How to Kill Weeds in Sidewalks, Driveways and Patios

Controlling weeds in sidewalks, driveways and patios can be a challenging task, but with some persistence and the right techniques, you can get the upper hand. Here are some effective methods for killing weeds in these areas and keeping them at bay.

Why Weeds Grow in Sidewalks, Driveways and Patios

Weeds thrive in the cracks and crevices of sidewalks, driveways and patios for several reasons:

  • Lack of competition – Without proper landscaping, weeds have an open opportunity to establish themselves.
  • Access to sunlight – Concrete and pavement absorb heat, creating the warm conditions that weeds favor.
  • Water drainage – Sidewalks and driveways allow rainwater to flow into cracks, hydrating weed roots.
  • Limited maintenance – These areas often go untreated compared to lawn and garden beds.
  • Spread of seeds – Weeds produce thousands of tiny seeds that are easily dispersed by wind, animals, foot traffic, tires and lawn mowers.

Methods for Killing Weeds

Manual Removal

Pulling weeds by hand is an effective way to remove young weeds before they establish deep roots. Use a long screwdriver or weed popping tool to get leverage under stubborn weeds. This works best after rain has softened the soil. Remove the entire root system to prevent regrowth.

Boiling Water

Pouring boiling water directly on weeds is an eco-friendly way to kill them without chemicals. Boil water, allow to cool briefly and pour generously on weeds. Avoid pouring near desired plants. This works best on young weeds. Repeat as needed.


Spray full strength white or apple cider vinegar on weeds to help desiccate the foliage. For best results, apply on a hot sunny day. Vinegar is non-selective, so avoid spraying wanted plants. Acetic acid vinegars work better than diluted vinegars.


Table salt or rock salt can be used to dehydrate and kill weeds. Sprinkle heavily on weeds, avoiding runoff to prevent soil contamination. Salt buildup may hinder future growth, so use judiciously. Avoid spreading on lawns or desired vegetation.

Flame Weeding

Using a propane torch to apply concentrated heat will scorch and destroy weeds. Direct the flame at the base of weeds for a few seconds. This method offers precise, chemical-free weed control. Exercise extreme caution when flame weeding.

Plastic Sheeting/Tarps

Covering weeds with opaque plastic sheets or tarps blocks sunlight and causes them to die back over time. Weigh down the edges well and leave covered for at least 4-6 weeks. Avoid disturbing the area after removing the cover.

Pressure Washing

A pressure washer can help remove weeds and debris from cracks and joints. Use a fan tip and keep the pressure low to avoid damage. Pressure washing alone may not kill root systems, so you may need to use another method first.

Concrete Sealers

Applying a concrete sealer to driveways and sidewalks helps prevent weeds since it seals cracks that weeds use for access. Look for sealers labeled for weed prevention. Reapply annually. Avoid using sealers near lawns or gardens.

Prevention Tips

  • Maintain borders and edge pavers to limit weed encroachment.
  • Keep surrounding lawns healthy and mowed tall to outcompete weeds.
  • Pull weeds before they go to seed to reduce spreading.
  • Sprinkle corn gluten meal in spring to inhibit weed seeds from germinating.
  • Place gravel or mulch in common weed zones to block light.
  • Use a pre-emergent herbicide on driveways and patios in spring.
  • Sweep or blow debris from driveways and sidewalks regularly.

When to Call a Professional

For severe weed infestations, it may be worth hiring a professional landscaper to employ chemical herbicides or other industrial methods. Professionals also have access to powerful weed removal tools and protective equipment.


Controlling weeds in hardscapes takes effort, but is certainly possible without resorting to harsh chemicals. Persistence and using several methods together will provide the best control. Focus on prevention, attack weeds early and remain vigilant in keeping these areas maintained. With some diligence, you can keep sidewalks, driveways and patios free of unsightly and invasive weeds.