If there is one annoyance that unites gardeners, landscapers, farmers, and groundskeepers it is weeds. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors and can be found everywhere, including your driveway.
Emerging from cracks in the concrete, growing from between the gravel or popping up in the bare dirt, there’s nothing quite like a weed infestation in your drive to make your house look shabby.
But beating back the weeds is a constant battle, and no matter what you try, they never seem to go away completely.
But don’t sweat it! In this article, I’ll show you 13 proven methods to permanently get rid of those invasive troublemakers and restore your driveway to its former glory.
1. Pull Them
Pulling weeds by hand is one of the most effective and affordable ways of getting rid of weeds in your driveway. All you need is some time, a good back, and a little finesse.
Pulling weeds by hand allows you to target the weed root, which ensures that the weed will not grow again.
However, it’s essential to ensure that you remove the entire root system; otherwise, the plant WILL grow back.
This technique is best used for small weed infestations, or eliminating a weed that pops up in an otherwise well-maintained driveway.
It is also the most eco-friendly option as it doesn’t require the use of chemicals or other trickery, making it a safe and sustainable way to maintain a beautiful and weed-free driveway.
But, as you already know, it’s tiresome and achy work! Not for major infestations or people who are unfit.
2. Mechanical Removal
Mechanical removal is the next step up from hand pulling. This method uses tools such as a weed-remover, trimmer, edger or something else to eliminate the weeds and their roots from your driveway.
Mechanical removal is great for larger weedy areas or badly overgrown cracks and edging, as it can remove the entire root system in one pass, and it’s easier and quicker than manual pulling.
If you’re using a trimmer or specialty power edger, you need to make sure you are actually hacking up the roots and not just clear-cutting the stems.
This will ensure that the weed does not regrow. Manual weed removers are also a viable option, and much swifter and surer than pulling by hand.
But this is still laborious and might not help you cope with weeds that have “protected” roots; ones growing from between cracks or under a concrete slab.
3. Weed Killer
Ol’ trusty! Weed killers are an effective way of getting rid of weeds in your driveway quickly, easily and with very little effort.
These products use herbicides to target the roots of the weed, killing it off entirely.
For best results, it is essential to choose a weed killer suited to the type of weed you want to eliminate, as different products work better on different varieties.
Additionally, it’s crucial to apply weed killer on a dry day when no rain is expected, as this will ensure the product has enough time to penetrate the root system before it is diluted.
These chems are an effective and elegant solution, but it’s vital to read the product label carefully to avoid damaging any nearby plants or posing a risk to wildlife.
Also, keep in mind they don’t work instantly, unlike what the commercials show. Give them a few days and the weeds should be toast.
Salting the earth is known to be a surefire way of making land barren, and so it is a great option for killing weeds in your driveway.
Salt is a natural, safe, and affordable way to get rid of weeds in your driveway. It works by dehydrating the plant and preventing it from taking in moisture, thus killing it off.
To use salt as a weed killer, either mix it with water to create a saltwater solution and apply it to the weeds, or apply a small mound directly.
Be very careful not to get any on nearby plants or grass! Like weed killer, it is an indiscriminate solution.
Salt can also disrupt the natural balance of the soil, making it difficult for other plants to grow, so you never want to use it on any part of your drive where it might affect nearby soils. As such, it’s essential to use salt sparingly and in small quantities.
Vinegar is another eco-friendly and non-toxic way of getting rid of weeds in your driveway. It contains acetic acid, which causes the plant to dry out and die, and it’s totally safe to use around pets and children.
To use vinegar as a weed killer, mix it with water in a spray bottle in a 3:1 ratio and apply it directly to the weeds, being careful not to spray any nearby plants or grass.
Pay attention to the wind! Vinegar is a non-selective herbicide used this way and as such even a light mist can hurt or kill any plants it comes into contact with. That includes your nearby grass and flowers.
Also, compared to proper weed killer it may take multiple treatments to kill stubborn or deep-rooted weeds, but with persistence, it can be an effective and affordable solution.
Just be prepared to apply every few days until the weeds croak…
6. Boiling Water
A spectacular way to eliminate weeds, boiling water is another all-natural solution that is effective, though not too easy to use.
Boiling water will kill the weeds by catastrophic overheating- literally cooking them- and so it kills them instantly.
But, to be sure, there are some serious hazards with this method. For starters, there is a serious risk of injury to yourself if you slip or make a mistake.
It is also really easy for a cascade of boiling water to run off and damage any nearby plants or grass. There’s also the logistical issue of boiling the water in the first place: do you boil it inside and then try to bring it outside quickly?
