Home gardeners will be happy to know that typical household products that are likely already in your pantry can help minimize the weeds that grow in your garden. Weeds are every gardener’s enemy and threaten ruining hours of hard work outside in the garden.
Organic, homemade weed killers are the obvious safe choice when tending to your home garden, with no health risks attached, in addition to low cost and the equivalent effectiveness as the harsh chemical alternative.
Are Store Bought Weed Killers Safe?
There’s always the option of spraying store-bought chemicals on your harvest to get weeds out of our sight once and for all, but below are reasons against using herbicides. It’s important to note if used according to label instructions, chemical weed killers generally won’t generate any major health effects. However, if accidentally ingested or used incorrectly, they can be harmful to humans.
- Glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup weed killer, could cause cancer if exposed in large quantities, although there’s no clear answer on that
- 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, or 2,4-D has been linked to kidney and liver damage
- Exposure can bring on mild symptoms with major health effects
- Possible long-term environmental damage
- Might kill beneficial insects
Does Homemade Weed Killer Actually Work?
Now for the million-dollar question, does DIY organic weed killer really work? The answer is yes, but not permanently. While it might require a bit more work than simply spraying herbicides on your garden, natural weed killers are the safer option and will work just as well. It’s worth mentioning that homemade weed killers aren’t as effective on the roots. There is no substitute for pulling weeds out to kill the roots permanently, however, homemade weed killers will kill them until they grow back. Additionally, organic weed killers are not one size fits all, so research the type of plant you’re weeding to see if any of the below method will work.
DIY Organic Weed Killer Recipes and Remedies
Now for the good part. The following recipes and remedies can act as a natural weed killer for your garden and won’t break the bank. You’ll notice vinegar appears twice, however, only 5% acetic acid vinegar will work as a natural pesticide.
- Boiling Water
This organic weed killer couldn’t be easier and doesn’t require anything but a pot and tap water. Simply boil the water, then slowly and carefully pour it directly on the weeds. The boiling water method works especially well for weeds growing on sidewalks or driveways. Again, this method doesn’t kill the weed’s roots, so the weeds will eventually grow back. It couldn’t be an easier method to repeat, so we like this technique.
- Vinegar, Dish Soap, Salt
The recipe for this natural pesticide is:
- 1 gallon of vinegar
- 2 cups of Epsom salt or table salt
- 1 TBSP of dish soap
Add these three simple ingredients to a spray bottle container and mix well but add the dish soap last. Let it sit for a while, so the ingredients can combine their powers successfully. When it’s time to spray on to the weeds, give it about 24 hours to do its magic and make sure it’s exposed to the sun for best results. Be sure to only spray directly to the weeds because if it reaches the soil, you might not be able to grow anything in that spot again.
- Lemon Juice and Vinegar
Lemon juice can do the job on its own, but when mixed with vinegar, it’s a strong organic weed killer. When the lemon juice, which contains citric acid, is exposed to the sun it can burn the weeds away. Start by using freshly squeezed lemon juice and pouring it into a spray bottle. If desired results aren’t there in a few days, add vinegar to the solution and it should do the trick.
This organic weed killer is just as easy as the boiled water technique, considering it’s likely you already have an old newspaper lying around the house. Newspapers work more as a weed barrier than a weed killer, acting as a preventative method of warding off weeds. Use a dense layer of newspaper by piling multiple sheets of newspaper on top of the soil. It’s unfortunately not as simple as just placing some newspaper down on the soil. Follow these steps:
- Pull any existing weeds
- Water the soil
- Place the newspaper on top of only the areas where you want the weeds to disappear
- Wet the newspaper so it doesn’t fly away with the first sign of breeze or wind
- Vodka or Gin
Liquor, specifically vodka or gin, can work as a homemade weed killer and it can also give yourself a celebratory drink for your weed-free garden! If you have Isopropyl alcohol, or rubbing alcohol, you can use that instead. The recipe is:
- 3 TBSP of vodka, gin or rubbing alcohol
- 1 quart of water
Mix the concoction together, funnel into a spray bottle and spray on to the weeds. Yet again, keep in mind this mixture won’t kill the weed roots so the weeds will grow back, requiring another round of the organic pesticide. Just like the lemon juice, liquor will work with the sun’s heat to burn off any unwanted weeds.
Mulch is a wonderful homemade weed killer and one of the most well-known methods to gardeners. Weeds need light to grow, so the mulch will act as a barrier to the light and prevent them from growing. However, remember to replace your mulch frequently for this organic weed killing method to work as effectively as possible. Find an organic mulch that will not only keep the weeds away but improve the quality of soil and drainage as well.