9 Best Brush Killers | How And When To Use Them

When it comes to getting rid of brush from your property you need to be sure you’re buying the right type of product. Let’s face it, clearing brush and the removal of unwanted vegetation from paths and driveways is never top of the list of ‘fun things to do’. It’s an investment of time and money so you need to be sure you’re buying the right product for the job. Choosing a brush killer that suits your specific needs can be challenging.

The amount of weed killer products available to buy and the purpose they serve makes decision-making an arduous business and making the wrong purchase could result in not getting rid of the unwanted vegetation, or much worse, causing damage to healthy plants that you wanted to keep. There’s nothing worse than going to great lengths to clear an area of your property only to find the vegetation popping up seemingly overnight and continuing to spread far faster and healthier than any of your flowers ever have.

Some brush killers will kill everything they come into contact with and these are the ones you want to avoid if you are hoping to preserve any plants and lawn that exist around the areas that you want to remove. There are occasions of course when you want to destroy everything in a particular area and there are products on the market that will do just that. It’s just a case of knowing what the job entails and selecting the right product to do it.

I’ve put together a list of the best brush killer products currently available on the market with the aim of making the buying decision easy for you. All you need to do is select which type matches your requirements so that choosing the best one for you is a doddle.

What is Brush?

Brush in nature is characterized by an area that is overgrown with shrubs, grasses, geophytes, and herbs. The brush may occur naturally or grow because of human interaction and activity. If left unattended and untreated, the brush can spread and make for an unlivable habitat for humans. Think rambling, unruly blackberry bushes that you often see strewn along the sides of the road, along unkempt hills, or even in your backyard.

Maybe you have seen these plants on your property and you haven’t understood what they are. Congratulations! You are the proud owner of brush, all you need to do is decide what you are going to do about it.

What Will Brush Killer Kill?

Depending on the strength or potency of the product you buy, brush killer will kill shrubs, plants, tree stumps, and other unwanted growth such as weeds. Some are made to only kill unwanted growth, but some may also kill grass and plants. Alternatively, you could opt to go for a gas or electric-powered brush cutter.

Best Brush Killer For Shrub and Trees

Brush killer needs to be applied directly to the shrubs and trees for it to kill them effectively. I find that unless you apply the brush killer liberally and it has a chance to soak thoroughly into the roots, you’ll find you may have to do the job again quite soon after as the brush will just grow back. For these more difficult and substantial protrusions, you will likely need to physically brush the weed killer onto the stump directly rather than spray it on.

Bamboo

Brush killer will kill bamboo if it is applied directly to the stalks, leaves, and shoots. The active ingredient Glyphosate herbicide is typically recommended for getting rid of bamboo and it will effectively kill this variety of plants if applied directly. Applying it to the soil will not have the same effect and will not kill bamboo.

Blackberry

Blackberries are delicious, but they are also a highly invasive plant that may be taking over your yard or garden space. To kill blackberry bushes, you need an herbicide that contains the active ingredients glyphosate, triclopyr, and dicamba, and dicamba/2, 4D. Most products that are recommended for blackberry bush removal need to be applied with a decorating brush directly to the stump and roots rather than liberally spraying the entire shrub.

Poison Ivy

Killing poison Ivy with a herbicide is relatively basic. You just need to spray the leaves with the product and they should die. You may need to reapply to make sure they are dead for good. The effectiveness of products, that is to say how quickly the unwanted plant begins to deteriorate, wither and die, depends from product to product and also depends on environmental factors on the day. Check the directions on the product you buy about using in wet conditions or when the weather is particularly warm. These will all impact the effectiveness of the product.

Honeysuckle

Some herbicides can kill honeysuckle bushes when the product is brushed directly onto a freshly cut stump of the plant. Honeysuckle can be quite a beautiful plant and a great pollinator for much of our insect population, but unless regularly pruned the vines can take over the ground and invade nearby small trees, shrubs, and ornamentals. These neighboring plants can become smothered by an overly invasive honeysuckle plant, cutting off their water supply, or debilitating the flow of sap.

