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We often see weeds as undesirable plants that compete with plants for water, light and nutrients. 

These grass-like plants sometimes even look pretty (clovers and dandelions, for example), but they can take over your lawn if you leave them alone.

Keeping your lawn in excellent condition isn’t just about boosting curb appeal — it’s about creating a vibrant outdoor space for family and friends to enjoy. 

With the right approach, you can reclaim your green oasis and even prevent weeds from coming back.


Why Do Weeds Grow in Lawns?

Weeds can thrive in lawns due to many reasons. These factors include improper mowing practices, poor soil health and inadequate watering.

Weeds exploit any weaknesses in your lawn, such as thin grass areas or compacted soil, to establish themselves.

Before we can look at how to get rid of weeds in lawn grass, we need to identify them.


Types of Weeds

One common method to categorise weeds is by their growth habits. For example, annual weeds complete their life cycle in one year, while perennial weeds can live for several years.

Another way to classify weeds is by their reproductive strategy. Some weeds reproduce by seed, while others reproduce vegetatively, by spreading their roots or stems.


Broadleaf Weeds

thistle weeds

Broadleaf weeds are a type of herbaceous flowering plant that typically have wider leaves than grasses. 

Many broadleaf weeds are considered nuisance plants due to their aggressive growth habits and ability to crowd out other plants.

Common examples of broadleaf weeds include dandelions, thistles and dock. These plants typically have a deep taproot system that helps them survive in dry or compacted soils.

Additionally, many broadleaf weeds can produce large amounts of seeds that can be dispersed by wind or animals, leading to rapid spread throughout an area. 

You will need a broadleaf herbicide to tame unwanted weed growth, as physical removal can be difficult and ineffective. 

However, some gardeners choose to tolerate these plants because of their ability to attract pollinators, such as bees.


Clover Weeds

clover weeds growing in the lawn

Clover weeds can be a problem in any lawn or garden. Their small, three-lobed leaves often resemble clover and can quickly spread throughout a lawn or flower bed. But they aren’t difficult to get rid of.

The first step for how to get rid of clover weeds in your lawn is to identify the problem weed. 

Clover weeds have three leaves, and the centre leaf is typically smaller than the two side leaves. They also have small white flowers that bloom in late spring or early summer. 

Once you’ve identified the clover weed, here’s how to get rid of it:

  1. Remove any clover plants that are already present in the garden. You will need to pull them up by the roots by hand or with a small tool like a trowel.
  2. Then, make sure to keep the area well-watered and fertilised so that the clover doesn’t have a chance to take root.
  3. Use a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent new clover weeds from sprouting up.
  4. Mow your lawn regularly to discourage weed growth and give your grass a competitive edge.


Grassy Weeds


Grassy weeds are different from other types of weeds in that they have blades that closely resemble those of grass.

This can make them difficult to control, as they can be easily mistaken for actual grass. 

The most common grass weeds in Australia are crabgrass, carpet grass, nutgrass and winter grass. 

There are a few different ways to identify and control grassy weeds:

  1. Take a close look at the blades of grass in your yard. If you notice any that are significantly thinner or have a different colour than the rest, they may be grassy weed seedlings.
  2. Pull up a suspected weed by the roots and check to see if it has rhizomes (underground stems). If it does, it is most likely a grassy weed. 
  3. Look at the general appearance of your lawn. A healthy lawn should have a dense network of blades, while a lawn infested with grassy weeds will look patchy and thin. 

To control these weeds, you’ll need to pull them up by the roots or use herbicides specifically designed for grassy weeds.


How to Kill Weeds Without Killing the Grass

One of the biggest challenges is killing weeds without harming the grass. Unfortunately, many weed killers are not selective and will damage both the weeds and the grass.

The good news is that there are a few methods for how to get rid of weeds in grass.


Pour Boiling Water

Use boiling water to kill lawn weeds. 

This method is effective for small areas, but it can be time-consuming to target specific weeds.


Smother the Weeds

Another option is to smother the weeds with a thick layer of mulch. 

This will block out the light and prevent the weed seeds from germinating.


