How to Identify and Kill Weeds in Your Garden

Weed being dug out of soil with garden tool.

Last Updated: February 9, 2024

Weeds can be a huge nuisance in the garden, invading and taking over spaces where desirable plants should be growing. Not only are they unsightly, but they can also be hard to eliminate. This can make knowing how to get rid of weeds in a garden a challenge! The good news is that whether you want to know how to stop weeds in an herb garden or how to prevent weeds in a vegetable garden, we've got answers! In this article, we will discuss how to identify common weeds in your garden and how to kill them effectively so that they don't come back.

How Do Weeds Grow?

Weeds are opportunistic plants that take advantage of any opportunity to grow. They tend to be very hardy and can tolerate a wide range of conditions, which is why they're so difficult to get rid of. Weeds often have shallow root systems, which allows them to spread quickly and easily. One weed can turn into a patch of weeds in no time if left unchecked!

The Best Way to Kill Weeds

Now that you know how to identify weeds, it's time to learn how to get rid of them! The best way to kill weeds is to prevent them from growing in the first place. This can be done by keeping your garden beds free of debris and mulching regularly. Mulching is one of the best ways to prevent weeds from taking over your garden. Mulch is a layer of material (usually organic) that is spread over the soil to help retain moisture, improve fertility, and prevent weed growth. But if you have a weed problem already, there are a few effective weed killers that can help. There are many different weed killers available on the market, but not all of them are effective against all types of weeds. You'll need to choose a weed killer that is appropriate for the type of weed you're trying to get rid of.

How to Kill Weeds Naturally

Hand pulling weed out of soil.

If you're looking for a more natural way to get rid of weeds, there are a few options. One is to pull the weeds by hand. This is the most labor-intensive method, but it's also the most effective. Be sure to get the entire root system when you pull weeds, or they will simply grow back. Another option is to use a hoe or other tool to chop the weeds down at the base. This method is less labor-intensive than pulling weeds by hand, but it's not as effective because the roots are still in the ground.

How to Kill Weeds with Vinegar

Vinegar in spray bottle being sprayed to kill a weed.

You can also use vinegar to kill weeds! Vinegar is a natural weed killer that is safe for both people and the environment. To use vinegar to kill weeds, simply mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and apply it to the weeds. The vinegar will kill the weeds, but it won't harm the surrounding plants.

How to to Kill Weeds in Your Lawn

Weeds in lawns can be a real problem. The best way to kill weeds in lawns is to use a weed killer specifically designed for use on lawns. Be sure to follow the directions on the product label carefully, as some weed killers can damage your lawn if used incorrectly.

How to Remove Weeds without Killing Grass

If you're looking for a way to get rid of weeds without harming the surrounding grass, consider using a weed barrier in garden areas. A weed barrier is a material (usually fabric or plastic) that is placed over the soil to prevent weeds from growing. Weed barriers are available in a variety of sizes, come in a range of materials, and can be custom fit to your garden.

Related Topic: What Should I Put Under My Raised Garden Beds?

Common Garden Weeds and How to Kill Them

One of the best ways to get rid of weeds in a garden is to know how to identify the invading plants and learn the best way to kill them. Here are some of the more common hard-to-kill garden weeds and the best methods to control them:


Bindweed in a garden.

Bindweed is a climbing or trailing vine with small white, pink, or purple flowers. The leaves are variable in shape. The best way to control bindweed is to mulch your garden. But you can also kill this weed by cutting the vine at the base of the plant and digging up as much of the root system as possible. Then, treat the area with a general herbicide that will kill the roots as well as the above-ground growth.



Chickweed is a small, low-growing broadleaf weed with opposite leaves. The small white flowers have five petals. Chickweed can be killed by using a high-quality preemergence herbicide at the start of the growing season or by hand-pulling young plants before they flower and set seeds.

Creeping Charlie

Creeping charlie ground ivy.

Creeping Charlie, also known as ground ivy, is a low-growing, creeping plant with round, dark green leaves. The small blue flowers have square-shaped petals. To control Creeping Charlie, mulch your garden areas at the beginning of each growing season to keep the spread to a minimum. You can also pull plants by hand or spray them with an herbicide if the weed is already established.

Dame’s Rocketis

Dame's Rocketis weed.

Dame’s Rocketis a tall plant (up to four feet) with lance-shaped leaves and clusters of four-petaled, lavender flowers. It is a wildflower that can be very difficult to kill once it is established. For this reason, it's best to mulch early in the growing season to prevent weed growth. If you do have dame's rocket growing in your garden, the best way to kill it is to pull the young plants before they produce seed pods. It can be hard to use herbicides on this weed without harming surrounding plants.


Lambsquarters plant.

Lambsquarters is a tall plant (up to four feet) with arrowhead-shaped leaves and small, green flowers. Lambsquarters can be controlled by mulching, pulling the weeds by hand, or using a general herbicide.


Nutsedge plant in garden.

Nutsedge is a grass-like plant with triangular stems, slender, grassy leaves, and yellow flowers. It often appears in lawns and flower beds. One of the best ways to kill this weed is to pull young plants out by hand - the roots are shallow, and it's easy to do. But you may need to weed several times to get rid of it all. You can also use an herbicide labeled for use on nutsedge but be careful to follow directions to avoid damaging surrounding grass or plants.


Pigweed plant.

Pigweed is a tall plant (up to four feet) with lance-shaped leaves and small, green flowers. One of the best ways to kill pigweed is to mulch garden areas at the start of the growing season or use a preemergence herbicide. Pulling weeds by hand or spraying with a weed killer after plants are established can also eliminate pigweed.


Purslane plant.

Purslane is a low-growing plant with succulent, spoon-shaped leaves and small yellow flowers. Purslane can be best controlled by applying a preemergence herbicide and mulching at the start of the growing season. Then, pull any young plants that do appear and spot-treat with a general herbicide.


Thistle weed.

Thistle is a tall plant (up to four feet) with spiny leaves and small, purple flowers. Thistle can be tough to eliminate once it's established, so the best way to control this weed is to prevent it by mulching your landscaped areas. If you've already got thistle growing in your garden, you can dig it out by hand (make sure to get the roots) or spray it with an herbicide labeled to kill thistle.

Effectively Control Weeds from the Start

If you've attempted to keep weeds out of your lawn and garden but feel like it’s a losing battle, The Grounds Guys can help. Our professional flower and garden bed services can help get your garden and lawn off to a great start by identifying problem areas and recommending a comprehensive plan to keep your lawn and garden weed-free. To get started with our weed control services, contact your local The Grounds Guys and request a free estimate online today!