Pokeweed

Pokeweed can be killed by brush killer that contains glyphosate as the main ingredient, simply by spraying it on the leaves. It just may take time and reapplication to see it completely die before you can satisfyingly pull it out by the roots.

Types of Brush Killer

When considering a brush killer, you need to look at whether it is selective or non-selective. Specific types of brush killers are designed to be selective to specific weeds or plants. Meaning they are harmless to grass and suitable for applying on the lawn to get rid of unwanted weeds or moss. These also tend to be weaker compared to non-selective.

Non-selective eliminates everything it contacts. You need to be more careful when you are using non-selective brush killers. Avoid grass and healthy plants you want to keep.

Removing specific weeds, plants, or brushes from your lawn will call for the selective brush killer. If you need to span a larger area, then the preferred pesticide is non-selective.

Concentrate

Concentrated brush killer is used for specific areas that have weeds. You simply apply the solution directly to the affected area usually with a brush or for large areas, with a sprayer. Sprayers are available to buy in various sizes ranging from a hand-held, pump-action sprayer to a more industrial-sized backpack weed sprayer.

If you want to preserve the landscape around the area for removal, you need to be careful not to drip or spray product anywhere other than the area you are treating. This is because the powerful, concentrated formula will kill anything it comes in contact with, including grass, plants, and flowers.

Ready to Spray

Most ready-to-spray brush killers are safe on grass and flowers and will only kill the unwanted weeds, brush, and plants. These come in a bottle with a nozzle that is ready to shoot the pesticide when you are.

With a spray, you can direct the contact of the herbicide according to the size of the sprayer. For small areas, go with a concentrated stream and for larger areas, go with a sprayer that will affect more areas at one time. Just be mindful that you are always going to get slight misting from the excess product so always wear protective clothing and don’t spray near to other humans and pets.

Most of the spray devices I’ve been trying out offer an accurate aim and are durable and reusable. I did come across some reviews that felt that some of the nozzles were not up to the job on occasion. I’ve highlighted these in the review section below.

Active Ingredients

The ingredients in brush killer will vary depending on the brand and what they are used for. Here’s a rundown of some of the more widely used and available active ingredients and what they are used for.

Triclopyr

Triclopyr 4 is applied on woody plants like ash and alder to prevent bug infestations. Problems arise when there are other woody plants in the same forested area such as sumac, maple, sweetgum, as it will kill these plants too. This herbicide will also allow you to control perennial and annual broadleaf weeds like chicory, clover, and bull thistle.

Fluazifop

Fluazifop, or Fluazifop-p-butyl, is a chemical compound used in selective post-emergent herbicides. Fluazifop controls the production of perennial and annual grass weeds. This herbicide ingredient is helpful in agricultural settings on broad-leaved crops such as carrots, potatoes, spinach, and more. It will kill grass but is safe for broadleaf weeds.

Glyphosate

Glyphosate is used on the leaves of plants to destroy grasses and broadleaf plants. Plant growth is regulated and crops are ripened by glyphosate in the form of sodium salt. This ingredient is widely used in herbicides in the U.S. It is used both commercially and domestically and can be applied as weed control in gardens, on lawns, forestry, and weeds in sidewalks, driveways, as well as in industrial spaces.

2,4D

2,4 D is a herbicide that destroys plants by challenging the growth of cells. It comes in various chemical forms such as esters, acids, and salts. The toxicity of this herbicide depends on the form it is presented in, which will also impact the surrounding environment accordingly.

2-4-D is found in several herbicides and is effective in helping to control weeds when it is blended with other ingredients.


9 Best Brush Killers

I’ve spent a fair amount of time lately testing dozens of brush killer products and have gained a whole heap of insight into the effectiveness of each product, when best to use them, and for what purpose. Through sharing my own experiences and knowledge my judgment of these reviews is based on overall performance and results, ease of use, and value for money.

I’ve aimed to bring you a list of the best brush killer products that will meet your garden’s needs. Let’s start this review with my personal favorite and one I return to year on year.


