What Is Flame Weeding: Information On Flame Weeding In Gardens

By: Jackie Carroll

If the idea of weeding using a flame thrower makes you uneasy, it’s time to find out more about using heat to kill weeds. Flame weeding is safe when you use the equipment properly. In fact, in many cases, it’s safer than using harsh chemicals that can contaminate groundwater and leave toxic residue on your garden vegetables. Read on to learn how to use flame weeders and when flame weeding is suitable.

What is Flame Weeding?

Flame weeding entails passing a flame over a weed briefly to heat the plant tissues just enough to kill them. The goal is not to burn up the weed, but to destroy plant tissue so that the weed dies. Flame weeding kills the above ground portion of the weed, but it doesn’t kill the roots.

Flame weeding kills some annual weeds for good, but perennial weeds often regrow from the roots left in the soil. Perennial weeds require several treatments at two- to three-week intervals. As with any weeding method, if you kill back the tops often enough, the weeds eventually give up and die.

The problem with flame weeding in gardens is that it’s hard to expose the weeds to the flame without exposing your plants as well. In vegetable gardens, use a flame weeder to kill weeds that emerge after you sow seeds, but before the seedlings emerge. You can also use it to kill weeds between rows.

How to Use Flame Weeders

A flame weeder setup consists of a wand connected to a propane tank by a hose. You’ll also need a dolly to carry the propane tank, and a flint igniter to light the flame if the wand doesn’t have an electronic starter. Read the instruction manual completely before using a flame weeder.

Weeds only need a 1/10 second exposure to the flame, so pass the flame slowly over the weed. If you are weeding rows in a vegetable garden or along a fence line or drainage ditch, walk slowly (about 1 or 2 miles per hour)(2 km per hour) along the area you want to flame. Be careful to keep the flame away from the hose that connects the propane tank to the wand.

Once you have passed the flame over the weed, the leaf surface changes from glossy to dull. If you are concerned that the weeds aren’t dead, allow them to cool and then squeeze a leaf between your thumb and finger. If you can see a thumbprint in the leaf, the flaming was successful.

When is Flame Weeding Suitable?

Flame weeding works best on annual weeds that are 1 to 2 inches (3-5 cm.) high. Use flame weeders to kill weeds that grow around garden barriers and fences. They excel at killing weeds in sidewalk cracks, and you can even use them to kill stubborn, broadleaf weeds in lawns because mature lawn grass blades are protected by a sheath. Once you have a flame weeder, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.

You’ll need to take a few safety precautions. Don’t weed during dry spells, and keep the flame away from dead or brown material that might ignite. Some areas have bans on flame weeders, so check with your local fire department before investing in the equipment.

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Flame weeding–a great replacement for herbicides!

Have pesky weeds in your patio or sidewalk cracks? Want to control weeds in mulched beds without herbicides? Try flame weeding, for an effective, chemical-free approach to weed control!

Before skipping to the great video below, read these few tidbits about flame weeding.

–Flame weeding is most effective on annual plants, but repeat treatment may be needed on perennial weeds that could resprout from deep roots.

–Flame weeding can be done in the rain, or right before, or after a rain–when herbicides cannot be used! If you are a landscaping company, this will extend the services you can provide to customers on rainy days. Flame weeding is safest when the ground is moist, but also can be more effective on perennial weeds, but hot steam can travel deeper into weeds with tap roots.

–Wear leather gloves, leather shoes, and long pants.

–Keep a shovel, bucket of water, or fire extinguiser handy, in case dry material catches fire. You can tamp it out with the shovel or stop any fire spreading with the water. Never flame weed on windy days.

–If you plan to start flame weeding, watch this excellent video of how-to’s. It’s well worth 7 minutes of your day! (BTW, there are other flame weeders like the Green Dragon, Mini Dragon, or Flame King that use less propane than the one in the video)

2 comments on " Flame weeding–a great replacement for herbicides! "

Flame weeding is not ideal, although it can be effective in certain areas, but it is not an equal replacement to the exceptional herbicides that are available and still legal to use in areas where flaming would be used. Herbicides, when used according to to the label, are safer, les expensive and more effective than flaming.

