Why pouring boiling water over weeds is a waste of time, according to gardening pros — and what to do instead

Pouring boiling water over weeds is a big no-no for many reasons

Pouring boiling water over weeds is a bad idea. Here is a close-up shot of a backyard meadow with two white dandelion weeds, yellow flowers, and grass around it
(Image credit: Getty Images / twomeows)

Pouring boiling water over weeds — does it actually work? You've probably read about this weed-killing hack or heard from someone that it's a good way to tackle weeds when you don't want to resort to store-bought weed killers. 

But is this an effective way to get rid of weeds in your garden? We've asked gardening experts to explain whether this is the case, as well as finding out other solutions.

While the best weed killer is guaranteed to eradicate weeds in your yard, it can be a bit too effective, harming the ecosystem in the process. This is why you may be searching for a natural solution, such as boiling water.

Pouring boiling water over weeds

If you're looking for ways to kill weeds in your lawn, this will be useful to know. 

The idea is that pouring boiling water over weeds will instantly kill them, eliminating the need for time-consuming weed pulling. 

It is true that the effect of boiling water on a plant is dramatic, as you will see it wilt instantly. But spoiler alert: this won't kill the plant.

Our gardeners have suggested useful products that will work better throughout, which we have shopped wherever possible.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article. 

Can boiling water kill weeds?

An overgrown garden with flowers, weeds, and a silver watering can

(Image credit: L Feddes / Getty)

While pouring water on weeds can kill the pesky, unaesthetic tops of weeds initially, this isn’t a great long-term solution. 

“The main reason boiling water fails as a weed killer is that it cannot get to the entire root system of most weeds,” explains Robert Silver, gardening expert and CEO of Pro Gardening.

He says this is because weed roots can extend far sideways and deep into the soil —  much farther than surface water can reach. Many common weeds, like dandelions and plantain, have thick, fleshy roots, which go down six inches or more. 

Robert continues, “Boiling water can kill the tops, but because soil insulates the roots, this allows them to regrow.”

Because of this, he recommends not bothering carrying your best electric kettle or pots of boiling water into your backyard.

Why is pouring boiling water over weeds bad?

A silver bucket of weeds with yellow dandelions and a red gardening tool inside, sat on a green backyard lawn

(Image credit: DavidPrahl / Getty)

As well as this being an inefficient method, it can also harm all the beautiful plants and flowers you want to preserve.

“Since weeds tend to be near other plants, this method ends up often not being worth it, because it’s difficult to accomplish without damaging the plants you want to keep,” explains Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of LawnLove.

This is why you should steer clear of pouring boiling water over weeds, and instead go for more targeted methods.

What to do instead of pouring boiling water over weeds

Instead of wasting your time with hot water, there are plenty of natural weed killing methods you can use to get rid of them. These are Robert’s top tips:

  • Hand pulling: Get as much of the root system as possible, especially after rain when the soil is looser.
  • Hoeing and tilling: Slice off weeds below the soil on a hot, dry day. This can discourage many from re-growing.
  • Mulching: A thick mulch layer blocks all light and air from germinating weed seeds.
  • Horticultural vinegar products: A great natural method is killing weeds with vinegar. These should be 20% acetic acid or higher to kill existing weeds. For example, the Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed on Amazon has over 8,000 five-star reviews.

What to buy to kill weeds

If you want to make your life super easy and grab everything you need to remove weeds in one fell-swoop, we've got you covered with a range of helpful products.

Making sure not to pour boiling water over weeds and instead use manual labor and natural products will ensure you can get rid of them without using any nasty chemicals.

Once you’ve removed weeds, you can then move on to learning how to properly mow a lawn, so your backyard looks truly green and gorgeous.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.

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