1. RM43 Glyphosate Plus Weed Preventer Total Vegetation Control

RM43 Glyphosate Plus Weed Preventer Total Vegetation Control

The RM43 weed preventer is the absolute business when it comes to eradicating unwanted vegetation and has rightfully received the number one spot in our best brush killer list. I use this annually to clear unwanted growth from my gravel driveway, front path, and backyard patio (in fact all the hardscape areas I have that I don’t want weeds to grow), and I am never disappointed. Once it’s been applied I get to see wilting weeds by the next day and it comes in a one-gallon container that lasts for ages. Goodbye weeds, hello pristine paths and patios for the next 12 months!

You’ll be pleased to know that this product is much more than just a spot control weed killer. It’s also capable of clearing large areas of brush. But beware, it takes its job seriously, and really does kill everything it comes into contact with, so do not apply to areas that you want to preserve such as lawns and healthy or loved trees, plants, and shrubs.

This product can treat over 17,000 square feet of weeds and brush, which is going to sustain the average homeowner for a while. Okay, so it is one of the more expensive on the market, but it is worth it because of the vast area it treats and the length of time your nasty weeds are gone. Click here RM43 Weed Killer now.

Reviewers loved the overnight results and long-lasting effects of this product. Results are better if the product is applied on a warm and dry day and when areas that need to be treated are not damp from previous rainfall.

Pros      

  • Prevents weed growth for one year
  • It makes up to 42-gallons of spray
  • Visible results in only 12 hours
  • Perfect for driveways and gravel paths

Cons

  • Will kill grass even if you don’t want it to

2. Ortho GroundClear Year-Long Vegetation & Brush Killer

Ortho GroundClear Year-Long Vegetation & Brush Killer

Ortho GroundClear is next up on our list. It’s another one that will kill everything that it comes into contact with and similar to RM43, results will last up to one year. This one is intended purely as a spot treatment weed killer so it’s perfect for ridding your pathways, driveways and patios of unwanted weed growth but it’s not intended for larger areas of brush that need clearing.

This fast-acting weed killer will allow you to see the result in just three hours and it is less expensive than the previous product. It comes in a one-gallon container but it only covers 1600 square feet and so it provides considerably less coverage to our winning brush killer. 

Ortho Ground Clear does its magic best when applied on a warm and sunny day and when it hasn’t just rained. It is also safe for people and pets once it has completely dried. Click here for Ortho GroundClear from Amazon.com.

This is a highly effective and fast-acting spot weed treatment suitable for use in all areas of hardscape. Beware, it will also kill grass or any other greenery that it comes into contact with given half a chance.

Pros      

  • Effective spot treatment that kills weeds at root level and prevents regrowth for one year
  • Starts working right away and see results in three hours
  • Great for any area you want to keep clear of grass and weeds

Cons

  • Not to be used on lawns
  • It needs a few applications to work at for tough weeds

3. Southern Ag Crossbow Specialty Weed & Brush Herbicide

Southern Ag Crossbow Specialty Weed & Brush Herbicide

This next brush killer from Southern Ag Crossbow has been awarded third place based on its ability to decimate almost all broadleaf weeds while keeping your lawn intact. It will also get rid of larger areas of the unwanted brush such as blackberry bushes, poison ivy, English ivy, and creeping charlie that have grown rampant and are hard to manage.

Using Southern Ag will rid your garden of these troublesome growths at the roots with its post-emergent solution. I’ve seen better results when I have used this weed killer in either spring or fall when the growing season is not in full swing. Using it in the height of summer when temperatures are at their peak can damage grass and lead to less effective results. Click here for Southern Ag Crossbow Herbicide

You’ll need to buy or use your own sprayer to apply this to the areas you want to treat. Expect it to take up to a week before you see results but the good news is that it is rainproof just two hours after applying it.

