Will Diesel Kill Weeds and Grass?


Many people take pride in their yards and gardens and look for ways to kill weeds and unwanted grass. Weeds can be a challenge each year. Before starting a garden at my new home, I wanted to research how to best prepare my soil by killing the weeds and grass in that area, and I knew diesel fuel is highly recommended.

Will diesel kill weeds and grass? Diesel fuel is toxic to all plant material and will kill the weeds and grass it comes in contact with along with other plants it comes in contact with. Diesel will not kill the seeds making this a non-permanent solution. You will need to repeat this process continuously. Because of this, you might consider other non-toxic, more effective methods to kill your weeds and grass.

A proper and simple procedure using diesel fuel will take care of your area, while other non-toxic options are available. There are several homemade recipes to tackle your unwanted area. There are many options to consider, and you need to know exactly what you want to kill so you don’t ruin your whole yard.  

Killing Your Weeds and Grass With Diesel

What You Will Need

Preparing to Spray

Fill 1-2 gallons of diesel fuel from your local gas station into gasoline jugs. Use a funnel to pour the diesel into the spray bottle. Try to do this in your garage or tool shed so you don’t spill the diesel and kill plants you want to keep.

Spraying Diesel

Spray the diesel fuel directly into the roots of the grass and make sure you spray directly on the weeds and unwanted grass. It does not take much, and any that runs away will kill other plants in the area. Spray until the grass and roots are wet, no need for dripping wet.

Diesel Warning

Killing your weeds and grass with diesel can be harmful to your yard and the environment. Spray early in the morning with no chance of rain or wind for at least 48 hours, especially since diesel is a fire hazard. Do not store diesel in the spray bottle but return it to the gasoline jug when done spraying in a cool, dry place where it can’t spill. Make sure you label your spray bottle so as not to use it for something else.

If you have well water, we recommend not using gasoline as it soaks into the soil and can get into your water.

Also, vapors from toxic fumes can cause problems, so some folks even recommend wearing a mask and gloves when handling the diesel. Keep animals and children off the area after spraying diesel.

Removing Dead Weeds and Grass

Once the grass and weeds are dead, remove them with a shovel along with one inch of soil below.  This will stop growth in that area for at least a season. If you spilled any diesel on an unwanted area, remove at least the top four inches of soil before you plant again in that area. Because diesel is toxic to all plant material, it will stop growing in that area for at least a season.

Related Questions

How to Kill the Seeds

To prevent the seeds from weeds underground from returning, there are several options

  • Pull obvious weeds, then apply cardboard or newspaper to the area, followed by 1 inch of thick mulch. This will insulate the ground to kill the seeds and will take 1 year to accomplish.
  • Place clear plastic stretched tight over the perfectly prepared area for the entire summer to kill the weed seeds. This is referred to as soil solarization.
  • A flame weeder is a handheld, propane-powered garden torch. Recommended using on a hot, dry day. First, incinerate the tops, then run flame up and down the sides of the plants. You’ll be able to remove the weeds, killing the seeds so that they don’t return the following year.
  • According to weed Scientist Michael Walsh, “narrow windrow burning is cheap, easy to use, and if implemented correctly, there will be 99.9% control of weed seeds.”
  • Proper lawn care preventing weeds
  • Mow higher, shading the soil so making it difficult for weeds to grow
  • Water deeply and infrequently so so lawn roots grow thick and crowd out weeds

Will diesel permanently kill weeds and grass?

While diesel will kill your weeds and grass, it is not permanent. Weeds and grass will likely come again in your area next season. Plants are affected differently from diesel and vary on when they return.

Are there other non-toxic options for killing weeds and grass?

Keeping grass long forces weed seeds to work their way into the ground and pulling the weeds with a bucket are two ways to get rid of your weeds but not long-lasting or time effective. Homemade weed killer recipes are cheaper and non-toxic to people and animals. Determine what you are trying to kill and find out what kills that plant or weed. There are several easy recipes with natural ingredients found in your home.

  • A gallon of vinegar, one cup of salt (or borax), and a tablespoon of dish soap.
  • Newspaper or cardboard with mulch on top.
  • Boiling water – definitely not permanent but cheap and easy you can do over and over.
  • Lemon juice (mixed with acidic vinegar makes it even more potent).
  • White vinegar and dishwashing liquid also make the area able for you to replant. Vinegar does not harm the soil, and you’ll be able to replant once the weeds have died in a couple of hours. Adding table salt to the mixture will make it more of a permanent fix. After several applications, the salt sterilizes the soil, but be sure before doing this if you want to replant in that area.

Are There Store-Bought Effective Products For Killing Grass and Weeds?

There are many products you can purchase to kill your weeds, but they can get expensive.  The product you buy depends on the type of weed or plant you’re trying to kill as well as your environment. If you are treating weeds in an area you plan to keep like your garden, use a controlled weed killer specifically used for lawn care.

Each product provides various support, so be careful to read instructions concerning where (garden, driveway cracks, huge yard, crops), what (garden, type of weed, grass), and when (early spring, late summer, dry weather) you are spraying.

The most effective way to kill weeds is to prevent them from growing in the first place and kill the ones that do come up to the root. 

Non-organic Weed Killing

Round-Up is rainproof in ten minutes, and you will see visible results within three hours. Round up comes with a sprayer wand to target your garden but can also be used on driveways and sidewalks.

Another store product Compare-n-Save will kill weeds and grass and is rainproof in two hours and visible results within 2 days. It is also safe for pets one hour after you spray it.

Organic Weed Killing

Here are some methods to kill weeds that organic gardeners use:

  • Mulching
  • crowding (weeds can’t grow where there is no space for them),
  • limit tilling and digging (so not to disrupt the soil),
  • solarizing
  • fertilizing only what you need so weeds don’t get needed nutrients,
  • boiling water

There are also many organic weed killers. Here are two we recommend: 

  • The Green Gobbler is a natural and organic weed and grass killer product that is pet safe. It is effective within hours and on several different kinds of weeds, including dandelion and clover. 
  • Another organic weed killer that is child and pet-friendly, and only have to apply twice a year is Espoma.

Final Thoughts

When killing your weeds and grass, know where and what you want to get rid of. And make sure to read your labels of anything you use to treat your grass and weeds. Now get outside, spray that diesel, and watch your weeds wither up and die.

Eyerly Family

The Eyerly Family is a family of 8 that loves gardening. Over the past several years we have been applying what we learn about gardening to our own 16x16 raised back yard garden. Our garden is very prolific and we grow a wide variety of vegetables which we love to eat! Click here to learn more about the Eyerly Family.

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