There are several alternatives to Roundup and other commercial products that will rid your lawn and garden of weeds. You can try acetic acid or vinegar to burn weeds away, as well as soaps or essential oils. These methods are safe and contain no dangerous chemicals, according to GreenCityBlueLake Institute, part of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Vinegar is often listed as a natural alternative to commercial herbicides. The big disadvantage to vinegar is that is will “burn” all plants, not just weeds. Because of this, you need to be careful if you use vinegar so that you don’t accidentally kill plants you want to keep. Vinegar will kill the plant through its leaves. The upside is that vinegar won’t stay in the soil, so you can replant in the area.
Soaps are fatty acids and serve as another safe alternative to Roundup. Soaps work the same way vinegar does, by burning the plant. But soap works for just a short time, so weeds may grow back.
You also can try a variety of essential oils, including peppermint, pine, clove and citronella. Oils work much like soaps and vinegar--by burning leaves but not roots. However, oils tend to be less effective than other methods because part of the oils will evaporate or reach the soil before killing off any foliage. While oils aren’t as harmful to the water supply as harsh chemicals if they leach into groundwater, oils should be applied carefully.
The safest way to remove weeds is still to pull them by hand. In fact, this is the best option if you have only a few weeds in your lawn or garden. To keep weeds to a minimum, use mulch. Mulching makes it tougher for weeds to grow through the soil. Use shredded leaves, straw or lawn clippings as mulch.
Corn gluten is another way to control weed growth. This dry powder should be applied twice annually to your lawn to control weeds such as dandelions. Corn gluten won’t kill adult plants, but it will help prevent new weeds from growing. It’s safe for gardens and can add nitrogen to soil, helping to fertilize existing plants. Avoid corn gluten if you have a lot of hardy, long-established weeds.
Try planting grasses, flowers and bushes that are native to your area. Because native plants are meant to grow in a certain area, they take advantage of the nutrients found naturally in soils and can fend off weeds easily. They also require less water, fertilizer and care.
Never use any kind of weed killer, natural or not, before it rains. It lessens the effectiveness and increases the chances of whatever you are using entering the watershed. Be judicious and careful with any kind of chemical or organic product you use.