When it comes to controlling weeds in lawns, there are no effective and selective methods for controlling most in lawns.
Right now, there are mass outbreaks of Japanese stiltgrass, crabgrass, nutsedge, spotted-spurge and many other weeds, in lawns. And there are no good solutions for controlling those weeds selectively, in Greater Montgomery County, MD.

There is also mass disregard for Bill 52-14, and homeowners all over the County are purchasing and applying herbicides to their lawns. These people have no training or expertise in using these products. But since they cannot hire a professional applicator to apply these pesticides, they are doing it themselves – this is widespread, and predictable.

So lots of pesticides are being applied by amateurs and they are not keeping records or being held to any standard – unlike their professional counterparts.

Bill 52-14 is a failure and it is doing far more harm than good.

Let’s fix 52-14 by putting in some commonsense and promoting safe use of pesticides by professional applicators.

Flaming weeds is not the answer.

Thank you for your comments, Eric. The article promotes flame weeding in areas where certain pesticides are not banned, like garden beds and sidewalk cracks, not in lawns. Flame weeding is a fantastic alternative for those seeking to eliminate pesticides in order to protect pets, pollinators, honey bee colonies, children, neighbors, and the environment. It also is much faster and less labor instensive than pulling weeds from cracks, and can be used before, during, or after a rain, when pesticides cannot be used, extending the ability for any landscaper to work during wet periods without requiring licensed laborers.

Johnny's Carrot-Growing Guide

Carrots are among the most universally grown, if not the best loved of vegetables. Because of their broad appeal — radiant colors, diverse shapes and sizes, culinary versatility, and nutritional value — demand for carrots will always be strong. Horticulturally, though, they can be particular, and even seasoned growers find them exacting in their requirements. Because demand is reliably strong, however, mastering carrot culture can be well worth a grower's while.

Johnny's carrot experts have developed this guide in response to the frequent requests for carrot-growing advice we receive. If you're looking for "Just the facts, ma'am," see our Carrot Key Growing Information. If you need more detail, begin with these four elements: Bed Preparation, Spacing, Weeding, and Watering. If you get these right, you will be off to a solid start.

Additional aspects of carrot culture that we cover include Carrot Season Extension Harvesting and Post-Harvest Handling Pests and Diseases and How to Grow Colored Carrots. But first, the four elements…

Carrots like consistency: They grow best with no wide swings in temperature or moisture. They grow straightest and smoothest in deep, loose, fertile sandy loams and peat soils, with good water-retention capacity to keep moisture levels even.

To the extent a grower can influence the environment, these favorable conditions are most effectively achieved through correct bed preparation and spacing, and timely weeding and watering.


Carrots prefer well-drained, deeply-worked soil: preferably to an 18" depth for the longer varieties, though a shallower depth may suffice for shorter varieties. Heavier soils are okay for half-long or round types. (See Schematic of Carrot Types.)

Deeply-worked soil minimizes the resistance encountered by the growing carrot roots as they elongate. Resistance can lead to misshapen roots. While interesting to look at, forked, stunted, or twisted carrots are more prone to damage during harvest are less easily handled, transported, and stored post harvest and generally don't sell as well as smooth, evenly proportioned carrots.

For information on effective tools for carrot bed preparation, see our Guide to Small-Scale Bed Preparation Tools and Eliot Coleman's 6-Step Bed Preparation Method.


Here are the guidelines we suggest for spacing your carrot rows:

  • Allow for at least 12" between rows 18" is ideal.
  • Spacing depends upon the variety grown and its top height. Smaller-rooted or smaller-top varieties, such as 'Atlas' (Parisian Market type), 'Caracas,' or 'Adelaide,' can be packed in a little more closely than some of the larger Nantes and Imperator types. (See the Carrot Key Growing Info or packet back for more sowing specifics.)
  • Spacing needs are also dictated by the width of the cultivation equipment being used.
  • Consider planting pelleted seeds with a precision seeder to achieve neat, accurately spaced carrot rows and minimize labor and waste. (See below for more about Pelleted Carrot Seed.)


A range of methods and tools can be used to weed and cultivate your carrot beds: flame-weeding, cultivator tractor attachments, wheel-hoes, and various long- and short-handled weeders and cultivators. They all have their effective applications.

