Weeds are a homeowner’s worst nightmare. So we understand the burning desire to get rid of them with weed killers. Hey, they’re known to work. And they work fast and effortlessly.
But almost every weed-killing product you’ll find at your local home improvement store has either glyphosate or 2,4-D listed as an active ingredient. In 2015, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as a group 2A carcinogen – which means it’s “probably carcinogenic to humans” – and 2,4-D as a group 2B carcinogen – which means it’s “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. Yikes.
There’s still a lot of research left to be done, as we still only know very little about these widely-used products. But on glyphosate, for instance, many countries are saying this: using glyphosate sounds like an unnecessary risk to take on our health. Let’s stop using it until we know more about its health effects.
Makes total sense to us. We don’t want to use a probable or possible carcinogen where our dogs and children will be playing. But besides health risks, we don’t want to use weed killers because they may negatively impact the environment, the soil, and our efforts to get a beautiful, healthy lawn.
For instance, the Soil Association released a report about the impact of glyphosate on soil health, and talked about its negative effect on earthworm populations. But we know that earthworms are important to maintaining a healthy lawn as they aerate the soil and help decompose thatch. Plus, there’s the potential for herbicide carryover, so you wouldn’t be able to use the grass clippings as mulch. In other words, commercial weed killers stop you from growing a healthy lawn, which will lead to even more weeds. How counterproductive!
Organic Weed Removal
The good news is there’s a better method. Removing weeds organically – and growing better grass – is the best way to keep weeds at bay and all living things healthy. Weeds are opportunistic. As soon as they see an opening, they’ll move right in. So give them no room to sprout by growing thick, healthy grass.
Keep in mind that it’s impossible and unnecessary to remove weeds completely and permanently. Focus instead on getting a healthy lawn to crowd out as many weeds as possible.
Pull Them Out
Elbow grease is by far the safest, most organic weed removal method. And it’s proven to work! 😉
You can pull weeds out effortlessly by doing so after it rains. Rain will loosen up the soil and make it easier for you to pull the roots out. All you need is a handy weeder for the job. It’s also a good idea to pull early in spring, before weeds get a chance to establish themselves.
Another way to remove weeds organically is by using a vinegar solution. We would rather avoid spraying anything on our lawn, and either way – dead or alive – you’d want to physically remove the weeds, but if you must, this vinegar herbicide mixture works well:
- 1 gallon of cleaning vinegar (10% or 20% acetic acid)
- 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap
- 15 drops of orange oil
Grocery store vinegar contains 5% acetic acid which you can try as well. But 10% to 20% acetic acid vinegar is stronger and can help get those stubborn weeds.
Also, you’re essentially dealing with acid, so please wear protective equipment like gloves, goggles, and masks when using this vinegar herbicide. Be careful not to spray your grass and plants as it could kill them too.
Rent Some Goats
No, seriously, rent some goats! Goats love all kinds of weeds – and not so much grass – so they’ll eat them all up for you. There are goat rental services that exist exactly for this purpose – weed control!
Besides, goats are fun to watch. Your kids will love them. So locate some goats in your area, build a fence if you don’t have one already to make sure no one escapes, and let ‘em browse your lawn!
Other Organic Methods
Other organic methods to remove weeds exist, but they’re not the most ideal for a lawn. Still, we’ll briefly mention them just in case you want to try them:
- Boiling Water. Pouring boiling water over weeds will kill them. However, it’s hard not to kill your grass too. This method works best to manage weeds that grow between pavers, rather than a lawn.
- Corn Gluten Meal. Corn gluten meal is a double-edged sword. It can stop weeds from growing, but if you apply it over your lawn after they’ve already germinated, it will grow your weeds. If you choose to use corn gluten meal, you have to be careful not to use it as a fertilizer but a weeder!
- Plastic Tarp. The plastic tarp method involves covering weeds with a tarp to deprive them of the sun and bake them. This method can take over a month to work, and it’s difficult not harm the grass too.
Weeds Be Gone
Want to get and keep a beautiful lawn? Stop using commercial weed killers! Those products will cause a cycle of lawn problems for you, to say the least.
As long as you practice good lawn care and use the organic methods above, you won’t have to take unnecessary health risks and you’ll never have a lawn full of weeds again.
Have Fun Out There!