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. Some of the alternatives to using pesticides are not only simple but better for your health.
Pull Them Out
This is one of the best and cheapest ways to get rid of weeds. 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 weeds 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 it, using a machete to dig under the roots while pulling the weeds makes it a whole lot easier.
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 apply, simply combine the vinegar with a couple drops of dish soap in a bottle with a spray nozzle.
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.
Lay Down 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, the weeds 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 two of mulch to further block sunlight.
Set Them on Fire (Ouch!)
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.
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, 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.
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.
Add Corn Gluten
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.
It doesn’t matter what type or brand of salt you use, any will be a great tool for getting rid of your weeds. Mix salt and water at a 1:6 ratio until the salt has dissolved completely. Spray it directly on whatever weeds you don’t want, whether on your sidewalk or in your garden. Salt should be used sparingly, however, as it can destroy your other plants.
Borax is a natural mineral compound that can be used for detergents as well as homemade herbicide. 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.