Pesky weeds are like those uninvited guests that refuse to leave. Keeping weed plants at bay is a struggle, especially if you are trying to do things naturally without causing harm to the environment. While it may take some more work on your part, you can use organic weed killer and techniques for getting rid of weeds in your yard.
Chemical weed killers contain toxins that may be harmful to anything they come into contact with, and this includes humans, insects, and animals. Growing weed-free grass, flowers, and vegetable gardens without using a harmful active ingredient such as glyphosate found in Roundup, is not only possible but quite simple.
Organic gardening is a challenge but well worth the effort when you consider the beneficial outcome. There are a variety of organic herbicides available to you, and many of them you can make yourself. You can also control weeds in the yard by using proper lawn care to ensure its vitality.
DIY Organic Weed Killer Solutions
Organic weed control may seem a bit daunting at first, but it’s pretty straightforward when you come down to it. We’ll show you how to create a healthy lawn environment to prevent weeds, what ingredients to use to kill weed plants, and how to apply them.
Pre-Emergent Versus Post-Emergent Organic Weed Control
There are two different types of organic weed control, pre-emergent and post-emergent. To effectively eliminate and control weeds in the yard, you must understand how these two varieties work and whether you should use one or both methods.
Pre-Emergent Versus Post-Emergent Herbicides
A pre-emergent herbicide prevents the germination of weed seeds by inhibiting a key enzyme. Generally, the herbicide is spread in the weedy area in the spring and fall to stop specific weed types from germinating. However, a pre-emergent herbicide does not work on all weeds.
Post-emergent herbicides are spread or sprayed onto weeds after they have germinated. These specialized herbicides kill on contact and are most effective when applied in the middle of the growing season.
Using Organic Pre-Emergent Weed Control
In early spring, before any weeds have had a chance to germinate, spread an organic pre-emergent herbicide throughout the lawn to prevent weeds from having a chance to sprout. Corn gluten meal is not only a natural weed killer for lawns, but helps to nourish the grass, as well.
Make sure that you will not be expecting any rain for a couple of days after treatment. Pour corn gluten meal into a lawn spreader and spread it across the yard at 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Use a garden hose to water the lawn until it receives a one-quarter inch of water.
Use Landscaping Fabric as a Weed Preventer
For preventing weeds in a garden bed, use landscaping fabric as a weed barrier tool to stop weeds from spreading into the garden.
Use a garden hoe to break up and loosen any existing weeds and grass. Remove all parts of the plants and discard them. Level the dirt with a rake and remove any sticks, rocks, or sharp objects from the soil.
Roll out sheets of landscape fabric in the area to be covered, making sure to overlap sheets by no less than three inches if using more than one. Hammer landscape staples along the edges of the fabric at ten-foot intervals.
Prevent Weeds with Mulch
Mulch is not only used to control weeds but is visually appealing in the garden and as edging around your home. Place this natural alternative to herbicides over landscaping fabric or use it on its own.
Mulch Weed Control
Lay three inches of bark mulch around the desirable plants in the garden, around shrubs and bushes, and along the edging of your home. Make sure that the layer of mulch is consistent to prevent any weeds from taking root. Natural mulch breaks down over time, so check the mulched areas yearly and add more as needed.
Maintaining a Healthy Lawn to Prevent Weeds
A few weeds popping up occasionally in the lawn is pretty standard, but grass overrun with weeds such as dandelions, chickweed, crabgrass, and other broadleaf weeds is a sign that your yard needs some assistance.
It’s critical to your lawn that you do not cut the grass too short. While this may eliminate the need for frequent mowing, it is unhealthy for the grass. When grass is too short, it becomes vulnerable to the sun and heat.
Weeds take this opportunity to jump in and take over. When mowing the lawn, do not cut more than one-third of the grass blades. The lawn should receive its watering needs from rain, but this is not always possible.
When watering your yard, make sure that you water in the early morning to give the grass time to dry before the evening hours. Water the lawn with a garden hose or sprinkler until it receives half an inch of water.
Use a Garden Edging to Keep Weeds Out
If you have a vegetable garden or flower bed alongside areas of grass or weeds, use garden edging to prevent any undesirable plants from sneaking into the gardens.
Use a garden hoe to define the edges of your garden bed by slicing it down through the dirt. Pull up and remove any weeds or grass and discard.
Slide the edging along the perimeter of the garden to separate the two areas. Fill in any gaps along the way with dirt and pack into place.
Creating a Crowd to Push Out Weeds
Once you have a full and healthy lawn that is weed-free, you may discover that other isolated areas of the yard have become infested with unwanted plants. Creating a crowd of healthy, desirable plants and shrubs in those areas will push the weeds out.
Begin by removing the existing weeds from the area by using a garden hoe. Fill the space with strong and sturdy growing plants that have a fast growth rate. Plants that have large, broad leaves are excellent choices when it comes to overcrowding.
Ask your local garden nursery expert which plants will work best for your area. The critical thing to remember when using this technique is to keep the garden bed healthy to push out future weeds.
Keeping a Lawn Full to Prevent Weeds
A bare lawn is almost begging for weed germination. To resolve weed infestation, make sure that your yard does not have thin and bare spots where the weed seeds can take root.
Begin by purchasing the proper grass seed for your lawn and area. For locations that have a warm climate year-round, plant Bermuda, centipede, or another type of warm-season grass. If you live in an environment where it gets cold during the fall and winter months, you need a cool-season seed, such as bluegrass or fescue.
Mow your grass shorter than usual, to about two inches, and then rake up the clippings to enable the grass seed to get to the soil. Follow the instructions for overseeding a lawn on the manufacturer’s label. After seeding, lightly water the grass twice daily for four days, followed by a heavy watering daily for the next five days.
