Best Weed Killer Buyers Guide

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Weed Killer Buyers Guide

There’s nothing more unsightly and frustrating than a weedy lawn! Not only do those pesky weeds spoil the view, but every second they’re growing, they’re stealing valuable nutrients and sunlight from the plants you actually do want to see in your garden! You need to wipe out those flowering invaders and fast – they might not look particularly threatening, but they are, and they need to be gotten rid of quickly in order to save your other plants.  

Your first instinct, like anyone who takes pride in their garden,  is obviously going to be to remove the weeds there and then by hand. It’s tempting to just pull them up, even when they’re particularly stubborn and anchored deep into the ground, however, this isn’t going to fix the problem long-term. It’s highly unlikely you’re going to remove the roots, and so the weed will simply grow back with a vengeance! Rather than acting on impulse, plan your attack carefully – invest in a weed killer that will see those vegetating pests off once and for all!!  

Best Pick Weed Killer

Sale
Elixir Gardens Barclay Gallup Home & Garden Glyphosate Commercial Strength Weed killer treats upto 3332 sq/m 2Lt Bottle + Complimentary Measuring Cup and Gloves Prime
  • Strongest Weed killer Available Online In the U.K. For Uncertified Use. Contains 360 g/l glyphosate, The same as most Professional Grade Herbicides.
  • One Litre Treats Over 0.4 of an Acre Offering the Best Value Available.
  • Gallup Home & Garden is a domestic weed killer that contains 360 g/l glyphosate for effective control of annual and deep-rooted perennial garden weeds, including grasses, docks, nettles, willowherb, dandelion and bindweed. Kills most weeds in one application with no need to re-apply. A single 2 Litre bottle treats upto 3332 sq/m
  • Inactivated on contact with the soil and is broken down by soil organisms to leave no lasting residues, allowing the area to be cultivated and re-planted 7 days after application or if the weather has been cool, after the weed leaves have yellowed or died back.
  • NO knapsack certificate needed. Dilute at 24ml per 1 Litre of water to treat an area of 40 sq/m. Apply when weeds are actively growing and have adequate leaf area to absorb the spray for best results, taking care to avoid over spray onto more desirable plants. Weeds may show first effects from a few days up to 4 weeks after depending on the weather and type of weed.

The garden market is flooded with weed killer products claiming to be the best, promising to clear your garden quickly and with minimum effort. This is great as in one respect it means there will be a weed killer out there that is capable of dealing with your weed infestation, whatever the nature of it, however finding the right weed killer and narrowing down your search can seem somewhat overwhelming. To ensure you are buying the best weed killer for you and your garden, it’s worth making sure you go for the brand and weed killer type that’s best suited to your existing garden layout and is capable of taking down the specific types of weed you’re being invaded by… for good! 

Only got 5 minutes

To kids, daisies and buttercups are little gifts from mother nature – pretty flowers that are simply there to look nice and to entertain each other with. At some point in our lives we’ve all held a buttercup under someone’s chin asking “Do you like butter?”, or threaded daisies to make a daisy chain!! However, once you’re older and a garden owner,  their presence is no longer welcomed but viewed as a massive inconvenience!! Your normally pristine, uniformed, unspoilt lawn is serving host to a ‘meeting of the weeds’!!! Enough is enough – it’s time to take a stand in order to get your garden summer-ready! The answer? Weedkiller!

Weed killers use chemicals (herbicides) which allow you to take control of your unruly weed infestation and stop weed growth dead in its tracks. By using a high-quality, strong weed killer, you can easily control and kill the weeds which are busy invading your outdoor area, whether that be a lawn, flowerbeds or path. You want to find the best weedkiller for your budget that will tidy up your garden without causing any unnecessary damage to your healthy plants and grass, or to your bank balance!

Forms of weed killer

Weed killers come in different forms – they can be in powder form, granules, liquid form as a weed-killing spray, or a gel. The form of application dictates both the accuracy and speed at which you can apply the herbicide. 

Checking whether or not the application device (e.g. spray bottle or drop spreader) is included in the price is always worth doing, just to see if you’re getting everything you need.

FormApplication 
Powder / Granules A drop spreader is used to apply powder or granular weed killer. This is a common way to quickly apply weed killer for lawns or other large areas. Spreaders aren’t generally used for applying weed killer to individual weeds.
LiquidLiquid weed killers are usually applied with a handheld sprayer. For killing weeds in the lawn, or in flower beds or borders, a handheld sprayer which incorporates a trigger system is normally used to release the herbicide. 
GelWith gel herbicides killing weeds is done by painting it onto the leaves of the weed.

