Weeds are troublesome for gardeners, and reaching for a bottle of herbicide on the store shelf seems like the easy solution. Weed killers save you time and help reduce the tedious, backbreaking work of manually pulling weeds from the beds. However, as much as herbicides seem to be beneficial, their cons outweigh the pros, leaving more and more gardeners switching to homemade weed killers.
The Dangers of Weed Killers
You may already be aware of the landmark lawsuit against Monsanto, the maker of Roundup – one of the most popular weed killers on the market. The company was forced to pay $289million to a groundskeeper who is faced with terminal cancer. The verdict stated that their product led to his cancer, and now the company faces over 8,000 more lawsuits.
Glyphosate is the deadly ingredient in Roundup, which is listed as a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organisation. While Roundup is effective at killing weeds, spraying chemicals around our families and food-producing plants is dangerous to our health. Glyphosate is also connected to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and miscarriage.
Using herbicides poses dangers to animals as well. Gardeners must be careful not to expose their pets to weed killers. An accidental ingestion can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal discomfort. You must also be careful not to spray around children, which means you must keep your children inside for several hours after application.
Organic Weed Killing Methods
Turning to a toxic herbicide should be the absolute last resort. Instead, try one or several of these organic methods for killing weeds:
- Laying Newspaper: Laying down layers of newspaper on your garden bed blocks sunlight and oxygen from reaching the weeds. Weeds need sunlight and oxygen to grow just as much as other plants, so smothering weeds is an easy way to stop weed growth.
- Use Organic Mulches: Organic mulches decompose over time, sending nutrients back into the soil. Newspapers are one option, but you can also use grass clippings, shredded leaves, compost, or straw.
- Vinegar: Vinegar is a common ingredient in homemade weed killer recipes. The acetic acid in vinegar takes the life out of plant roots. It serves best when used on young plants with immature roots, but it doesn’t do well on plants with waxy leaves.
The only bad thing about vinegar is that it’s not selective. You must make sure to spray it on the weeds only because it will kill other plants as well.
- Vodka: Try making your weeds drunk! Vodka, when mixed with dish soap and water, is an effective homemade weed killer for sun-loving plants. It isn’t as effective in dealing with shade-loving plants.
- Boiling Water: It’s crazy to think that something so simple is truly an effective weed killer. We tend to overthink matters sometimes. Boiling water, poured over weeds, causes them to burn and die. It’s a great solution for pouring over sidewalk crack weeds.
- Manual Elimination: So, you might not want to manually pull all your weeds, but it’s one of the most effective methods because you can remove the entire root system as well.
- Cornmeal: Spread cornmeal over the soil and around the base of your plants. Cornmeal is an effective herbicide in preventing the growth of crabgrass, dandelions, and chickweed. This homemade weed killer works because cornmeal gluten works as an organic herbicide that doesn’t contain toxins. Make sure you look for NON-GMO cornmeal!
- Rubbing Alcohol: Anyone who has rubbing alcohol in their medicine cabinet can make homemade weed killer! All you have to do is mix two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol with one quart of water. Spray the weeds with this solution, which works by removing the moisture from the weeds.
Homemade Weed Killer Recipes
Making homemade weed killer sprays is simple and cost-effective. Aside from the possible health risks of using chemical weed killers, they’re downright pricey! You can make gallons of weed killer for the price of one bottle. Here are some simple weed killer sprays you can make at home.
- Simple Weed Killer Recipe: Mix in a spray bottle. Make sure you spray only the weeds you want to eliminate. This spray doesn’t distinguish good vs. unwanted plants.
- 1-gallon vinegar
- 1 cup salt
- 1 tablespoon dish soap
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dish soap
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 1-quart white vinegar
Using Homemade Weed Killer
It might seem like more work to use a homemade weed killer, but the extra steps are worth protecting your family and yourself from the dangers of chemical herbicides. Scientists still are unsure of the complete damages caused by the overuse of herbicides, but one thing is for sure – they aren’t safe. Instead, switch to organic methods of weed removal to keep your family safe and your garden free of weeds.