The Game-Changing Sugar Hack That Kills Weeds Like No Other

If you are a gardener, then you already know that the most backbreaking part of having a garden is weeding. It's for this reason that many of us gardeners will do anything possible to make the task easier in some way while still avoiding the use of dangerous chemical herbicides. This is probably why the Internet is full of weed-killer hacks, some of which work a little too well (like killing weeds with salt) and others that work but are time-consuming (like putting newspaper under your mulch). However, if you want a game-changing ingredient that can actually kill weeds like magic, then look no further than sugar.

Yes, a regular bag of granulated white sugar may be all you need to use to kill weeds in your garden and yard. This method was tested out by researchers at Charles Sturt University , who found that adding sugar to a plot of land not only killed the weeds but also helped native grasses grow. However, because sugar seems to benefit some plants while killing others, this hack may not work for all weeds. Specifically, sugar does best when used on annual plants with soft stems and broad green leaves.

How sugar kills weeds

Now that you know a little sugar can help you kill certain types of weeds, you may be wondering how such a basic kitchen ingredient can be deadly to so many plants. The answer is nitrogen. Nitrogen is an important nutrient that is naturally present in the soil and is essential for plant growth, and adding white sugar to soil is the quickest way to decrease the amount of nitrogen present. Sugar does this by causing naturally occurring microbes to eat up all the nitrogen so that it is no longer available to plants. Without enough nitrogen to thrive, your weeds will quickly shrivel and die.

However, because almost all plants (including your garden flowers and vegetables) need nitrogen, this hack should only be used in areas of your yard where you don't want any plants to grow in the future — like on garden pathways, cracks in decorative stepping stones, or at the base of your birdbath. You should avoid using sugar to kill the weeds in your vegetable garden because, if you do, you will have trouble growing anything in that area in the future and will need to fertilize the space with a nitrogen-based fertilizer before the next growing season.

How to use sugar in the garden

Luckily, if you have a particular weed that you'd like to treat with sugar, then the process couldn't be easier. Simply grab a cup of sugar and sprinkle it on the ground surrounding the offending weed. Then, all you have to do is wait. If the weed you've treated is not starting to look weaker in a few days, you can add more sugar and then repeat the process until the weed is gone. Because sugar will harm most plants, you should be careful to avoid adding sugar to the ground near any plants you don't want to kill. On the other hand, if you are killing weeds in your yard, you can go ahead and add sugar directly to your lawn because sugar is beneficial for grass and will even help give it a brighter color. 

However, before you start pouring sugar around every weed in your yard or garden, it's important to consider whether or not the plant in question is a weed that needs to go or is simply a native flower. Many plants we consider to be weeds are native plants that shouldn't be pulled because they are beneficial, both to us and the ecosystem, and may be worth keeping around to draw more pollinators and beneficial animals to your yard.