Natural Effective Options for the War on Weeds

Updated on August 8, 2018
VVanNess profile image

Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, blogger at Healthy at Home, and educator. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.

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If you’re anything like me, when it comes to each of the problems you encounter in your household, having fought to get rid of all of the chemicals and toxins in your house, the last thing you want to do is use the store-bought chemicals for anything. Personally, I have a little boy who is very curious, and very creative. My husband has to be very careful where he store his tools in the garage, and we have to keep anything even remotely dangerous way above his head.

Yes, the garage. He sees his daddy working with tools out there, taking apart and building various projects, and so he spends a lot of time out there with his tools, continuing where daddy left off while he’s at work. We have tons of toddler appropriate tools out in the garage for him and my husband is great for leaving out little projects for him during the day, but being in the garage means he has access to anything we store out there.

Inside the house, I make all of our own soaps, detergents and cleaners. We use all natural “medications” and even the toothpaste, sunscreen and bug spray are homemade from all natural ingredients. But I’ve learned that outside is just as important, not only because our son likes to play in the garage where we store it all, but we have two big dogs and a cat that like to eat anything that smells yummy as well. It seems only right that the care I take inside to keep all toxins at bay should extend to our front and back yard as well.

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A number of years ago, before our kids came along, we learned the hard way that chives growing in the garden without protection are poisonous to dogs. Unfortunately we also learned that they are virtually impossible to kill. We tried everything to get rid of them for the sake of our dogs. We tried pulling them out by the roots, various weed killers, gasoline, and we even covered them with boxes to keep out the sun. Nothing worked. It was only when I started using some natural methods, that I felt better about anyway (and were considerably cheaper), that we started making some headway.

I haven’t even thought of all of those methods in years, as we haven’t had a real problem since. However, I’ve had many requests lately for some natural weed killer solutions for all of the crazy weeds growing in front yards this time of year, and I’m happy to oblige. Here you can find many great ideas for getting rid of weeds naturally, without using harmful chemicals. I hope you find what you are looking for!

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Pull Them Out

I think this is the obvious method. Periodically, go through your yard or flower bed and pull the easy ones out. This is the cheapest method, it provides you a bit of calorie burning exercise, and it is a sure fire way to literally get rid of your weeds. Be sure that you are pulling from underneath the soil, by the roots, preferably after a rainstorm. After it rains, the soil is a bit softer and will let go of stubborn weeds a little easier. If you don’t get the roots, there’s a strong chance that they will come right back, but we have solutions for that too.

Mulch or Straw

By covering up the weeds, especially if you want to start with newspaper or weed paper first, you are blocking them from the sunlight and air they need to thrive. The mulch or straw fills in your yard and makes it look nice. It has other bonuses too. Mulch or straw is such an easy fix. It also helps keep your soil cool and wet for the plants you want to grow. Make sure to keep it around two inches deep and off your lawn, since it will also kill your grass. However, if you have large brown patches in your lawn, or pulling the weeds leaves gaps, you can also fill in your lawn with mulch to keep weeds from coming back there.

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Boiling Water

For areas like cracks in sidewalks and driveways, take a pot of boiling water and pour it directly on the weeds. The boiling water will kill them immediately. Be sure to get close to the plant and pour slowly, to avoid being splashed. If the weeds re-grow, repeat the process until the area is free and clear. If you want to add some salt to the water, the process will be even faster and more effective, but too much salt could keep anything from ever growing there again, so be careful around your lawn, garden or flower beds. You’ll be shocked at how effective this is.

Mow Your Lawn

This doesn’t sound like the fool proof method you’re looking for does it? It sounds more like a cop out, but it actually has many purposes. By mowing your lawn regularly, a little longer than normal, you will be taking the heads of off your weeds before they have a chance to spread their seeds, the grass clippings will fill in your lawn like a mulch, smothering the air and light from those plants you don’t want growing, and keeping your lawn a little longer will allow the grass to fill in and choke out the undesirables. By mowing your lawn, and keeping it a little longer, you’re giving your lawn a leg up on growing nice and thick, and keeping the weeds out.

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Use Ground Cover

Weeds are those plants that grow in all of the most annoying places, being anywhere you don’t want them to be. Honestly, anywhere that they have bare ground and access to sunlight and water, they are going to thrive. If you don’t want weeds in your lawn, you’ve got to fill in the gaps. If you don’t want weeds in your garden and flowerbeds, you can cover them in mulch, or fill it in with ground cover. Essentially, there is only so much space for roots and water for nourishment to go around in one area, which is why vegetable seeds suggest giving the crops plenty of space. By increasing the competition, but not too much, in your gardens and flower beds, you will naturally keep weeds out. However, make sure you are properly feeding and watering those plants you want to thrive so you damage them.

