Don’t discount rolling up your sleeves. “The best way will always be good old-fashioned elbow grease,” says Teryl Ciarlo of Teryl Designs. She advises trying to pull from beneath the soil, but waiting until after a rainstorm (when the ground is softer) can also help. Insert a knife or screwdriver in the soil to loosen any stubborn taproots.
Roll Out Landscape Fabric
Weed control starts way before you spy intruders, though. “Consider laying down landscape fabric topped with a layer of mulch or straw,” advises Missy Henriksen of the National Association of Landscape Professionals. The physical barrier stops unwanted plants from sprouting up in the first place.
With or without fabric, experts agree mulch is a must. “Mulch is such an easy fix and helps keep your soil cool, wet and eliminates light that weeds need to grow,” says Kris Holland at Black River Landscape Management. “Keep it around 2 inches deep and off your lawn, since it will also kill your grass.”
Learn to Love a Longer Lawn
Yes, the height of your mower really does matter. “The length of your grass can impact its health and make it more or less susceptible to weeds,” Henriksen says. “Err on the longer side, about 2 to 3½ inches.” Firing up the mower before weeds set seed also chokes out invaders, advises Paul James, “The Gardener Guy.”
Removing grass creates a new place for pesky plants to thrive, even if you don’t see any around. “Most lawns have hidden weed seeds,” Holland says. “When you’re digging the ground to plant, open only a patch that you need.”
For a big swath of unwanted vegetation, enlist the cutest herd of landscapers around. “Goats can reach areas that machinery and people simply cannot, and their hooves actually rototill the soil as they graze,” Ciarlo says. To get your own grazers, try ordering them on Amazon.
Pour Boiling Water on Them
Plain, old tap water can do the trick too. “My favorite ‘homemade’ weed killer for cracks in sidewalks and driveways is boiling water,” James says. “This works really well on young weeds, and results are immediate. If you add a tablespoon of salt to the boiling water, it’s even more effective.”
Stock up on discounted rock salt at the end of winter and sprinkle it on garden paths to fight weeds in the spring (table salt works too). Salt also makes a good weed barrier along lawn edgings and other places a lawn mower can’t reach, but apply it carefully. It can erode concrete surfaces and can leave the ground barren for a prolonged period of time.