Organic No-Till Herbicide Alternatives

Weeds can present many headaches to homeowners who want to keep their property looking tidy and well tended. It's often tempting to reach for that spray can of herbicide, blast your weeds to your heart's content and then watch them shrivel and die. However, if you'd like to use fewer toxins around your yard, there are alternative, organic solutions you can turn to for all those weeds.

Cardboard for Weed Control

If you want to kill weeds--or even lawn--growing in pathways or between cracks in your sidewalk areas, lay flattened cardboard over the troublesome areas. In a short time, all plants under the cardboard will smother and die. You can leave the cardboard in place until it disintegrates or you can pick it up to achieve a tidy look to your property. Weeds will likely grow back, but you can repeat the application of cardboard as needed.

White Vinegar and Orange Oil

You can make a natural weed-killing spray with one gallon of 10 percent white vinegar mixed with 1 oz. of essential oil of orange. Spray weeds on a warm, sunny day and then repeat your application every other day or two days until you notice them beginning to die. You can add other ingredients if your weeds are especially persistent: 1 tsp. dish soap and 1 tbsp. of molasses are good additions for hard-to-kill weedy plants.

Propane Weed Burners

You can eliminate weeds with a propane-powered tool designed to burn weeds. This relatively inexpensive tool is fairly safe to use in areas that do not include plants or other weeds that might begin a fire beyond the plant you want to burn. It is appropriate for weeds that pop up in the cracks of sidewalks and other cement areas, on gravel paths and other safe places. You attach your weed burner, which is generally a two-foot long wand, to a propane tank. Always use great caution when working with fire.


To kill weeds and all other plants that have taken over an area, you can use a permaculture technique called solarization. When you solarize, you make use of the sun's energy by covering the area with clear plastic during the warmest part of your summer. First mow or weed whack the area to get the weeds as low to the ground as possible. Then spread a layer of thick clear plastic over the area and anchor it around the edges with bricks, rocks or boards. Leave it in place for about six weeks---you will then have a garden space with no weeds. Even weed seeds will die with the high heat.

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About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.