As a gardener or even a homeowner, you may have noticed a few weeds growing in your garden bed, lawn, or even in cement cracks. They’re a common enemy amongst most who strive to take care of their land. But, many homeowners find themselves unwilling to use the toxic chemicals available at the local garden stores, which has left us with limited options available at the store. However, there are natural weed killers we can make right at home to start getting rid of the weeds once and for all!
Weeds are typically unwanted in any controlled area, but they somehow end up in every corner and crevice they can fit into. But where do these unwanted visitors come from?
Where do weeds come from?
It’s hard to tell exactly when weeds came into our existence. Many common plants can be dated back to the beginning of time, but weeds and their source have a different story. A plant sprouting weed seeds can be dated back to thousands of years ago. Let’s just say this was somewhere in the Europe-Asia region(s). There are trees that live for thousands of years, so we can only imagine how long weeds have been infesting our farms, gardens, and just lives in general.
Weeds spread in a variety of ways, including:
- The Wind: Yes, darn that pesky wind! Seeds are commonly picked up by wind gusts and deposited into the most annoying areas only air can reach. That means if the wind can reach it, weed seeds can definitely reach it, too.
- Droppings: Specifically, bird droppings. Birds tend to consume these pesky seeds while they’re off searching for feed. They then pass through their digestive system intact, leading to seeds being deposited into our land via bird poop. Gross, but true.
- Carriers: Animals, especially those with thick fur or hair, pick up weed seeds in their hide and deposit them when they fall. More of a reason to get mad at your dog or cat when they’re off running in your front lawn.
- Weather: With the wind blowing weeds everywhere, it only worsens when it begins to rain, or even snow. Once the snow melts or the rain settles, seeds can flow in the streams and get deposited into small cracks and crevices. Thanks, rain!
With so many contributors to this weed epidemic, there has to be a way we can keep things at bay. At least for a few days, that is. The best way to fight Mother Nature and her annoying weed tendencies are with Mother Nature herself. That means using organic, natural products, or fighting fire with fire. This is when we turn to a natural weed killer.
Why Use A Natural Weed Killer?
A major reason as to why we shouldn’t use a chemical weed killer, especially in our garden, is due to its potential to pollute our groundwater, drinking water and/or surface water. Not only can it pollute our water and water supply, but it can seep its way into our households and come into contact with our food and clothing. Even more so, a chemical weed killer can stick to our shoes, getting trekked into our homes.
A natural weed killer is beneficial both to your land and home. When you use a chemical weed killer over the course of a long time, the negative effects of it can become much more apparent. Avoid this in total by going with a natural weed killer.
The Best Natural Weed Killers
The best natural weed killer comes within the depths of most of our kitchens, vinegar (we prefer this one for the garden). Many of us gardeners already use vinegar in the garden, but adding vinegar to a bed of weeds can easily kill them. Spray some vinegar onto the leaves of the weeds to kill them. Use a controlled mist or spray to avoid over-spraying or soaking the surrounding soil.
If you don’t have vinegar, give plain boiling water a try! Especially for use on the cracks in sidewalks or edges of walkways or planters, and most effective when weeds are caught while they are still young, a small amount of boiling water might be the perfect solution for you.
Looking for a little extra power? Simply add salt and some dish soap! The dish soap acts as a surfactant, which aids in the vinegar (or boiling water) and salts sticking more easily to the leaves. Additionally, we add in the salt because it helps to stop growth. What we’ve found is by using the salt, fewer weeds pop up in the future. Although, beware as you won’t want to be spraying the salt mixture near any plots you intend to use for planting in the near future.
Of course, if that doesn’t work, another natural weed killer consists of one thing: fire. Mother Nature can’t combat fire when we use it on her weeds. Burn away any weeds, safely, without harming nearby plants or soil. This is another method that is especially great when killing weeds sitting within cracks in cement or tar.
A third weed killing option is always to just pull them out! Believe it or not, this is the most recommended way to deal with most weeds. For longest-lasting results and the easiest removal, wait until after it rains, and then try to pull up the weed from beneath the surface of the ground, aiming for removal of the taproot. Using a knife or screwdriver may help with any exceptionally-stubborn weeds.
Natural Ways to Prevent Weeds After Removal
Barriers are another wonderful way to prevent weed formation in the garden. Row covers can be built at home using a light garden fabric and large wire hoops and will prevent weed seeds dropped from above from landing in your garden beds. Landscape fabric is another good investment to prevent weeds from below. Fabric beneath the mulch or straw layer of your garden beds will prevent any weeds from being able to survive. But even without the fabric layer, we always recommend adding a healthy layer of mulch to your beds, as this will prove critical in your weed prevention efforts.
To be honest, the best way to manage weeds is by prevention through crop rotation. We always recommend growing dissimilar crops or crops that have very different nutrient requirements, in sequential growing seasons. This allows the soil to replenish and prevents erosion. It also prevents many weeds that are a result of planting the same crop in the same space, or too many of the same types of crops too closely together, for too many years in a row, which depletes soil fertility and provides a ripe ground for weeds and disease.
Benefits of Cover Crops After Removing Weeds
After successfully getting rid of the weeds with a natural weed killer, the next crucial step in managing the farm is planting cover crops. There are four different types of cover crops, legumes, grasses, non-legumes, and brassicas. Each cover crops play a vital role in enhancing and protecting the soil. Planting cover crops instead of leaving the field bear may serve some benefits including,
Even after successfully clearing the farm, as time goes by, small weeds may start popping. The pots can damage your crops in the next planting season by taking specific nutrients. Cover crops will quickly outgrow the pots and cover the whole area. The vast coverage by the plants enhances soil water retention
Cover crops take up some small nutrients and preserve the primary nutrients in the soil. Deep-rooted plants penetrate the soil making it air rich for the incoming cash crops. They also help in getting rid of pests that may be attracted by weeds. They are the best natural way to suppress the weeds.
Reduce soil erosion
The farm may stay empty for months awaiting the next planting season. Wind and torrential rain may rid of the farm’s topsoil, thus depressing nutrients. Cover crops will cover the topsoil by reducing water and wind velocity. They also enhance water infiltration; therefore, most water is absorbed by the soil instead of running off.
The cover crops not only maintain the top nutritious soil, but it also adds organic matter to the ground making it more fertile. Cover crops with a sound root system are the best to preserve the topsoil
By carefully selecting certain cover crops, you can manage the soil nutrition levels artificially. Most leguminous cover crops absorb excess nitrogen from the soil leaving the soil fertile and productive. They are an efficient way to maintain balance without polluting the land.
Finding a home remedy and natural way to get rid of weeds is the best way to go. Not only does it prevent you from coming into contact with harmful chemicals, but it promotes a natural solution to something Mother Nature commonly provides.