With recent news stories breaking about the dangerous effects of commercial chemical-based weed killers, more and more homeowners are looking for ways to control weeds without risking the health and well-being of their families and pets. Many are surprised to learn that several safe, effective weed killers are already in your pantry, garage or laundry room. A few quick, easy tricks and recipes are all that’s needed to rid your flower beds and lawns of some of nature’s most stubborn party-crashers. For best results, you should treat weeds during the warmest part of the day, and under strong sun.
White Distilled Vinegar
This common household staple is one of the most effective weed killers you can find. The active ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid, which is known for its ability to draw moisture out of whatever it touches. The white distilled vinegar commonly available in stores is typically 3-5% acetic acid. When you spray white vinegar directly on to your weeds, it pulls all above ground moisture from the plant. When used alone, it can effectively destroy young or weak weeds after a couple of applications. If you have tough to kill weeds, you can find vinegars with a higher acetic acid content of up to 1-20% at lawn and garden centers or home improvement stores.
Since vinegar will draw the moisture out of any plants, it’s important to use caution to spray it only on the weed itself. Use a spray bottle with a stream setting, rather than a mist setting that will spread the liquid to nearby desired plants or grasses.
You can also boost the effectiveness of vinegar as a weed killer by mixing it with other common household products. Try one of these recipes:
- 1 gallon white vinegar
- 1 cup salt
- 1 Tablespoon liquid dish soap (Blue Dawn tends to be the most effective.)
- 2 cups of apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup of Epsom salt
Like vinegar, rubbing alcohol wicks the moisture from your weeds. Mix 2 tablespoons of alcohol with one quart of water into your spray bottle and spray directly onto weeds, being careful to avoid desired plants and grasses.
Ahem…NOT Rubbing Alcohol
Believe it or not, vodka and gin can also be used to control the growth of weeds. If you’re trying to eliminate broad-leaf weeds such as dandelions, chick weeds, wild onions, mullein and plantain weeds, pour straight vodka or gin into a stream-type spray bottle and douse your weeds carefully. Within a day or two, the burnt weeds can be gathered up and removed from the lawn, preventing reseeding.
Straight lemon juice is also a great way to destroy weeds when poured into your trusty spray bottle.
Sugar is also a powerful weed killer. Sugar sends soil organisms into overdrive, making the soil temporarily inhospitable for plant growth. It’s best for use on weed trees, bushes or vines that are hard to remove. Heap sugar at the base of the plant you want to remove and let it sit for a few days. If the sugar starts to attract pests, add a generous amount of chili pepper to chase them away.
Removing Weeds and Unwelcome Grass from Cracks in Cement
Whether they grow in the spaces between your sidewalk stones or in fissures caused by broken concrete, you can easily destroy weeds or grasses with a couple of quick and easy remedies. Fill a teakettle with water, bring to a boil, and add a generous tablespoon or two of salt. Use the spout on the teakettle to aim the solution directly onto the weeds. Usually only one treatment is needed to eliminate the weeds. This idea will also work with baking soda used in place of the salt in your boiling water.
Today’s Headlines – Controlling Weed Growth in Larger Areas
If you find that larger areas of your yard or flower beds are inundated with weeds, it may be more practical to smother weeds with newspaper. This article shows you how to bring weed-choked areas back to life using newspaper and mulch.
Save Your Lawn – Naturally
If your weed problems extend into most of your lawn, don’t despair. There are organic solutions for grass as well.
One of the most effective options is corn gluten meal. There are a lot of reasons why this natural, organic product will help control weed growth AND promote growth of appropriate seeds. It suppresses the growth of the weed’s feeder roots and helps prevent the sprouting of crabgrass, dandelions, curly dock, knotweed, lamb’s quarters, pigweed and plantain. To learn about the advantages of gardening with corn gluten meal, read more here.