Do Weeds Choke Other Plants Out?

Although weeds are technically plants, they’re undesirable and problematic in most cases. They are usually difficult to control and remove because they can thrive in many different conditions. If you have noticed weeds growing in your garden, you might be wondering if they can choke other plants out.

Weeds choke other plants out because they take up space, water, and essential nutrients that would otherwise benefit other plants. Therefore, the other plants wouldn’t receive as much nutrients and water as they need, which could cause them to choke out eventually.

Weeds are seldom good for the surrounding plants, so it’s vital to learn more about them and how to prevent them. This article will go through the most critical things in great detail.

How Weeds Choke Other Plants Out

As I briefly mentioned, weeds choke other plants out because they take the following things away from them:

  • Space
  • Essential nutrients
  • Water

Plants won’t survive very long if they don’t have enough of the items mentioned above, so they will eventually choke out and die if you allow weeds to grow around the area. 

Below, I’ll discuss the primary ways weeds choke other plants out in greater detail.

They Take Water and Nutrients Away from Plants

All plants compete for nutrients and water, including weeds. So, if weeds are scattered around the soil, they will automatically take nutrients and water from the ground and continue to grow. Meanwhile, the other plants may become dehydrated or low in particular nutrients.

For example, nitrogen is an essential nutrient for all plants. If weeds grow in your garden, they will take up some nitrogen, meaning the other plants could suffer significantly due to nitrogen deficiency. If the situation worsens, the plants will become so low in nitrogen and water that they’ll choke out and die.

Although you can try to fix this issue by adding extra fertilizer to the soil, it’s not a good solution because the weeds will also benefit from the fertilizer. The only way to solve the problem would be to remove the weeds and prevent them from returning.

They Take Up Space

Not only do weeds compete for nutrients and water, but they also compete for space. Every plant needs space for its roots to grow and spread out. If weeds are growing around the soil, the other plants’ roots may not have enough space within the earth — this can eventually be detrimental to the health of your plants.

Plus, if there are plenty of gaps in your soil (empty spaces between plants), weeds will likely grow there. 

They Can Harbor Viruses and Diseases

According to an article by the University of California, weeds can harbor different viruses. They can also carry insects that transmit viruses to other plants. Some viruses that weeds can spread to other plants include:

  • Tobacco mosaic virus 
  • Cucumber mosaic virus
  • Tomato spotted wilt virus

So if you allow weeds to grow around your garden over a long period, there is a greater chance of a virus affecting the other plants. Once these viruses spread, they’re challenging to manage. You might even need to remove all plants and start from scratch because these viruses and diseases can choke everything out.

It’s also important to note that some weeds will look healthy and normal even if they’re diseased. So, it’s always best to prevent weeds as much as possible. And if necessary, remove them as soon as you can.

Should You Always Remove Weeds?

You should always remove weeds because if you don’t, they’ll likely spread and cause further issues. Even though eliminating weeds doesn’t keep them away forever, it controls them and protects the surrounding plants.

As you now know, weeds can choke other plants out by taking nutrients and water from them, so removing all weeds is always a good idea. Even if you only see one or two, it’s best to get ahead of the problem before they become harder to manage.

Best Ways To Remove Weeds

There are different things you can do to remove weeds. The method you choose may depend on how stubborn the weeds are, how many there are, and whether they’re annuals or perennials. 

Annuals are generally easier to manage than perennials because the root systems aren’t as deep. An example of a typical annual weed is chickweed, and an example of a common perennial weed is a buttercup.

Below are some of the best ways to get rid of perennial and annual weeds:

Remove From the Roots 

You need to dig into the soil to remove weed roots. Removing perennial weeds from their roots is essential to prevent them from spreading too quickly. Perennial root systems can become deep over long periods (some can last several years!), so getting the entire plant out of the soil is vital.

Removing annual weeds from the roots is easier because they’re not as deep, but removing the roots is not entirely necessary because they’ll die within the year anyway. If you don’t mind taking the time, you can try to remove the annual weeds from their roots.

Use Vinegar and Dish Soap

Another way to remove weeds is to kill them using vinegar and dish soap. All you need to do is mix them and place them in a spray bottle. From there, you can apply the solution to the weeds. It’s best to use it during the day when the sun is at its hottest.

However, you need to be careful not to get any of this solution on the other plants. Although the vinegar and dish soap mix will work well at killing weeds, it will also kill other plants just as quickly.

Preventing Weeds

Killing weeds is one thing, but it’s another thing to prevent them from returning. When you kill weeds, the results are usually temporary—eventually, new weeds will begin to grow. However, there are different things you can do to prevent weeds from growing in your garden.

Below are some things you can do to prevent weeds from returning.

Cover the Soil

You can cover the empty parts of the soil (the parts that don’t have any plants growing) to prevent weeds. These are the parts where weeds are most likely to develop, but they won’t be able to if they don’t have any access to sunlight. 

Adding a cover will block out any sunlight, making it more difficult for weeds to grow through. You can use newspapers or heavy plastic coverings to cover the soil. If you use this method, make sure you don’t cover any plants or grass accidentally because it could kill them.

Apply Mulch to the Soil

Covering the soil is one excellent way to prevent weeds, but applying mulch is another valuable method to consider. You can use a thick layer of bark, grass clippings, or even newspaper to cover the soil. 

Mulch prevents weeds because it blocks sunlight and is also an excellent physical barrier. You can make your mulch at home, so this method is super cheap and easy.

In addition to suppressing weeds, mulch also:

  • Allows the soil to retain more water 
  • Regulates the soil temperature

So not only will mulch prevent weeds, but it will also keep your plants hydrated for longer and at an appropriate temperature.

Don’t Leave Too Much Space Between Plants

Adequate space is vital for weed growth. Without space, weeds have nowhere to grow. So they won’t be an issue if you don’t give them the freedom to develop. The next time you plant new seeds, consider planting them closer than you usually would. 

You should leave just enough space so your plants can grow comfortably, but not too much— leaving too much allows weeds to grow more freely. Although this won’t guarantee weed prevention, it will undoubtedly make it much more difficult for them to grow. 


Weeds choke other plants out because they take nutrients and water from the soil. They also compete for space, so some of your healthy plants may become stunted if there are too many weeds growing.

As weeds use up essential nutrients that other plants need, those other plants will begin to weaken. If the situation becomes bad enough, they will choke out.

You should always remove weeds if you notice them growing. Although they won’t always cause issues, it’s good to get ahead just in case. Remove weeds from their roots and take preventative measures to ensure longer-lasting results.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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