Weeds and pests are the bain of a gardener’s existence, but we know that weed killers and insecticides are bad for the environment. The toxic chemical can leak into the ground, contaminating groundwater and the vegetables or fruits we eat.
So how can you get rid of invasive weeds without harming the rest of your garden? The best way is to use natural solutions that are free from harsh chemicals. Here are a few homemade weed killers that won’t affect your garden:
Yes, mulch – as simple as that. When you transfer plants from a pot into your garden, add a layer of mulch to the surface of the flower bed. This makes it difficult for delicate new shoots to grow through the heavy mulch, preventing weeds from taking root or sprouting.
By repeating this mulching process every season, it not only makes your soil more fertile, but it also prevents the weeds from germinating and reproducing every year. For extra protection, you can place a layer of newspaper or straw on the surface soil with a layer of mulch on top.
Shadecloth or landscape fabric can be placed on a freshly-prepared flower bed. Cut holes in the fabric and plant new plants in the soil below. The plants will be able to grow through the holes, and weeds won’t spring up elsewhere as they can’t grow through the cloth.
This is a more effective but more expensive alternative to using mulch or wood chips. The protective cover formed by the shade cloth is porous, so will allow rainwater to seep through and into the soil.
Put some vinegar into a spray bottle and add some water. Spray the acidic solution onto any weeds or invasive plants to kill them. The higher the concentration of vinegar, the more effective the results.
Use this solution carefully as it can alter the pH levels of your soil if you use too much. This can make it hard to grow the plants you want in the future. Vinegar is cheap and is common in all households, making it a safe substance to use instead of weed killers.
Hot water from the kettle is an effective weed killer. Like vinegar, you should pour it directly onto any weeds you can spot in your garden. The boiling water will destroy the plant tissue and cells, killing the weed effectively.
However, boiling water will also kill any nice plants nearby, so avoid using it in dense flower beds or on any lawns. You’ll end up with brown patches on your grass if you use boiling water (or even vinegar) on your beloved lawns.
Traditionally used to make pap and porridge, maize meal can also be used to combat pesky plants such as dandelions and chickweed. Simply scatter some brown (unprocessed) maize meal over the soil in your flower beds.
The gluten in the maize meal acts as an organic herbicide, preventing new shoots from growing. The best part is that maize meal is cheap and free from toxic chemicals. Baking soda works just as well, too.
Another household item that you may find in your cupboard is rubbing alcohol, or commonly known as surgical spirits. It’s a natural ethanol-based disinfectant that has various purposes, but rubbing alcohol can also be used as a weed killer.
Mix two tablespoons of surgical spirits with 750ml of water and put the solution into a spray bottle. Spray the mixture directly onto weeds and unwanted plants – the alcohol will dry the weeds and remove any moisture from the soil around their roots.
Like rubbing alcohol, salt can be used to dry up weeds and change the chemical balance of the soil surrounding the invasive plants. A salt solution, consisting of three parts water to one part salt, can be mixed in a spray bottle.
Spray directly onto the weed and around the base. This solution will also kill nearby plants if not applied carefully or if too much salt solution seeps into the soil. However, it’s quick to make and very cheap.
These homemade solutions will rid your precious garden of unwanted weeds and free up space for stunning flowers and leafy shrubs. It also reduces the competition for water and fertile soil, so spend a weekend sorting out your flower beds and getting your garden into top shape.
Look after our planet and the creatures that inhabit it too. We share ways to maintain a garden and protect the environment through sustainable practices.
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