Looking for Weed Killer that Won't Kill Grass

By Michael Wright 1

What can I use to kill blackberries and thistles, but not kill the grass?

By Michael from Washougal, WA

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By Eileen M. 56 240 Flag

November 1, 2010

Look for a broad leaf weed killer that is labeled safe for lawns. Most of the phenoxy herbicides (2,4-D, dicamba, MCPA, etc.) will do minimal damage to grasses and take care of the broad leaf weeds just fine. Blackberries will be very hard to kill - many repeated applications of the weed killer will be needed!

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By PAMELA 9 Flag

December 30, 2010

Black berries are indeed hard to kill. Some areas in Washington state and Oregon have gone to pasturing goats in these areas. Goats naturally will eat the berry bushes first over grass. By keeping the leaves stripped off the plant and eating the new growth they eventually starve the plant to death. This has happened on my own property when I moved my goats into a pasture with wild roses, russian thisthle, mint, knap weed and cat tails. 3 years later I have a pasture that is primarily grass and clover, the stream is no longer chocked with cat tails and best of all, happy goats.

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Archive: Looking for Weed Killer that Won't Kill Grass

We've got a lot of weeds (dandelions, et cetera) that are nearly taking over the yard, but we've also got a dog, so chemical weed killers are out. Are there any effective weed killers (that won't kill the grass too) that are also safe for dogs?

Rachel from Iowa

- - 05/18/2004
Last year a friend recommended using a triple 16 fertilizer. Each fertilizer has its "code" of how much minerals, etc. is in it. Find one that is 16-16-16 and lime.

When we bought our house two years ago, the first summer we fought huge weeds and dandelions. Last summer we only had a few tiny ones and that was at the end probably when the fertilizer, etc. had done it's job.

I was told to mix them together, but I placed one in my push lawn seeder and adjusted the setting to a smaller setting and did one then the other. Just remember to use at least an allergy mask because it is dangerous to get in your eyes and lungs.

We had nice plush green grass and almost no dandelions and absolutely no weeds all year last year.

By Tawnda
- - 05/19/2004
We use the vinegar and dish soap all the time but I think it will kill grass too. We use a 1-2 gallon spray canister with a pump and nozzle. Fill up nearly all the way with vinegar and add about a cup of dish soap. The vinegar kills the weeds. The dish soap is used to help the vinegar stick to the weed.
- - 11/18/2004
Weed n feed is harmful to your trees. If you are using weed n feed, avoid anything under the drip line of your trees. There is an organic product on the market for weeds called Finale. You can spray it on your yard twice a year for 2 years, then once a year every year after. It's way better for your trees and the environment.
By Kim (Guest Post)
- - 04/12/2005
How about bleach as a weed killer?
By rogbet
- - 04/12/2005
Bleach will definitely kill weeds but also everything else it comes in contact with including the grass. I wouldn't recommend it.

Susan from ThriftyFun

By Thrifty_Fun
- - 05/13/2005
Check out www.gardensalive.com. Click on the "Lawn Care" link at the left side of the page. On the resulting page You'll see links for Original WOW! and for WOW! Plus. WOW is a byproduct of corn syrup production, and controls germination of broadleaf weeds like dandelions and crabgrass, but it's not poisonous so you can let your dogs out right after it's been applied. WOW Plus is the original stuff plus a balanced all-natural fertilizer.

I love the products from Gardens Alive because they're environmentally responsible. And no, I am not affiliated with them in any way (except as a customer), so I'm not saying this to get a commission. :-)

By sunhat
- - 05/15/2005
I read spreading 16-16-16 fertilizer and then going over the lawn with lime will kill weeds and help the grass flourish. Have yet to find 16-16-16 fertilizer.
By Fran Marie (Guest Post)
- - 06/08/2005
It is called "Burnout" and it is organic. Go to their web site http://www.commonsensecare.com It is pet safe and environmentally friendly
By Christine (Guest Post)
- - 08/07/2005
Apple Cider Vinegar works good on weeds not grass
By Bill (Guest Post)
- - 10/14/2005
I have been developing weed killers and fertilizer for over 40 years. at the moment there is NOTHING environmentally safe that kills weeds and not grass.

The product Burn out is vinegar and clove oil. It kills everything green. A better product is Perfectly Natural Weed and Grass Killer. It does a better job of killing everything green.

The secret has always been get a health lawn and you will not have weeds. Fertilize with a good fertilizer 3 times a year. Remember that the Fall fertilization is the most important one

By dave199

Archive: Looking for Weed Killer that Won't Kill Grass

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Q: Killing weeds without killing grass: I need a natural homemade weed killer that will kill weeds but not the grass. All I have seen are recipes for non-selective killing. Can anyone help, this must be the best kept secret by the big boys.

Hardiness Zone: 4a

Driftingmist from Quesnel, B.C.

Natural Weed Control

Q: When I moved into my house in 2000, I had a flawless St. Augustine yard. I choose not to use chemicals so I am looking for a natural recipe or product that will kill weeds and not my grass. The grass is thatchy and has browning spots with more and more weeds every year. I only have used Hasta Gro Lawn Feed so far. It helps some, but my yard is getting uglier every year.

