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Natural Weed Killer Alternatives That Won't Hurt You or the Environment

Natural Weed Killer Alternatives That Won't Hurt You or the Environment

Posted by Grange Co-op on 29th Aug 2023

You've probably seen all the ads related to health issues caused by the weed killer Roundup. The main ingredient in the popular weed killer and the cause of so much concern is glyphosate. The chemical can persist in the soil for up to six months, and some plants take it up after spraying. Some research shows a link between glyphosate and cancer. There is also the potential for the chemical to disrupt the growth of plants and indirectly impact aquatic life.

The health and environmental concerns over glyphosate have led to many gardeners searching for a Roundup alternative that doesn't pose the same risks. None of us want to put harmful chemicals in our food or into our bodies. Still, weeds are a big problem for anyone growing healthy vegetables. They rob plants of nutrients and water, hampering their growth. Increasingly, people are finding that organic herbicides provide them with a safer alternative that works.

What Are Organic Herbicides and How Do They Work?

Organic herbicides are weed killers that are made from naturally occurring chemicals. Also called "contact weed killers," they kill the part of the plant they touch. Many types of weeds die quickly after the weed killer touches the growth above the soil. Once the top portion of the growth is destroyed, the plant does not re-grow from the root. While organic weed killers offer several advantages, they also have some disadvantages.

For one, natural weed killers don’t kill plants that grow from root fragments. These plants must either be pulled up by the roots or treated with a systemic herbicide. When pulling up these nuisance plants, leaving even a small fragment behind can result in re-growth. Getting these weeds under control can take a lot of time and effort.

Another disadvantage of all-natural herbicides is that they can’t distinguish between weeds and other plants. You can't spray your entire lawn or garden and only kill the weeds. It's up to you to apply the spray in a way that eliminates exposure to grass, vegetables, flowers, or other desirable plants.

Organic herbicides are popular because they provide health benefits to humans, are safe to use around pets, and they help the environment. Using weed killers made from natural ingredients reduces the use of chemical products that damage the health of the soil and negatively impact the plants grown in it for years. Traditional herbicides can also cause changes in aquatic plants and modify food availability. In most cases, organic weed killer is the best choice for controlling nuisance plants.

Extra Strength Vinegar – One of the Best Weed Killer Alternatives

Vinegar is a staple in many homes. We use it for cleaning, unclogging drains, repelling ants, and as a laundry freshener. It isn’t surprising that using extra-strength vinegar for the garden also effectively kills weeds. Vinegar is a non-selective organic weed killer that is safe to use wherever there is unwanted weed and grass growth.

Will Vinegar Kill Grass?

Like other organic herbicides, extra-strength vinegar will kill any plant that it comes into contact with. To kill weeds in your lawn, you must “spot spray” wherever possible. In areas where your desirable plants are near the weeds, use the paintbrush method to apply the weed killer. Simply paint the liquid onto the plants you want to kill, coating the stems and leaves.

How Vinegar Works

Even though the active ingredient in both the vinegar you keep in your home and the vinegar you use to kill weeds is the same, there is a difference between the two products. The active ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid. The vinegar you use at home contains about 5% acetic acid. In comparison, vinegar for the garden contains about 20% acetic acid.

Acetic acid is a desiccant that draws moisture out of a plant. This kills the top growth, making it effective on small or new weeds. Tougher plants like dandelions and poison ivy might require multiple applications over time.

For years, gardeners have used various recipes to make vinegar, dish soap, and Epsom salt weed killer. But it is the strength of the vinegar that determines whether weed killer alternatives are truly effective.

Other Options in Organic Weed Killer Alternatives

Bonide is a trusted organic weed killer that has been around since 1926. Bonide's Burn Out weed killer contains natural ingredients that are safe for use around people and pets. It is concentrated and ready to mix with water. Some of Bonide’s benefits are that it is very fast-acting, rainproof once it dries, and it works at temperatures of 40 °F and above, and it doesn’t translocate.

Another option is Bonide's Captain Jack's Deadweed Brew ready-to-use spray. There's no mixing or worrying with a sprayer. It works great on visible weeds, and it's approved for organic gardening.

Now Is the Right Time to Switch to a Roundup Alternative

Before you grab the Roundup to battle weeds in your flower, vegetable garden, or in your lawn, consider switching to an effective and safe Roundup alternative. It’s a better way to keep weeds under control without putting you and your family at risk.

Shop Grange Co-op for Organic Weed Killer

Grange Co-op has a variety of organic herbicides to help keep nuisance plants out of your garden and yard. Shop for 20% vinegar, Bonide, and more. If you have questions about these or any of our products, contact us using our online form. Our Grange gardening experts are always happy to lend a helping hand!