Written by Penelope Hyland, Colorado Master Gardener, 2018
While we continue to debate on what is a weed – it is typically an invasive unwanted plant that can vary from yard to yard and person to person, we can all agree that we would rather not use chemicals to eliminate weeds. Chemical weed killers usually contain glyphosate which is toxic to the environment, humans, animals, insects, microorganisms and can enter the water table for more long lasting toxic effects.
There are a multitude of natural herbicides that you can make in your kitchen to deal with the problem. Make sure you apply these to the weed only.
- Boiling water – pour boiling water over the weeds; make sure you pour the water only over the weeds desired to be eliminated and not over any other plants.
- Soap – mix 5 tbsp dish soap with 4 c water in a spray bottle; coat the weeds with the soapy water; this works best on hot days.
- Vinegar – pickling vinegar contains 9% acetic acid but white vinegar as well as apple cider vinegar work as well; spray only on weeds as it will also kill other plants.
- Vinegar solution – equal parts of vinegar, salt, and dish soap; spray only on weeds as it will kill whatever plant it touches.
- Rubbing alcohol – spray on leaves of weeds.
- Alcohol solution – mix 1 oz vodka, 2 c water, 2 drops of dish soap in spray bottle and spray on weeds.
- Salt – apply a pinch at base of plant. Salt will kill weeds but also renders the soil uninhabitable for several months so is not recommended. Its best used between pavers or on driveways.
- Corn meal gluten – as a pre-emergent; this works on seeds, sprinkle on. Keeps all seeds from germinating so don’t use in areas where growing vegetables or perennials.
- Baking soda – sprinkle over area with weeds then water.
- Pasta or potato water – pour water used to boil pasta or potatoes over desired area, the starch in the water kills the weeds
- Mulch – is desirable to use between plants in a vegetable or flower garden.
- Newspaper or cardboard – works well in large areas filled with weeds.
- Pull – pulling weeds by the root remains the most effective way to remove weeds. For those who dislike pulling weeds by hand it can actually be very therapeutic and a good form of exercise.
The very best way to keep weeds from your lawn is to maintain a healthy lawn. This involves;
- Proper depths of irrigation depending upon type of turf and time of year.
- Mowing weekly to take off ¼”.
- Keeping turf level at 3-4” tall (shorter levels allow weeds to grow)
- Apply compost first thing in the spring (sprinkle ¼” over turf in early spring).
- Maintaining a healthy lawn will naturally eliminate weeds by choking them out and not allowing them to grow.