Have you wondered how to kill grass? If so, you’re not alone. Although it may seem counterproductive, knowing how to effectively kill grass and take your yard back is a skill you’ll want to have. Maybe your lawn is overrun when weeds or you want to start over with artificial grass to lower your yearly maintenance, or your lawn isn’t thriving as it should and you want to strip it back to jumpstart the growth in the spring. Whatever the reason, knowing how to kill grass is the first step in the process to helping you reclaim your yard and turn it into a full, lush, and green haven.
What’s even better for those wondering how to kill grass, you don’t have to spend a lot to do it. I’m going to outline a few homemade grass killers you can make from things around your home and tell you how to apply them for maximum results. If you want something stronger, I’ll also highlight a few herbicides you can purchase and apply so you’re not wondering how to kill grass anymore. Let’s get started!
How to Kill Grass Method One – Smother It
You can smother grass and make it so it doesn’t come back. However, this is a more labor intensive option, so it works best if you have a small yard or area you’d like to concentrate on when you get your plan in place on how to kill grass. This is a natural method that is also called composting or layering, and all you’ll need for it is:
- Lawn mower
- Plastic sheeting and lawn pins (optional)
To start, get out your lawn mower and drop the blade as low as it will go to get rid of as much of the grass as possible. Once you get the area mowed, begin laying down several layers of newspaper, cardboard, or both. When you get it thick enough, this will work to block the sunlight out, and this means that your grass can photosynthesize the food it needs to grow. Wet everything down and either pin it in place with plastic sheeting or add a layer of mulch to hold it in place.
Once everything is in place, all that is left to do is wait. Any unwanted grass under this thick layer will die off in six to eight weeks. As a plus, the cardboard and paper will break down and mix with the mulch to add a boost of nutrients to the soil. If you plant to replant the area, this can help kick start growth and ensure you get a full and healthy lawn in its place.
Credit: Brown Thrasher by Anne Davis 773 / CC BY-NC 2.0
How to Kill Grass Method Two – Roundup Weed and Grass Killer
If you’re after a stronger product, Roundup’s Weed and Grass Killer will give you exceptionally fast results with just a single application, and you can easily cover a much larger area. This product comes with a customer guarantee that it will quickly and effectively kill grass and weeds all of the way to the root to prevent them from growing back again. It has a no-mix formula that is very convenient, and you won’t spend time trying to get the right dilution levels to make sure that you don’t poison the ground and prevent new grass from coming up. If you’re not 100% satisfied, Roundup will refund you the purchase cost or replace it if you can send them proof of purchase.
You can use this product in and around flower beds, vegetable gardens, raised planter boxes, mulched beds, tree rings, and cracks in your patio, driveway, or sidewalks without worrying. This is a fast-acting formula that will give you impressive visible results in as little as three hours. Once you apply it, it’ll turn rainproof within 10 minutes to avoid it washing away in any expected storms. You can choose from five styles with a refill kit to help you get even coverage all over your lawn.
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How to Kill Grass Method Three – Shovel Method
If you want a labor intensive way how to kill grass, the shovel method is for you. The only tool you’ll need for this project is a shovel, but having some friends to help is always good. First, stop watering your lawn for a few weeks before you start this project. This will give it enough time to turn brown, burn, and die. This will make the next part of the process much easier. Also, since you’re digging into the ground, contact your utility company and get marks on where the irrigation, gas, and utility lines are so you don’t accidentally hit them.
Get your shovel and start digging up the top layer of your yard. You want to remove all of the grass and the roots. It’s a good idea to work one patch at a time and clear it before starting on the next. This will help you get it all and not accidentally leave something. You can pair this process with any other one on the list if you don’t want the grass to grow back at all. Once you get all of the grass dug up, you can decide what you want to do with it to dispose of it. You could haul it away, mix it with your garden soil, or add some of it to your compost so it breaks down.
How to Kill Grass Method Four – Compare-N-Save Grass and Weed Killer
This potent herbicide comes in three sizes ranging from 32-ounces up to 2.5-gallons, and it’s concentrated enough to cover up to 25,000 square-feet. This makes it an excellent choice for larger yards or areas, and you can pick from three styles that include two different sprayers and a concentrate. It’ll turn rainproof two hours after you apply it so you don’t have to worry about it accidentally washing away. This is great for areas that get a lot of rain or unpredictable weather because it’ll stay on the grass and go to work to kill it even if it’s humid, soggy, and damp out.
Once you apply this product, you’ll start seeing noticeable results in two to four days. It has a strong formula that contains up to 41% glyphosate to get the grass roots to kill it quickly and effectively so it doesn’t grow right back. You’ll get up to 85-gallons of product with a single order of the concentrate, and it has very easy directions to ensure you mix it correctly. It’ll kill over 175 types of weeds and grass, and it is guaranteed to work on the first application to make the project as quick as possible.
