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The Best Weed Killers for Your Lawn in 2024

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Wondering how to choose the best weed killer for your lawn? Read on to learn how weed killers work, how to apply these products, and our recommendations for the top weed killers.

Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 05/02/2024

If your lawn’s weeds are getting out of control, hand-pulling them isn’t going to cut it. Sure, you can tug out a few by the root, but weeding the whole yard may be difficult and time-consuming. That’s where lawn weed killers come into the picture.

With so many lawn weed killers available, it can be challenging to find the right one. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve compiled a list of the top lawn weed killers and broken down how to select one.

Identifying Weeds

Before choosing the proper weed killer, determine what type of weed you’re dealing with. Each weed type requires a different treatment—what’s effective for one may do little or no damage to another.

There are three main categories of weeds: broadleaf, grassy, and grasslike.

1. Broadleaf weeds

2. Grassy weeds

3. Grasslike weeds

These weeds have broad, flat leaves, so it’s unlikely that you’ll mistake them for grass. They thrive in soil that’s lacking key nutrients and come in different types—annual, biennial, and perennial. Different broadleaf weed varieties require different chemicals depending on their life cycle.

Examples of broadleaf weeds include dandelions, ground ivy, clover, chickweed, dollarweed, thistle, and oxalis.

Grassy weeds have leaves that still look somewhat like grass blades. Examples of grassy weeds include crabgrass, quackgrass, goosegrass, and foxtail.

This weed type resembles grass, but its leaves are more tube-like and triangular than flat. Examples of grasslike weeks include garlic, nutsedge, and wild onion.

How Weed Killers Work

Weed killers work by using chemicals that kill the weed or prevent its growth. There are a variety of different herbicide types to treat weeds at different stages of their life cycle or even before they sprout. Here are the main characteristics to consider when choosing a specific weed killer.

Pre- or Post-Emergent

Pre-emergent weed killers target weed seedlings before they get a chance to sprout. If weeds have already popped up, this type won’t help. Post-emergent weed killers are designed to eradicate weeds in their active growing season. Apply post-emergent weed killers directly to the plants’ leaves.

Selective or Nonselective

Selective weed killers eliminate weeds without harming beneficial plants nearby while nonselective herbicides will damage all nearby plants, even if they’re beneficial.

Systemic or Topical

Systemic weed killers attack the entire plant, including its roots. Topical herbicides, on the other hand, only kill areas where the weed killer is applied.

Persistent or Nonpersistent

Persistent weed killers stay active after you apply them to prevent future weeds. Nonpersistent weed killers don’t offer ongoing weed control.

How To Apply Weed Killer

Even if you select the right weed killer, applying it incorrectly could make your efforts fruitless. The wrong application may even cause harm to your lawn.

Many weed killers need to be diluted with water and put in a spray bottle. The product’s label will explain precisely how much water and weed killer you’ll need to combine. Some weed killers, however, come in granular form. Solid weed killers must be applied with a spreader.

When applying weed killer, timing is everything. You don’t want to apply weed killer immediately after mowing your lawn or adding fertilizer since that could harm tender grass. In both cases, wait several days before applying weed killer.

The weather also plays a role in when to apply weed killer. Applying weed killer when it’s too hot may stress your grass while applying it before a rain means it could wash away before getting absorbed. Always read the product’s instructions to know how to use it properly.

How To Prevent Weeds

When it comes to tackling weeds, the best defense is a good offense. You should take these steps to keep your grass hardy and robust, reducing the chance of weeds taking over.

Water deeply and infrequently—If you want your grass to have strong and deep roots, water deeply and infrequently instead of choosing shallow, daily watering. With deep, sturdy roots, your grass can grow thick and compete with weeds that may try to grow.
Mow high—Weeds need sunlight to grow. If you let your grass blades grow taller by setting your lawn mower to the first or second highest setting, the grass will grow tall enough to cast shade on any weed seeds, preventing them from sprouting.
Feed regularly—Stressed lawns are more susceptible to being crowded by weeds. Feeding regularly will keep your lawn lush and make it less hospitable to weeds.

The 3 Best Weed Killers

Here are the three best weed killers that our team recommends.


This powerful, fast-acting weed killer battles the exterior part of the weeds it contacts as well as their root systems. Compare-N-Save kills stubborn weeds efficiently, and spraying weeds selectively will make sure that your lawn stays intact.

Preen Garden Weed Preventer

This pre-emergent, selective weed killer offers residual effects, with ingredients remaining active in the soil for three months after application. Preen prevents nearly 30 broadleaf weed varieties without hurting nearby plants.

Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed

Scotts’ most powerful weed and feed thickens grass while crowding out weeds. It’s especially effective against dandelions and clover. The company offers a satisfaction guarantee, promising your money back if you aren’t satisfied with its results.

If you’re battling stubborn weeds or confused about which weed killer is best, it may be time to call in experts. Our team’s top selection for lawn care, TruGreen, offers both pre- and post-emergent weed control.

The specialists at TruGreen can create a custom-made plan to restore your lawn to its former health and make sure it can compete with future weeds. The lawn care company offers five annual plans with varying levels of coverage in every state except for Alaska and Hawaii.

FAQ About Lawn Weed Killers

How do lawn weed killers work?

Most weed killers work by either disrupting the photosynthesis that gives weeds nutrients or by stopping the methods weeds use to grow roots. The exact method used by each lawn weed killer varies, so look up your particular brand for greater detail.

What lawn weed killer is right for my lawn?

The weed killer that’s right for your lawn depends on the type of weed you’re dealing with and how strong a weed killer you’re comfortable using. Expect to choose between pre- and post-emergent options, selective and nonselective types, systemic and topical solutions, and persistent or nonpersistent weed killers.

What are the best lawn weed killers?

Our team recommends Compare-N-Save, Preen Garden Weed Preventer, and Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed as the best three lawn weed killers. Each choice will effectively stymie weed growth while safeguarding your lawn in the process.

Our Rating Methodology

We back up our lawn recommendations with a detailed rating methodology that we use to objectively score each provider. We review lawn care plans and packages, navigate the provider website and speak with customer service representatives, request quotes, and analyze customer reviews for each provider. We then score the provider against our review standards for plan options, additional benefits and customizability, availability, trustworthiness, and customer service to arrive at a final score out of 100.

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