Hardiness Zone: 8a

Saradise from Waco, Texas

A: Driftingmist and Saradise,

Because you're essentially both asking the same question, I'm going to answer both questions together.


While I can't say exactly what the big boys use, I'm not aware of any weed killers (natural or synthetic) that will kill weeds while sparing grass and ornamental plants.


Feeding your yard is great, but a few more steps are needed if you ever hope to restore your lawn to its former glory.

If the both of you desire a weed-free lawn, try the following tips:

  1. Find out which types of weeds are invading your lawn so you can plan an effective strategy. For example, certain broadleaf weeds thrive in heavy, compact soil. Aerating your lawn can discourage them from taking hold.

  2. Mow high. Encourage grass to crowd out the weeds by waiting until grass is 4 1/2 inches tall and then cutting it to no shorter than 3 inches. Many people balk at this and it's hard to get used to at first, but it really works. Cutting grass shorter ( more than 1/3 of the blade) only stresses it out and gives encroaching weeds the advantage. Also, keep you lawnmower blades sharp.

  3. Leave clippings on your lawn. They act like a fertilizer.

  4. Aerate your lawn. Ideally, this is done by renting a core aerator (best), but it can also be done by hand with a pitchfork or by foot when wearing aerating sandals. What you're shooting for is dime-sized holes every few inches to reverse the effects of soil compaction. Aeration allows moisture to reach the root zone and provides a place where grass seed favors sprouting. Most homeowners vastly under estimate the effects aerating has on the health of their lawn.

  5. Add 1/4 inch layer of compost to the lawn in the fall. In a few days it will work its way down into the grass and you won't even see it. Your lawn will love you for it next spring.

  6. Hand-pull weeds when possible or look for weed-specific hand tools to help do this. Reseed bare patches.

  7. Overseed thin areas in the fall (mid-August to mid-September). Make sure you use the appropriate grass seed to your light conditions and intended use.

  8. Spot spray vinegar in sidewalk cracks.

If you're patient, in a few seasons your lawn will be lush and virtually weed-free and you'll be spending a lot less on chemicals. A lawn that is about 15% weeds will look weed-free to the average observer.


About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. <a href="post_request.ldml?email_subject=Gardening">Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com


RE: Looking for Weed Killer that Won't Kill Grass

I see you live in B.C. Have you contacted Art Knapp Nurseries (throughout B. C.) I used to live in B.C. and got lots of helpful info from them. Good luck (04/27/2006)

By Mairmie

RE: Looking for Weed Killer that Won't Kill Grass

I was told by my gardener to just pour boiling water on the weeds, both in the lawn and on paths. Good Luck.



By Wendy M.

RE: Looking for Weed Killer that Won't Kill Grass

I would definitely NOT use bleach on the lawn! My next door neighbor did this and I saw some poor worms on the surface afterwards writhing in pain. It looked like their skin was burned off, so I had to put them out of their misery. Use something else. (06/10/2007)

By Claudia

RE: Looking for Weed Killer that Won't Kill Grass

There is a natural weed killer that works on ground ivy that I saw under "weed control recipes" at lawncaresimplified.typepad.com. (07/23/2008)

By Lewis

RE: Looking for Weed Killer that Won't Kill Grass

I agree with this, always get a healthly lawn and you will not have weeds. Fertilize with a good fertilizer 3 times a year. Remember that the fall fertilization is the most important one, you also have to know what kind of grass you have to know what fertilizer to use. Then search online for the info. It takes lot of water for the grass to grow fast, good luck. (03/26/2009)

By kffrmw88

Archive: Looking for Weed Killer that Won't Kill Grass

I have lots of weeds growing in my front yard. What can I use to kill them without killing the grass?

By Tracy


RE: Looking for Weed Killer that Won't Kill Grass

You can buy one at Lowe's made by Bayer. It comes in a gallon with a battery operated, hand held sprayer or in a quart container you can attach to a garden hose. It kills 200 weeds, but not the grass. I use it a lot. (08/06/2010)

By foxrun41

RE: Looking for Weed Killer that Won't Kill Grass

The most standard type of broadleaf weed killer (kills plants with broad leaves and doesn't kill grass) is called 2-4D. This is a generic term, and is not the brand name, so you'll need to look at the ingredient list of whatever spray you get. It's potent stuff, so use sparingly if you care about the environment, your pets' and kids' health. (Still, sometimes this is the only stuff that works, and if you get the weeds sprayed before they go to seed, you won't have to spray much or at all in the following years). I live in Colorado and tried all of the natural stuff, including boiling water, nothing worked for me, so I just use chemicals very sparingly in conjunction with hand weeding. The key is definitely getting stuff before it goes to seed. (08/06/2010)

By cathyholcombe

RE: Looking for Weed Killer that Won't Kill Grass

The easy way to kill the weeds in the lawn is to buy Ortho Weed-b-Gon Max. It works great and can be bought just about anywhere. (08/06/2010)

By lgsiy

RE: Looking for Weed Killer that Won't Kill Grass

Weed and Feed is great. It kills the weeds and feeds the grass. (08/09/2010)

By Fortunately

Home and Garden Gardening Weeds Woody and Vining WeedsOctober 23, 2010
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