Types of weed killer 

The type of weed killer you’ll need will depend on the type of weed you’re faced with; its location; and whether it’s in close proximity to other healthy non-weed garden vegetation. 

Weeds are generally split into three categories: broadleaf, grassy and grass-like, and can be found sprouting in gaps and cracks of hard surfaces; sprouting through lawns; or taking-over flowerbeds. Some weeds are more stubborn than others so you’ll need a weed-killer chemically engineered to be able to deal with the specific type(s) you have:

Grassy Weeds

  • A common type of weed
  • Round and hollow stems
  • Long leaves are long
  • Can either be annual or perennial. It’s important to know this in order to choose a successful control procedure.
  • Most active in spring 

Broadleaf Weeds

  • Wide, blade-like leaves
  • Aggressive weeds
  • Often found in lawned areas 
  • Both annual and perennial
  • Have fibrous roots of different types: either a root system, one big taproot, or both.
  • Round or square-shaped stems
  • Grow either upright or spread at ground level

Woody and Vining Weeds

  • Strongest and tallest sort of weeds
  • Stubborn, persistent and hard to control
  • Recognisable from their differently-shaped stems and leaves,
  • Variety of flower colours
  • Generally perennial although some vine weeds can be annual 
  • The deep creeping root system 
  • Likely to reoccur 

Once you’ve established the type of weed(s) you have, you’re ready to shop for weed killer.

Best Budget Weed Killer

Patio Magic! 016491 Concentrate: Ideal for Patios, Paths and Driveways (Kills Algae, Moss and Lichens), 2.5 Liters
  • Patio Magic! Liquid Concentrate Mould, Algae and Moss Killer can be used on hard surfaces indoor and outdoor, and can be used as a pre-paint fungicidal wash
  • Patio Magic kills green mould in 2-4 days, and gently cleans the exposed surfaces in the weeks to come
  • This biodegradable cleaner is suitable to treat your patios, fencing, driveways and all round hard surfaces
  • Works in a few days, lasts months
  • Size: 2.5 liters

Broadly speaking weed killers fall into two categories:

Selective herbicidesNon-selective* herbicides 
One type of contact herbicide is selective weed killers – these weed killers kill specifically the weeds, whilst leaving other plants unharmed – if there’s just one pesky dandelion brazenly staring you out from the centre of your garden area, obviously, you want to take that yellow invader down but ideally, you want to do this without killing off the surrounding grassy area. That’s where selective herbicides come in.
Selective weed killers generally target broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, daisies and buttercups, whilst having no negative effect on narrow and broad-leaved plants (i.e. grasses) due to the difference in their internal makeup. 
As a result, selective weed killers are often applied to whole areas of turf in the form of lawn weed and feed application. 
Non-selective herbicides (also known as total weed killers) aren’t at all picky when it comes to killing off plants! This type of herbicide, which normally contains Glyphosate and/or diquat and glufosinate, will kill any plant it comes into contact with, including perennials and grasses. 
As a result, you should avoid using spray formulations of non-selective herbicides in windy conditions; refrain from walking over freshly-sprayed areas; and be sure to protect any plants in close proximity to the weeds by covering them from any potential over-spray. 
Consequently, non-selective herbicides are best suited to weed killing on hard surfaces such as driveways, patios, decking areas and flagging. 

*A common sub-division of non-selective weed killer worth mentioning is:

Contact weedkillers 

The clue is in the name when it comes to contact weed killers – they’re herbicides which kill on contact; they don’t discriminate and will target all plant, grass and flower species. 

Contact weed killers have a brief window of opportunity when it comes to taking down their target as to do this they’re required to access a vulnerable part of the weed which, for the majority of the time, is protected. They are only able to enter when the stomata of the weed’s leaf are open. This opening is a result of photosynthesis (the process of a plant making food) and so only occurs during daylight, when the weed is growing.

Contact weed killers work by preventing the weeds from any further photosynthesising. Deprived of proteins, the weed essentially starves to death. To give a contact weed killer the best possible chance of taking out its target after the first application, it needs to be applied during the warmer months, early in the morning, when the weeds are growing and generating maximum food output, giving the chemical make-up of the contact weed killer the largest amount of time possible to work its way into the stomata and penetrate the weed’s internal structure. 

Contact formulation herbicides tend to be better suited to soil-based weeds as once the weed has been destroyed the chemicals are no longer harmful – glyphosate is the most common contact weed killer which, upon coming into contact with the soil, become encased in the soil particles, preventing them from planting roots.

Contact weed killers can take up to about 2 weeks to completely kill off the weed. For some particularly resistant perennial weeds, it may take a couple of applications to take down the weed completely. 

