How to Kill Weeds Without Killing Grass: Any unwanted plant is called weeds. Weeds will fight with grass for growing space, water, nutrients, and sunlight. The last one is a very important problem.
How to Kill Weeds Without Killing Grass
It’s been said that weeds are just plants whose virtues have not yet been discovered, but if you’re tired of waiting to find out what those virtues are, you might want to use one of these homemade herbicides instead of the chemical versions.
Many common weeds can be either food, medicine, or unwanted visitors to the garden, depending on the varieties and how you view them. But if you’ve eaten all of them you can and you still need to get rid of weeds in your yard, it’s far better for soil, and local waterways to choose a more environmentally friendly herbicide than those commonly found in the home and garden center.
Strong chemical herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides can end up polluting our drinking water, our groundwater, and surface water, so it’s important to consider the longer-term effects of using them and to instead make the choice to use a gentler herbicide, which won’t contribute to the larger issue of water contamination.
There is no doubt that weeds are the biggest problem that could make an otherwise perfect lawn look poorly maintained. They develop quickly and before you know it, they are already stealing the soil’s nutrients and getting in the way of the grass proper growth.
Different ways we can kill weeds without killing grass
Natural ways to kill weeds:
The most environmentally friendly way to get rid of weeds is to pull them up, dig out the roots, let them dry in the sun, and then add them to a compost or mulch pile. However, that method can also take quite a bit of time, so if you’re looking for a quicker way to effectively get rid of weeds, one of these homemade herbicides might be the way to go.
Covering the soil with an extra layer of organic matter can smother and inhibit weeds, as well as prevent new seeds from germinating. You can mulch with compost, bark, wood chips, newspaper, cardboard, grass clippings, straw, or most other organic matter. But make sure not to get hay, which can have a lot of unwanted seeds. You can also put a ground cloth, old shower curtains, or other thick material underneath a pathway made of wood chips or gravel to prevent weeds from growing through.
Manual removal with a shovel, hoe, or other tool is an effective spot-treatment for basically all weeds. Many weeds may come back and need to be dug again. But consistent hand-weeding will greatly reduce their populations. When young weeds are promptly dugout, they won’t be able to seed and reproduce. And regularly digging up weeds with taproots, such as dandelions or thistles, will weaken the root and eventually kill the plant.
Weeds can’t take hold if there’s no space for them. Try planting dense ground covers and perennial plants in ornamental beds. The shade and heavy root systems of trees and shrubs can naturally prevent weeds from growing underneath. If you’re battling weeds in your lawn, make sure you use grass varieties appropriate for shade, drought, or other difficult areas where a regular lawn might not grow well, leaving openings for unwanted visitors.
The nutrients and irrigation give in the garden will encourage weeds as much as the plants want to grow. Only give the plants what they need. Well-established trees, shrubs, and perennial plants can often do well without a lot of extra fertilizer and irrigation. Vegetables may need a bit more but can be selective. Heavy feeders can get extra compost, like squash and cucumbers. However, we can feed crops like root vegetables much less.
Solarizing involves covering an area of weeds with a heavy plastic sheet. This works best in full sun where the heat will collect under the sheet and literally bake the weeds. Leave the sheet in place for 4 to 6 weeks. It will know it’s done when the weeds underneath are clearly brown and desiccated.
Limit Tilling and Digging:
Turning over the soil in the vegetable patch or other beds will bring new weed seeds to the surface. Experiment with the no-till method of gardening, where try to disturb the soil as little as possible. For example, if you’re seeding vegetables, only dig down as far as you need to plant the seeds instead of deeply digging or tilling the entire bed. The no-till method has also been shown to improve soil structure and fertility, as well as increase beneficial soil organisms.
Corn gluten meal is a powdery byproduct of the corn milling process that’s been found to prevent weed seeds from germinating. 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.
It’s often applied to lawns or can be used in other garden areas. It’s non-toxic to animals and you can buy certified organic corn gluten meal.
Try spraying a mix of 1-ounce vodka, 2 cups of water, and a couple of drops of dish soap on weeds with good sun exposure. This will often dry them out and kill weeds. It doesn’t work well in shady areas. Also, be careful not to overspray onto any of the regular plants, the vodka will dry out whatever plants it hits.
Regular 5 percent of household vinegar can be used on its own against weeds. It’s even better mixed with salt and dish soap. Mix 1 gallon of white vinegar with 1 cup of table salt and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish detergent. Put the mixture into a plastic spray bottle and spray directly on targeted weeds.
The oil in soap naturally breaks down the surface of waxy or hairy weed leaves. Adding a few drops of liquid dish detergent to vinegar or vodka sprays will help it stay on the leaves and have the greatest impact.
Simply boil a kettle of water and pour it over any undesirable weeds to burn them. This works especially well for weeds growing in cracks of pavement or cement. The water will cool as it runs off to the sides of the pavement and won’t hurt any plants along the border.
This involves passing a flame over a weed briefly in order to fatally heat the plant tissues. A flame weeder is typically a wand connected to a propane tank. These may be carried at the local garden center or hardware store. Flaming will only kill the weed parts above the ground, not the roots, so we may need to flame the weeds a few times before they’re gone. Clearly, this should not be done during any dry spells when there is a risk of fire. Always follow the safety precautions that come with a flame-throwing device.
Drench with boiling dihydrogen monoxide:
This homemade herbicide is by far the simplest to prepare, and unless you happen to spill boiling water on yourself, it is also the least harmful to both people and the environment. Simply bring a big pot of dihydrogen monoxide (that’s a fancy way of saying water) to boil on your stove, and then pour it over the leaves and stems of the weeds you wish to get rid of. Using boiling water is an effective method for killing weeds in places such as sidewalk or driveway cracks, or over a larger area that you’d like to replant after the weeds are gone, as it doesn’t leave any residue or have any harmful long-term effects. As with all of these homemade herbicides, it’s still important to only apply it to the plants you wish to get rid of, as they can easily also kill your flowers or vegetable plants.