Pros      

  • Perfect for small areas of brush containing non-crop and rangeland
  • Works on most unwanted broadleaf weeds, trees, and brush

Cons

  • Slow-release formula means that it can take up to a week to kill weeds and brush

4. BioAdvanced Brush Killer

BioAdvanced Brush Killer

BioAdvanced is a concentrated formula that kills harmful poison ivy, poison oak, and any other weeds and brushes you want to go, and it does it in one application.

This weed and brush killer from BioAdvanced has three specific purposes. It can be used as a concentrated formula to get rid of tree stumps with invasive roots such as locust. It can be diluted with water and used to clear larger areas of brush that are overgrown with unwanted, rambling, and invasive vegetation such as blackberry bushes, honeysuckle, and sumac. Or, it can be used to spot treat weeds that are growing in your lawn or on hardscapes, for example, thistles, dandelions, ragweed, and spurge.

I’m a big fan of BioAdvanced because these folks have every eventuality covered with their range of gadgets and nozzles dependent on what you need the product for. I used the ‘eco grip sprayer’ to treat a reasonably sized patch of brush at the end of my garden. It was a rambling heap of poison ivy that was way deeper than the reach of my arm, but the wand-like nozzle attachment meant that I could stretch right to the back of the patch and in otherwise difficult to reach spots.

This one takes longer to work than the others I’ve so far featured but it does penetrate down to the roots and there is no sign of any regrowth six months on. BioAdvanced Brush Killer is available from Amazon.com

The formula goes deep into the roots to penetrate even the deepest roots and is waterproof, protecting the area from rainfall for nearly a month. You may want to attach your sprayer, as we Some reviewers found the sprayer that was included less than ideal but honestly, that wasn’t my experience and I always find their customer service to be exemplary.

Pros      

  • Waterproof formula that penetrates deep into the roots 
  • Proven to kill more than 70 types of weeds
  • Built-in nozzle is designed to spray large areas at once

Cons

  • Sprayer attachment may need replacing

5. Roundup Ready-to-Use Poison Ivy Plus Tough Brush Killer

Roundup Ready-To-Use Poison Ivy Plus Tough Brush Killer

Just as the name suggests, Roundup Poison Ivy Plus Tough Brush Killer is made to kill poison ivy. It will, however, kill numerous other kinds of woody brush such as honeysuckle, kudzu, lespedeza, and blackberry. Not that I’m an advocate of losing plants of beauty and botanical importance, but it will even kill other invasive shrubs and vines such as wisteria and clematis should you find your space overrun.

The formula in this brush killer works by getting right down to the roots and you do not need to worry about reapplying if it happens to rain because, after just thirty minutes, it becomes waterproof. You can expect to see results within 24-hours. Click here for Roundup Poison Ivy Plus from Amazon.com.

I followed the manufacturer’s directions to the letter when using this one by wearing protective clothing and waiting two days after the first signs of wilting before I began the task of carefully and cautiously removing the brush roots. Roundup claim that this will ensure that the formula has made its way down to the root system. Well, it worked for me! To be fully effective, you need the brush killer to work well beyond the plant you see and deactivate the root.

As you’d expect with a household brand such as Roundup they offer a money-back guarantee if you are dissatisfied with the results.

Pros      

  • Effective within 24 hours for Poison Ivy as well as other woody brush
  • Waterproof within 30 minutes of use
  • Money back offer

Cons

  • May need to use the spray more than once

6. Gordon’s Brush Killer

Gordon's Brush Killer

Gordon’s Brush Killer is for large-scale brush removal projects that may have previously proved tricky to treat. Use this on non-crop areas of pasture land containing invasive and dense, woody brush, stubborn weeds, or any other unwanted plants, shrubs, and trees.

This weed and brush killer is a slow burn taking up to 3 weeks to be effective. It works by targeting the root system of unwanted vegetation, killing the plant from the inside out, and preventing future growth.

Aim to apply it on a warm, dry day that isn’t forecasted any rain but avoid using it in intense heat. It’s also best to apply in spring to early summer before the full force of the growing season has taken hold.

