Nowadays, many of us seek alternatives to commercial weed killers that will let us maintain and nurture a healthy environment. So, I was often asked about the safest and surest way to get rid of weeds. Pulling weeds by hand is always safest, and for small scale problems it is the best option. But there are times when a weed killer may be more practical.
Q: What is a weed?
A: A weed is a plant that you don’t want growing in your yard.
That’s the fact, Jack.
For some of us, weeds are nuisances that are just dealt with, possible food sources that are gathered, and for others, they are the bane of a nicely manicured lawn or garden. Our family is certainly a dealer. We would prefer not to have milkweed, or chicweed, or bermuda growing in our yard, but we’re not willing to create a monoculture of one kind of grass or use chemicals to get the ‘weeds’ out of our yard. So, we mow.
However, we work on keeping the ‘weeds’ out of the cracks in our driveaway (we live in Texas on super clay soil – eventually your driveaway is going to crack and the seams separate) and in our sidewalk. We pull any errant plants in our beds.
What are the most common weed types?
It really depends on the part of the country you live in and what really bugs you. For us, these are the most common types in our area:
Although, if you ask my neighbor, they might say bermuda grass and clover. We happen to love clover and don’t consider it a weed (we even over seed it into our late winter lawn).
However, you may have a whole different list for your area. The funny thing is, though, that many of the things considrered ‘weeds’ are also various plants that can be used as food and medicine. Sometimes, things are worth a second look!
How to Make a Homemade Weed Killer
Finally, after learning a little about these weed, let’s see what you need for preparing your natural weed killer.
The key to this homemade weed killer is the vinegar!
- 1 gallon of 10% (100 grain) pickling vinegar
- Add 1 ounce orange oil
- 1 teaspoon liquid soap (Dawn is good or a bio-friendly soap will work as well)
- Do not add water!
- Some people also add epsom salts to help with the killing, but we choose not to.
The best choice for herbicide use is 10 percent white vinegar made from grain alcohol. It should be used full strength. Avoid products that are made from 99 percent glacial acetic acid. This material is a petroleum derivative. Natural vinegars such those made from fermenting apples have little herbicidal value. – Howard Garrett, The Dirt Doctor
Instructions For the Homemade Weed Killer:
Use a garden sprayer to spray onto your weeds during the highest heat point of your day. Keep in mind not to spray them on a day you are expecting rain as it will just wash away the liquid, and you will have to reapply once it’s dry and hot again. Repeat daily if needed. The vinegar will be absorbed into the leaves of the plants you are trying to kill and the heat/sun helps faciliate the process.
- Honest Statement #1
This homemade weed killer doesn’t work as fast as the commercial killer we are all used to seeing. It just doesn’t.
BUT….and there’s a big but in this.
While taking 2-3 days to kill the weeds in my driveaway with the stuff I make which only takes 3 minutes to spray is well worth my sense of taking care of my family by not spraying poisons on my lawn that have been linked to dozens of health issues and bee collapse. We’ll never really know the true ramifications of the commercial weed killer as almost all studies are done by agenda-seeking companies on both sides, but I know, for a fact, the less harmful chemicals we spray into our landscape that could eventually make it into our food supply, the better off we are.
- Honest Statement #2
This will kill any leafy plant you spray it on, so be careful about where you spray. While it doesn’t work well on vines and thick branched bushes and trees, it will be absorbed by most leafy plants and can kill them. So, we tend to only use this on driveaway cracks, around our air conditioning unit, etc. Weeds that pop up in the yard are mowed, and in the garden pulled.
I would show you a before and after, but we didn’t think of that before we began treating our driveway, earlier this year. It was only after that I thought: “hey, we should share that!”. Therefore, by this time next year, I’ll certainly have before & after pics for you! So, keep on reading and sharing your weed experiences!
The last thing I would like to highlight is that if you want to be 100 percent environmentally safe, then hands-on labor is the answer. Pulling weeds by hand from their backyard is as routine for many gardeners as a cup of coffee in the morning. Hand or trowel weeding can be the most effective, and it promotes healthier soil, as well. This process can also be infinitely easier under the right conditions. First of all, it is surely easier to pull weeds as soon as they come up. Younger weeds have small roots and are easier to pull. So, the chances of getting the entire plant out are increased. Another condition that helps this process is the weather. Remember that it is way easier to pull weeds just after a soaking rain.
As much as weed pulling is the most eco-friendly for our problem, not always seem to be the best option. Is you are a environment lover, but the weeds really bother you, try our method and give us your thoughts. I’m looking forward to read them all!
Katy Willis is a writer, lifelong homesteader, and master herbalist, master gardener, and canine nutritionist. Katy is a preparedness expert and modern homesteader practicing everyday preparedness, sustainability, and a holistic lifestyle.
She knows how important it is to be prepared for whatever life throws at you, because you just never know what's coming. And preparedness helps you give your family the best chance to thrive in any situation.
Katy is passionate about living naturally, growing food, keeping livestock, foraging, and making and using herbal remedies. Katy is an experienced herbalist and a member of the CMA (Complementary Medical Association).
Her preparedness skills go beyond just being "ready", she's ready to survive the initial disaster, and thrive afterward, too. She grows 100% organic food on roughly 15 acres and raises goats, chickens, and ducks. She also lovingly tends her orchard, where she grows many different fruit trees. And, because she likes to know exactly what she's feeding her family, she's a seasoned from-scratch cook and gluten-free baker.
Katy teaches foraging and environmental education classes, too, including self-sufficient living, modern homesteading, seed saving, and organic vegetable gardening.
Katy helps others learn forgotten skills, including basic survival skills and self-reliance.
She's been published on sites such as MSN, Angi, Home Advisor, Family Handyman, Wealth of Geeks, Readers Digest, and more.