How to Kill Grass Method Five – Vinegar Bath
Vinegar is a natural weed killer that is very inexpensive to purchase in larger quantities. If you’re wondering how to kill grass but you want something that is both inexpensive and natural, this is it. All you’ll need is vinegar and a spray pack or bottle. Obviously, if you have a large area to cover, you’ll want to get a larger sprayer so you’re not outside all day working from one corner of your yard to the other. For the best results, try to pick a day where there is no rain in the forecast, and you want as little wind as possible to prevent the vinegar from spraying back at you when you apply it.
Using vinegar as a weed killer also works much better in hotter temperatures, so take a glance at your forecast before you try it. Spray your plants the first time and give it a few days. This is a slower method, and you will have to re-spray the yard three or four times to get good results. One big thing about vinegar is that it’ll kill anything it lands on, so you want to keep it far away from your plants that you want to keep alive.
Credit: Heinz Vinegar by Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0
How to Kill Grass Method Six – Ortho GroundClear Vegetation Killer
This is a strong year-long vegetation killer that comes in four sizes starting at 32-ounces and going up to 2-gallons. The concentrate formula will prevent any weeds or grass from coming back for up to a full year after you apply it one time. You can also choose from a comfort wand and a comfort wand with a refill to tailor your choice to your yard size. Once you apply this product, it’ll go to work and start killing off your grass within three hours, and it’ll go straight to the roots of your grass and weeds to kill them all of the way off and ensure that they don’t come back.
You can apply this product with a tank sprayer to your gravel areas, sidewalks, driveways, under decks, on parking areas, along curbs or fences, and in rock or desert landscapes. This product can have a stronger smell associated with it, and you do want to apply it on less windy days to help ensure that you get even coverage all over your lawn and it doesn’t accidentally get into your flowers. This product also turns rainproof within an hour of applying it, and this helps to ensure that it stays in place.
How to Kill Grass Method Seven – Salt
Simple table salt is an easy answer if you’re wondering how to kill grass. This is a natural way to get rid of any unwanted plants, grass, or weeds dotting your yard. However, salt is just like vinegar. It doesn’t differentiate between good and bad plants, so make sure you keep it far away from anything that you want to stay alive, unburned, and healthy. There are two easy ways you can apply salt to your lawn. The first involves getting a container of salt and carefully sprinkling it around your yard. Once you have a layer of salt in place, water it heavily to work it into the soil.
The next option you have available is to mix your salt with water in a pump sprayer and spray an even layer over your lawn. Additionally, you should only do this in areas where you don’t want anything to grow back again. Soil can recover from a heavy dose of salt, but it can take years before it’s ready for grass or plants to come in and have the correct environment to thrive and grow lush and green. You shouldn’t have to apply it more than once to start seeing results.
How to Kill Grass Method Eight – ECO Garden PRO Vinegar Weed Killer
If you’re wondering how to kill grass because you’re tired of applying grass seed, working it in, and still coming up with bare patches instead of a lush lawn and you’re ready to start from square one, this grass killer can help. It’s safe to use around your pets and kids, and it comes formulated to kill weeds and grass quickly and easily. It gives you immediate results within 24-hours of applying it, and you can safely and effectively use it in industrial, commercial, agricultural, and residential operations without worrying about it being too strong. This formula comes ready to use straight out of the bottle.
You’ll get a nice mix of organic rock salt, natural white vinegar, fermentation derived cofactors, and biodegradable plant activators that will go to the grass’s roots to kill them. It works well on a broad range of grasses, clover, poison ivy, and moss. There are not toxic chemicals in this product, and it’s phosphate-free with a 100% biodegradable formula. You should start to see results after one application, but it may take two for stubborn areas or if you have very thick overgrowth that you’re trying to cut out.
How to Kill Grass Method Nine – Solarization
Using solarization to kill your grass is a slower method, but it works well if you have the time and you don’t want to put a huge amount of work into it. It can also be an eyesore, so make sure you check with any local regulations before you try it. You’ll need:
- Lawn mower
- Black plastic sheeting
- Lawn stakes
The first thing you want to do with this method is to get your lawn mower out and drop the blade as low as it will go. You may also want to clean up any thatches of grass that get in your way to give yourself a clean area to work with. Once the area is mowed and clear of debris, carefully cover any space that you want to kill with your plastic sheeting. It should be taut and tight to the ground.
Take your lawn stakes and secure your black plastic sheeting to the ground by applying one stake every few feet. If you live in a windy area, you may need more. Once it’s secured, leave it alone for a few weeks and let the sun go to work. The solar rays will heat up the black plastic sheeting and burn the plants. The sheeting also provides a barrier that prevents the sun from reaching the plants, and this stops it from growing.
