The Best Way to Remove Weeds from a Large Area

A while back, I was planning a project to create a backyard kitchenette. I presumed I had found the perfect location after inspecting the backyard. The only major issue was that the area was overrun by weeds. So, I needed a solution to the problem. I decided to do some research since the land I needed to clear was around 25-30 feet square and I wanted to find the “Best way to remove weeds from a large area” using the most natural and organic method.

To remove a large area of weeds and naturally prevent them from returning, you’ll need to attack the weeds differently depending on their development stages. To kill off weeds that have already grown, a natural post-emergent solution would be to apply high concentrated vinegar or herbicidal soap that contains long-chain fatty acids. For preventing weeds from growing again, you can use corn gluten meal (CGM), mulch, or plastic sheeting as a pre-emergent.

Weeds can be awful, but getting rid of them naturally will benefit the soil and the environment surrounding them. In this article, we’re going to dive further into detail about my weed removal success and how I approached the situation, as well as valuable “need to know” tips about removing weeds.

What is Pre and Post Emergent

Before we discuss the process of removing weeds from a large area, I thought it would be beneficial to tell you the difference between pre and post-emergent. In the world of weeds, they’re two conventional herbicides, and they’re both more effective depending on the overall growth of your weeds.

Pre-Emergent Herbicides   

This type of herbicide is to prevent weeds from germinating and becoming an issue again. Although the pre-emergent solution can be highly beneficial, they rely heavily on rainfall as this is how the herbicide will attack the seeds or weeds that are beginning to sprout.

To utilize a pre-emergent herbicide (AKA, prevent weeds from returning), you’re able to apply corn gluten meal (CGM), or you can lay mulch or plastic sheeting to disable their growth patterns.

Post-Emergent Herbicides 

If you’re reading this blog, the likelihood is that you’re going to want to know more about post-emergent herbicides as these generally kill weeds that have already fully developed. Using pre-emergent herbicides isn’t compatible with killing fully grown weeds because they’re not strong enough to penetrate through the weed’s outer “shield”.

To kill weeds that have fully established with a post-emergent, any old chemical post-emergent herbicide will undoubtedly do the job. But to keep it natural, it’s recommended to use such things as high concentrated vinegar. In New Zealand, we have quite a range of organic weed killer sprays on the market, and most tend to have vinegar as the base ingredient.

NOTE – Normal household vinegar will not be suitable for killing weeds that are at this growth stage. Make sure you only apply high concentrated vinegar for it to work as a post-emergent herbicide effectively.

Now you know the difference between the two, you should be able to identify what stages of growth your weeds are currently at and act accordingly. Being able to do this is highly important as the effectiveness of either technique is only valid when used at the correct phrases.

How to Remove Weeds from a Large Area

When removing weeds from a large area, you can break them down into three simple steps. These are preparation, removal, and monitoring.

Preparation 

Like with everything, preparation is the key to success. Through the preparation stages of your removal, you’ll need to designate an area of weeds that you’d like to remove and then proceed with the following.

First, you’ll need to apply some type of post-emergent (if your weeds are already fully developed), such as high concentrated vinegar. For the best possible results, you should use a post-emergent herbicide while you’re experiencing heavy rain. This will help the vinegar get into the soil and will cause the herbicide to have a more effective reaction.

This type of post-emergent herbicide needs at least 8 hours to take full effect. Once these 8 hours have passed, the weeds should become disabled and unable to grow, and you’re now ready to start with the next step.

Removal

The step everyone hates, but you have to do it. Unfortunately, a post-emergent herbicide won’t make weeds magically vanish into the abyss, and you’ll need to remove them. However, there are multiple ways that you’re able to achieve this, depending on the tools you have laying around.

A typical way to remove weeds is to pull them out with your hands physically, but because this is a large area, I recommend you either use a hoe or a cultivator. Because the weeds are dead and you’ll be placing a pre-emergent herbicide down in the next step, you’re able to hoe them out or mix them up in the soil with a cultivator.

I’ve also seen people run these over with a lawnmower or hedge trimmer, but this doesn’t entirely remove the roots from the ground and just trims them down into more manageable sizes, you could use this to get started.

Monitoring

You should now apply your pre-emergent herbicide. Whether this is using a plastic sheet, non-woven fabric, mulch, or even layering corn gluten meal (CGM) on the surface, they’ll all provide you with excellent results. In my case, while installing my outside kitchenette, I installed a thick plastic sheeting before I poured my concrete sub-floor.

However, now you’ve placed your pre-emergent herbicide over the large weeded area, you need to monitor the process. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to do this daily, but maybe once every 3-4 days. This will just reinsure you that your pre-emergent is working effectively.

If your weeds occur again in the area that you’ve removed them from, I recommend re-doing the above and maybe opt-in for a heavier duty pre and post-emergent that is factory-made. I’ve mentioned somewhat “natural” household items because I’m a DIY man myself, but I can ensure you that they’re some potent and “not so natural” alternatives that’ll do the job. The only downside to using a herbicide like this is that it may significantly damage the soil and be harmful to pets.