When to apply weed killer

Pre-emergent weed killersPost-emergence weed killers
Applied in late winter or early spring to kill weed seeds before they terminate application needs to be well-timed to coincide with germinationPreventative rather than curative. Most often used to control perennial grassy and broadleaf weeds Have no effect post-germination Applied to the weed after sprouting, used to kill weeds that have already germinated. Most effective when weed plants are young (prior to them producing seeds)

Where & how to apply

Systemic weed killers

Systemic weed killers (also known as industrial herbicides) are applied to the whole weed. With generous coverage, the chemicals will make their way into the weed’s internal structure through the leaves. Once the killer has penetrated the weed’s external layer, it will work its way down to the roots which, similar to the human vascular system, is paramount to the weed’s survival. At this point, the weed’s fate is inevitable and so, depending on the strength of the weed killer you have, the weed will change colour, droop and die completely within a relatively short space of time after application. Some common systemic herbicides include dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, dicamba, sethoxydim and imazaquin. 

Residual weed killers 

Residual weed killers, which are also known as soil acting or drench herbicides, are not applied to the weed but to the soil, with the aim of putting a stop to any further weeds being produced (the result of the seed germinating).  A downside of using residual weed killers is that once they’ve been applied to the soil, they will remain active for a significant period of time – this can be up to around two years depending on soil type and the strength and quantity of the weed killer that was applied, resulting in the soil being unfit to harbour any form of new growth during that time. The only growth that may occur is mould. Consequently, residual weed killers are best suited to attacking weeds on hard standing areas such as paths, steps, driveways or patios.

How does a weed killer actually work?

Weedkillers are the assassins of the plant world. The chemicals used in a weed killer will dictate how the weed it’s applied to will meets its maker!

The action used will fall into one of the following categories:

Action Description 
DesiccatorsApplication results in dehydration of plant cells
Acids and basesApplication results in the chemical burning of plant cells
Nutritional controlsApplication results in the unbalancing of nutrient balance, often by changing the pH balance of the soil
ACCase inhibitorsUsually applied to grasses. ACCase inhibitors affect cell membrane production
ALS inhibitorsGradually starves plants of vital amino acids, resulting in death
EPSP inhibitorsAffects both kinds of grass and flowering weeds by preventing them from producing vital proteins
Synthetic auxinA common form of weed killer. Only effective against broadleaf weeds. The hormone auxin causes poor plant growth and ultimately death

Herbicide Safety Guidelines 

The herbicide(s) used in weed killer varies massively depending on the brand, type and form of application. You should read the manufacturer’s guidelines to familiarise yourself with the particular chemicals you’re dealing with and be aware of any precautions you’re required to take.

As long as you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines carefully, weed killers are generally safe to use. Whatever herbicide you’re using, it’s advised to wear eye, hand/arm protection and avoid prolonged exposure to your skin. Wearing a mask or covering your mouth/nose can also help minimise the number of chemicals you inhale. Once you’ve finished the application, as a general rule of thumb,  it’s advised to keep animals and young children away from treated areas until well after the application has dried, ideally for 24 hours or at least overnight.

Identifying common types of UK weeds

Dandelion

Common perennial weed. Can reach up to 50cm in height and is recognisable from its yellow flowers. After germination, the petals turn into white dandelion fluff.

Green alkanet

Hairy-leaved perennial which grows up to 80cm in height with bright blue flower clusters.

Herb bennet

Rosette-forming perennial with rounded leaf tips. Yellow buttercup-like flowers which can reach up to 60cm in height. 

Couch

Blades of grass in clumps. Thin wiry white perennial roots, often banded. 

Bindweed

Twinning perennial climber. White trumpet flowers in summer. Fleshy cream roots run deep.

Japanese knotweed

Tall, bamboo-like perennial with tasselled cream flowers and pink-tinged stems. 

Ground elder

Leaves appear in spring. Lacy flowers in summer. Can grow up to 45cm in height. 

Oxalis

Clover-like, often red-tinged leaves. Small yellow or pink flowers. Fleshy persistent perennial root. 

Lesser celandine

Glossy leaves in spring. Yellow starry flowers which grow up to 5cm. Bulbous roots and perennial bulbs.

Enchanter’s nightshade

Grows to 60cm with opposite leaves. Flower spikes of small white flowers and pink buds. 

Cleavers

Long sprawling annual to 1m with whorls of slim leaves. Insignificant white flowers. Green, hairy seeds produced in large quantities.

Herb Robert

Pink flowers, red-tinged stems and lacy foliage from a central rosette. Strong musty smell. 