This is pretty heavy-duty stuff that can be mixed with diesel, or kerosene if a water solution won’t cut it so take time to read the manufacturer’s instructions for use and always were protective clothing when you are spraying. You should also keep people and pets away from this product. 

Check Gordon’s Brush Killer latest price on Amazon

Pros      

  • Best suited for large scale brush elimination
  • Waterproof within 6 hours of use

Cons

  • Slow-release formula that can take 3 weeks to be fully effective
  • Toxic to pets and people

7. Southern Ag Brush Killer

Southern Ag Brush Killer

Another product from Southern AG and this time it’s their Brush Killer formula. This one does a good job of stamping out non-crop areas where total clearance of out-of-control shrubs, bushes, vines, and even tree stumps is called for. It can also be used to get rid of broadleaf weeds and other invasive weeds that are growing from hardscape. Available to buy from Amazon.com

I like how you can use this as a spray to cover larger areas or use it in a concentrated formula to brush onto tree stumps. I used it to brush onto a sumac stump, the roots of which had been causing my Mom all sorts of problems in her back garden from lifting patio slabs to entangling themselves around her fruiting trees causing them to produce a low fruiting yield. I found the instructions to be clear but since I didn’t see results after 3 weeks I give it another application. This time it worked and gradually the roots began to wither and deteriorate until it was week enough to remove completely.

Opt for their Crossbow formula that features in third place in our best brush killer list if you are looking to rid weeds from lawned areas or in spaces that contain plants and trees you want to keep. The not-so-positive aspect of this product is that it needs to be added to gallons of water before you can use it, which means you are on the hook for a good size mixing bucket and an applicator. This mixture is harmful to children and animals, so you must make sure that you do not use it around them. 

Pros      

  • Effective at clearing large areas
  • It kills plants and stumps at the roots and halts the regrowth process

Cons

  • Not safe for use around children or pets
  • Will kill grass and any other plants it comes into contact with

8. VPG Fertilome Brush and Stump Killer

Fertilome Brush And Stump Killer

VPG Fertilome Brush and Stump Killer is recommended for residential use around the garden to get rid of common varieties of broadleaf weeds, woody, invasive shrubs, overground vines, and bushes that are found growing against fences or protruding through cracks in pathways. It also works on small to medium-sized tree stumps that need removing.

It’s a perfectly adequate product and is sold in a manageable one-quart container. So if you have a small area to treat then this is a good option. My only reservation with the container is it is prone to drips and leaks when the product is decanted. This is problematic and unfortunately unavoidable since I couldn’t find a way to use it straight from the container it comes in. Click here for VPG Fertilome Brush And Stump Killer

A final word of caution since this product is aimed specifically at the domestic market, this brush killer should not be used on grass, so keep it away from your prized lawn or any other area of your garden that contains treasured plants.

Pros      

  • Effective for small scale clearance and use on killing small to medium-sized tree stumps
  • Suitable to use if you don’t own a sprayer and don’t want to buy one either

Cons

  • Not suitable for use in large areas
  • Will kill grass on contact

9. Bonide Herbicide Weed Control And Brush Killer

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Last but by no means least in our best brush killer list is this poison ivy and brush killer from Bonide. It also boasts its effectiveness at stamping out up to 240 woody plants and weeds. It can be used for a number of purposes without harming your lawn providing you follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Its uses include Spot treatment for removal of broadleaf weeds that have emerged from hardscaping or in lawns; Elimination of woody-stemmed plants and shrubs that have become invasive such as poison ivy, blackberries, poison sumac plus many other varieties of vine and climber; Removal of tree stumps where roots have become invasive. Bonide Herbicide can be found here.

This weed and brush killer can be used in a concentrated formula straight from the container or diluted if you need to target larger areas. Bear in mind, you’ll need to purchase the sprayer attachment separately or decant it into your own spray container.