TIP – If you’re using a pre-emergent herbicide like corn gluten meal (CGM) or a factory-made alternative. You’ll need to apply this once every 3-5 months. Failing to do so may result in weeds returning after you’ve finally defeated them. Avoid this at all costs to guarantee weeds don’t reappear.

Conclusion

From that brief how-to, you should fully understand what it takes to successfully remove weeds from a large area. It can seem like a troublesome task, but a greatly rewarding one if you can remove them effectively.

Remember, you’re able to purchase factory-made organic pre and post-emergent that can be extremely effective. But I personally love DIY and homemade options myself as they provide me with much greater satisfaction. However, the herbicides mentioned above worked great for my little kitchenette project, You could be considering other ventures, such as installing an outdoor Fireplace, where you may need to eradicate weeds. I am certain that these approaches are the cheapest and safest solution for the whole family and the environment.

To make your own organic weed killer, you’ll need 30% strength vinegar, dishwashing liquid, and standard table salt. I highly recommend that you click here to see how it’s done.

Now, what are you waiting for? Get preparing and start removing the weeds that have been pestering you in your backyard!

8 thoughts on “The Best Way to Remove Weeds from a Large Area”

  1. It’s a good idea to use vinegar for this. Plants do not like vinegar, and although I knew that, it never occurred to me to use that for weeds. What a great idea! What is the difference between household vinegar and highly concentrated vinegar and where can I buy the latter?

    Throughout the year I don’t have trouble with weeds, since I live in the semi-desert, but after hurricane season they all grow massively, and it can get overwhelming. I prefer to use DIY products, so I will definitely give your recommendations a try.

    Reply
    • Your local hardware store may supply a higher percentage of cleaning vingar or Amazon both have it in stock. Household vinegar is lower percentage therefore not concentrated.   

      Many Thanks 

      J W RIDDELL -THE FUN HUB

      Reply
  2. The most dificult part of these three is removing weed. I will have to ask for help with this. But besides it, all the other parts of the process are simple. Thank you very much for explaining it without those technical terms that other blogs use.

    Thanks for warning us that household vinegar will not kill weeds in growing stage.

    Reply
    • Ann, I did some research based on typical errors and misconceptions I had. Ann.  People with experience impart knowledge, as do others who share material, and those who learn to acquire wisdom.

      Many Thanks

      J W RIDDELL -THE FUN HUB

      Reply
  3. As a bit of an eco warrior myself, I always enjoy finding posts that use eco friendly and natural products that are better for the soil. I learnt several things from your post that I will be applying to my garden. I never knew that high concentrated vinegar can be used on weeds, so I will try that. I always thought one had to spray when there was no chance of rain, as you do not want the spray to be washed off the plants. But as you say, the vinegar needs to be washed into the soil, to be taken up by the roots as well.

    We have a big vegetable garden and we put down plastic sheeting and then makes a hole where we plant the seedlings. This has helped tremendously to reduce the amount of weeds growing between the veggies. I have also used several layers of old newspaper to kill weeds, but this will only work in small areas. 

    Some great tips here and I will go in search of corn gluten meal and heavy concentrate vinegar to help me control the weeds. I look forward to seeing what the garden kitchen will look like.All the best, Liné

    Reply
    • Thank you for your insightful feedback, LineCowley. Yes, the vinegar works extremely well, and yes, preventative measures such as laying down sheeting are good! You can even use carpet between trees- it’s straightforward to kill weeds this way if they’re starting. The best time to do so is when you barely notice them because then fighting them is like taking care of a small thing; however, in this case, we have an overgrown patch that needs some trimming done on it before applying the vinegary weed spray. Wait a few days, let all those little things get taken away by using one or more methods of cutting/trimming with tools, then hit everything again with the natural mix, after which nothing will be left but dirt.

      Reply
  4. Thank you for this more natural way to get rid of weeds.  This is going to work well around an old swing set playhouse area that we have.  The kids should be able to start using it right away not at all like some of the stuff that is on the market.  I cannot believe some of the weed and insect killers they have out there, and the fact that they let anyone purchase and use these products without proper training.  So again thank you for this info and have a great day.

    Reply
    • Yes, J Lowel. Vinegar will do the trick naturally on those weeds around the playset without poisoning your kids! I totally agree that some weed killers are very dangerous and can be worse for you in the long run than they’re worth getting rid of a pesky plant or two. It’s scary how often these things seem so innocuous at first but turn out to have been harmful all along; we’ll be paying for this error years from now too when our children start getting sick because of their exposure to toxins as toddlers – it happens more often than anyone would like them not too if they were honest with themselves about what these products contain.

      Yes, vinegar is by far one of way easiest ways to go green minus any poisons whatsoever.

      Reply

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