Nothing ruins your garden or yard like weeds, those uninvited guests that rob your plants of space and nutrients. So murder those weeds most foul, but without harmful chemicals that can do you in, too.
Who says you need standard weeding tools to kill weeds? Here are ways to kill weeds with weapons you already have around your house.
Kill the Weeds
I first attacked the weeds with a homemade, all-natural weed killer. I find that they are easier to pull out if they are dead first. I used this recipe from Consider Me Inspired. All you do is get a spray bottle, add 1/4 cup salt and 1 squirt of dish soap, and fill the rest with vinegar. For larger areas, I purchased a larger sprayer and I used this recipe from DeetlesBird. It combines 1 gallon of vinegar with 2 cups epsom salts, and 1/4 cup dish soap.
Pull the Weeds
After a few days, the weeds were dead, so I pulled them out by hand. You could probably skip this step but I was working with a walkway and didn’t want to have to look at them.
Prevent New Weeds
Finally, I wanted to cover the cracks and crevices so no more weeds would grow. I read that both cornmeal and baking soda work really well at preventing new weeds from growing, so I tried each. So far, they are both working great. But the cornmeal attracts ants! I don’t love the look of the white baking soda either but it’s better than dealing with a horde of ants. The white baking soda eventually soaked into the cracks so I’m not sure if it’s still there but I haven’t had any new weeds pop up.
A carpet of newspaper, which blocks sunlight and oxygen from reaching the soil, will smother weeds already sprouted and prevent new ones from growing. Throw down newspaper in 10-sheet layers, wet to hold it down, and cover with an inch or two of mulch. If weeds begin to grow in the mulch, add more layers, making a mulch-newspaper lasagna, which eventually will decompose and nourish the soil.
Old shower curtains and carpet samples
Spreading these useless items in garden paths or between rows will keeps weeds from ever showing their unwanted heads. Cover with mulch.
Corn gluten meal
This corn by-product stops seeds from growing into weeds. Since the meal will prevent germination, spread it around established plants, and after seedlings and transplants have taken hold in the soil. After harvest, spread the meal to prevent late-season weeds.
The acetic acid in 5% vinegar is a desiccant that sucks the life out of plant leaves. It’s most destructive to young plants with immature roots, though it just rolls off weeds with waxy leaves, like pennywort or thistle.
Make sure you cover desirables before spraying, because vinegar is an equal opportunity killer. Keep your spray on-target by removing the bottom from a 2-liter plastic soda bottle, and placing it over the weed. Spray vinegar into the mouth of the bottle, which will keep it from splattering on your vegetables.
Don’t know if vodka makes weeds fall down dead or drunk, but 1 ounce mixed with 2 cups of water and a couple of drops of dish soap will dry out weeds that live in the sun. Doesn’t work that well on shade-loving weeds. Protect desirables, because vodka will dry them out, too.
The oil in soap can break down waxy or hairy weed surfaces, making them vulnerable to desiccants. So add a few drops of liquid dish detergent to vinegar or vodka sprays to keep the solution on leaves. The soap also makes leaves shiny, which will help you keep track of what you’ve sprayed.
After you’ve made yourself a cup of tea, take the kettle outside and pour the boiling water on weeds, which will burn up. This is a particularly good way to whack driveway and walkway weeds, because the boiling water can run off impervious surfaces and cool before it reaches border plants.