Making a Salty Organic Weed Killer Recipe
Salt sucks the moisture out of plants by disrupting their internal water balance, depriving them of what they need to survive. Here is an organic weed killer recipe that contains salt.
Because salt can be very damaging to grass and other plants, this method is ideal for areas that are isolated, such as in driveway cracks and sidewalks.
Mix three parts water and one part salt in a watering can and pour the solution directly onto the weeds, being careful not to splash nearby plants. Water the weed plants with this solution daily until they are dead.
For extremely hardy weeds, wet the weedy area with a hose or watering can and then sprinkle any salt of your liking directly onto the plant. Make sure that you get as much salt to stick to the weed as possible.
Killing Weeds with Acetic Acid
Make a homemade organic weed killer using ordinary vinegar and dish soap. White vinegar is a form of acetic acid which dries out plants, eventually killing them.
Adding some dish soap to the solution helps the vinegar to stick to the plant longer so that it is absorbed. This solution is similar to the Green Gobbler; an OMRI listed weed killer.
It’s best to use this recipe on a non-breezy day while the sun is hot. Fill a spray bottle or garden sprayer with the vinegar and then add soap, preferably an herbicidal soap such as Dawn dish soap.
Shake the bottle gently to mix. Set the spray nozzle to stream and spray the solution directly onto the weed leaves and stem.
Avoid spraying any of the organic herbicide onto a desirable plant because the solution can kill them, as well. You should see visible results within one day. If not, repeat the process.
Killing Weeds with Boiling Water
Water means life or death for plants, and boiling water is a natural grass and weed killer that virtually costs you nothing but your time.
Bring a stockpot of water to a boil and carefully pour the boiling water into a watering can. Immediately carry the can outside and pour the water directly onto the lawn weed, slowly and cautiously, to prevent splashing any on yourself or nearby foliage. Repeat daily until the weed plants are withered and dead.
Make a Lemon Juice Weed Killer Spray
Lemons are high in citric acid and contain d-limonene, which kills weeds when it is applied to them. It is similar to Avenger Weed Killer, which contains citrus oil, except that you can make it yourself using natural ingredients.
Pour lemon juice in a spray bottle and set the spray nozzle to stream. Spray the citric acid onto the leaves and stems of the weeds. Use caution while spraying near desirable plants because the lemon juice will kill them, too. The weed plants should die within a couple of days of treatment.
How to Kill Weeds with Alcohol
Alcohol dehydrates plants and is a great way to eliminate them organically. Adding a little dish soap to the solution helps the vodka stick to the plant surface longer and is more effective.
Combine the water and vodka in a spray bottle and add a squirt of dish soap. Label the container for safety purposes.
Spray the alcoholic water onto the weeds, making sure that you saturate the leaves and stems. Avoid spraying any of the solution on nearby plants or grass.
Eliminate Weeds by Smothering Them
Depriving weeds of the natural elements that they need to survive by smothering them is one of the most effective ways to eliminate them, but it does take a little more time than using an herbicide.
Use garden shears to cut the weeds down as close to the ground as you can. Cover the weedy area with sheets of old newspapers and cardboard and then use a hose to wet them down.
Cover with two inches of mulch, and that’s it. The newspapers and cardboard will eventually break down beneath the mulch as the weeds die.
Use the Power of the Sun to Kill Weeds
We all know that the sun can be both our friend or enemy, and the same is true for plants. Use the sun’s power to kill weeds for good. For aquatic weeds, use a duckweed killer.
Cut the weeds to the ground using garden shears. Use a garden hose to water the area until the soil is wet to about two feet.
Lay large, clear pieces of plastic over the tops of the weeds, making sure that you do not accidentally cover areas of the lawn or desirable plants. Place rocks, bricks, or another form of weight onto the outer edges of the plastic to hold it in place.
Remove Weeds by Hand
Sometimes the best way to remove weeds is to pull them straight out of the ground by hand. The trick to using hands as a weeder is making sure you do not leave any of the roots behind. Otherwise, you’ve only delayed the problem.
Water the weed beforehand to loosen the soil and roots. Use a shovel to pierce the ground around the perimeter of the weed plant, making sure that you push down far enough to reach the bottom of the root system.
While wearing garden gloves, use your hands to push away the dirt from around the base of the weed. Grab hold of the area below the weed base and pull it out slowly and gently so that the root does not break.
Use a hoe to work the soil while looking for any leftover, broken roots. Place all parts of the weed into a garbage bag and dispose of them to prevent spreading.
How to Flame Weed
Flame weeding is fast-acting and is most effective if you can catch weed growth when it is below four inches. Anything larger may need to be flame treated more than once. We recommend using this technique in isolated areas of weed infestation.
Follow the instructions on your particular weed torch brand and keep either a fire extinguisher or water source nearby for safety purposes. Make a low and quick pass with the torch over the weeds. You should be able to see the plants wilt as you move along.
Test its effectiveness by pressing your thumb to the weed leaf. If you can see a distinct thumbprint, then the mission has been accomplished. After a couple of days, the weed will be brown and dead.
Maintaining a beautiful lawn, vibrant flower bed, or bountiful vegetable garden doesn’t mean that you have to fill the yard with harmful chemicals. While weed control is a battle, it’s one that you can win using organic methods and ingredients.
Not only that but creating a healthy lawn and garden where weeds are not welcome by natural means is a win-win situation.
It is personally satisfying when making an organic weed killer for eliminating unwanted plants from the lawn and garden, so why not share our natural weed control tips and recipes with your family and friends on Facebook and Pinterest?