A well-maintained garden is a source of pride and enjoyment for many homeowners. However, the presence of weeds can mar its beauty and compete with plants for vital nutrients. Although chemical herbicides offer a quick fix, they can pose risks to your family's health and the environment.
This article will explore the benefits of naturally killing weeds and provide effective, eco-friendly alternatives to keep your garden weed-free.
Weed killers are engineered liquids that have been specially developed to remove weeds by combining a range of chemicals. Depending on when you are tackling the weed and what season it is, there is a range of different types of these.
Traditional weed killers will disrupt the growth of a weed by attacking it at a cellular level. By destroying the enzymes, they destroy the plant and stop it from being able to grow. This, in turn, means that weeds wither and die, with nothing coming up to take their place.
Organic weed killers essentially do the same thing but use ingredients that already exist. This massively helps limit the impact on your garden and home.
While chemical weed killers are effective at what they do, they carry an inherent risk. If you’re going to be using one regularly, you need to understand the dangers to you and your family.
Dangers of Chemical Weed killers
The chemical mix of products within weed killers can get rid of weeds but can also cause some nasty side effects. In fact, some major health organizations are now characterizing weed killers as a significant risk because of the following factors:
- Harmful chemicals: Chemicals like glyphosate are extremely harmful to humans. In fact, prolonged use has been linked to non-hodgkin’s potentially deadly lymphoma. These types of chemicals are not always fully understood, and you don’t want them near your family.
- Lack of transparency: With certain pre-made weed killers, you aren’t always getting the truth about what’s in them and the associated risks. This lack of transparency means you don’t even know what you’re putting near your family.
- Harmful for your garden: While these chemicals can be a real risk to your health, they can also harm your plants, lawn, and trees. By altering the soil with these chemicals, it could be difficult to grow anything in the future. In the last few years, we’ve learned a lot about weed killers and seen a lot more coverage of these negative impacts.
Roundup was one of the most well-known weed killers out there and was used by farmers, gardeners, and laborers across the country. In the past few years, it was discovered that it contained glyphosate, which, if used for prolonged periods of time, has been shown to cause cancer.
Thousands were using Roundup across different sectors, which meant that many people were impacted. Since 2015 there have been over 4000 lawsuits filed against Monsanto (the company that produced Roundup) over their lack of warning on their product. In fact, there is even evidence that they produced fake evidence to get Roundup approved!
In 2018 a case was settled against Monsanto for $289 million in San Francisco. The jury determined that the multi-national company had not adequately warned of the dangers associated with the product and that this chemical weed killer contributed to the deadly form of cancer he now had.
The Roundup lawsuit shows how dangerous chemical weed killers can be to you and your family. While a lot of these lawsuits are still ongoing, we are anticipating most of these to go against Monsanto. This will further demonstrate the dangers associated with weed killers but also highlights that those making these products aren’t concerned with our help and happiness.
Advantages of Natural Weed Killers
We can clearly see that weed killers can be quite dangerous if you’re not careful with what you use and how you use it. Natural weed killers have many advantages to non-natural products for several reasons:
- Non-Toxic: The big plus for natural weed killers is that they aren’t toxic. This means they won’t contain potentially harmful chemicals which can endanger your family or pets. It also means you can spray it on without worrying about keeping your children away. You can also use these products on plants that bring fruit or vegetables without the risk of damaging the food produced.
- Less Impact: Not only will these products not harm your family, but they’re also better for your plants. Using natural ingredients instead of chemicals will not contaminate your soil and damage your garden.
- Fast Acting: The beauty of using natural ingredients is how quickly they can get to work. Natural weed killers are easier for plants to break down and therefore can work more quickly.
DIY Weed Killer
Keeping your garden weed-free can be challenging, especially when looking for safe and eco-friendly alternatives to chemical herbicides. A DIY weed killer can be an effective, inexpensive solution that won't harm your family, pets, or the environment. Here's a simple recipe to create a non-toxic weed killer using household ingredients.
- 1 gallon of white vinegar (5% acetic acid for regular weeds or 10-20% for tougher weeds)
- 1 cup of table salt
- 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap
- Optional: a few drops of citrus essential oil for added effectiveness
- In a large container, combine the white vinegar and table salt. Stir until the salt dissolves completely.
- Add the liquid dish soap and mix well. The soap acts as a surfactant, helping the solution stick to the weeds and increasing its effectiveness.
- Optional: Add a few drops of citrus essential oil, which can enhance the weed-killing properties of the mixture.
- Pour the solution into a spray bottle or garden sprayer for easy application.
How to Apply
- Apply the DIY weed killer on a sunny day when no rain is expected for at least 24 hours. Sunlight and heat will help the solution work more effectively.
- Spray the solution directly onto the leaves and stems of the weeds, making sure to thoroughly saturate them. Be careful not to spray nearby desirable plants, as the solution can harm them as well.
- Allow the solution to work for a few hours or until the weeds show signs of wilting and browning. If necessary, reapply the solution to stubborn weeds.
- Once the weeds have died, remove them by hand or with a garden tool to prevent them from re-establishing.
This DIY weed killer is non-selective, meaning it can harm any plants it comes into contact with. Exercise caution when applying it around desirable plants, and consider using a piece of cardboard or plastic as a shield to protect them.
Natural weed killers are becoming more popular as we learn more about the chemicals within non-natural products and what they can do to the body. While they may be a necessary evil on an industrial scale, natural weed killers are perfect for use at home because they do the job without risking your family.
Generally, natural weed killers are not much more expensive than non-natural ones, so there isn’t a downside. If you want a weed-free lawn without risking your family’s health, then it’s definitely worth checking out the options today.