Updated/Fact-Chacked on August 11, 2021 by John
A weed is an unwanted plant, and in some cases, these weeds kill the plants that you do want to keep. Weed killers are powerful chemical agents that sink into the soil, so many gardeners prefer to use safe and natural weed killers.
Natural Weed Killers
You can find natural weed killers on shop shelves, but why buy when you can make it yourself with a few simple household items. Making natural weed killer is cheaper, safer and less harmful to your garden than most other products.
How to Use Vinegar and Salt as Weed Killer
1. Prepare and Cook
Pull out visible weeds and unwanted objects from your garden at least one to two months in advance of planting. Once your soil is clear of weeds, you can level out the soil – for better drainage.
You can also give the soil a light spray of water if it is dry, then cover the area in plastic. The plastic sheeting will cook off the remaining weeds in the soil. Killing the weeds takes a month but leave the plastic on for a week or two more to ensure that the weeds are dead.
2. Sunlight Starvation
Place sheets of newspaper around the roots of the plants that you want to keep, then spray water over the newspaper. Then cover the newspaper in some loose soil.
The paper prevents sunlight from reaching the weeds, killing them off before they have a chance to grow. Newspapers are great as natural weed killers since they are non-toxic and break down in water and soil.
3. Kind Chemicals
If you are not keen on laying plastic or newspaper over your garden, then you can try making organic weed spray. Mix three and a half cups of apple cider vinegar with a half cup of lemon juice into an empty spray bottle.
The acid in the vinegar and lemon juice is less powerful than industrial products, so it will take more time to act. Spray the leaves and the stems of the weeds during the heat of the day. You can repeat this each day or until the weeds die off.
4. Boiling Water
This is a direct method of controlling specific weeds, and you need to be careful to not spill over to other plants. Pouring boiling water onto the leaves and the stems of the weeds prevents them from propagating further.
5. Salt Saturation
Most plants struggle with salt, so this natural weed killer is better for use on cracks in concrete and areas where you do not want anything to grow. Dissolve a cup of salt into 2 cups of boiling water.
You can then pour the solution into the cracks and gaps of your concrete paths to kill off any unwanted plants.
6. Spray With a Cocktail
Add three cups of water, along with one tablespoon each of apple cider vinegar, gin and liquid soap – into a spray bottle. Mix the ingredients – try not to make too much foam.
Spray the weeds’ leaves and the base of the stems during the middle of the day and let the sun do its thing. This method may take two to three days, but it should prevent the weeds from reproducing after the fifth day.
These methods may affect other plants if they are too close to the treatment.
John Green is a 46-year-old graphic designer living in Durham. John is RHS level 3 certified and owns an allotment in Durham.