If you have lots of space to cover, weeding can be tedious, time-consuming work, not to mention how hard it can be on your back and knees. There’s a fun tool you can try to banish weeds, though, and it’s actually fun and fast to use: a weed burner.
If you don’t have lots of space around the area you’re clearing, access to water, and a plan to contain sparks, you shouldn’t use this method. Using a torch on weeds means working with an open flame, and while the goal obviously isn’t to cause an actual open fire, it’s easy enough to accidentally spark a blaze. If it’s dry, windy, or if there are trees or structures close by, you’ll have to use more traditional methods to keep weeds at bay.
How a weed burner works
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While the name “weed dragon” might evoke images of large, shooting flames, a weed torch shouldn’t have too much of a throw. The trick is in the specific targeting of the weeds with extreme heat. Rather than burning the weeds up, the flame is meant to expose the weeds you’re trying to kill to extreme heat, causing the cell walls in the plant to rupture and die. This will cause even tenacious weeds to wither within a few hours or days of being torched.
Why you should try a weed burner
Not only do you kill the living weeds that are targeted, but also their seeds, making the method last longer than some other methods. The other upside to flame-powered weed control is that there won’t be any lasting effects to the soil or surface around where you burn—replanting can happen as soon as the ground cools to the touch. Also, the decaying weeds will turn into excellent fertilizer if you turn them under the soil when you replace them with whatever you decide to plant in their place.
How to burn weeds with a torch
Using a weed torch is pretty straightforward—it’s essentially a point-and-shoot tool once it’s sparked. The flame is on a torch with a long handle, so you can target the fire fairly accurately. (Still, of course, it’s important to keep an eye out for fire and stay away from flammable objects.)
Burning your weeds is similar to watering with a watering wand. Make slow, sweeping motions, touching as much of the surface as you can with the flame. Using either a large, grill-size propane tank or a 1.4 oz fuel canister to make your flame, the torch will light with a flint or match and burn as long as the propane lasts. Depending on the size of the flame, you’ll get between 45 minutes to two hours of use from one 20-pound tank of propane.
Don’t forget the roots
When aiming at your weeds, make sure to aim low to hot the roots. While killing the vegetation is a fun, satisfying part of weed burning, you need to kill the whole plant or the leaves will likely sprout right back where they were before. Making sure to hit all the parts, especially with fast-spreading plants will make your weeding efforts last longer.