I have to start with a confession. We used to be those people who got our yards sprayed. What they sprayed it with, I honestly don’t know and I didn’t want to find out. It was something my husband insisted on after 2 years of trying to grow grass in Tennessee and finally investing in sod. He didn’t want the weeds to take over and our money to be wasted. I know the man on the spray truck used to tell me it was safe for our dogs and our kids as long as we waited for it to dry, but that never really made me feel better.
Over the last few years, we went from getting our lawn sprayed, to only getting it fertilized with a natural fertilizer, to not doing anything at all (except on our own.) We finally realized that the lush, perfectly manicured suburban lawn wasn’t worth the risk. And in one short season, the Tennessee heat turned our back yard into a full blown weed field. When the grass is cut you honestly can’t tell, it just looks green, and it’s soft enough for the kids to run around barefoot. So no big deal, until this spring. We have a new weed. It’s wide, it grows tall, it spreads like crazy and it’s covered in incredibly sharp prickers. Everyone one of us has ended up soaking a foot or hand in an Epsom salt bath trying to work one or three out from under our skin. In the interest of a fun, barefoot summer, I had to find a way to rid our back yard of this weed. But the question was how? I still didn’t want to introduce chemicals into the yard. I did a little research and decided to try two natural weed killers, boiling water and one of my favorite household tools, white vinegar.
Below are the results of my experiment.
Vinegar as a Natural Weed Killer:
This seemed to be the most effective natural method for the giant weeds covered in prickers. The minute the boiling water hit them they started to shrink and wilt and within 5-10 minutes they started turning black around the edges. It was easy to keep track of which weeds I’d already treated because there was a noticeable difference in them. By the next morning, all of the weeds treated with boiling water were completely shriveled up and brown. Within in 3-5 days they were totally brown and crispy and there were no more prickers to worry about. Within 10 days they had completely disappeared. None of them needed a second treatment. The only negative is that the boiling water killed the grass around the weed and left small brown spots around the yard. But after a week or two those started to fill back in. Boiling water also worked well on smaller weeds in the flower beds and cracks in the sidewalk. I could usually pull the weeds treated with boiling water after letting them sit for about 10-15 minutes. Just be sure not to treat anything to close to a plant you love.
My conclusion – boiling water works faster and gives better overall results as a natural weed killer. I used a tea kettle to boil the water and carry it to the backyard so the biggest negative is that it was time consuming. The vinegar worked, but not as consistently or as quickly and it took a lot of vinegar to get the job done.
How do you kill weeds naturally?