The best way is to boil it outdoors over a grill, fire or propane burner near the weeds and then apply. Make sure you are wearing plenty of protective clothing!
7. Corn Gluten Meal
An inspired choice for permanently killing weeds, this method is a bit different from others on our list.
Corn gluten meal is a natural by-product of corn milling and it works against weeds in a unique way: it acts as a sort of pre-killer which prevents weed seeds from germinating and growing.
However, it doesn’t work on grown, mature weeds, and might actually have an unintended effect. Corn meal gluten also acts as a potent fertilizer, and it could literally feed the problem if you use it wrong!
But you don’t really need to worry so long as you make it a point to simply treat problem areas with a generous dusting before weed season begins and the darn things start growing.
If you do that, they won’t grow at all! You know what they say about an ounce of prevention.
8. Torch Them
The single most spectacular and fun, and also potentially the most dangerous and destructive, method of weed control.
Torching weeds using a flame weeder or propane torch is an undeniably effective and chemical-free way to get rid of weeds in your driveway quickly, especially major infestations or over larger areas.
Targeted weeds are burned to a crisp, killing them utterly and totally halting regrowth.
However, while it is a quick and efficient solution, extreme caution must be taken when handling flame tools, and it should not be used in high fire risk areas or times.
Furthermore, using this method can harm beneficial soil organisms, disrupting soil ecology, and potentially scorch your driveway.
Therefore, it is recommended to use this method judiciously and only when called for.
9. Smother Them
If you have the time and patience, you don’t need to mess with all of these fancy, dangerous or involved methods of weed control.
You can just smother them; literally sweep them under the rug! Covering up the problem spots with thick layers of bed liner, newspaper or cardboard can work wonders in stopping weeds from growing.
This method is great because it kills off existing weeds by physically halting growth and completely blocking out sunlight that weeds need to live. It’s also a set-and-forget method you don’t have to babysit.
The only downside? It is a huge eyesore, and it is kind of like a never-ending project because you have to keep adding layers and replacing them as they are broken down by weathering or shredded by animals.
10. Solar Sauna
A solar sauna is an innovative method of weed removal and one that utilizes the clean and unlimited power of the sun.
To use it, you cover the weeds with a clear plastic sheet or drop tarp, then weight it down on the edges to seal the weeds inside.
As the sun shines, the area inside the tarp heats up drastically eventually cooking the weeds just as well as scalding water or roaring flames
The result? The weeds are fried until they are dead and completely unable to regrow. This method is great because it doesn’t disrupt soil ecology except on a very local level, and it will not at all damage nearby plants and grass.
Best of all it will contain weed seeds when they are mature and prevent them from spreading.
The only downsides are that it does require lots of sun, it takes time, and it can be an eyesore. But this is one of my favorite minimally invasive methods.
11. Bury in Mulch
Mulch is the homeowner’s best friend, and it can even help you with weed control! Covering weedy areas with generous mounds of mulch can physically stop weeds from growing by blocking sunlight.
The trick is to make sure the layer is thick enough and to apply it early enough when weeds are tiny or haven’t germinated.
This method has advantages over smothering listed above because it is possible to use mulch in a decorative fashion.
For dirt driveways or gravel drives that have two troughs between a median of grass, mulch can greatly improve appearances while helping to block weeds.
The only real downside is that it can be costly, and you have to keep adding mulch as it is blown or washed away in time.
12. Cultivate Soil (of Dirt or Gravel Driveway)
For dirt driveways, sometimes the nuclear option is best. Thoroughly cultivating the dirt, especially prior to weeds sprouting, can effectively stop the growth of weeds in their tracks.
This method is best for drives that are clear and free of obstacles, and is more work and less effective for ones that are totally gravel if not pulled back first.
Power equipment is a great option, but it can be done manually if you’ve got the muscle and the time.
And if you don’t have a driveway that is too long! This is a great approach to combine with corn gluten meal above or other preventative measures at the start of the season.
13. Use Grazer Animals
Why do any work at all when you can let your animals do it for you? It turns out that all sorts of grazing and browsing animals, namely goats, sheep and chickens, really like most plants that we call weeds, and when they get after them they won’t stop til’ they eat them all.
This is a great approach for areas that have lots of weeds or are too sensitive for other control methods, and it requires no effort from you other than to keep your animals.
The downside is that keeping said animals can be expensive, messy, and they’ll eat plants you don’t want them to if unsupervised.
And, sometimes, they will fail to rip out the root and all, meaning weeds will come back. But in that case you can just let your critters at them again!
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.