How to Organically Kill Weeds

One of the most difficult and common gardening problems is learning how to get rid of weeds. Weeds can be a real pain to deal with in your garden or landscaping instead of growing beautiful flowers, herbs, and vegetables that you want in your garden. Fortunately, there are a lot of options for how to kill weeds without using chemicals. We’ve laid out some ways for you to consider using when trying to weed control organically.

What are weeds?

Weeds are plants that grow where they’re not wanted. They can quickly take over an area and crowd out desired plants. Weeds can be a particular problem in gardens and landscapes, but can also invade crop fields, pastures, roadsides, and other disturbed areas.

There are many types of weeds, but all share one thing in common: they’re tough enough to survive and reproduce in conditions that aren’t ideal for most plants. Weeds typically have rapid growth rates, which allows them to outcompete slower-growing desirable plants.

What makes weeds so difficult to control?

Weeds have several characteristics that make them difficult to control:

  • Weed seeds often remain dormant in the soil for years until conditions are right for them to germinate.
  • Weeds grow and reproduce quickly, so they can quickly take over an area.
  • Many weeds are resistant to herbicides.


Why should you get rid of weeds?

Weeds are pesky plants that can quickly take over your garden or lawn. Not only do they reduce the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space, but they can also be harmful to other plants.

Weeds compete with desirable plants for light, water, and nutrients, which can stunt their growth or even kill them. In addition, weeds can harbor insects and diseases that can damage your other plants.

Weeds also increase the time and energy required for the maintenance of your garden. When they are not removed, they can overtake a healthy plant and kill it.

How do you control weeds organically?

Organic weed killers don’t have the same shock value as their chemical counterparts, but they’re generally regarded as being safer, and more environmentally friendly. If you’re looking to get rid of weeds in a garden or lawn without resorting to harsh chemicals, there are several natural and organic weed killer techniques worth considering.

Hand removal

Pulling or hoeing the plants out of the ground by hand is a tried-and-true method for controlling small areas of weeds. It’s important to remove as much of the weed plant as possible, including the roots, if you want to prevent them from coming back.

Use of mulch

Mulch acts as a barrier between the soil and the air, which helps to prevent weed growth. You can either spread mulch on top of the soil or place it around plants in a garden bed.

Mulching helps keep down weed growth by blocking sunlight and preventing seeds from germinating. You can use organic mulches such as straw, compost, bark chips, or leaves.

Boiling water

Boiling water is a great way to kill weeds quickly and easily. Just pour boiling water directly on the weed plants, making sure to wet the leaves and stems well.

This method is most effective on annual weeds, which are plants that complete their life cycle in one year or less. It’s important to note that this method will not work on perennial weeds, which are plants that live for more than two years.

Vinegar

Vinegar is a natural herbicide that can be used to control weeds. It works by causing the plant cells to burst, leading to the death of the weed.

You can use vinegar as a spot treatment for weeds in your driveway or sidewalk cracks, or as a general spray for large areas such as your lawn or garden. Vinegar is nonselective, which means it will kill any plant life it touches, so be careful not to spray it where you don’t want the plants to die.

You can make your own vinegar herbicide by mixing white vinegar with salt. The higher the concentration of vinegar in the mixture, the more effective it will be at killing weeds.

Spray the individual plant with vinegar until it’s completely soaked. Do this early in the morning or at night when there are fewer chances of direct sunlight hitting the plants so they don’t get burned by the sun and by the vinegar at the same time.

Salt

Salt is a natural weed killer that can also be used to control other pests in your gardens, such as slugs and snails.

It works by dehydrating plants and causing them to die from lack of moisture. Salt is most effective when used on young weeds just starting to grow, but it’s important not to overdo this method because salts can build up in the soil over time, which may lead to soil degradation eventually leading to environmental pollution.

Borax weed killer

This solution works especially well on weeds growing between cracks in bricks or stones, on sidewalks, driveways, and patios. Simply mix 3 tablespoons of Borax with 1 gallon of water in a spray bottle and apply directly to the weeds.

This method is best used when applied directly to the leaves of young, actively growing weeds. It’s important not to use this method on plants that you want to keep because it can kill them as well.

Cornmeal gluten

Cornmeal gluten is a natural fertilizer that contains the same active ingredient as some commercial herbicides. It works by preventing germination and killing off the root system of young seedlings.

Cornmeal gluten is best used on young weeds that have just begun to emerge from the soil but are not yet fully established.

Old newspapers or cardboard boxes

Covering an area with newspaper or cardboard will effectively block sunlight from reaching the soil below, making it impossible for any new weeds to grow in that area. You may need to add a layer of mulch on top if you want it to be effective over time.

Flame weeding

Flame weeding is a non-chemical method of weed control that uses heat to kill the plants. It’s a great option if you want to avoid using any harsh chemicals in your garden.

Flame weeding is most effective on young weeds, so it’s important to catch them early before they have a chance to spread.

Be sure to wear protective gear when using this method, including a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and closed-toe shoes. Also, make sure to keep any flammable materials away from the area where you’re weeding.

Landscape fabric

Using landscape fabric underneath mulch can help reduce weed growth even more. The fabric blocks sunlight and prevents weeds from growing up through the mulch.

Solarizing

This is another non-chemical method to kill weeds. This is done by covering an area with clear plastic and allowing the sun’s rays to penetrate into the ground below, raising soil temperatures high enough that they will kill off any weed seeds that might be present there.

The best time of year for this process is during the summer, when temperatures are more likely to be consistently high.

You can also use this method to kill off any weed seeds that might be present in your soil before you plant a new garden.

Tips for preventing weeds

  • Before planting vegetables in your yard, wait until late summer when all the seeds have been dropped off their flowers onto the soil. Then cover each area with black plastic for about three months before putting down mulch and planting.
  • Use a hoe to chop the weed off at ground level; this is especially effective for perennial weeds that come back every year.
  • Apply a thick layer of mulch around plants to suppress weed growth; make sure to keep the mulch away from the stems of plants so it doesn’t cause them to rot.
  • Spray weeds with boiling water or vinegar; be careful not to get these solutions on desirable plants.
  • Install landscape fabric and gravel over the soil in problem areas to prevent weed growth.


Frequently Asked Questions


How long will it take for the weeds to die?

Weeds can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to die after being treated organically. Be patient and consistent with your treatments, and eventually, you will see a noticeable difference in the weed population.

Can I use this method on my flowers?

Some of these methods, such as using boiling water or vinegar, can be harmful to flowers. It’s best to stick with organic methods that are specifically designed for plants.

Is there a specific time of year when I should solarize my garden?

The best time of year to solarize your garden is during the summer, when temperatures are more likely to be consistently high. You can also use this method to kill off any weed seeds that might be present in your soil before you plant a new garden.

Will grass grow back after vinegar?

Yes, grass will grow back after the vinegar is applied. However, it will be weaker and less likely to thrive. Repeated applications of vinegar may eventually kill the grass altogether.

Conclusion

Organic weed control is just as effective as using herbicides. It can be a little more time-consuming, but it’s worth it to avoid putting toxins in the soil. Use this guide as a reference for ways to organically kill weeds and limit their growth from season to season.