Gardeners and homeowners alike find themselves up against weeds and unwanted plant life regularly throughout the growing season. And although herbicides or weed killers offer a solution, they can be costly as well as pose both health and environmental concerns. Alternative herbicides, generally made from acidic agents that work by lowering the pH levels of the targeted plant just enough to kill them, can be made at home using safe and inexpensive household products. In addition, these homemade herbicides offer solutions which will not cause irreparable damage to the natural environment.
Vinegar and Dish Soap
According to The Renewable Planet, a website dedicated to green living, a simple blend of vinegar and dish soap will ward off weeds in flower beds, between patio stones and in the lawn. Their recipe includes 1 cup of vinegar, ¼ cup salt and ¼ cup dish soap. Mix these ingredients into a spray bottle. The site states that the vinegar kills the existing weed, the salt prevents new ones from growing and the soap holds the mixture together.
Corn Gluten Meal
The Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides asserts that corn meal gluten is a safe and effective alternative to weed and feed lawn products. Approximately 12 to 20 pounds of corn gluten meal can be applied per 1,000 square feet of lawn. This application can be applied twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall for effective year-round weed protection. Corn gluten meal is a by-product of processing corn to make corn starch and corn syrup. It works as an herbicide by preventing sprouting seeds from developing normal roots. It does not kill the seedlings but makes them more susceptible to dehydration. According to the NCAP, established plants are not affected by the corn gluten meal.
Bleach works to kills weeds in a manner similar to salt because it is a compound of sodium, chloride and oxygen. When introduced to the soil it will oxidize and leave a residue of common salt. Only a small amount of bleach is needed to kill weeds. Mix six ounces of bleach with 24 ounces of water in a spray bottle for a standard bleach herbicide. This combination will effectively kill off weeds without leaving behind excessive salt residues, preventing future growth of grass or other plants.