How to Make Eco-friendly Weed Killer

Overview

Digging weeds can be arduous work. If you are gardening organically or are concerned about how your gardening practices affect the environment, you'll be happy to know that there are effective ways to kill weeds without using commercial chemical weed killers. However, before you whip up a batch, keep in mind that homemade eco-friendly weed killers are nonselective; they will kill any plant that they come into contact with. If your sensitive garden plants are very young or growing very close to the weeds in question, digging may still be your best option.

Step 1

Cut the weeds down to an inch or so above the ground. Repeated cutting on its own will eventually kill even perennial weeds without the need to dig, but it will also prepare them for a number of other control methods.

Step 2

Boil a pot of water and pour it on the weeds. (If you cut the foliage first, this will reduce the chance of splashing boiling-hot water onto you or nearby desirable plants.) Any plant tissue that the boiling water touches will be cooked to death.

Step 3

Allow the cut weeds to grow back to a few inches in height. Weeds are more susceptible to herbicidal control when they are actively growing. Spray the weeds with vinegar until the point of runoff. Be sure to coat all of the plant's tissue. For best results, spray on a hot day with no wind and no rain forecast for the next 48 hours.

Step 4

Spread 12 to 20 pounds of corn gluten meal per 1000 square feet of lawn in your yard. Corn gluten meal acts as a pre-emergent herbicide and suppresses the seed and seedling growth of a number of common lawn weeds. For best results, apply the meal once in spring when the weeds are sprouting and once between mid-august and September. Water the lawn with 1 to 2 inches of water to incorporate the corn gluten meal into the soil, and then allow the top 3 inches of the soil to dry out and remain dry for a few days before watering again. Corn gluten meal makes young plant roots more susceptible to drought.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not use corn gluten if you have a corn allergy.Wear goggles and clothes that provide complete coverage when working with vinegar with a concentration of acetic acid that is higher than 11 percent. It may burn your skin and can cause blindness if it gets into your eyes.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Lawn mower
  • Pot
  • Vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Corn gluten meal

References

  • Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides: Dealing with Dandelions
  • Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides: Corn Gluten Meal -- A Natural Lawn Care Herbicide
  • Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides: Corn Gluten Meal -- Vinegar as an Herbicide --- A New "Natural" Weed Control Tool
  • United States Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Applications of Vinegar
Keywords: eco-friendly, weed killer, vinegar weed

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.