Can You Kill Weeds By Burying Them?

Written By James
Updated May 29, 2023 by James

Can You Kill Weeds By Burying Them?

Can Burial Help To Kill Weeds? - Our Guide

The growth of weeds can be a frustrating sight to see in your new flower bed, or between the cracks of your patio, no matter how many times you pick them out, they just seem to keep coming back, so can you kill by burying them? 

Weed growth can be tacked by burial, but it's not the easiest way to get rid of them since they need to be covered in a fair amount of inches of soil for them to die. Not all mature plants with strong root systems can be killed this way.

In our extensive guide below, we will take you through how to get rid of these not so desirable plants once and for all, covering how to bury weeds to stop weed growth, why weeds grow, to begin with, some common types, alternative methods to get rid of advanced weeds and some tips to stop their growth. 

How To Bury Weeds Effectively To Kill Them 

Burying weeds can kill them, but it's not the simplest of ways to get rid of weeds. The best way to get rid of weeds is through either uprooting them, burial or dismemberment.

To get rid of lots of weeds which seedling weed types, you are looking at burying them under at least 4-5 inches of soil to suffocate them properly, if they are exposed even slightly on the soil surface, they might be able to recover. 

The more senior weed types with secondary roots are not as easy to bury and need more soil surface on top to die.

Once your weeds are buried under a good few inches of soil, you should also try to keep this soil dry, if the surface of soil gets more water, the weeds are much more likely to grow back again.

Burying weeds work to kill them for the following reasons - 

  • They block out light - Seedlings especially need light to grow, if buried down far enough, they do not have access to any sunlight so will eventually die.
  • Stop the seeds from spreading - Weeds spread through contact, roots and wind, burying them down stops the wind from spreading their seeds.
  • Less access to nutrients - When weeds are buried very far down, they cannot have access to water and other nutrients to multiply and grow.

Why Do Weeds Grow To Begin With?

To understand how to kill weeds for your garden, we first need to figure out why they grow to begin with since this has a huge role in weed control. 

Wherever there is space in the ground for plants, you will likely see weeds. Weeds love cracks and thrive in favourable conditions where there is moisture, sun or in bare thin areas.

You often see a lawn of weeds rather than one or two because they spread their seeds when they are growing, they can also lie dormant under the ground for a considerable amount of time before shooting through.

It is possible that weeds can come from domestic plants too if the soil is of poor quality.

Why Do Weeds Often Come Back?

If you keep trying to get rid of weeds but they keep coming back, it's because you never got rid of them, to begin with! 

We've listed the most common reasons as to why you keep getting foliage of weeds below.

  • The entire root did not get taken out - Even if you leave one piece of root in the soil, the weed can grow back from this, you need to get rid of all the roots, even secondary ones to eliminate them from growing back.
  • Seeds are in the soil - You might have got rid of the weed itself, but the seeds can remain in the soil even with effective weed treatment meaning they will grow back again.
  • They are being brought in - You can bring weeds in from seeds on your shoes, your pet, bird poo and more. These undesirable plants spread very easily.

Common Types Of Garden Weeds 

Not only do seedlings and weeds differ in how you get rid of them, but they also differ in their types too which affects how easily they die. 

We've listed the main three types of weed down below.

  • Annual weeds - Some examples of annual weed seedlings are; bittercress, chickweed, groundsel and more. These types of weeds are spread by setting seeds, germinating, growing and dying at the end of their life cycle.
  • Biennial weeds - These kinds of weeds have a two year life cycle, the first year it germinates then flowers to make seeds and restarts its life cycle. Some of these weeds include wild carrots and prickly lettuce.
  • Perennial weeds - Some of these weeds are called dandelion and thistle, they grow for many seasons, they can be spread through settings as well as their roots.

Alternative Methods To Kill Weeds 

If you do not find burial effective enough to kill weeds then there are plenty of other methods to kill weeds that might be more successful. 

We've listed some alternative ways to get rid of weeds below.

Try Chemical Weed Killers 

One of the most popular ways is to use chemicals for weed control, glyphosate is a common type that kills all weeds down to the secondary root. If you have a certain type of weed then you can always use selective weed killers too.

You can either mix this weed chemical with water yourself or by a pre-made spray bottle with the chemical in, it is said to have low toxicity compared to other chemicals so is friendly to use near other plants. 


Smothering weeds in mulch can be an excellent way to stop weed growth along with complete weed burial. You can use grass clippings or bark mulch for this, it will help to block the weeds from moisture and sunlight.

Use a Flame Torch 

It sounds extreme but works well, only on seedlings, however. You don't need to burn the weeds but simply scorch them. For mature weeds with secondary roots, this method will not work because you are simply just burning the surface.

Avoid firing on dry grass otherwise, you could start a fire!

Take Them Out By Hand

We hate to say it, but sometimes manually picking weeds out of the ground is the most effective way to get rid of them. This is because you can physically be able to pull them from the root rather than just cut their head off.

Get a Hoe 

A sharp hoe is excellent for getting rid of weeds in dry weather, although you will need to sweep them up after slicing through them. It's best to use your hoe in dry weather otherwise the weeds sliced on top might sink back through the soil in water and re-grow.

