Those dreaded ‘pesky’ weeds!
Although some lawn and garden weeds are edible (a future article), if that’s not your thing they are of no value to you. As you know, a weed is any invasive plant that can harm your gardening or landscaping effort. If you don’t control weeds, they will thrive and rapidly take control of your garden and yard. Typical invasive plants: dandelion, crab grass, foxtail, hawkweed, ragweed, knapweed, and wide variety of other weeds depending on where you live.
Are pesky weeds invading your otherwise beautiful garden or lawn? You want to get rid of them; but, do not have the time or energy to dig them up and do not want to use chemicals to get rid of them?
Pulling up or killing the roots is important for a long term weed-free area. Here is a ‘cool’ tool that will save your back and knees while you get rid of those unwanted plants.
For areas that have a concentration of weeds that are not directly embedded within your lawn or garden plants, you can spread left-over winter de-icing salt in these areas. But, be aware that salt can damage concreted areas and will burn all grasses and plants that it comes in contact with.
Better yet, try a natural non-toxic Do-It-Yourself (DIY) vinegar and soap based weed killer spray. There are several vinegar-soap based concoctions that are very effective for paths, sidewalks, borders, and driveways. It’s effectiveness depends on the type of weed, the age of the weed and the concentration of the acetic acid in the vinegar. In most cases, the treated weeds will turn brown and die within 24 hours.
Regular household vinegar (5% acetic acid) solution, can be used to kill young, tender weeds and annual weeds like crab grass. However the roots are often not killed entirely and the weeds may reappear within a few weeks. Stronger concentrations of 15%, 20% and 30% acetic acid are also available and work better at killing more mature weeds, but should be used with care.
Here are some important things to remember and precautions to take when using the vinegar-soap based DIY weed killer.
- Use a heavy grade plastic bottle or weed sprayer
- Wear protective clothing (rubber gloves and goggles) when applying.
- Keep small children and animals away from your spray area for several hours.
- Spray it directly on the leaves and try for total saturation without too much run-off.
- Surrounding plants and even your skin or eyes can be burned.
- Prevent it from drifting onto plants you don’t want to kill.
- Avoid spraying any herbicide or weed killer on windy days.
- Don’t apply if rain is expected or before watering, since water breaks down acetic acid.
- Warmth increases its effectiveness. So, apply in sunlight during the heat of the day.
- The effectiveness of acetic acid on weeds depends on both the concentration and the plant growth stage.
- Repeated applications (usually 3) improve its effectiveness.
- Although very temporary, vinegar (being an acid) can slightly alter your soil’s PH level.
Only three household ingredients are needed for basic DIY weed killer recipe.
- ½ gallon of vinegar
- ½ cup of salt
- 2 tablespoons of dish soap
Here is a video that tests the vinegar-soap based DIY Weed Killer with a slightly modified version of this recipe using Apple Cider Vinegar instead of the white vinegar.
Here is another version using Epson Salt instead of regular table salt.
And finally, here is a video that provides the instructions for making and using the original (Weed Be Gone) DIY weed killer recipe. It includes a comparison study of it’s effectiveness and cost comparison with the commercially available and highly recommended HDX Weed and Grass Killer, a very effective herbicide which uses Glyphosate as it’s primary active weed-killing ingredient. Read the HDX Weed and Grass Killer product label -and you can learn more about Glyphosate here: http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/glyphogen.html
According to the Seasoned Homemaker who is master gardener, to permanently kill weeds you can use just the 10%-20% acetic acid Vinegar alone. Or, to “nail the coffin shut”, it’s best to mix 1 gallon of 10-20% acetic acid vinegar with 1 cup of orange (or citrus) oil. If you use this mixture, be sure to use heavy rubber gloves, googles, and a heavy grade plastic bottle. Again, be aware that it will burn your skin and eyes.
Another option is to use one of the commercial Eco-friendly herbicides on the market. Look for them in the weed killer section of your local garden centers, under names like: Fast Acting Burn Out (St. Gabriel Labs), Nature’s Glory Weed and Grass Killer and Blackberry and Brush Block (Greenergy).
Weeds can be very troublesome. Use the method that is right for you to get through another great growing season will less stress.
Many sources were used for this article. I hope you enjoy it.
- HGTV – 12 Most Common Weeds
- The Garden Counselor: Weed Zinger – Facts About Vinegar
- Control Freaks: Salt, Vinegar, and Glyphosate
- Other sources are referenced within the article. Please check out the links provided for lots more great information.