To be most successful, carrots do require that a precise approach be taken to timing your weeding efforts. To minimize labor and maximize results, weeding and cultivating the carrot planting should take place several times — at least 3, and preferably 4 times — during the growing season. Time your weeding efforts as follows:


  • Before planting your carrots, weeding or tilling in the weeds several times is ideal.
  • We also recommend flame-weeding just before seeding, or just before the carrot seeds germinate.
  • One of the most successful pre-emergence timing strategies, particularly for organic growers, involves placing a sheet of Plexiglass over the first few feet of a seeding, then checking it daily. As soon as you notice the carrots begin to germinate beneath the Plexiglass, it's time to flame weed, because the rest of the stand will begin emerging in 2–3 days.


  • If you are not using precision pelleted seeds, and thinning is thus required, the first post-emergence weeding should be carried out as soon as the carrot cotyledons emerge from the soil. This gives the seedlings the upper hand, because their growth will be ahead of any ensuing weeds'.
  • The second post-emergence weeding/cultivation should take place when the seedlings reach roughly 3–4" in height.
  • The third post-emergence weeding/cultivation should occur when the seedlings are 5–6" in height.
  • And, finally, a fourth time is recommended when the seedlings reach 7–8" in height.


The development of a healthy carrot crop requires moisture in sufficient quantities at the correct times throughout the growth cycle: not too dry, not too wet. Here are the specifics.


  • In the beginning, from sowing to emergence of the cotyledons, low volumes of water should be supplied frequently. Keep in mind that if the soil dries up and a crust forms, seedlings will have a difficult time emerging, and stands will be compromised. To reduce germination issues if a crust does form, your next best step is to make sure the soil surface stays moist, to help mitigate the effect of the crust.


  • As the carrot tops begin to develop more leaves, adequate soil moisture should be maintained, but with less frequency and less volume than during the first growth stages mentioned previously. By this time the small plants are established, and the reduction in frequency and volume induces the roots to grow longer.
  • Towards the end of the lifecycle as roots are increasing in size, watering should be less frequent but with greater volume.

Drought stress during the first few weeks of carrot plant development can be very detrimental, as is the case with many crops. Germination rates can be reduced and the plants will not get off to a healthy start. Drought stress during carrot root development can often lead to underdeveloped roots that take longer to mature. For small, rounded, Paris Market-type carrots such as 'Atlas', insufficient soil moisture will lead to elongated roots by forcing the roots to "reach" for available moisture deeper in the ground.

Too much soil moisture can likewise have a negative impact. Excessive watering can lead to forked roots, especially when this occurs during the first few weeks after seeding. Excessive soil moisture from over-irrigating or heavy rainfall will often cause growth cracks in carrots. Wide fluctuations, too, in moisture can cause cracking. Excessive moisture in the soil and/or on leaves can also create environmental conditions conducive to certain diseases.

Depending on your location and experience level, providing optimal growing conditions for your carrots can be more difficult to achieve than it is for other roots and tubers, such as potatoes or onions. Like these other vegetable standards, however, there is a steady, year-round demand for carrots. When provided their basic cultural requirements — a properly prepared growing bed, appropriate spacing, and timely weeding and watering — carrots will reward the extra time and attention they are given with their flavor, versatility, and marketability. We encourage you to use the guidelines here to establish generally favorable conditions, then optimize to grow the finest carrots possible in your region.

How do you use a flame weeder?

Read full answer here. Also question is, how do you kill weeds with flames?


  1. Sweep the area free of debris, particularly loose combustible materials.
  2. Light the torch and walk slowly in the area to be weeded, passing the flame along the weeds.
  3. Apply the torch to the root or leaves of the weeds, which will cause the moisture within the weed to instantly evaporate, causing the weed to die.

Similarly, how do you use a weeder? With your other hand, sink the tines of the hand weeder into the soil at a 45-degree angle about 3 inches (7.5 cm.) away from the base of the plant. Next, push the handle of the hand weeder straight down toward the ground – the length of the tool should be acting as a lever to lift the weed's roots out of the ground.

Moreover, what is the proper way to burn weeds?


  1. Before torching weeds, contact the fire department to ask if the weather conditions in your area are suitable for burning weeds.
  2. Hold a spade between weeds and desirable plants to protect them from the flame.
  3. Do not disturb the soil as you torch, as this can bring weed seeds to the top and promote germination.