Use a White Vinegar Solution

You can try using a 5% white vinegar solution as a natural weed killer. White vinegar is an acetic acid, which will kill weeds (and most germs). 

However, you need to dilute the vinegar before applying it to your lawn, as undiluted vinegar can also damage the grass.


Hand Weeding

You can try pulling weeds by hand, although this is time-consuming.

You can physically remove the weeds by hand or use a tool like a hoe. This is a labour-intensive method, but it’s effective and doesn’t require any chemical products.


Use a Weed Torch

gardener using weed torch to get rid of weeds

You can also use a weed torch to kill weeds without harming the grass.

Weed torches use heat to kill weeds and are safe to use around grass. 


Choose the Right Herbicide

If you’re looking for a chemical solution, some herbicides are designed to kill weeds without harming the grass. 

Be sure to read the labels carefully and follow the instructions so you don’t damage your lawn.

There are two types of herbicides for killing weeds:

  • Selective herbicides kill weeds by targeting specific plants. The active ingredient in the herbicide works to disrupt the plant’s growth process. As a result, the weed is unable to produce new leaves or flowers and eventually dies.
  • Non-selective herbicides are a type of weed killer that can kill any plant they come into contact with, including both weeds and desirable plants. Most non-selective herbicides contain glyphosate, a chemical that prevents plants from making proteins that are essential for growth.


How to Fix a Lawn Full of Weeds in Australia

I know what you’re thinking.

“Should I just start from scratch if my lawn is full of weeds?”

While it may be tempting to just mow over and kill all the grass (or weeds) in your lawn, it isn’t always the best choice.

Fixing a lawn full of weeds involves a comprehensive approach tailored to the specific climate and types of weeds prevalent in the region.

Before ripping out the entire lawn, assess whether selective herbicides or manual removal can effectively target the specific weeds.

Determine the types of weeds in your lawn, such as dandelions, crabgrass or nutgrass. 

Each weed type may have different vulnerabilities to herbicides or horticultural practices. Knowing whether they are annual or perennial can also influence your strategy for eradication.

Controlling broadleaf weeds involves using selective broadleaf herbicides. On the other hand, grassy weeds can be controlled with pre-emergent herbicides.

Removing perennial weeds is another matter because they come back each year unless you use systemic herbicides or pull out their roots.

However, you should know when to call it quits. 

In some cases, if the weed infestation is so bad and the soil is extremely poor, the most practical option for long-term lawn health may be re-establishing your lawn by planting grass seed after removing weeds.


How to Prevent Weeds From Returning

Uprooted blooming dandelions in the hands of a woman in purple latex gloves

One of the most frustrating things about weeds is that they often seem to come back, no matter how hard you try to get rid of them.

  • Make sure you’re removing the entire weed, including the roots. If any part of the plant is left behind, it will quickly regrow.
  • Avoid disturbing the soil any more than necessary. Every time you dig or till the soil, you make it easier for weed seeds to take root. This makes it much harder to get rid of weeds because you disturb the soil whenever you pull weeds or apply herbicides.
  • Consider using mulch in your garden beds. Mulch helps to suppress weed growth and also helps to prevent soil erosion.
  • As a last resort, think about using a post-emergent herbicide in problem areas. The herbicide works by penetrating the weeds’ leaves and causing the plant to die. Its counterpart, the pre-emergent herbicide, works by preventing new weeds from growing.


Removing Weeds and a Few Bad Seeds

Weeds are like the bad pennies of the plant world: they always seem to turn up, no matter how often you try to get rid of them. But they aren’t impossible to get rid of. 

With the right tips and tools, you can prevent weeds from returning. If you’re unsure of what you’re doing, you can book a professional lawn care service to help with weed removal.

About Author

Jamie Donovan

Jamie is an Australian horticulturalist and landscape designer. He enjoys writing about landscape architecture, garden design and lifestyle topics.


About Author

Jamie Donovan

Jamie is an Australian horticulturalist and landscape designer. He enjoys writing about landscape architecture, garden design and lifestyle topics.