Pulling weeds by hand is not always easy or practical, they’re pesky and determined to pop back up and spread in no time. If you’re looking for more natural ways to control them that don’t include harsh chemicals and are safer for children and pets (bonus: most are pretty frugal too), here is a list of DIY recipes and solutions from my collection. I’ve also included a few tips at the bottom.
1. Kill irritants dead with a good shot of vinegar. For best results, don’t dilute with water and choose a time to apply when there’s no sign of rain. A regular household variety is around 5% acetic acid concentration which will do the trick for new growth. If you can find a stronger variety (like pickling which is about 9%), that will give better results for more mature (and stubborn) species.
2. Mix a ratio of 1 part salt to 2 parts water. This is effective but keep in mind that significant amounts will cause damage to surrounding soil as well. This should only be used in places where you want no plant life (like driveways, sidewalk cracks, underneath decks and patio blocks, around the foundation of the house, etc.).You can also drizzle straight salt over top.
3. Combine 1 1/4 cups of table salt (see note above) with 1 gallon of household vinegar. Spritz where needed.
4. Fill a spray bottle with pickling vinegar and add a squirt or two of liquid dish detergent. Spray during the hottest time of the day.
5. Soap solution of 1 part liquid dish detergent to 10 parts water. Soak the pesky growth with this mix.
6. Plug in the kettle, bring water to a boil then pour the hot liquid over them (you’re basically cooking them to death).
7. Either straight lemon juice or try 1/2 cup lemon juice mixed with 1 quart household vinegar. I would only choose this method if I had more lemon juice on hand than I knew what to do with since this can get pretty pricey.
8. Common Recipe: 1 quart household vinegar, 1/4 cup salt, 2 teaspoons liquid dish detergent (select a brand that contains no bleach). Combine together and spray.
9. Corn Gluten Meal (this is different than corn meal): This is an all natural product that deters weeds spreading by seed, a great source of info regarding this method can be found here (webarchive link since page no longer online): City Of Ottawa (how and when to apply it, etc.). Effective on crabgrass, dandelions, curly dock, knotweed, lambs quarters, pigweed, plantain and others. Suitable on lawns, flowerbeds, bulb beds and vegetable gardens. Watch that the CGM that is labeled as “pre-emergent herbicide“, stuff from the feedstore doesn’t have enough protein to work. Keep in mind that using CGM affects seed growth for all types of vegetation, not just those you’re trying to get rid of.
- Many natural remedies and products will not only work, but they may also kill surrounding grass and flowers. When using a recipe, careful to apply to the weed only (keep in mind that liquids will saturate and seep into the ground where roots from favored plants may be able to reach).
- Use when there’s no sign of rain for at least a day or two, hot sunny weather will give you best results.
- Make it difficult for them to root and spread by laying newspapers and mulch in and around wanted vegetation (see tip #9: 11 Ways To Reuse Newspaper Around The House).
- Weed growth is greatly reduced with the “No Dig” method of gardening (see Try No Dig Gardening for Your Backyard Vegetables). The idea is to make a foundation of compost/mulch then only use soil where you plant (dig a hole in the mulch, stick a handful or two of dirt inside then position the seedling).
Did you know: Many unwanted irritants/weeds are beneficial in home remedies for all sorts of things and some are even edible and tasty! For example, dandelions can be transformed into a delicious syrup, wine or jelly, while plantains can be crushed to reduce itching from mosquito bites or relieve pain from bee stings. Take some time to research the ones in your area and you may find some pretty clever ways to take advantage of their benefits–you may just decide to let a few live and flourish in certain sections of your yard ;).