Not-So-Wonderful Weeds: Types of Weeds and How to Treat Them

Not-So-Wonderful Weeds: Types of Weeds and How to Treat Them

When we think of weeds, we often think of pesky, unwieldy (and oftentimes persistent) plants infiltrating our yards, driveways or garden beds. Of course, getting rid of weeds is a priority for most homeowners when it comes to maintaining the order and beauty of their outdoor space, but weeds can be difficult and downright frustrating. It can be hard to know what the best way to get rid of pesky weeds is. It can also be hard to know which of the many treatments available will be the best choice for your yard. Before you can decide on treatment, you need to examine some factors related to the weeds themselves, as well as be aware of the options so you can make the best and most effective selection. 

Factors to Consider when Eliminating Weeds

When it comes to eliminating weeds, there are a few factors related to the plants you should consider before you start spraying or pulling.

  • Location of the Weeds: Are they intermingled within your lawn, located in your garden beds among plants and flowers, or popping up in cracks in your driveway or your brick walkway? Where the weed is growing will in large part dictate how you go about treating it.
  • How Strong or Persistent the Weed: Have you tried to remove the weeds before, only to have them grow back time and time again? Does a single treatment seem to help, or do you find yourself reapplying week after week or year after year?
  • Do You Want to Use A Natural Method? When it’s time for treatment, you can use a herbicide (chemical treatment), or you can also pick the natural route, opting not to add any substance to your lawn that isn’t natural.

Types of Weed Killer to Choose From

When it comes to the way to treat weeds, there are 4 main types of weed killers you may choose to use. These types are related closely to the factors mentioned above, and should be tailored to the weed type and scenario. They include weed killers based on:

  • Emergency
  • Selectivity
  • Persistence
  • Translocation 


The selectivity of a weed killer refers to its “power,” and the types of plants it kills. If the solution is selective, this means it can work without harming other plants growing nearby.  If it’s non-selective, it will also impact other plans and kill anything in the area it is sprayed. How selective your solution depends on where the weeds you are targeting are located. If they are in your driveway, for example, there is nothing nearby to kill so you can use a non-selective. But, if the weeds are in your lawn you won’t want to kill the grass or other surrounding plants, so you’d go with a selective.


Emergence refers to how the weed killers work, and specifically when, or what stage in a plant’s life, they attack the weed. A pre-emergent targets a seedling that is germinating, and gets the weed right at the beginning before it’s grown too large or taken too much root. A post-emergent would target a weed that is already growing or established. Selecting on emergence is in large part related to your goal: are you removing an existing weed, or preventing one that has just started growing?


Translocation refers to the process that a weed (or plant in general) uses to move water or other materials throughout itself. If you select a translated herbicide, this means it will be absorbed much like water and will then work internally by moving through the plant’s system. It might take a little longer to work, but often it can be more effective due to the fact it’s within the plant. A contact herbicide, in contrast, kills the plant right away on contact; it does not need to flow through the plant’s system. 


How persistent the solution is refers to how long it will work for. If it doesn’t work for long, then it’s non-persistent. Persistent solutions are generally more effective, and can contribute to the eradication of weeds over time by preventing them from growing back. Non-persistents are more like a “quick fix” solution.

Substance Type

The substance type refers to the weed killer itself as opposed to the weed. You can select from a variety of herbicides, such as Round Up, or from natural methods ranging from hand pulling to hot water to salt. This will depend wholly on your desire to use – or not use – chemicals when it comes to weed killing.

Now You’re Informed, It’s Time to Tackle Your Weeds!

Once you have identified the type of weeds you can better determine how to treat them. Now that you’re informed, picking from one of the many weed killers at the store should be less overwhelming and easier. If you don’t want to take on the weeds yourself, your lawn care professional can always help!


Sources Consulted: Home Depot 


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