Pros      

  • Destroys tree stumps
  • Can kill over 240 woody plants and weeds
  • It is safe on most grass

Cons

  • Applicator not included

How to Kill a Brush

The things that grow rampant and healthy in a garden or perimeter of a property are typically the unwanted shrubs, weeds, and brush. Why, when we can struggle with getting grass to stay green, flowers to bloom, and bushes to flourish, brush grows regardless of weather and wear. 

Luckily, there is help, and it is right below.

How to Use Brush Killer

There are two effective ways to use most brush killers. The easiest method and the one that targets the largest area of brush is with the use of a sprayer. Some brush killers come with a sprayer attachment that screws onto the lid of the container once the cap is unscrewed. Other brush killer products will need to be decanted from their storage container and transferred to a sprayer. Those that need to be decanted typically need to be diluted with water before being used.

Diluted formulas can be sprayed directed onto the leaves, branches, and stems at the base of the offending vegetation. They need to be left to dry and allowed to penetrate through to the roots and core of the unwanted plants.

Alternatively, you can cut the brush at the base near the ground with pruners or whatever you usually use. Apply the stump killer or concentrated brush killer to the surface of the stump. For stumps that have been cut near the base of the brush, you want to use full-strength herbicide rather than diluting it.

Apply the herbicide right after you cut it and the pesticide will be more effective. The stump will form a callus and is less likely to absorb the herbicide if you wait to apply the pesticide.

How Long Does it Take for a Brush Killer to Work?

It usually takes anywhere from one day to six weeks after applying the brush killer for the vegetation to die. It may have to be reapplied, depending on the strength you use, and you want to wait to remove it, even after the brush is dead, to make sure the roots are dead.

Some brush killers will begin to work within hours while others take longer. Regardless of how the plant looks above ground, it will take longer for the roots to be completely devastated. Refrain from pulling the brush out too soon or roots may still survive and regrow.

Herbicide is powerful and can cause irritation, so keep in mind when removing brush, weeds, or tree stumps. Always wear gloves when removing old debris. 

How Long Before Brush Killer is Rainproof?

Most brush killers will be water or rainproof after only a few hours. If you live in an area where rain is a common occurrence, you will want to make sure you invest in the right waterproof brush killer.

Some brush killers will become waterproof within 30 minutes, while others take up to 24 hours. You may have to reapply the brush killer if it rains after you have already treated the unwanted brush, bush, weeds, etc. The chemical may become diluted once the rainwater hits the roots and will not be as effective, so applying a second time may be necessary.

Is Brush Killer Safe Around Children or Pets?

Some weed killers claim they are safe for children and pets, while others are toxic to both. No company will claim they are 100% safe for pets and kids, so it is best to err on the side of caution and keep them away from the area for a couple of days.

If the product is more harmful, they will place a warning, then keeping everyone away for a longer time is best. If you do use herbicide and find that your child or pet has come into contact with it, visit a vet or a doctor immediately.

Final Thoughts on Killing Brush

So there you have it, my pick of the best brush killer products available on the market today. Each with its own strengths and purposes depending on the size of the brush clearing project to the type of brush that needs clearing. Some will eliminate everything in its path while other products will do no harm to surrounding lawns, trees, and plants.

I’ve selected RM43 Weed & Brush Killer as my top choice due to the preventative weed and brush growth once applied, quick results, area it covers, and the fact that it does what it says it will do. It is on the more expensive side of pesticides, but it goes a long way. And since it is so powerful, you do not need to reapply as it keeps weeds, brush, and other growth away from your hardscape areas for up to one year.

My second place option for you is Ortho GroundClear. This one will perform to a similar level as RM43, is less expensive, but it covers a slightly smaller area and isn’t intended for large areas of brush control. Alternatively, if you need a brush killer to remove weeds from your lawn without damaging it as well as effectively removing unsightly brush, you should definitely choose my third-place Southern Ag Crossbow Herbicide.

When choosing the best brush killer for you, determine the brand, strength, safety, waterproofing, and weather conditions in your area along with what brush type you need to irradicate. Always read and follow instructions carefully before using any brush killer.

Now it’s time to hand it over to you to pick your poison. Happy gardening!