Does flame weeding kill roots?

The goal is not to burn up the weed, but to destroy plant tissue so that the weed dies. Flame weeding kills the above ground portion of the weed, but it doesn't kill the roots. Flame weeding kills some annual weeds for good, but perennial weeds often regrow from the roots left in the soil.

Killing Weeds Between Interlocking Bricks

The best methods for killing weeds growing between interlocking bricks in your patio or driveway are to pressure wash the weeds away, kill them with flame weeding, remove them by hand, or spray them with a long-lasting herbicide. Methods such as vinegar spray, baking soda, and salt are not recommended. Vinegar and baking soda don’t kill weeds to the root and salt may poison the nearby ground, killing grass or garden plants.

Once you have removed the weeds from your interlocking bricks, apply polymeric sand, an outdoor sealant, or both. These measures will keep your brick-paved outdoor spaces free of weeds for years to come.

Flame Weeding

posted 8 years ago

  • I'm curious to hear people's take on using a propane torch as a method of weeding. The benefits and downsides I'd imagine are:

    Possible Benefits
    - Less soil disturbance than pulling
    - Fast, Easy and Fun.
    - Leaving the vegetation to crumble in place with goal being to boil the water in the leaves, not burn the plants.
    - Ability to be selective, at least more so than a weed wacker or scythe.

    Possible Downsides
    - Cost and Dependence on Fuels. Unless one made their own gas.
    - Heat damage to soil or insects?
    - Risk of fire. It's suggested to have a hose and extinguisher nearby.
    - Bylaw issues in urban setting

    I haven't bought one yet, but they seem to make sense from my perspective as I struggled to make the list of downsides. I'd like to use it to control grasses and for selective weeding in my garden/row area. Would the flame weeding maintain the benefits chopping and dropping the weeds on the spot, as the leaves become brittle and disintegrate? Perennial grasses and tenaciously rooted plants would need repeated flaming to eliminate them, but this could be useful in the cause to cause disturbance and root shedding.

    posted 8 years ago

  • I've used a Red Dragon with a 20 pound tank and the tank dolly. I found it to be cumbersome and clumsy to the point that I concluded it was a terrible waste of time and money.
    I was trying to knock down high weeds and grass on sloped rocky ground along the edge of a plowed field. Rocks cleared from the field had been tossed to the edge making it impossible to use a tractor or tiller-the rocks would easily break tines. The plow had left a raised ridge on the uphill side of the field. Even if I had not piled up the rocks, using a tiller would have been precarious due to the uneven ground. The project area was several feet around a field 600' x 100'. I was able to work about 100' before tossing in the towel.

    The flame did the job of knocking down the weeds and did it quickly. The flame does not need to ignite or burn the weeds, it wilts them. Dry stems will *pop* as steam pressure explodes them open. Note that this is not a dangerous explosion. Wide areas can be laid down quickly and easily.

    The hassle comes because of the short hose from the tank to the wand. A longer hose can be purchased, and may have made a difference. The short hose I was working with required frequent moving of the tank. A full tank, plus the dolly, plus the hose and torch weigh probably 50 pounds. The wheels of the dolly are small and not suitable for moving over rough, rocky ground covered with high weeds and grass. I had to pick up the entire rig to move it. I got rid of the dolly, replacing it with a hand truck (bigger wheels), strapping the tank with a bungee cord. This was no improvement. I got rid of the hand truck, picking up the tank by the handle to relocate it every 10 feet. Without the wheels, it was more stable on the slope while I worked. With the wheels I had to find a level spot, then heave it about to keep it from rolling/falling.

    While the grass was laid down almost instantly, getting further into the area was made difficult now that the grass mat fell in the direction I was headed. Rather than wilt the grass I had to burn through it to get deeper into the area-not desirable due to the risk of starting a brush fire. The grass was laid down but still in one piece. There was no raking it up, leaving an unsightly mess. The roots were left intact allowing regrowth within a couple of weeks. For what I wanted to do, the Red Dragon torch was not the right tool.

    A Scythe followed by spreading mulch would have done the job much better. For clearing weeds between a driveway and a metal building, the torch did a wonderful job-quick/easy/long lasting.

    Watch the video: Flame-weeding

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