How to kill weeds naturally? Even for the casual gardener, weeds are an eyesore. They can sprout out of manicured flower pots or randomly between the cracks of concrete driveways.
Getting rid of them can prove to be equally, if not more annoying. There are countless products on the market dedicated to getting rid of weeds. However, the ingredients used can do more damage than good.
And these chemical ingredients can even cause harm to your health, not just your lawn. From ingesting spray residue to topical skin irritation, traditional, chemical weed killers can have serious consequences.
There are, however, other, safer alternatives.
Types of Weeds
You’ll find a ton of different varieties of weeds everywhere you look. Some thrive better in certain areas than others.
Regardless of species, they’re all annoying to deal with and they suck up valuable nutrients from your garden.
A few kinds of weeds you can expect to find while working outside will match one of two types:
These grow once per season, seed a lot, grow quickly and then die off.
Annuals come in the form of such plants like chickweed, which grow back from seeds each term.
Other annuals include Deadnettle, Henbit, Veronicas, and annual bluegrass.
These are slow-growers that take long to bloom and seed and come back year after year in the same spot.
The most easily recognizable is the common dandelion.
Here’s How to Kill Weeds Naturally
Some of the alternatives to using pesticides are not only simple but better for your health. Below are some of the best ways of getting rid of weeds naturally.
1. Pull Them Out (Weeding)
This is one of the best and cheapest ways to get rid of weeds on your organic farm. But before you just go ripping out the unwanted buds, there are some precautions to take.
Weeds can be notoriously difficult to simply pull up. There is also the risk of damaging the plant systems of the flowers and plants you want to keep.
To avoid this, it’s best to pull them when the ground still has a good amount of moisture. Pull the weeds out slowly and make sure to protect your hands.
If you’re skilled at weeding, using a machete to dig under the roots while pulling the weeds makes it a whole lot easier.
This is the quintessential part of gardening no gardener goes without.
Mulch helps to keep the soil cool and moist, which keeps weeds from receiving much-needed light.
Even better, if you make use of organic mulches, you invite such helpful bugs as crickets and carabid beetles which actually feed on weed seeds by the thousands.
Just be sure to keep replenishing the mulch regularly to keep the soil about 2 inches deep.
3. Use Vinegar
Does vinegar kill weeds? It sure can! For those considering how to kill weeds naturally, vinegar is one of the greatest alternative ingredients to harsh chemical products.
It is versatile and has many uses for inside your home but can be used outdoors, too. It is the high acidic content that makes it an effective herbicide.
To use vinegar to kill weeds, simply combine the vinegar with a couple of drops of organic liquid soap in a bottle with a spray nozzle.
4. Plant Cover Crops
These beneficial plants are otherwise called ‘green manure’.
In reality, it’s the practice of planting a large batch of thick crops that exist to choke weeds and steal their nutrients before they can mature.
Alongside this benefit, some cover crops can even kill weeds through the release of natural chemicals.
These plants can also be plowed or turned under when the time comes to plant other crops.
Such amazing allies include plants like wheat, barley, sorghum, oats, and rye — all fairly easy to grow and maintain.
5. Boiling Water
Does boiling water kill weeds? Indeed! Pouring scalding hot water on weeds will cause them to dry up and die.
They will wither and change to a yellowed color meaning that they can be removed. This option requires no additional tools or ingredients.
Nearby plants will also be safe as the water is likely to cool down without causing them any damage.
6. Newspaper Or Cardboard
This process is also known as smothering weeds. Because newspaper/cardboard is opaque, it will stop oxygen and sunlight from passing through.
Without these vital sources of energy, these bad apples will be unable to continue growing while also stopping any new ones from springing up.
After laying down the dampened newspaper or cardboard, be sure to cover it with a layer or two of mulch to further block sunlight.
As an added bonus, as the material erodes, it releases valuable nutrients into the soil, so it’s a two-for-one deal for your garden.
You really can’t go wrong with this setup. Just be careful not to smother your crops as well.
7. Landscape Fabric
This is a fairly natural method that takes a while to decompose but stands an excellent chance of preventing weeds from attaining the room they need to grow.
