you can use to reduce the amount of work you need to do to keep them away.
Planting fresh grass in the area and making sure it grows thick and strong is one of the best ways of keeping weeds at bay. They tend to grow best in patchy and sparse lawns and areas of exposed ground. When you have a lawn of strong turf it crowds out the weeds, making it harder for them to become established. Laying down sod will do the same job.
Another natural preventative that many people like to use is corn gluten meal. This prevents weed seeds from germinating. It’s best applied to the ground at the times of year when weeds commonly germinate. This is usually in early spring and the fall.
One of the best methods of preventing sunlight from reaching weed seeds in a newly cleared area is to lay down a thick layer of mulch.
Not only does this provide an effective barrier that inhibits weed growth and germination, but depending on the material used it can also provide nutrients to the soil.
It’s not 100% effective though. And sometimes weeds will still grow through it.
It also helps to keep an eye out for new weeds that start to grow. It’s a lot easier to deal with the problem when you identify it early and take quick action.
What do you think is the best way to remove weeds from large areas? Please share your advice in the comments section below.