Natural weed killers are simple substances with a direct and obvious action. They destroy plant life for a short period. They are substances encountered naturally, but in small quantities. Their presence is well-known and normally not harmful. But when applied in larger doses the results are usually obvious in a very short time. As always, these methods need due caution so please wear protective eye/hand/body protection.
This weed killer acts at the point they are used. After treatment their damaging effect is dissipated. Vinegar is made of acetic acid along with other weak organic acids. It has become a popular "cottage garden" alternative for those who dislike modern herbicides. This mixture works by disrupting membranes and causing leakage of plant cells. The damage to plants appears rapidly and even quicker on hot days. The acid is not around long enough to have any lasting effect on earthworms, soil invertebrates or organic matter breakdown. The good news is that it won't cause any lasting or apparent harm to pets or children.
This mixture can kill: Canadian thistle, clover, dandelion, foxtail, ivy leaf, milkweed, pigweed, poison hemlock, ragweed, quackgrass, bluegrass, plus mosses, liverworts, and more. However it is not selective and harms all the plants it touches so take care.
Excess salt poisons the soil. Many important organisms: bacteria, fungi, earthworms; will be killed by salinity. It will eventually wash out, even so I would not use it on land intended for cultivating plants. For some gardeners it is an option to consider with drives and gravel areas where plants are not intended to grow and where run off can be contained. NB: Remember, salt is not biodegradable, so overuse use will eventually be detrimental to surrounding areas.
By Joycie from Maitland, NSW, Australia
We use borax to kill weeds and grass on our brick patio. Works great even on nutgrass and doesn't seem to spread it's effect to the grass off the patio and lasts for months. You can water it in and it won't bother your animals, we have cats and dogs who haven't gotten sick by us using borax yet. (10/28/2007)
By piki viki
To the folks who have the bamboo dilemma, you've definitely got a tenacious plant you're dealing with. Bamboo, as you've come to know it a super tough resilient plant that is tougher than a Timex watch, because of its incredibly expansive root system. When you chop bamboo down to the ground and dig it up to a depth of 1 ft. and even twice as wide as the plant was on the surface, you've only slowed it down.
What you did is scratch the surface. The plant has so much more stored energy in its root system which will allow it to pop up again in a matter of weeks. When it does pop back up and reaches sunlight, it's storing even more energy and growing it's root system. The only effective way to kill bamboo is to exhaust the hell out of it by digging and digging and digging until the root system has had enough. No sunlight, no energy, but it will take repeated "timely" attempts to finally win the battle. I've done it myself so trust me, if you're more stubborn than the bamboo, you'll win. Good luck. (01/26/2008)
By Rob H.
What ever happened to good old fashioned pulling them out? Would love to do that, but extensive arthritis prevents that. Thanks to all the natural weedkiller remedies. (02/21/2008)
Will vinegar also kill any flowers that you may accidentally get an overspray on?
Editor's Note: Yes, it could. So make sure to rinse them off if you get some on them. (05/19/2008)
I have heard that Listerine kills weeds. So if you are able to snag some through rebates or whatever, then try it. (06/03/2008)
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