This special fabric is designed to smother weed seeds before they get a chance to germinate.
It’s durable and doesn’t tear or stretch on a whim and is fairly easy to find and apply.
8. Set Them On Fire
Fire might seem like an extreme solution but it’s actually quick, easy, and effective.
Of course, you want to exercise caution when using flammable devices and in this case, less is definitely more.
Using a small blowtorch spread the flame over the weeds, being very careful to target only what you want to get rid of. They don’t need to actually burn.
The excess heat will trigger internal cell damage in the weeds and cause them to burst and the weeds to wither.
9. Citrus Juice
This is a great cost-effective method that works relatively quickly and easily.
Simply put some citrus juice into a spray bottle with a little water and begin coating the weeds.
The acidic nature of the juice strips them of valuable protective membranes, causing them to wilt rather quickly.
It shouldn’t be at all hard to get a hold of some citrus juice. You can find lemons and other citrus fruits at any local market or grocery store.
This method works great for smaller weed infestations that haven’t completely taken over your garden box.
10. Leave No Space
This one requires a bit of foresight and planning.
If you plant your flowers close enough and choose enough types that cover the entire area, you should rarely have weed problems.
For example, the walker’s low catmint is a gorgeous perennial that boasts a range of violet hues.
Because it grows so thickly and widely so that light cannot pass through, there isn’t any room for weeds to develop.
11. Try Oils
Essential oils have more uses than just moisturizing skin. They can also stop weeds from ruining your garden or driveway.
Natural oils like thyme, cinnamon, and clove, when applied to the weeds, will block light and moisture.
This causes the weeds to suffocate. Other more common oils, like canola or sunflower, can also be used.
12. Add Cornmeal
When corn is processed, corn gluten is one of the natural remnants. This byproduct can help stop seeds from germinating and blossoming.
Your current, live plants will not see any effect from adding corn gluten in your soil.
Your soil will also benefit as it is rich in nitrogen, which promotes healthy soil.
13. DIY Herbicidal Spray
Another safe solution that comes up when asked how to kill weeds naturally is horticultural vinegar and Epsom salt combo.
When using epsom salt to kill weeds, it doesn’t matter what type or brand of epsom salt you use.
Mix epsom salt and vinegar at a 1:6 ratio until the salt has dissolved completely. You can also add a little organic liquid soap.
This is a very potent mixture as horticultural vinegar is much stronger than regular household vinegar.
Spray this natural herbicide directly on whatever weeds you don’t want, whether on your sidewalk or in your garden.
14. Borax Mixture
Borax is a natural mineral compound that can be used for detergents as well as a homemade weed killer.
A spray bottle will help you direct your mixture (at least two gallons of water to 8-10 ounces of borax) to the troublesome weeds.
Try to only saturate the leaves and not the actual ground. Besides getting rid of the weeds, this will also help reduce ants.
Maybe your garden could stand to be a little cuter. Enter the classic — the beloved — the ever-hilarious goats.
These guys are lean, mean, weed-munching machines.
They can reach almost any area they want and best of all, they’ll till the soil with their hooves as they move.
It’s probably best to use them before planting, however, lest they mistake your harvest for a tasty treat.
16. Safe Commercial Weed Killers
If the methods mentioned above are too much to handle, here are some commercial products that you can buy. They are all safe for use in organic gardening.
Avenger Weed Killer
This is a contact herbicide that is made from all-natural ingredients. Avenger Weed Killer is OMRI listed, fast-acting, and an excellent alternative to Glyphosate and other synthetic weed killers.
Weed Dragon Torch Kit
This is perfect for those who do a lot of spot weeding. Weed Dragon comes with a powerful torch that generates heat up to 2,050° F. The kit comes with all the necessary fittings and instructions for safe use and convenience.
17. Soil Solarization
This one is particularly effective at reclaiming weed-infested land.
Not only is solarization environmentally friendly and organic, but it also uses the sun itself to essentially fry the weeds and their seeds both at once.
It will destroy any bacteria or fungi that may have gotten a foothold in the soil.
Just be careful when making use of this method, as it’s entirely indiscriminate. You may wind up killing beneficial organisms as well as harmful ones.