Making weed killing remedies from household ingredients is easy and inexpensive, and you can stop worrying about nasty chemicals on your lawn or garden. Natural home remedies that kill weeds include salt, vinegar and dish detergent. Weed killers made from these will allow you to control and kill weeds without as much weeding by hand, which can be time-consuming and hard work.
When choosing a weed killer to use at home, think about its function and the plants you will be using it near. Some remedies kill all the plants in an area, while others can be created to target just the weeds. For instance, using salt to kill weeds will ruin the soil you use it on, so a salt spray should be used only in areas where you don’t want any plants to grow, such as in pavement cracks, under porches or decks, or in driveways.
You want to kill weeds when rainfall is not in the immediate forecast, so that rain doesn’t wash away your efforts. Hot, sunny weather is best. When using liquid weed killers, such as vinegar, lemon juice, or a dish soap spray, spray directly on the roots of the weeds you want to kill. To keep the weed killer localized, you may want to try encircling the weed with a plastic bottle with both ends cut off and spraying into the bottle. Still, realize that the weed killer will soak into the soil and may affect nearby plants. Note that vinegar may have to be applied several times to kill all of a weed, especially deep-rooted ones. And, if you are successful and the weeds die, be sure to rake or pull them up soon so that any remaining seed or root doesn’t spread farther.
A common weed killing spray is to mix a quart of household vinegar, a quarter-cup of salt, and 2 tsp. of dish soap. (When combining soap with vinegar, be sure there is no bleach in the soap, to avoid toxic fumes.) Vinegar on its own can be applied directly with no dilution, as can lemon juice. Household vinegar works fine, but you also can use pickling vinegar for a stronger effect. Another recipe is to combine 1 1/4 cups of salt with a gallon of vinegar, or to add a tablespoon of dish soap to a spray bottle full of vinegar. A popular weed-killing mixture is to use one part dish soap to 10 parts water for a soap spray.
One time-honored trick to kill weeds is to boil a large kettle of water, and when it is good and boiling, pour it right on the weeds you want to get rid of. This essentially cooks the weeds to death. You also can use household bleach mixed with water in a spray bottle, applied right to the weeds, but be sure children and pets stay away for at least two days while the bleach evaporates. Rubbing alcohol is another weed-killing home remedy that can be applied the same way and will dry up the weeds, but also may affect nearby plants. Some gardeners also use hot pepper sauce or spray to kill weeds.
If you have weeds in areas where you are not comfortable using even these home remedies, try controlling their growth by laying down old newspapers or mulch around the base of your good plants. This will help to keep weeds from growing right up to them. Another commercially available method of control is to spread corn gluten meal on the area affected by weeds. This is different from corn meal and is available at hardware, garden and home improvement stores. It works by inhibiting seed spreading, but note that it will also affect other plants besides weeds.