How to Kill Grass Method Ten – Spectracide Weed & Grass Killer
This powerful concentrate will help you answer the question on how to kill grass quickly and efficiently. It will kill both weeds and grasses in a single go, but you do want to keep it away from your raised planter boxes and gardens because it can hurt your plants if you splash it on. Since this product is a concentrate, you can get several gallons out of one purchase without having to run out and buy more if you mix it correctly. You can see visible results just three hours after you apply it for the first time, but it fades quickly so you can replant shrubs, trees, and flowers within 24 hours.
This product will kill the root to prevent unwanted regrowth, and it won’t wash away because it becomes rainproof within 15 minutes of applying it. All you have to do is mix it according to the directions and apply it with a tank sprayer. This will help you cover the leaves of your target vegetation and kill them off. It comes with a money-back guarantee where the company will refund you if you’re not 100% satisfied with the results.
How to Kill Grass Method Eleven – Dishwashing Liquid
Did you know that dish soap is an excellent way how to kill grass? For the best results, you’ll mix it with vinegar and salt water. For this product, you’ll need:
- Gallon jug
- Sprayer tank
- Dish soap (any brand)
- Table salt
To start, mix up the vinegar and water to a ratio of two cups of water to every one cup of vinegar. Add up to a cup of table salt and stir it until it dissolves. For the best results, use hot water. When you finish, add four or five drops of the dish soap. Since you only need a few drops, it doesn’t matter which brand you want to pick out. It can be something from the dollar aisle.
Add your mixture to a spray tank or bottle and go out and douse your lawn. The salt will work to the plant’s roots to kill it. The dish soap will break the vinegar’s surface tension when you apply it. In turn, it’ll stick to your grass and weeds for a much longer period, and this will force the grass to absorb the mixture much faster. You should start to see results within a few days, and you can reapply your dish soap mixture a few times to get good final results.
How to Kill Grass Method Twelve – Bonide Burnout Concentrate
This product allows you to perform non-selective weed control throughout your yard, and it works on broadleaf weeds and a variety of grasses, including annual and perennial species. This super concentrate can start to show results within hours of applying it, and it’ll turn waterproof after it dries. This helps it stay on your grass and sink down into the roots much faster. You can also use it without a problem in temperatures as low as 40°F, and it works well around driveways, sidewalks, buildings, barns, fence lines, greenhouses, pastures, yards, and around the base of mature trees.
This product uses natural ingredients to help you answer the question on how to kill grass, and this also makes it people and pet-friendly with non-toxic ingredients. You use this concentrate with water and mix it at a 1:3 ratio with one part of the product to every three parts water. So, eight-ounces produces 24-ounces of grass killer. You can choose from four sizes and two formulas, including a ready to use one. One purchase will make four gallons of product, and this is more than enough to cover a smaller yard or a patch of your larger yard without having to purchase more.
How to Kill Grass Method Thirteen – Mulching
Maybe you want to turn your yard into a fertile planting ground for your vegetable garden or flowers. If so, you don’t want to use salt or a chemical-packed herbicide. Instead, you can use a thick layer of mulch to kill the grass and cause it to decompose and put more nutrients into the soil. As a bonus, you could even mix the mulch with compost if you have really drained land that you want to turn into an excellent growing ground. For this option, you’ll need a lawn mower and a big bag of mulch.
To start, get out your lawn mower and cut the grass as low to the ground as you can. Put a thick layer of mulch down over the area, and make sure that it’s at least 12-inches thick. Wood chips are an excellent medium to use because they retain moisture and will help block out sunlight. After two or three weeks, the grass will die and start decomposing because it’s starved of air and sunlight. You can mix this new decomposed area and plant your vegetables or flowers to encourage good growth.
Credit: Mulch by Christian Wilcox / CC BY-NC 2.0
How to Kill Grass Method Fourteen – RM43 Total Vegetation Control
The final way to help answer the question of how to kill grass on the list comes from RM43. This product will kill weeds and grass while preventing them from coming back up for at least a year when you apply it. One bottle can treat up to 44,243-square feet, and this is enough to treat a large yard at least two or three times. You can choose from three sizes and six styles to tailor your pick to suit your needs. It works very well on your gravel paths, walkways, fence rows, driveways, sidewalks, in parking areas, and around your home or business without a problem.
You should be very careful when you apply this product as it doesn’t know the difference between the grass and weeds that you want to remove and your vegetables and flowers. You can use it for total vegetation control to get bare ground, or it works well for spot control of weeds, grass, vines, shrubs, and bushes. The lid screws on tightly to keep it ready to use whenever you are.
How to kill grass? Now you know 14 different methods and products that you can try to control the weeds and grass to get your yard exactly like you want it. Compare products and methods to find out which ones work best for you, and enjoy your lush, thriving yard all spring and summer long.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.