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How to get rid of grass from a vegetable garden

As a gardener, you need to get rid of the grass growing in your garden. Grass tends to shade out low-growing yet sun-loving vegetables like cucumber. It also takes nutrients and water away from your vegetables.

When there is too much grass, it will lower air circulation too. That can increase fungal diseases. By eliminating unwanted grass, you will also improve the viability of your garden.

You can eliminate grass from your vegetable garden in many ways. Some of these methods are simple but require patience and time.

Others are quick but need a lot of work. Regardless of the method you choose, the goal is to get rid of the weeds and allow your vegetables to grow uninterrupted.

5 ways to get rid of grass from a vegetable garden

Use any of these methods to remove grass from your garden.

1. Use Roundup weed killer

Roundup is a weed and grass killer that uses glyphosate to kill almost any plants it touches. As a non-selective herbicide, it can kill sprayed plants within days. Because of this property, only use Roundup for a vegetable garden before planting.

The herbicide is safe to use since glyphosate does not get into the soil. Instead, it breaks down after a few days or weeks of application. Before you can use the product:

  • Prepare your vegetable bed.
  • Wait until the soil temperature is at least 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spray the Roundup weed and grass killer.
  • Wait at least three days after the last application of the herbicide to unwanted grass.
  • After three days, plant your vegetables.
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Note that Roundup has many products. Therefore, check the label for recommendations on the best times to plant your vegetables after applying the herbicide.

2. Hand-pull the grass

Uprooting grass in a vegetable garden is arguably the best method to consider, especially for small farms. Despite being labor-intensive, it has many advantages.

First, it helps to prevent grass from growing since you will be pulling the weed from the roots. Secondly, it will cause minimal to no damage to neighboring vegetables, such as spinach and kales.

Hand pulling is also the cheapest way to kill grass because you do not have to use any equipment or buy some supplies.

You can make this method easier by pulling the weeds after watering the vegetables or during the rainy season. That way, the soil is moist and the whole plant will likely come out by the roots.

3. Mulching

Mulching a vegetable garden has many benefits. It helps to remove grass permanently by suppressing them. It also holds in moisture, modifies the soil temperature, and lessens the chances of specific diseases attacking your plants.

You can go for the organic mulch, which is easy to find and will not cost you a penny.

Organic mulch includes compost, stray hay, leaf mold, sawdust, grass clippings, manure, pine needles, and fruit by-products. To create mulch:

  • Add a 2-3-inch layer of your preferred mulch around the garden.
  • Avoid putting the mulch on the leaves of the vegetables or piling it around the trunk or stems.
  • Keep the compost at least one inch away from the plants.
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By applying a thick layer of mulch on garden areas, it will help to prevent the unwanted plants from reseeding or emerging a second time and eventually kill off the roots. But the layer should not be more than three inches because it will keep water from getting to the soil.

4. Use weeding tools

A grass removal tool works with a pull/push action. That helps to skim the surface of the soil and dislodge smaller weeds. You can either use short-handled or long-handled tools.

The short ones are best for working on your knees in tight or closely planted vegetable areas. The long ones allow you to stand while weeding and can cover a larger space.

If you have planted your vegetables and they have grown closer, consider using a short-handled weeding tool.

To remove weeds using the best weeding tools:

  • Soak the soil to soften it.
  • Put on your gardening gloves to protect your hands.
  • Use a cushioned kneeling pad if you decide to kneel to weed.
  • Poke the hand-weeding tool into the soil near the root of the grass to get the entire taproot if possible.
  • Pull the roots up.

After pulling the weeds, dispose of them away from the garden, and allow your vegetables to get more air circulation.

Understand that long-handled weeding tools are best for a vegetable garden overrun with grass. They allow you to move faster and cover a large area.

5. Use corn gluten meal

If you want to kill grass but not plant, consider using corn gluten meal. Corn gluten meal is a useful pre-emergent herbicide.

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It offers an excellent way of keeping weed seeds from sprouting on your garden and will not damage existing vegetables. The product is also a nitrogen fertilizer at 9%.

You can use corn gluten meal before planting vegetables to prevent weeds such as crabgrass, dandelions, quack grass, and curly dock from growing.

Also, consider applying it to your vegetable garden after removing unwanted plants using a weeding tool. Although the product is useful, it is ineffective in killing weeds that have germinated.

To apply corn gluten meal to your garden:

  • Wait until your vegetables have been established.
  • Remove any weeds from the garden using a weeding tool.
  • Spread the corn evenly onto the soil.

Note that corn gluten meal does not offer instant results. You will have to spread it several times to prevent the weeds from growing. But at the same time, you can use it as fertiliser to give your soil the much-needed nitrogen.


So, what kills grass but not vegetables? You can use several natural ways to eliminate weeds without killing your vegetables. Some of these methods include hand-pulling, using a weeding tool, and applying corn gluten meal.

Although herbicides like Roundup Weed and Grass Killer are useful, consider using them before planting your vegetables. Alternatively, buy selective herbicides that kill unwanted plants and not your veggies.

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