Nothing ruins your garden faster than obnoxious weeds. They are ugly, harsh relentless and the enemy of every gardener. These uninvited guests not only ruin the look of your garden beds, but they are stealing both space and nutrients from the plants you are trying to grow. Whether you want to grow plants or beautiful blooms, weeds got to go.
Getting rid of weeds is often easier said than done. First, many harsh weed kills can actually kill your plants as well. At the very least, they often affect your blooms or vegetable yield. Second, pulling weeds every single day is back-breaking work that is often difficult, especially for older gardeners, and time-consuming. Most of us don’t have time to spend pulling weeds every day.
Third, sophisticated systems, methods, and tools are often expensive and ineffective anyway.
To help you in your fight against pesky weeds, we have gathered the most popular ways to kill weeds naturally. These methods have been tried and proven by master gardeners across the country to take care of weeds once and for all (at least for now).
1. Give them yesterday’s news
An old newspaper is a great way to block sunlight and oxygen from reaching the soil. This method will smother weeds already sprouted and prevent new ones from growing. Throw down newspaper in 10-sheet layers, get it nice and wet to hold it down, and then cover with mulch. The newspaper will eventually decompose and actually nourish the soil, while eliminating your weedy frenemies.
2. Cup of tea, minus the tea.
Use a tea kettle to make a nice steaming solution of boiling water and then take it outside and douse your weeds. They will burn up and die right before your eyes and it’s a rather satisfying way to start your day. This is a particularly good way to eliminate driveway and walkway weeds, because the boiling water will run off impervious surfaces and cool before it reaches border plants.
3. Keep the median clear
Two ways to prevent weeds in between garden rows is by using old shower curtains or scraps of carpet underneath the soil in areas where you’re not planting. These seemingly useless household items will keep weeds from ever showing their unwanted heads. Preventing weeds in between rows can also help control them in the plants themselves.
4. Hit ‘em with a little salad dressing
Vinegar will suck the life out of plant leaves. The acetic acid is most destructive to young plants with immature roots, making it the perfect weed killer. However, vinegar is an equal opportunity killer, so it’s important to protect your other plants and be careful to keep your spray on-target.
Tip: Remove the bottom from a 2-liter plastic soda bottle, and place it over the weed. Spray vinegar into the top of the bottle, which will keep it from splattering or over spraying on your plants and vegetables.
For established weeds, you may need something stronger. Sometimes you can purchase a vinegar solution wherever your garden supplies are sold. Look for a twenty percent acetic acid vinegar solution that can either be sprayed or injected to kill weeds at the source. Always be very careful about where you apply, and try to avoid spraying on breezy days.
5. Get them drunk
If oil and vinegar doesn’t work, hit them up with a drink after work. Just enough to get them buzzed is also enough to keep them from popping up again. Mix 1 ounce mixed with 2 cups of water. This solution will dry out weeds that live in the sun. Again, it’s important to protect plants that are nearby. You can use the soda bottle trick, or inject the solution near the base. Keep in mind, this works best when the sun helps to dry out the plant, so it might not be as effective on shady plants.
6. Give them a good cleaning
Soap is a great way to kill hardy weeds. The oil present in soap can break down waxy or hairy weed surfaces, making them vulnerable to desiccants. So adding liquid dish detergent to a vinegar or vodka solution helps to keep the liquid on the leaves and makes them more susceptible to the negative effects. Just a few drops is more than enough, you don’t need to overdo it. Soap is also great to use because it makes the leaves shiny so you can keep track of what you’ve sprayed.
7. A little sprinkling of corn
This is an oldie but a goodie. Gardner’s have been using corn gluten meal for years to prevent seeds from growing into weeds. Corn gluten is available in granules, a fine powder, or pellets. No matter what form you buy it in, it has the ability to prevents germination and acts as a “pre-emergent” weed suppressant. It won’t kill established weeds or plants but will prevent new weeds from growing. Spread it around your plants evenly only after seedlings and transplants have taken hold in the soil. After harvest, you can spread the meal across the whole planting area to prevent late-season weeds.
If you’ve tried them all and nothing seems to be making a difference, you can usually find organic and natural weed killers at your home and garden supply store. Anytime you purchase a weed killer it’s important that you know the ingredients that are in it, and the type of weeds you’re trying to target. Dumping a bunch of products on your plants and hoping something works is bound to do more harm than good. If you’ve got a pesky weed problem that isn’t going away, take the time to research the type of weeds you’re dealing with and what is making it so easy for them to take over. Take your research to the local nursery or garden club. Learn more from the experts in your area as to what they use and what might work best in your region to kick those pests to the curb.