Smother Them

You can also prevent weed growth by smothering them, this works in a similar way to soil them. A sheet of plastic or even carpet can work well for this since it blocks out light while drying out the ground too to prevent the weeds from getting nutrients. 

This is one of the longest ways to kill weeds and can take up to months to see results.

Go Natural 

If you are not keen on using chemical herbicide then you could try some natural methods to kill weeds, this could be by sprinkling salt, pouring boiling water, using corn gluten sprinkled on top or by using bleach/vinegar to get rid of them. 

It should be warned that these natural methods are not the most effective with a high re-growth rate. 

Unique Tips To Stop The Growth Of Weeds 

The best way to kill weeds is to prevent them from growing in the first place, there are many different practices you can implement to make your ground less desirable to weeds. 

We've listed some of our most effective tips out below. 

  • Lets grass blades are high - Keep your grass blades at around 3.5 inches in length, this shades soil underneath and helps to stop weed growth, avoid scalping grass since this shows bald patches where weeds like to grow.
  • Don't do tilling - Tilling is when you keep turning over the soil to break it up, its great for distributing nutrients, but it can bring weeds to the surface too, we recommend keeping tilling to a minimum, or if you do till put a few inches of mulching layer over the top to avoid weeds from shooting through.
  • Weed more regularly - A great way to stop weed build-up is just by simply staying on top of it! Make a schedule every month to de-weed before it gets out of control.
  • Create a weed cycle schedule - One of the best ways to control your garden weeds is by understanding the type of weeds that you have and how they grow, from then you can create a strategy to handle them.
  • Keep the lawn fertilised - Fertilisation keeps your lawn healthy and also helps the grass to become more thick and dense, this gives less space to weeds due to high-density grass and plants.
  • Apply lime - Lime is very underrated to gardeners, it is excellent for improving the PH acidity of soil helping it become more nutrient-rich and eliminate rotten weeds.
  • Water well - There should be one inch of water on your lawn per week, whether, through watering or sprinklers, this ensures a stronger root system for plants and an overall much healthier lawn, preventing weeds from taking control.
  • Use a pre-emergent - Pre-emergent herbicides are great for stopping the growth of weeds, they act on common weeds before they have a chance to start growing and spread their seeds, which is when they are harder to control.
  • Grow more plants - The more plants you have in your garden, the less space on the surface of soil there is for opportunist weeds to grow! 

Our Step By Step Guide To Killing Weeds By Covering Them With Soil & Plastic

One of the best ways to kill weeds is by suffocating them, this helps with perennial weed control and gentle weed killing. 

We've listed the best steps for doing this process below. 

  1. To start the process break up the top inches of soil with a fork, you should aim to break up at least several inches, including any bigger weeds. 
  2. Next, take off any plant material which is on the surface to make it smooth and grounded, this includes any rocks and stones too.
  3. Now water the soil till at least 12 inches of it is wet, make sure this hose runs under the plastic so as it can be watered well whenever needed.
  4. For covering the soil, you can either use a thin plastic, which is ideal since it still lets in heat or multiple sheets of plastic, the thinner the sheet, the easier it can tear, however.
  5. Use around 6-inches of soil on each corner of the sheet to make sure it is pegged solid to the ground, make sure to water under the sheet regularly as well as sweep the top of it to allow sunlight to get through and heat the soil.  
  6. Be patient, killing weeds by covering them is a long process and take 3-4 weeks before you start to see a noticeable difference, ensure you get rid of weeds around the edges of your cover to stop them from spreading.

Frequently Asked Questions About Killing Weeds By Burying Them

What are the most common kinds of garden weeds? 

Garden weeds can be split up into perennial weeds, annual weeds and biennial, the most common kinds are chickweeds, crabgrass, pigweed, lambsquarter, purslane and dandelion. 

How often do weeds come back after burial? 

Weeds do have a high recovery rate after burial if they are not buried far enough down, especially if they are a fully developed weed too. The weed has to be buried far enough down for it to die.

Should I use weed killer in flower beds? 

We would suggest using selective weed killer in flower beds rather than general weed killer, you do have to be very careful that this doesn't spread into the flowers however, we would recommend pulling them out in this scenario rather than risking it.

Why do weeds grow in groups? 

Weeds grow in groups because their seeds spread very easily, they can be spread through winds and ground contact too.

What's the best way to kill weeds?

The best foolproof way to kill weeds is with weed killer, for a more natural alternative, pulling them out by the root is better, but more time-consuming.

How far down do I have to bury weeds to kill them?

Weeds should be buried at least 4-5 inches down in the soil to suffocate them, the bigger the weed, the more soil they need.

Last Words

Overall, you can kill weeds by burying them with soil, but you need to make sure you are using enough soil to block them from light and nutrients, at least 5 inches. Seedlings die best with soil coverage, for bigger weeds you might want to use an alternative such as weed killer.

The best way to stop and kill weeds is to prevent them from growing in the first place by keeping your garden in the best condition possible, fertilising and mulching are two ways to do this.

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My father, and his father before him, and his father; for the past 3 generations, my family have always been into gardening. The green fingers is a gift passed down to me and I thoroughly enjoy it! I also have worked in the manufacturing department for Bosch and DeWalt so I like to think I know a thing or two about tools and such!
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