Skip to content
Shop Our Deals Of The Month - Big Savings
How Long Does it Take for Weed Killer to Work?

How Long Does it Take for Weed Killer to Work?

Weeds can quickly turn a lush yard into a messy, unkempt space. The faster you take action, the sooner you can restore your yard to a beautiful sanctuary. But even after you apply an herbicide, there will be a bit of a waiting period before you see results.

So, how long does it take for weed killer to work? As with most things in life, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Your timeline for weed removal is dictated by the type of herbicide you apply (and the conditions you’re applying it in), the weed species, and its growth stage.

Generally, though, a reliable weed killer starts to show the first signs that its magic is working within a few days to a couple of weeks after application. We’ll talk about this timeline more in-depth below while sharing tips on speeding things up and getting your yard back to its full potential.

The best advice we can offer is to invest in a strong weed killer like the one we have here at Jennychem. You’ll set yourself up for success ensuring not only rapid remedy of the problem, but peace of mind knowing those pesky weeds won’t return! 

Factors Influencing How Long for Weed Killer to Work

Understanding the variables influencing how long it takes weed killer to work will help you set your expectations so you aren’t sitting around frustrated at the results - or perhaps lack thereof. So, let’s start by unpacking each of these factors below.

Type of Herbicide Used

The most obvious determinant of how long for weed killer to work is the specific product you employ. There are a number of things to consider here, from the type of herbicide (selective vs non-selective) and the active ingredients within your unique herbicide.

Selective herbicides target specific weed species without harming the surrounding vegetation. They’re perfect in lawns and gardens where you want to eliminate weeds without damaging desired plants, be it your grass itself or a garden. 

The effectiveness of selective herbicides depends on the weed species they are formulated to control. For example, herbicides that target broadleaf weeds like dandelions or clover may not be effective against grassy weeds such as crabgrass.

Non-selective herbicides, on the other hand, kill just about any plant species they come into contact with. These versatile solutions are relied on in areas where complete vegetation removal is desired, such as on driveways, paths, or between paving stones. 

Non-selective herbicides are generally faster-acting because of their broad-spectrum approach to killing vegetation. They’re more of a “scorched earth” approval to weed removal, so just be aware of the implications associated with these products.

Beyond this categorization, you can also choose between three different modes of action in a weed killer, which influences how they kill weeds:

  • Contact Herbicides: These can show results within hours or days. They kill the parts of the weed they come into contact with, making them ideal for annual weeds with less extensive root systems. However, they may not be effective against perennial weeds with deep roots or underground storage organs.
  • Systemic Herbicides: These are absorbed by the weed and transported throughout its tissues, including the roots. While these work a bit slower, usually showing signs of success between 1 to 3 weeks, they are more thorough, often leading to the complete death of the weed.
  • Residual Herbicides: These linger in the soil and prevent the germination or growth of weeds. The effect can be observed as long as the chemical remains active in the soil, which could be weeks to months, depending on the product. This is important if you plan to replant at the site of application.

No matter which herbicide style you choose, take your time to research the specific weed species you’re facing and choose a product with active ingredients tailored to that species. We’ll offer specific timelines for each type shortly. Speaking of weed species, though…

Weed Species 

There are a wide variety of weed species, some of which can be eradicated quickly and others that will necessitate a more patient approach. 

For example, perennial weeds with extensive root systems (like dandelions or bindweed) may require a more potent or systemic herbicide that targets the entire plant, including its roots. Thus, you’ll have to wait a bit longer for the active ingredients to work their way down to the roots.

In contrast, annual weeds which complete their life cycle in one year, might be controlled more quickly and with less potent herbicides. You can typically use an herbicide that kills on contact, and you may see the weeds begin withering in the first 24 hours!

Growth Stage

The stage of growth your weeds are in at the time of application also affects the herbicide's efficiency - and efficacy, for that matter. Applying weed killer when weeds are actively growing and in their early stages of development typically yields quicker and more effective results. This is why we say you need to act fast.

Mature weeds, especially those that are flowering or seeding, are often more resistant to herbicidal effects. Not only does this mean higher doses are necessary, but you may even need to go through repeated applications.

Application Conditions

The final consideration is the conditions in which you’re applying the weed killer. There are quite a few moving pieces here, such as:

  • Weather: Herbicides are most effective when applied in dry, calm weather. Rain shortly after application can wash the herbicide off the plants, reducing its effectiveness and essentially wasting your money. Similarly, windy conditions can lead to drift and damage to non-target plants. It also puts you, the applicant, at risk of inhaling the product or getting it on your skin. 
  • Soil Conditions: Soil moisture and pH can influence the effectiveness of certain herbicides. For example, some active ingredients require moist soil conditions to be absorbed properly by the weed roots. If you apply in dry soil, you may need to wait a bit longer to see results.
  • Time of Day: Applying herbicides during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late afternoon, can enhance their uptake and effectiveness, as many plants are more receptive to absorption during these times.

