Killing Common Garden Weeds

Hannah Gransden's picture
By Hannah Gransden, Seasonal Pro
A Group of Dandelions in the Grass

With so many different weedkillers (herbicides) available, it can get confusing as to which type is best suited for use on your garden. Weeds are weeds right? Wrong. Each weedkiller is made for a specific purpose and you’ll need to find the right weedkiller for your garden weeds if you want to remove them for good.  We have covered ways to treat weeds before, now it is time to make sure they don’t come back.

Weeds are divided into three major categories: broad-leaved weeds, grassy weeds and grass-like weeds. First things first, you need to identity your garden’s weed type:

Broad-leaved weeds

These are leafy and often have flowers. Common examples of broad-leaved weeds are dandelions, thistles, and clovers.

Grass types

These can be more difficult to identify from wanted lawn grasses. They can be annuals or perennials. Common examples: couch, Yorkshire fog.

Grass-like weeds - rushes and sedges

These are sometimes hard to distinguish from true grasses. Sedges have triangular solid stems, while rushes have round solid stems. They are often found in moist or well watered lawns.

For more examples of weed species and pictures, the BBC has a good line-up, and they also have a great game that you can play.

Now that you’ve hopefully identified the problem weed(s) – you need to identify the solution product. Getting the right product is extremely important in achieving a weed-free garden. Some are more effective for killing particular weeds. See below for the weedkiller breakdown.


Nick-named ‘broad spectrum’ weedkillers, these kill or damage any plants that they come into contact with. They are the most common type of weedkiller.


These will selectively only kill certain types of weeds. They usually target broad-leaved weeds, and are mainly targetted for use against weeds in lawns as they do not cause damage to the grass.


As the name would suggest, these weedkillers only kill the above-ground parts of the plant that they come in to contact with. Repetitive doses may need to be applied to fully kill the weed fully.


This type of weedkiller travels down the stems to the underground system of the weed (when applied directly to the leafy above-ground part). Systemic herbicides are effective in killing the weed, but are slower in doing so than contact weedkillers.

Pre-emergence or residual weedkillers

Pre-emergence weedkillers are used to treat gravel paths, drives and waste ground. They prevent new weed seedlings from emerging for up to 3 months.

You need to identify what you need to achieve to decipher the right weed killer for your purpose. Take note of how products differ and pick the best option for you and your garden. Also make sure you time it right for maximum effect. Happy gardening!


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