How to Kill Weeds Without Chemicals

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Of course there are a million and one chemical weed killers on the market but more and more people are becoming aware of the grave consequences of using them on lawns and gardens. Not only can they infiltrate the aquifer, but they can also be a hazard to us in more immediate ways as well. For example, if you grow any food plants at home then you are subjecting yourself and your family to hazardous chemicals that plants absorb when ‘drinking’ moisture from the ground. Also, children and pets that play on the lawn or walk through the garden can absorb toxic chemicals through their skin. For these reasons alone, many homeowners are asking how to kill weeds without chemicals.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

Although it sounds like a bad pun, no pun is intended! The easiest way to get to some of those pesky weeds is to get to the root of the problem – the roots! One of the most dreaded enemies to anyone who wants a nicely manicured lawn is dandelions. In fact, any type of germinating weed can be easily remedied without the use of chemicals by treating them before they germinate. What happens is that when a weed germinates it begins to spread out tiny ‘feeder roots.’

This stage, where they just begin spreading, is called ‘emergence.’ You want to stop the feeder roots from emerging which is called a ‘pre-emergence’ weed killer. The product that is most recommended by environmentalists and horticulturists alike is corn gluten meal which can be found in many lawn and garden stores as well as from licensed dealers. It is 100% organic and there are no synthetic chemicals in the compound whatsoever. Simply spread it in the manner you would any dry fertilizer or weed killer and you are home free.

Spring Cleaning Takes on a Whole New Meaning

Now that you’ve learned to deal with your lawn it’s time to tackle your garden. As spring approaches, we get something commonly referred to as ‘Spring Fever.’ We open all the windows, air out all the dust and odors which have accumulated during the long winter months and wash our homes from top to bottom. If you start early enough, you can use those very same cleaning solutions to prevent your garden from being infiltrated by unwanted weeds!

There are actually only three basic ingredients in the solution you will whip up to kill garden weeds and you will most likely have all three of them in your kitchen! Those ingredients include vinegar, table salt and dish soap. Actually there are several different variations of this weed-killing recipe, but the most common is:

  • 1 gallon vinegar
  • 1 cup table salt
  • 1 Tbsp dish soap

It is suggested that you pour the vinegar in a pot along with the salt and heat it until the point where the salt dissolves. Add the dish soap and stir gently. Allow the mixture to cool and then all you need to do is fill a spray bottle. At this point you can do one of two things. You can spray the ground where you want to prevent weeds from cropping up or you can spray the solution directly onto the leaves of the weeds. The acidity will kill them within a short time. Unfortunately, you need to be careful not to get the solution on the plants you want to live or in the ground in close proximity to them as this formula will also kill your garden plants by upsetting the pH balance needed for them to thrive.

Organic Mulch to Suppress Weeds

Spreading mulch on the ground is not only great for preventing the growth of weeds, but it can also act as a fertilizer if you use the right kind. The principle behind mulching is to completely cover the ground where you would like to prevent any type of plant growth whatsoever so that nothing can sprout and come up through. There are actually several types of mulch that can be employed but two of them are not organic or environmentally friendly and should be avoided if you are looking to go natural. Some types of mulch are manufactured from recycled rubber from tires while other kinds are sheets of plastic with holes through which plants can sprout.

Some people use rocks or gravel to cover the ground where they want to suppress weeds, but this does not actually benefit the plants you would like to nourish. The best type of mulch to use would add nutrients to the soil so that plants in close proximity would get the benefits from those nutrients. Any type of grass, plant or wood clippings, if spread heavily enough, would both smother weeds and allow nutrients to enter the soil as they further degrade. However, one of the best types of mulch can be made from the family’s compost pile. Throughout the year, table scraps (as well as lawn and garden clippings) are piled up in some remote corner of the property. The compost can be used as mulch to cover the ground in gardens to prevent weeds from sprouting up but will also add abundant nutrients to the soil. This type of mulch is ideal for vegetable gardens.

With the growing concern over our overuse and misuse of so many chemicals, many people are going organic. It truly is possible to keep weeds to a minimum naturally and safely, most of the time with simple products that are probably just lying around the house. You can easily learn how to kill weeds without chemicals if you set your mind to it while protecting the safety of your family and the environment at the same time. And if you didn’t know it, natural solutions are a whole lot cheaper than commercially manufactured products as well!

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Jamey Wagner

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