Our customers, and the customers of many other landscaping companies, are increasingly curious about organic forms of weed control. Traditional herbicides like Round-Up concern them; they worry that pets, children, and the environment may be at risk from harmful chemical toxins. They want newer, cleaner solutions, and most landscaping companies are now happy to oblige. Generally, organic herbicides don’t work quite as well as traditional herbicides, but they are much cleaner and safer. For many homeowners, a perfectly pristine lawn isn’t worth the potentially deleterious effects of chemical toxins, so taking the leap to organics is well worth it. For now, the choice is entirely up to the homeowner, but, in the future, more state governments (California has already labeled Round-Up as a carcinogen) may begin enacting laws that prohibit the use of certain chemical herbicides, so, if you’ve never considered using organics, now is the perfect time to start.
Recent studies have linked the use of chemical herbicides with diseases like Parkinson’s and various kinds of cancer. Over forty distinct plant diseases have also been linked to chemical herbicides, and glyphosate—a chemical commonly found in traditional herbicides—is known to cause sickness in amphibians and fish. Considering this, many homeowners and governing bodies have become concerned about the possible side effects of chemical herbicides. For this reason, organic methods of weed control are on the rise.
Forms of Organic Weed Control
Most gardeners know how essential mulch is to cultivating healthy plants. A layer of mulch can smother weed growth, protect young plants from the elements, and inhibit new weed species from germinating. Mulch can be made at home from grass clippings, dead leaves, wood chips, compost, or straw. This is more of a preventative tactic than an herbicide, but diligent gardeners who remember to mulch their beds will certainly see a decrease in the proliferation of weeds.
Corn gluten is another preventative tactic that can stop weed seeds from germinating. It should not be used on already grown weeds, however, since it only works as a preventative measure. It should be sprinkled on lawns and beds after garden plants have already sprouted.
Some organic gardeners use a tactic called “crowding” to prevent the growth of weeds. Most weeds need ample space to flourish, so these gardeners eliminate weed growth by eliminating space. For instance, ground covers and perennials can be planted in ornamental beds so that they grow up next to existing plants. When using this method, gardeners should be fastidious in measuring out plots, so as not to crowd wanted plants.
Weeds can also be burned away using boiling water or a small flame. Flame wands can be bought from most hardware stores and are great for targeting weeds that come up between cracks in pavement or stone. Pouring boiling water over weed sprouts works similarly well.
Vodka and Dish Soap
Cheap vodka and dish soap is a foul concoction—especially to weeds. By mixing equal parts water and vodka with a few drops of dish soap, you can create your own homemade herbicide. This mixture dries weeds out once they’ve already sprouted, and it works best in good sunlight. Vinegar, salt, water, and a few drops dish soap has a similar effect.
A tried and true method, hand pulling will never cease to effectively wipe out weeds. However, for many gardeners, this tactic is simply too time consuming and labor intensive. If you can, you may choose to hire someone to pull weeds for you. Most landscaping companies would be happy to help.