If you keep a garden, you probably spend more time than you would like thinking about and dealing with weeds. Weeds can be a serious problem in any garden, and they can be a lot of work to remove one at a time. You can spray to prevent weeds, or kill existing ones, but do you really want to use harsh chemicals? If you're growing a vegetable garden, probably not.
It may seem as if there is no easy, effective, natural way to kill weeds. However, it is possible to kill weeds using simple home ingredients, such as vinegar and table salt.
Creating your own weed killer using a series of household items is a relatively simple task that takes the strain out of back-breaking hand weeding techniques. It's also a great way to save money by avoiding store bought weed killers that have harsh chemicals.
Although getting rid of all the weeds in your garden may seem like a losing battle at times, using this recipe will make it easier to attain a fresh and healthy lawn and garden. This recipe is completely harmless to pets and children and can be administered with total confidence.
Step 1 – Prepare Distilled Vinegar
Take a large pan and add 4 quarts of distilled vinegar. Keep in mind, while 5% acidity is normal for distilled vinegar, it is recommended that you buy 10% or 20% if possible, as the mixture will be more potent and, therefore, more effective. Vinegar with weaker acidity will shrivel the weeds, but won’t eliminate.
Place the pan on your stove burner and slowly bring up the temperature of the distilled vinegar until it begins to reach boiling point. Remove your pan from the heat.
NOTE: The fumes being discharged from the vinegar are completely harmless, so there's no danger if you do happen to breathe some of them in. However, heated vinegar can be overpowering to some, so try to avoid inhaling.
Step 2 – Add Salt
While the vinegar is still hot from the previous step, take 1 cup of salt and add it to the pan. Stir in the salt crystals thoroughly until they are completely dissolved.
Salt is an excellent weed killer because it will kill weeds, but will dilute away to harmless levels naturally with rainfall. You need to be careful though because overly salting your soil will make it inhospitable to any plants. Be sure to only spray directly on weeds.
Step 3 - Mix in the Dish Detergent
To finish off the mixture, add 1 tablespoon of dish detergent. Mix thoroughly so that the entire solution is smooth.
NOTE: The dish detergent is important, as it is used to help the solution stick to the leaves of the weeds, which will allow the vinegar and salt to work on killing them.
Step 4 – Cool and Prepare Solution
Once the mixture has cooled to room temperature, stir thoroughly and add the solution to a suitably sized plastic spray bottle for easy application in your yard or garden.
Step 5 - Guard Healthy Plants
Guard anything that you don't want sprayed with a tarp or some rags. This will ensure that your spray will hit its mark without accidentally hitting any healthy, welcomed plants.
Step 6 – Effective Usage
Spray the mixture onto the leaves of the weeds with care, making sure that all other plants in your yard or garden are kept free from the potent solution. If plants and weeds are tightly condensed in any particular areas, try soaking a cut-to-size piece of cloth in the mixture and placing it over the weeds for a few minutes so that the leaves are saturated. This will protect all beneficial and preferred plants from absorbing any of the solution.
Avoid saturating the soil at all costs, as this can lead to desired plants absorbing the weed killer mixture through their root systems and causing them irreparable damage.
WARNING: Using this method is better for isolated weeds than it is for weeds that are mixed in with other small plants, such as grass, as it will kill all plants that it encounters indiscriminately, leaving you with dead patches in your lawn.
Step 7 – Safe Storage
Once you have finished applying the mixture, make sure that any excessive quantities are safely stored away. Make sure that you have labeled the weed killer mixture and keep it out of reach of children and pets. Although the mixture is non-toxic, it can act as an irritant to the skin and may also cause nausea if accidentally digested.
Step 8 - Maintenance Tips
Maintaining your garden with this method is a lot easier than killing all of the weeds that have built up for the first time. Don't put off regular maintenance, as weeds become harder to kill the longer you allow them to grow.
Remember, young weeds are weaker than fully grown ones. If you spray any weeds you find as soon as they show themselves, you will be able to keep your garden completely weed-free with a minimum amount of effort. Also, more importantly, killing weeds early prevents them from going to seed, saving you the trouble of killing the next generation of weeds.
Need the right weeding tools? Check out our Garden Tools Buyer's Guide.