How to Rid Your Yard of Weeds Naturally, Without Harming Other Plants
Keeping the weeds in your yard under control does not have to involve toxic chemicals. Consider a few of these chemical-free ways to kill and control weeds before reaching for the weed killer.
Mulch can be defined as anything that covers and smothers weeds, including biodegradable items like newspaper and cardboard. In addition to helping suppress weeds, mulch also helps to conserve moisture. An organic mulch also breaks down to make your soil more fertile. For best use, apply a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic material, like straw, grass clippings, pine needles, or bark. Wood mulches are also effective, but keep in mind that they remove nitrogen from the soil in order to break down, which pulls nitrogen and nutrients away from your plants. Try not to apply mulch right up against tree trunks or plant stalks, as it can lead to decay or disease.
Another option for removing weeds without harming nearby plants is anchoring a thin, clear sheet of plastic over the area you want to kill weeds during the hottest part of the summer. The sun heats the ground and kills the weeds (and their seeds!). Leave the plastic in place for at least four weeks to see lasting results. Just keep in mind that the heat will also kill organisms that are beneficial.
A propane torch can also be used to deal with weeds. Just be sure to wait for a calm, non-windy day, and use extreme caution when burning off weeds. Nearby grass and plants will also be killed using this technique, so use it in areas without plants you want to keep, like between the bricks of a brick pathway, or between the cracks of a concrete sidewalk.
Weeding By Hand
Weeding by hand is more than just grabbing a hold of the weed and pulling. It’s very important to remove a weed’s roots when weeding by hand to stop it from regrowing. To accomplish this, you may need a dandelion weeder (a special tool with a forked end) or another sharp implement that enables you to dig into the soil to remove the roots. If you don’t have any tools handy, pulling the weed out as close to the roots as possible is the next best option.
There’s no doubt that boiling water kills plant tissues. However, much like flaming, the stream of water can prove difficult to control if you’re trying to spot weed.
Natural Weed Killers
- Corn Gluten Meal: A byproduct of corn milling, corn gluten meal works very well at preventing seeds from growing. It is often sold as a pre-emergent organic herbicide for lawn weed-control. Keep in mind that in order for it to be effective, it must be applied at just the right time in spring — before weeds begin to sprout. Also, it can take a few years of consistent use to see its full benefits. Avoid using corn gluten meal in beds where you plan to sow other seeds, as it will also prevent them from growing.
- Vinegar: The key ingredient that makes vinegar a weed killer is acetic acid. White vinegar, found in grocery stores, only contains about 5 percent acetic acid. This will burn the tops of weeds, but is not very likely to kill weeds with well-established roots. In order for a vinegar weed killer to be most effective, frequent application is necessary. But be careful — if applied carelessly, nearby plants can also be harmed.
- DO NOT USE SALT: While it’s true that salt kills weeds and plants, know that it also poisons the ground for years and invades groundwater sources through rain or other precipitation. In short, using any weed killer concoctions that involve soap and salt is a bad idea anywhere in your yard. They’re toxic for vegetation and the environment.