How Long Does it Take for Weed Killer to Work?

Understanding the factors above and how they interact with the type of herbicide means you can set yourself up for success in applying your own weed killer, maintaining realistic expectations along the way. 

So, how long does it take for weed killer to work? If you’re dealing with a relatively new outbreak and use a contact herbicide, results can take place in as little as a few hours to a day or two at most. But if you have an established root system, it could take up with a couple weeks.

Now, if you’re using a more organic, natural solution rather than an herbicide you may have an entirely different timeline. For example, how long does it take for salt to kill weeds? A quality de icer salt can eliminate your weed problem in as little as a few days to a couple weeks. 

The point is, there are so many possible timelines that the only way to know with certainty how long for weed killer to work is to get started today and watch for these signs:

  • Discoloration: One of the first visible signs of effective weed control is a change in color. Weeds will often turn yellow, brown, or black as they die, indicating that the herbicide is working.
  • Wilting: Affected weeds will begin to wilt or droop as the herbicide disrupts their internal water and nutrient transport systems.
  • Leaf Drop: Particularly with systemic herbicides, you may notice the leaves of the treated weeds falling off as the entire plant starts to die back.
  • Reduction in Growth: A noticeable slowdown in the growth rate of the weed is a sign that the herbicide is affecting its ability to function and reproduce.

Tips on Killing Your Weeds Faster (and Preventing Them From Coming Back!)

We know you want to learn not just how long it will take for weed killer to work - you want to know how to kill weeds permanently. So, let’s leave you with a few parting tips below to help you set out on the right foot!

Choosing the Right Weed Killer

First things first, consider the type of weeds (annual or perennial), their growth stage, and the surrounding vegetation. Remember that a selective herbicide is ideal for targeted weed control in gardens or lawns. In contrast, non-selective herbicides are suitable for areas where complete vegetation removal is desired. 

The choice of herbicide also depends on the desired speed of action and whether residual weed control is necessary. For fresh weeds, contact herbicides may be just fine. 

For others, you may need to just accept the reality of the situation and take a more comprehensive approach to a systemic/residual herbicide. Because at the end of the day, you’re not just trying to kill your weeds - you need to prevent them from coming back

This is why a systemic solution may be your best bet even if you aren’t certain you need it. At least you won’t have to worry about reapplying the product!

But no matter what you’re looking for, you can rest assured Jennychem has the weed killer you need. Our Weedex Super Total Weed Killer is a versatile solution deisgned to tackle everything from common garden weeds to tough invaders like Japanese knotweed and ivy. 

It’s a systemic herbicide that works from the inside out, leading to total eradication down to the root. It’s been the herbicide of choice for more than 10,000 gardeners, you can count on it too!

Enhancing Herbicide Effectiveness

Proper application will go a long way in boosting the efficiency of your weed killer. Apply during optimal weather conditions - cool, calm, and without imminent rain - to ensure the herbicide adheres well and is absorbed by the weeds. 

If the ground isn’t damp already, consider wetting it slightly beforehand to make sure the application sticks. Using adjuvants can also improve the uptake of the herbicide, especially in hard-to-control species.

Long-Term Weed Management Strategies

Effective long-term weed management combines physical, cultural, and chemical methods. Staying alert for new growth and taking swift action will prevent weeds from becoming established or re-emerging. 

You should also cultivate healthy soil and maintain competitive plantings that naturally suppress weed growth if possible. 

Integrating mechanical controls like mulching or hoeing with judicious use of herbicides will make sure your weed problem isn’t just under control for now - it’s solved for good.

Closing Thoughts on How Long for Weed Killer to Work

That concludes our guide on how long for weed killer to work. An understanding of the timeline means you can set your expectations accordingly and know what to watch for to determine if the steps you’ve taken are actually working.

Don’t forget that the key to rapid, permanent weed removal lies in selecting the right herbicide for your specific weed problem based on factors like weed type, growth stage, and application conditions.

So, to set yourself up for quick success and put this little weed problem in the past once and for all, head over to Jennychem and enlist the help of Weedex

This systemic weed killer has thousands of 5-star reviews to back up its ability, so you can rest assured you’re investing in a tried-and-true solution. Take the first step towards restoring your yard’s beauty and practicality today!

Previous article What is the Best Car Polish in the UK?
Next article What is the Strongest Weed Killer You Can Buy in the UK or Find Around the House?