How to Eliminate Herbicides

Overview

Chemical herbicides are a standard garden tool for many homeowners. Products such as Roundup are popular because they quickly and effectively kill unwanted plants. Studies have emerged that implicate some of the chemicals in common herbicides, such as Atrazine and Glyphosate, with causing human health risks and environmental damage, according to PesticideInfo.org. If you have decided to become more “green” and are trying to eliminate poisons and other chemicals from your garden and your life, you can cross herbicides off your shopping list when you switch to more natural methods of controlling those pesky weeds.

Step 1

Flatten large cardboard boxes and spread them on the ground where your weeds exist. Remove all tape and staples from boxes before you use them and be sure to overlap the pieces to prevent weeds from popping up through holes or gaps in the cardboard. Even lawn will die when you smother it in this way.

Step 2

Spray your weeds with a full-strength solution of 10 percent acidity white vinegar. Choose a warm, sunny day to spray your weeds and continue your application several days in a row until you see weeds turning brown. Use a 1-quart hand spray bottle for small areas and a backpack sprayer for large areas. For more persistent weeds, add 1 oz of orange essential oil to 1 gallon of white vinegar.

Step 3

Solarize weedy areas during the hottest six months of the summer. To do this simple task, mow or weed whack tall weeds from an area. Then cover it with a layer of heavy-gauge clear plastic and secure the edges with rocks or bricks. Allow the plastic to remain for six weeks or longer: it will kill soil nematodes as well as all weeds and weed seeds.

Step 4

Burn your weeds with a propane torch designed for this purpose. This tool works well if you have weeds growing in the cracks of sidewalks or other pathways. Because it attaches to a 5-gallon propane tank, you can carry the tank along with you in a garden cart or wheelbarrow.

Tips and Warnings

  • Be very careful if you use a propane weed torch: neighboring dry grass or dead plants can catch fire, which can easily get out of control. Always have a hose next to your work area and use it if the flame spreads beyond the area you want to burn. Never use this tool on a windy day.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard
  • White vinegar
  • Essential oil of orange
  • Spray bottle or backpack sprayer
  • Lawnmower or weed whacker
  • Clear plastic
  • Rocks or bricks
  • Weed burner
  • Propane tank
  • Wheelbarrow

References

  • PesticideInfo.org: PAN Pesticides Database/Atrazine
  • The Dirt Doctor: Vinegar--The Organic Herbicide
  • University of Idaho: Soil Solarization
  • Yardener.com: Flaming Weed Tools
  • Lasagna Gardening; Patricia Lanza; 1998
Keywords: weeds killing, natural herbicides, gardening maintenance

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.