Garden Hack of the Month: How to Kill Weeds without Using Harmful Chemicals

May 10, 2018

If you walk into any big, name brand DIY store, you’ll notice the huge displays of Round-Up, Weed n’ Feed, and plenty of other nose tingling chemicals to help you try to combat the weeds throughout your yard and garden. While easy to reach for, those products do a lot more harm than you may think. They’re not only unsafe for you, your children, and your pets but those chemicals end up in storm water drains and bodies of water close to you and can have negative effects on plants, animals, and fish.

These non-toxic weed killers will help you say goodbye to your pesky weeds while being environmentally friendly and will help keep your family and pets safe from harmful chemicals.

Pull Them Out- I know no one wants to hear this but pulling weeds straight out of the ground is the most effective way of removing them from your yard and garden. This removes the whole plant including the root which is exactly what you want to do. Mowing them down may help for a short amount of time but there are quite a few weeds that come back easily if their roots are still in the ground.

Mulching- Once you have your weeds pulled out, mulching in your garden beds will help deter new ones from germinating. Mulching can also help your soil retain moisture and depending on the mulch used, can be a good source of nutrients.

Mulched Garden Bed

Sheet Mulching- If you have a large area that you want to get rid of weeds in, you can sheet mulch the entire area. Read more about how to sheet mulch here.

Before, During, and After Sheet Mulching

Before, During, and After Sheet Mulching

Boiling Water (Salt)- Boiling hot water (with or without salt added) can be useful for weeds in driveways and walkways. It’s inexpensive and easy to use and works to control annual and perennial weeds. This is not recommended for weeds in your lawn or near plants that you want to live because boiling water will kill any plants it touches.

Weed Torch/Weed Steamer- A weed torch works wonders on weeds but it should be used with caution and definitely not during dry summer months. It’s best to use them in driveways or cracks in concrete or patio joints where the flame won’t catch anything else on fire. Once you’ve flamed those weeds away, it’s good to spray some water down and sweep up the remnants as an extra precaution. Weed steamers work in the same way that boiling water does but with super-heated steam instead of straight boiling water.

Weed Torch Photo Courtesy of Bernzomatic

Weed Torch Photo Courtesy of Bernzomatic

Vinegar/Dish Soap- Vinegar (with optional add-ins) is a popular choice to get rid of weeds. This is another weed killer that will also kill any other plant in its path so make sure you’re not spraying it on or near the plants you like. This option is also best done on a bright, sunny day as the heat from the sun will help scorch the weeds. You can mix the vinegar with water, salt (or Epsom salts), and/or dawn dish washing liquid. The supplies are relatively cheap and are safe to use around children and pets. A recipe I’ve used that has worked in the past:

  • 1 gallon of plain white vinegar
  • 1 cup of Epsom salts
  • 1 tbsp dawn dish washing liquid.

Corn Gluten- In early Spring before your weeds start to pop up you can use corn gluten to stop them from germinating. Corn gluten is considered a pre-emergent because of this. It’s safe to use in your lawn and around mature plants and is safe to be used in yards where kids and pets run around. If you decide to use this method, timing is key. You’ll want to check out your forecast and plan for a day where it won’t rain for 48 hours after applying it. It can then be applied again in fall. Corn gluten also acts as a fertilizer for your lawn making it a good option as long as you can time it correctly.

Corn Gluten Photo Courtesy of Green Talk

Corn Gluten Photo Courtesy of Green Talk

What non-toxic ways have you found that works best to remove weeds from your yard and garden? Drop us a line in the comment!


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