Natural Methods to Eliminate Weeds for Safe and Simple Gardening

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Green Living

Weeds can be a never-ending battle for gardeners and landscapers. While pulling them out by hand can be laborious, chemical-based weed killers can do more harm than good. Fortunately, there are natural alternatives that can get the job done without harming the environment.

The Risks of Chemical Weed Killers

Chemical herbicides containing glyphosate, the most common herbicide, can have harmful effects on bees and other insects. Glyphosate can kill beneficial gut microbes in bees, negatively affect navigation in honeybee workers, and indirectly harm insects by killing the plants they eat. Additionally, glyphosate can negatively impact soil quality by binding to soil particles and affecting bacterial communities and fungi. Polyethoxylated amine, used as a transport mechanism for glyphosate, is even more toxic to aquatic life than glyphosate itself.

DIY Weed Killers

Instead of using chemical-based weed killers, there are several easy and affordable DIY recipes that can be made with household ingredients. One effective recipe includes a combination of vinegar, Epsom salt, and soap. While salt can affect soil quality, it can be used in areas where nothing is intended to grow, such as driveways or patios. If planting is intended in the future, salt should be used sparingly or avoided altogether.


  • 1-gallon (4 liters) of white vinegar
  • 2 cups (473 milliliters) of Epsom salt
  • 1/4 cup (59 milliliters) of liquid dishwashing soap


  1. Mix the vinegar, dish soap, and Epsom salt in a spray bottle. Shake well to combine the ingredients.
  2. After 2 minutes, spray the mixture on the weeds, making sure to soak the entire weed. Be careful not to spray anything else as it will also be killed.
  3. Leave the mixture on the weeds for 24 hours. The weeds should be dead by then.

Note: It’s best to spray the weeds on a sunny day when they are dry for maximum effect.

2. Boiling Water

This method is simple and safe and works great for getting rid of weeds in driveway or sidewalk cracks.


  1. Boil a pot of water and pour it on the weeds.
  2. Be careful not to splash any hot water on yourself as you pour it slowly over the weeds.
  3. The hot water will kill the weeds immediately, but it won’t kill the roots. You may need to repeat the process on new growth.

3. Newspaper

You can use leftover Sunday paper to get rid of garden weeds easily.


  1. Use a weed wacker to cut the weeds down, then cover them with newspaper. This will block out the sun and air, preventing new growth.
  2. Layer some mulch over the newspaper to block sunlight from reaching developing weeds. This will stop them from germinating and growing.

Bonus: The newspaper will eventually break down, leaving nothing to clean up.

Looking for a Healthy, Long-Term Solution?

One solution is to plant native flowers in your garden and native grasses in your yard. They are better at competing for light, nutrients, and water, which can reduce the amount of weeds. Alternatively, you can replace your lawn or landscaping with native ivy or moss.

With a little creativity and some household ingredients, you can win the war against weeds without harming the environment. Your garden, yard, and the bees will thank you.

Now That’s Interesting

The common burdock (Arctium minus) weed inspired the invention of velcro. Swiss engineer George de Mestral observed the burs getting stuck to his pants and his dog’s fur and figured out how to recreate the effect.


1. What are natural weed killers?

Natural weed killers are substances that can eliminate weeds without using chemical herbicides. They are usually made from natural ingredients such as vinegar, salt, and essential oils.

2. Why use natural weed killers?

Natural weed killers are better for the environment and safer for people and pets. They are also often cheaper than chemical herbicides and can be made at home from common household items.

3. How do natural weed killers work?

Natural weed killers work by either drying out the plant or disrupting its growth. Some natural ingredients, like vinegar and salt, can damage the plant’s leaves and roots, causing it to wither and die.

4. Are natural weed killers effective?

Yes, natural weed killers can be just as effective as chemical herbicides if used correctly. However, they may require more frequent applications and take longer to work.

5. What are some common natural weed killers?

Common natural weed killers include vinegar, salt, baking soda, corn gluten meal, and essential oils like clove and citrus.

6. Can natural weed killers harm other plants?

Yes, some natural weed killers can harm other plants if applied too liberally or without care. It’s important to read and follow instructions carefully and avoid spraying near desirable plants.

7. How do I make my own natural weed killer?

One easy recipe for a natural weed killer is to mix vinegar, salt, and dish soap. Another option is to sprinkle baking soda on weeds and then pour vinegar over them. However, it’s important to remember that homemade weed killers should be used with caution and not overused.

8. When is the best time to apply natural weed killers?

The best time to apply natural weed killers is on a dry, sunny day when there is no rain in the forecast for at least 24 hours. This will allow the weed killer to dry and be absorbed by the plant.

9. Are natural weed killers safe for vegetable gardens?

Yes, many natural weed killers are safe for vegetable gardens if used correctly. However, it’s important to avoid spraying directly on edible plants and to read labels carefully to ensure safety.

10. How often should I apply natural weed killers?

The frequency of application depends on the type of natural weed killer and the severity of the weed problem. Some may need to be applied every few days, while others can be applied once a month.

11. Can natural weed killers be used on hard surfaces like driveways?

Yes, many natural weed killers can be used on hard surfaces like driveways. However, it’s important to read labels carefully to ensure safety and effectiveness.

12. Are natural weed killers environmentally friendly?

Yes, natural weed killers are generally considered to be more environmentally friendly than chemical herbicides. They are made from natural ingredients and break down more easily in the environment, reducing the risk of pollution and harm to wildlife.

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