Three Organic Weed Killer Recipes For Every Organic Gardener’s Arsenal

by Nicola Temple on October 27, 2011

Weeds are an inevitable part of gardening; they are what keep us gardeners ever vigilant in our duties. There are many products available to get rid of weeds, RoundUp being the most popular. However, I find the smell of these toxic herbicides extremely offensive and I’ve learned to trust my nose over the years. So, as a mother with a 4-year old helping in the garden and rolling about on the lawn, I look to eco-friendly weed control options, including organic weed killer.

Organic herbicides offer an eco-friendly alternative to pest management without adding to the list of toxins in our environment.

After all, whatever we spray on our garden ultimately ends up in our water and soil; we eventually end up eating and drinking these chemicals.

Many herbicides have significant impacts on our health ranging from skin irritation to death. There’s a list of pesticide chemicals that are banned in the US due to their toxic effects.

It’s simply not worth the risk when there are so many natural and environmentally-friendly alternatives for fighting those persistent weeds in the garden.

My approach in the garden has always been to put 95% of my effort toward weed prevention, 4% to grunt-work pulling and 1% to chemical killing.  For that 1% of the time, here are three recipes for organic weed killers that are easy on the planet and better for your health.

organic weed killer

Most weeds, like dandelions, have a habit of being persistent. However, an organic weed killer can give the organic gardener the edge over these pests. CC image courtesy of Daimen Richards on Flickr.

Vinegar weed killer (source)

Mix together 120 mls of lemon juice concentrate and 1 litre of white or cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spot spray directly on the undesirable weeds. This is most effective if it’s done in the heat of the day.

Note: You can make this recipe even more potent by adding a squirt of organic liquid dishwashing soap, but keep in mind that if you want the recipe to be organic, you will have to be very selective of the soap you use.

Lemon salt weed killer (source)

Combine the juice of one lemon with 1 tsp of salt and spray directly onto the plants. It burns the plants on contact and again is most effective if used in the heat of the day.

Note: Salt will render your soil useless for any type of plant, so I suggest using this recipe for areas such as patio stones or gravel paths, where you don’t plan on growing other things.

Boiling water

This is particularly useful for killing off weeds that crop up in between patio stones. Just pour boiling water over them – it’s the easiest option out there!

Almost all recipes for organic weed killer include some combination of vinegar and lemon. However, a couple of sources suggest that household vinegar, which is 5% acetic acid, is not powerful enough to take on weeds. There are stronger vinegars available, including 20% acetic acid vinegar, which is obviously not intended for consumption, but is a common weapon in the organic gardener’s artillery.

BurnOut is a commercially available organic weed killer that is also based on the vinegar and lemon juice combination and there are other organic options out there. If you don’t have any luck with your home-made version, it might be worth trying one of these.

Of course for me, as I said, an organic weed killer is a last resort. I tend to use cardboard, newspaper, and mulch to keep weeds from growing (watch the video below for further information on this). For those weeds that do come up, it’s an excuse to sit in my garden on a summer evening with a glass of wine and pull away. Maybe talk to the plants (depending on how much wine I’ve had) and bond with my garden.

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