How to Kill Weeds in Winter | Tips to Control Winter Weeds

Heat-resistant grasses often go dormant during winter when they turn brown. Many of us neglect lawn care during these months since we think it’s pointless to take care of dormant grass. However, the winter months provide an excellent opportunity to get rid of weeds. Today we’ll cover how to kill weeds in winter so that your lawn will look great just in time for spring.

Spraying selective herbicides is a practical approach to killing winter weeds. Using the winter weed and feed products also helps to kill the weed and strengthen the soil content. For an eco-friendly approach, try spraying a vinegar-based or citrus-based solution on the weeds several times to kill the plants

But don’t get started spraying just yet. You need to know the ingredients in the herbicides that might harm your grass, how often to spray vinegar-based solution, and what to mix with vinegar for optimal effects, which we will cover today. 

How to kill weeds in winter

How to Get Rid of Winter Weeds

Cool-season weeds and invasive grass maintain their green colors and stick out like a sore thumb on a yard filled with dormant grass during winter, making them an easy target for anyone struggling to fight weeds. 

Killing off weeds during winter is a perfect way to guarantee the grass in your lawn will have no competition for resources when it starts to grow again in early spring. The methods discussed below are easy to implement and effective.

Use Strong Herbicides to Kill off Cool-Season Weeds

Weed killers have been used for decades to control weeds and other invasive plants.

They’re preferred to other methods due to their efficiency, easy application, and fast results.

Broadleaf weed killers work by disrupting the growth of the plant and killing them from the inside. 

Since common winter weeds and invasive grasses can be easily spotted when the grass is dormant, spot-spraying is a practical approach for herbicide application.

There are two types of herbicides you can use to fight winter weeds:

Selective Herbicides

Selective herbicides are designed to target broadleaf weeds and invasive grasses while sparing your desired grass.

They are great for using in your lawn because they won’t kill your grass.

Usually, selective herbicides take around two weeks to completely rid weeds from your yard while leaving other plants unharmed.

However, if your lawn has buffalo grass on it, avoid herbicides with Dicamba ingredients as it’s harmful to this type of grass.

Examples of selective herbicides are:

Non Selective Herbicides

Non-selective herbicides kill all plants they come in contact with indiscriminately, including the grass on your lawn.

The best news is that such herbicides have no effect on dormant grass, thereby annihilating weeds and invasive grass species that remain active during this season.

Just make sure the grass on your lawn has completely turned brown before spraying non-selective herbicides.

This product is a common example of a non-selective post-emergent herbicide. 

Apply Winter Weed and Feed to Your Lawn

Not only does weed and feed help to kill weeds on your lawn, but the products also contain fertilizer which helps to enrich the soil, making it suitable for the grass to thrive during spring.

This weed control method is perfect for areas that experience wet and mild winters, especially the Southern States. 

The products prefer damp conditions, which help to activate the peanut husk that was soaked in weed killer. As a result, the husk attaches itself to the plant and releases the weed killer agent, killing the weed from the inside. 

With the help of moisture, the fertilizer trickles down to the soil and adds nutrients that will come in handy to the grass during spring. Weed and feed products often come equipped with both pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides for optimal weed control. 

Control Winter Weeds with Mulch

Some people have found covering the lawn with mulch is an excellent way of controlling weeds during winter.

A thick layer of mulch blocks the sunlight from reaching these plants, which ends up suffocating them. By the time springs arrives, the mulch would have decomposed and trickled down to the soil, and the weeds would have rotted out. 

However, this method is not a long-term solution, as the plants will regrow from their attached roots that are still alive underground.

Try Using Vinegar

If you’re conscious about the environment and wish to try an eco-friendly approach, vinegar-based and citrus-based solutions are possibilities.

Vinegar contains acetic acid that is deadly to weeds. Usually, the vinegar we use in our homes contains only 5% of this acid, which isn’t enough to get the job done. This is why many people say that vinegar doesn’t work for killing weeds.

You need at least 20% of this acid to kill off winter weeds. Also known as horticultural vinegar it’s strong enough to get the job done.

Before you start spraying vinegar to the weeds, it’s crucial to know the species that have infested your yard. Spraying vinegar on weeds before they seed will help to prevent a new generation of this species from growing. 

However, perennial weeds such as dandelions can pose a challenge since they live on through their roots. If you’re looking to kill dandelions, please understand they cannot be eradicated by spraying the flowers only. You need repetitive application of vinegar to weaken them, which will eventually kill them. 

Mixing vinegar with a surfactant such as a dishwashing soap is key to its success.

The weed’s foliage contains a waxy coating that offers protection that can repel vinegar when applied alone. The soap comes in handy as it counteracts this defensive mechanism, allowing the vinegar to penetrate into the plant.

It’s also crucial to spray vinegar-based solution when it’s sunny to allow maximum performance. 

Since vinegar is non-selective, make sure you use it in places such as patios where lawn grass isn’t grown. Avoid touching your face or allowing it to come in contact with your skin as it can be corrosive. 

While vinegar can work, this process is tedious and requires a level of persistence that many of us don’t want to dedicate to weeds. This is why we suggest an herbicide spray for most homeowners hoping to control winter weeds in their lawn.

Pull the Weeds with Your Hands or Using a Tool

It might be the last resort, but an effective one nonetheless.

It’s definitely a tiresome project, but it can offer a permanent solution to your weed problems when done right.

Make sure you get the entire root to prevent the weeds from growing from what is left underneath. However, it’s not practical to pull weeds with your hands or a tool, especially if you’re dealing with a huge lawn.

This method is best applied on a:

  • Sidewalk
  • Patio
  • Driveway

Where the weeds grow through the cracks. Make sure you observe safety precautions such as wearing gloves, as some weeds like goat heads contain sharp burrs that can puncture your skin.

Loosen the soil by watering it first before pulling the weed from the ground to ensure none of the root is left behind. In case the root breaks when you’re pulling, use a hand shovel to dig the spot until you find the remaining parts. 


Winter is a great time of year to get rid of the weeds in your lawn, as you can easily spot them.

Using herbicides, both selective and non-selective, will get the job done. If you want to improve soil content while taking care of the weed problem, use the weed and feed products. 

You can always try eco-friendly options, such as spreading mulch. Additionally, vinegar is a great natural weed killer as long as it has higher acid content and is mixed with a dishwashing soap. Only pull the weeds that grow on your paved surfaces, and make sure you get the entire root to make sure it is completely gone and can’t just grow back again later.

More Tips to Get Rid of Weeds:

How to Kill Weeds in the Winter