Flame Weeding: Organic Weed Killing for Badasses

Committed garden stairs

The ongoing saga of our yard is this: it’s big, it’s overgrown, and it’s overwhelming.

We paid mucho dinero to have the yard weeded and trimmed back, and true to form, six weeks later, that work was completely undone. It’s not that the area is that large, it’s just a lot of varied spaces, a challenge to access, and rife with invasive, aggressive species. Since I didn’t want to pay basically RENT to have someone do this job every month, I turned to the internet for ideas.

Committed garden stairs
Watch it bring you to your knees, knees.

Luckily, my friends are smart. They referred me to Seattle Tilth. They offer a great service: garden consultations to identify plants, generate a plan, and help figure out organic solutions to turn your garden into something sustainable. To me, “Sustainable” doesn’t just mean organic, it means something that I can actually take care of with reasonable effort.

Many of the ideas she gave me were great, especially flame weeding. It’s exactly how it sounds: kill weeds with FIRE! Yeah!Here’s how it works:

  • Expose plants to flame until they wilt
  • Give ’em an hour and watch them die back
  • The flame kills the leaves, ruins the roots, and kills off any seeds so they can’t regerminate (unlike pulling weeds)
  • Wait a few days and flame again, burning off the dead plants and leaving a CLEAN area!

I’d never heard of this, but I loved the idea immediately. No backbreaking, finger-wrecking weed pulling? It keeps those weeds DEAD? AND THEIR BABIES? There are no chemicals involved? Dude, I was sold.

What you need:

  • Red Dragon Flame Weeder on Amazon
  • Watch this video to see the proper technique
  • Your BBQ propane tank
  • A hand truck or special backpack to move the tank around (optional, I used my husband to move the tank)
  • Gloves, goggles, safety equipment
  • A partner to man the hose and be there for safety backup
  • A walkway, driveway, bricks, or other nonflammable area overgrown with weeds
Flame weeding in action
Take safety precautions, and keep flame away from buildings.
Wilted weeds from flame weeding.
Flame weeding isn’t burning, it’s wilting.
Your efforts pay off within an hour!

You can see that things start to wilt right away! So much better than trying to dig out all that grass and crap, right?

I waited a week and then went over it again to kill anything I missed and to burn off any dead weeds.

Flame weeding works!
The result! So much better than pulling weeds or spraying chemicals!

So here’s where you can see the real results:






Committed-FlameWeeding6 Committed-FlameWeeding7 Committed-FlameWeeding8

Sadly, I didn’t get a shot of the final-final, but you can tell, the weeds are basically gone between the steps. Now, isn’t that better than getting down on hands and knees, digging between stones, and pulling out all that crap, knowing it’ll just be back in a few weeks?

So give it a try! What other tricks do you use to tame your jungle?

12 thoughts on “Flame Weeding: Organic Weed Killing for Badasses

  1. That IS a bad ass way to attack weeds! I don’t think I would trust myself or my husband with a giant blowtorch near our wood deck though! haha I usually use straight white vinegar for similar results. You pour on in the exact spots you want to kill and everything the vinegar touches dies. It’s environmentally friendly too. 🙂

    1. I like the vinegar idea too! I almost tried a spray with Dawn/vinegar/salt, but the area was pretty large for such a venture.
      I felt pretty safe about it because we weren’t near any decks or buildings that we could burn down!

  2. We have a rabbit so would never use chemicals in our yard. I’ve heard that boiling water does the same thing. Great if you don’t have access to a badass flame thrower.

    1. I haven’t tried boiling water! To be honest, the flame weeding lasted about 6 months, which is pretty good! But they’re back, and due for another round of decimation. Since it’s pretty hot and dry here right now, the boiling water might be a safer alternative!

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