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7 Killer Ways to Get Rid of Weeds - Part One in a Three Part Series on Backyard Basics

Here are 7 ways to murder weeds with household items. You’ll save money and show no mercy to your garden’s uninvited guests.

Many years ago when I was living in Dallas, Texas I had horrible allergies. Each time I headed out into the yard to tend to my flowers and bushes I would suffer from watery eyes, stuffy nose, etc. The doctor put me on an antihistamine and it helped somewhat. Then one day I was out doing my usual pruning when I was hit with an incredible migraine. It came on like gangbusters and had me in bed for a few days.  What I found was astonishing to me.  My lawn care specialists had put down a pesticide (without my knowledge or approval) to prevent grubs.  Mind you, my lawn was healthy and thriving so it really didn't need the treatment.  When I called them they said it was customary for them to apply this treatment as a preventative.  That was back in the mid-1990s.  I was furious because I didn't need to be exposured to a toxic chemical without my consent and I certainly didn't need the migraine. 

While I realize this pesticide was used to kill grubs, weed killer is just as toxic to human and especially people who have autoimmune diseases or severe allergies.  

Since that day I have always been mindful of the pesticides and treatments that are applied to lawns and trees.  Since there are many household products that work just as well I am sharing this information.  There are always alternative methods for dealing with weeds and outdoor pests.

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
Published: March 14, 2012

Here are 7 ways to murder weeds with household items. You’ll save money and show no mercy to your garden’s uninvited guests.

1. Newspaper: A carpet of newspaper, which blocks sunlight and oxygen from reaching the soil, will smother weeds already sprouted and prevent new ones from growing. Throw down newspaper in 10-sheet layers, wet to hold it down, and cover with an inch or two of mulch. If weeds begin to grow in the mulch, add more layers, making a mulch-newspaper lasagna, which eventually will decompose and nourish the soil.

2. Old shower curtains and carpet samples: Spreading these useless items in garden paths or between rows will keeps weeds from ever showing their unwanted heads. Cover with mulch.

3. Corn gluten meal: This corn by-product stops seeds from growing into weeds. Since the meal will prevent germination, spread it around established plants, and after seedlings and transplants have taken hold in the soil. After harvest, spread the meal to prevent late-season weeds.

4. Vinegar: The acetic acid in 5% vinegar is a desiccant that sucks the life out of plant leaves. It’s most destructive to young plants with immature roots, though it just rolls off weeds with waxy leaves, like pennywort or thistle.

Make sure you cover desirables before spraying, because vinegar is an equal opportunity killer. Keep your spray on-target by removing the bottom from a 2-liter plastic soda bottle, and placing it over the weed. Spray vinegar into the mouth of the bottle, which will keep it from splattering on your vegetables.

5. Vodka: Don’t know if vodka makes weeds fall down dead or drunk, but 1 ounce mixed with 2 cups of water and a couple of drops of dish soap will dry out weeds that live in the sun. Doesn’t work that well on shade-loving weeds. Protect desirables, because vodka will dry them out, too.

6. Soap: The oil in soap can break down waxy or hairy weed surfaces, making them vulnerable to desiccants. So add a few drops of liquid dish detergent to vinegar or vodka sprays to keep the solution on leaves. The soap also makes leaves shiny, which will help you keep track of what you’ve sprayed.

7. Boiling water: After you’ve made yourself a cup of tea, take the kettle outside and pour the boiling water on weeds, which will burn up. This is a particularly good way to whack driveway and walkway weeds, because the boiling water can run off impervious surfaces and cool before it reaches border plants.

Reprinted from House Logic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.  Copyright 2012.  All rights reserved.

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Collin Czarnecki May 03, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Great tips, thanks Linda!
Lynn May 04, 2012 at 01:30 AM
I am a big fan of aerating my yard to keep the grass thick and healthy making it harder for weeds to take root.
Carol Baratka May 22, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Great tips on weed control.
Linda Kemp May 22, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Thank you Collin, Lynn and Carol. I have used some of these in my own backyard and they really work well! Happy gardening! Linda
Jeannina May 04, 2013 at 02:35 PM
Thanks for the information on vineger i bcame afun using vineger to clean my hose i hsve ashma and other kemicas taget my ashma now vineger kill dandelines but it will kill the grove what ca i use for this pest on my garden thanks love you information

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