Bittercress

Annual rosettes of small rounded leaflets. Small white flower spikes up to 10cm

Creeping buttercup

Yellow flowers and divided leaves often spotted white. 

Nettles

Green flowers and toothed-edged leaves with irritating hairs – they sting!

Creeping thistle

Perennial that spreads out by deep roots and readily seeds. Spiny leaves rise from rosettes. Lilac flowers in summer.

Rosebay willowherb

Ornamental spires topped with purple flowers in summer. Invasive perennial. 

Horsetail

Fir tree-like plants which can grow up to 60cm. 

Annual meadow grass

Clumps of narrow-bladed, low-growing grass often found on paths, lawns and in borders. Short pale white flower spikes.

Docks

Can be Tapered or broad-leaved. Flower spikes in summer. Perennial, deep growing, forked taproots.

Best of the Rest

Sale
Roundup Fast Action Weedkiller Pump 'N Go Ready To Use Spray, 5 L
  • Fast action ready to use weed killer that kills the weeds and roots with visible results in 1-2 days
  • Kills most garden weeds with a single application; up to 10 minutes of continuous spray when using 5 L option
  • Children and pets need not be excluded from treated areas (once dry)
  • The Pump N Go pressure sprayer is easily refillable, a one- touch trigger prevents hand fatique and extendable lance avoids bending.
  • Degraded in the soil by micro organisms
Sale
NASUM Weed Burner Electric Weed Killer Thermal Weeding Stick - 2000W 230V Up to 650°C, Environmentally Friendly, for Garden, Patio, Driveway. Orange
  • 【Powerful Burner】 It's environmentally friendly weeding with professional technology for the home. The flame reaches a maximum temperature of 650°C, effectively controlling weeds between paving stones, driveways or stone curbs. With a cable length of 2 meters, it is the longest cable in the market. An extra adapter can be used to expand the area of use.
  • 【Completely Secure】 Many users are dangerous compared to equipment that uses natural gas, but with electric burners, you are always safe, there is no open flame, only electricity is used and all operations are safe.
  • 【Extremely High Efficiency】 Weed burner combines super 2000W, 230V performance, which allows you to quickly remove weeds and withstand temperatures up to 650°C. By combining the push fittings, your work will be very effective. The machine will be in short contact with the weeds, enough to destroy the cellular structure and remove weeds.
  • 【Easy to Use】 The device is easy to handle and works well. It even gets hot enough to light a grill. Weed burner is ergonomically designed, the handle can be easily gripped and prolonged use will not make you feel uncomfortable. Compact and innovative design, this weed killer has a detachable handle for easy storage.
  • 【Environmentally Friendly】 Dimensions: 101cm (L) x 8cm (W) x 10cm (H). The electric grass burner works in an environmentally friendly way. It is powered by electricity, no open flames, without the need of toxic chemicals like gas and butane.
Gallup Home & Garden Glyphosate Weedkiller 2L + Free GardenersDream Cup & Gloves
  • FOR HOME USE - Can be used in your garden without the need of a spraying certificate, contains the same amount of glyphosate as professional grade weedkillers.
  • STRONG WEEDKILLER - Effectively controls annual and deep-rooted perennial weeds, kills most weeds within a single application.
  • COMPATIBLE WITH PERSONAL SPRAYERS - Perfect for use with a knapsack sprayer, simply dilute 30ml of weedkiller per litre of water
  • USE RESPONSIBLY - Do not spray in rainy or windy conditions, do not walk on treated area until dry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kills weeds permanently?

Some weed killers do kill weeds permanently. It is dependent on the type and strength of the herbicide you have applied. Weaker formulations may kill off the current weed but are not harsh enough to stop further weeds springing up at a later date, usually rather quickly! More potent weed killers contain chemicals which creates a barrier that stops new weeds from emerging, however, some people still choose to invest in a refillable weedkiller kit which you can use to reapply once or twice a year to deter any particularly enthusiastic weeds from returning.

Does salt kill weeds?

Salt can kill weeds but is best avoided due to the damage it can potentially do to surrounding plants and soil – it is likely to create soil conditions that are not suitable for growing plants for a significant period of time. If salt is used, which must be done carefully, it works best when diluted with water and applied directly to the weed; it then disrupts the internal water balance of the plant cells and, in effect, dehydrates the plant. 

Last update on 2020-04-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About Mike Jones 155 Articles
I started doing DIY around the house and it soon developed into a hobby. I look for tools and products that are genuinely useful and get the job done. I enjoy writing product reviews, researching my buyers guides and putting tools through their paces. In my downtime, I like to run and I am a bit of a Netflix documentary geek.

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