Weeds, the red-headed stepchild of the the plant family, are always popping up where they aren’t invited. And thanks to HGTV and Better Homes and Gardens, I now have this underlying impression that my yard should be pristine… no weeds! The reality of course is that weeds will grow, sometimes better than the plant you’ve been nurturing, watering, and pruning. That’s just life. And while there are some creative ideas for trying to keep the weeds under control when you’re first planting a space, such as landscape fabric, newspaper, etc. Once you’re using a bed or path, it’s hard to get back down to dirt level and lay down a barrier to keep those pesky weeds from popping up.
If you’ve been on Pinterest, or living on this planet in the past ten years, then you’ll have noticed a pretty significant shift toward “greener living” and this includes a move away from commercial weed killers like Round Up. Now those spray weed killers from the hardware store certainly do the job, but they also can successfully kill surrounding plants, and then there’s the question of what chemicals are going into the ground. I’m not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination, but I have looked at the side of the bottle, and there’s a whole lot there I cannot pronounce, so I’m going to say… it’s probably not good. So, what’s a gardener to do? What’s the easiest and safest way to keep weeds under control?
We are specifically having an issue with weeds in our raised bed garden paths. We’d lined them with landscape fabric before putting down pea gravel, but those determined weeds pushed through anyway. I actually wish I was as resilient as weeds, but no such luck. Testing out some these “natural” or “diy” weed killers seemed like a good idea, so here are two that I put to the test in the garden area.
- DIY Weed Spray– 1 gallon white vinegar, 2 cups epsom salt, and 1/4 cup Dawn dish soap (blue kind) This concoction is simply mixed up in a large container and poured into a garden sprayer. I was a bit hesitant to use this so close to my garden beds, since I was putting both vinegar and salt into the dirt essentially. The soap works to take the coating off of the leaves so the vinegar and salt can get to work. I’ve also read that castille soap could also be used instead of Dawn, which my crunchier side would have rather used. Here’s my test area for option 1:
- Boiling Water– Say what?? Yes, the claim is as simple as all that. I read up on using boiling water and thought it was too easy not to try, so why not? I used an electric kettle and simply boiled water that I then carried out and poured on the weeds. Here’s option 2’s test area:
Both weed killer options were used in their test areas, and the “results” photos were taken a week after application.
Option 1: Vinegar/Salt/Soap Mix- While I didn’t love the fact that I was using some pretty acidic materials so close to my veggies, I was surprised and pleased with how quickly the weeds died. It only took two days for the weeds to turn completely brown.
Option 2: Boiling Water- I had my doubts whether “cooking” the weeds with boiling water (that’s essentially what it felt like) would actually kill them. So you can imagine my surprise when I came outside after two days and found the test area looking like this:
Now I feel like a legit scientist for taking this test essentially through the scientific method and sharing results and a conclusion. Bam! Well, while both options worked for my garden paths, I decided that because of the harsher ingredients in the vinegar/salt mix, I’d only use this on the patio, driveway, etc., or any place that I wasn’t intentionally trying to grow plants. My concern is that the salt and vinegar will begin to affect the surrounding soil. In the garden itself, and in the flower beds, I’ll be using the boiling water. It’s inexpensive and easy. Be sure if you choose this option that you have a kettle to carry the water. I don’t think walking outside with a large pot of boiling water would be the safest choice, but a kettle with a lid is perfect and not too cumbersome.
I’d love to know if you’ve had success with any other DIY weed killing methods; I’m always looking for new ideas. Happy Gardening!