When getting rid of weeds, even naturally, there are nice ways to get rid of them and much more aggressive ways. The previous methods suggested are the nicer ways to rid yourself of weeds. By using any of the following ways I suggest, we are talking about kill everything green in sight and prevent anything from ever growing in that spot again kind of solutions. Just a heads up!

Lemon Juice

Citrus of any kind is very acidic. This kind of acidity is going to kill anything that it comes into contact with plant-wise. When sprayed directly on the leaves of a plant, it eats away at the waxy protective coating, eventually drying out the plant and killing it. Sometimes the roots survive, so repeated applications may be necessary. The more you coat the leaves of the plant, the better. If you are serious about killing your weeds, this is a great way to do so. All you have to do is fill a spray bottle with lemon juice and saturate any perpetrators. It may take a couple of days, but once the solution dries up, the weeds will be dead.

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Vinegar

Vinegar is another one that will kill anything green in your yard, garden, or flower bed. Be very careful about getting this on any plants that you want to survive, or using it to clear weeds from a previous garden bed that you want to use again. Vinegar is a contact or “burndown” herbicide, killing what it touches within hours or days. You can either directly pour it on your weeds straight from the tub or bottle, or you can pour it into a spray bottle.

Be forewarned though that horticultural vinegar is not the same thing as household vinegar and is about 20 percent acetic acid. Household vinegar has 5 percent. Sobering details: In concentrations over 11 percent, acetic acid can burn skin and cause eye damage, and concentrations of 20 percent and above are corrosive to tin, aluminum, iron, and concrete and can even cause blindness. Such herbicides are meant to be applied while wearing goggles and protective clothing. The horticultural version is no longer a safe natural method for killing weeds, but a very strong, very dangerous commercial one.

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Salt

Finally, salt is another natural and effective weed killer, but it still falls into the category of aggressive methods. First of all, use the cheapest kind of salt you can find in the supermarket—not sea salt, rock salt, Epsom salts (not even close to table salt, trust me on that) or anything fancy. Just cheap iodized or un-iodized generic salt also known as sodium chloride (NaCl). Plan well before you go this permanent route though. Like vinegar, salt will kill anything green in its path. The salt will essentially penetrate and leach into the soil. It may take several applications, but in time the presence of salt will “sterilize” the soil in this area so that nothing will grow there. This is a permanent fix, so make sure you are not using this anywhere you have other desirable plants or ever want to plant something again.

Eat Them!

Why fight with your weeds when you can use them as a nutritious part of your daily meals. I’m not kidding! I have been reading this book call Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons that is all about finding all of the edible plants in your local environment that have been all but forgotten, and are usually just tossed in the trash. Most of us live in situations where food and money for food is always short. Everyone is always complaining about how expensive healthy food is, and not being able to make better food choices for their families because of cost. What if I told you that it was completely possible to live off nothing but the plants that you can naturally find in your backyard or in a mile around your house growing in fields, open spaces, or even on the side of the roads? It’s possible.

I’m not sure how popular this will be, but I plan on trying to write a few articles along this line once I have done more research and had some experience in this area. It’s really interesting stuff. Consider looking at your weeds a little differently. Maybe you could use them to help you, rather than spending big money, or lots of time getting rid of them.

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All in all, you don’t need fancy chemicals or expensive products to get rid of the pesky weeds you have growing around your home. Seriously, you have plenty of products in your own kitchen, including good old elbow grease, that are natural and safe to use in your garden…well, safe for the kids and pets that is.

Maybe you are just looking for a way to save some money on your lawn and garden care, or possibly you’re more like me, and also want to use all-natural products in and around your home. Whatever your motivation, the possibilities are available to you, at whatever level in the war against weeds that you are in.

Your weeds are definitely not just going to go away. If you truly want a weed free yard, you’ll have to be proactive. I have listed a variety of nice and easy ways to rid yourself of weeds that might take a few days, and some really aggressive ways to kill everything green in sight and ensure that nothing will ever grow in that spot again. You can also start looking at your weeds a little differently if you so choose that path. Weeds can bring pretty flowers into your lawn, they can feed and provide for the many insects living in the area, and they can also, if you’re so bold, provide food for your family.

Whatever way you choose to attack you weeds, I hope you find success!

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Victoria Van Ness

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      • VVanNess profile imageAUTHOR

        Victoria Van Ness 

        2 months ago from Fountain, CO

        Exactly!

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        2 months ago from Central Florida

        Victoria, I use straight white (table) vinegar on the weeds that grow in driveway and sidewalk cracks. I pour it directly on whatever's growing there. Within a day, the greenery is brown and dead. Then all I do is either pull them up or sweep them away.

      • VVanNess profile imageAUTHOR

        Victoria Van Ness 

        2 months ago from Fountain, CO

        Thank you for being such a big supporter. I love getting to read all of your comments each day!

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        2 months ago from Sunny Florida

        I love all your suggestions for getting rid of weeds. I would have never thought of using boiling water! I will remember your suggestions. It is great to be so careful.

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