The Best Natural Way to Kill Weeds

Updated: Feb. 21, 2024

Want to get rid of weeds in your yard and garden for good? Follow a garden's expert advice for the best natural way to kill weeds.

“Weeds have overtaken my mulched borders. I cleared them by hand and treated the area with vinegar, but they keep coming back. I’m looking for a natural way to kill weeds. What should I do?” writes Birds & Blooms reader Pat Northington of Austin, Texas.

Vinegar just kills the tops of existing weeds. This may be enough to kill young seedlings, but it does not prevent weed seeds in the soil from sprouting. Also, since vinegar does not move from the leaves down into the roots, more established plants and perennials resprout from the roots of underground rhizomes.

Woman Removes Weeds from Garden BedGrace Cary/Getty Images

Several commercial organic herbicides use essential soaps and plant oils to kill weeds. Most just burn the leaves, are most effective on small plants and require repeat applications.

Check out 30 common lawn weeds and how to ID them. Plus, here’s how to get rid of Bermuda grass in your garden.

Corn gluten meal may also help you keep weeds at bay. It’s sold under several brand names as a treatment that prevents seeds from sprouting.

For the best natural way to kill weeds, consider a combination of these options. You’ll likely have the best results. Also keep in mind that compost and mulch help healthy plants outcompete the weeds.

How to Kill Weeds Without Chemicals

Dandelion, foraging for foodCourtesy Bev Miko
Try multiple natural methods to kill weeds

“Are there any new techniques for getting rid of winter and early spring weeds without chemicals?” asks reader Joe Green.

Unfortunately, there are no new magic solutions for managing weeds without harmful chemicals. For annual flower and vegetable gardens, try solarizing the plot before planting. Cover the garden bed with clear plastic for several weeks. This kills the existing weeds and many of the weed seeds. Then cut back the dead weeds to the soil surface and lightly cultivate if needed. Avoid deep digging, which can bring new weed seeds to the surface. For perennial gardens and mixed borders, remove weeds (roots and all) and cover the soil surface with organic mulch. This helps prevent many weed seeds from sprouting and improves the soil as the mulch breaks down. Mulch will not kill existing perennial weeds.

Next, learn how to stop bindweed from taking over your garden.