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Healthy Alternatives to Weed Killers

Author
Sharon Brandwein
December 13, 2020

It’s no secret that Covid-19 has driven many folks back to basics. Faced with empty supermarket shelves in the early days of the pandemic that went on for an unsettling few weeks, many people felt compelled to take matters into their own hands. Fearing shortages due to disruptions in the supply chain, people everywhere took to their backyards and patio planters to make something happen. But in short order, we all came to realize that gardening is a lot easier in theory. 

Making something grow from essentially nothing is no small task. Gardening requires a delicate balance of —well, everything, and it goes far beyond sunlight and water. No doubt, many found that calcium is crucial to a healthy tomato harvest, and nitrogen levels in your soil can make or break. Novice gardeners also found (and quickly) that plenty of unwanted “foliage,” shall we say, seem to invite themselves to the party. 

healthy weedkillers

When it comes to dealing with weeds, everyone wants instant results, so much so that in the garden, it seems that chemical pesticides consistently lead the charge. And while they may be effective, one has to wonder, at what cost? The truth is quick results can be tempting, but the chemicals used to achieve those lighting fast remedies are potentially poisoning you and your family. 

For example, while Roundup has been used by many a gardener over the years, the harmful effects of this herbicide are only now coming to light. While the FDA won’t label glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, as a carcinogenic, lawsuits abound, and in 2019, a California jury awarded over $2 billion in favor of a couple with cancer that resulted from their use of Roundup. As of 2020, Monsanto has agreed to resolve approximately 100,000 lawsuits, somewhere to the tune of $11 billion

The good news is that there are several natural alternatives that you can use to keep weeds from overtaking your beautiful garden. Here’s a look at a few of them. 

home made weedkiller

Homemade Weed Killer

Homemade weed killers are easy to make, and they use products that most of us already have at home. The recipe is as easy as:

  • 1-gallon vinegar
  • 1-cup salt (or Borax)
  • 1-Tbsp. Dish soap

Mix the ingredients and apply liberally wherever you see weeds. However, one caveat for this weed killer is that you should take care not to get any of it on your plants. Remember that this weed killer is basically killing anything that’s green and growing; it won’t discern between a weed and a plant or flower. This solution is pretty potent, and it works quickly. Once you spray a weed, it will probably be dead within 10 -12 hours. Also, it’s worth a reminder that this solution contains acid (vinegar), so it will destroy the soil as well. If your intention is to expand your garden, you may want to consider a less-lethal option for your soil. 

Newspaper Mulch

Once you’ve given your weeds a trim to knock them back a bit, simply lay a layer of newspapers over the freshly cut weeds. The newspapers effectively block the sunlight and airflow, stopping the weeds in their tracks. Remember that once you lay the newspaper down, you should give it a good spray with the hose to keep the newspaper down (or a strong gust of wind could undo all of your work) and then top it all with mulch for a little reinforcement.  The great thing about using the newspaper in your garden is that it’s quite effective and you only need to do it once per season. Additionally, the newspaper (like most mulches) will regulate your soil’s temperature and help it retain precious moisture.

Boiling Water

Boiling water is quite possibly the most inexpensive and effective weed killer in the history of weed killers. Simply bring a pot of water to a boil on your stove and pour it over any little green invaders you see, be sure to get the leaves and stems. This easy remedy is ideal for treating sidewalks or areas where weeds are growing out of cracks. Moreover, there are no long-term adverse effects, so it’s also good for use in areas where you’re planning to replant or expand your garden. And while this approach works well, it’s worth noting that the boiling water does not kill weeds at the roots, so it may be an ongoing gardening task that should be penciled into your calendar. 

Disclaimer: For obvious reasons, be sure to exercise extreme caution when you attempt to use boiling water to eradicate weeds.

Salt

Yes, you read that right, common table salt, which you no doubt have in your pantry, makes an incredibly effective weed killer as well. And it’s as easy as mixing up a salt solution with one part salt and three parts water. But, salting your weeds is very different from salting your fries, so be careful. Salt can destroy your soil. Ideally, you’ll want to apply it only on the leaves of weeds, and you should take care not to use it in garden beds where the solution can potentially soak into the ground and inadvertently destroy your entire garden.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice makes a powerful ally in your fight against weeds. To use this fragrant powerhouse, just fill a spray bottle with lemon juice and spray (and saturate) any weeds you see. With a pH of 2, lemon juice is acidic, and once sprayed, the leaves of the offending weeds will dry out and die within 24-48 hours. 

Chemical pesticides are not the only effective way to rid your garden of invasive weeds. And if you choose one of the natural remedies we discussed, please remember that while they make great natural alternatives to chemical pesticides, they are still pretty powerful solutions. And just because they don’t harm you or your family, that doesn’t mean that they won’t (or can‘t) do plenty of harm to the parts of your garden that matter to you. Before attempting any of these solutions, please do your research and always proceed with caution. 

If you feel you or a loved one has developed cancer as a result of using Roundup weed killer, you may be entitled to compensation. Start a free case review here.

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