I have been spending quite a bit of time out in the yard for the last few weeks now that spring is finally here. The grass is growing like gangbusters, the garden plants are in their beds and there are tons of projects that need tending to. One thing that I absolutely HATE doing is dealing with weeds. Of course, since I refuse to spray them all with chemicals, I am left searching for the best natural weed control methods I can find. This usually involve pulling them out by hand and swearing a lot! It’s hard work but it does work!
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Why worry about killing weeds at all?
What can gardeners do to keep weeds out of their yard and garden? Do we even need to worry about killing the weeds in our lawn? After all, what exactly IS a weed? What makes one pretty yellow flower a weed while that pink one that I PLANTED there is not a weed?
Why is the wild strawberry my weed nemesis while cultivated berries are cherished as a much-loved food source? I thought I would share a few of the best natural weed control methods that I have found. And give you some food for thought about weeds in the yard.
A New Way to Look at Weeds
What makes one thing a WEED and another NOT. According to Wikipedia, a weed is a plant that is considered undesirable. But, by who’s standards? The bunnies and chipmunks think that my out of control wild strawberry is a Godsend.
While I may not be interested in eating those tart little berries, they certainly turn them into a spring feast every single year. I may hate the sight of a dandelion growing amongst my pretty pink mailbox flowers but many people actually eat dandelion greens on a regular basis.
They are also one of the earliest food sources for honeybees. My grandmother loved wildcrafting and used to serve them when we would visit and I could just never get over the fact that I was eating something I generally considered a weed, even as a kid.
Basically, in today’s vernacular, a weed is anything that is growing somewhere we don’t want it to be. In Texas, wild Morning Glories are considered weeds, even though they are incredibly beautiful. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and one person’s weed may be totally acceptable growing in someone else’s yard. So, what do we do when we are inundated with nature trying to take over places we don’t want it to be?
How do you get rid of weeds?
Chemical weed control methods are not always the safest choices. Those chemicals that we spray in our yards for weed control end up on things like our pets and our children. They also end up in rivers, streams, and the bellies of small woodland creatures.
I would really like to suggest that you skip the chemical weed control methods this spring. Try natural weed control methods instead. What sort of natural things can you do to prevent those undesirable plants from taking over your yard?
Best Natural Weed Control Methods
Here are a few natural weed control methods that you might want to consider. Remember, this is a good way to expose you, your family, and our environment to a lot fewer chemicals!
Depending on what you have nearby, how much money you have to spend, and what areas you are working in, you have a lot of choices. You can put down old newspapers under a layer of soil. Get wood chips from your nearby tree cutting service (often free but be careful that you get chips from a tree that was not diseased!).
Buy rubber tire mulch but do not use this in an area where you are planting food. Don’t use wood chips around the foundation of your home or you may attract termites.
Ground cover plants:
In our front walkway, we have planted Creeping Jenny which has formed a very thick mat of short little plants. This plant grows so thickly that I almost never see weeds pop up in that area anymore. Many different types of ground cover are available so choose one that thrives in your region for the best results. Check out these great groundcover plants on Better Homes and Gardens.
Maintain healthy soil and plants:
Weeds thrive in areas that are left bare. Plant things you WANT to grow there. Make sure the soil is loaded with organic nutrients and the plants are well watered. If you keep desirable plants healthy, you will have fewer problems with weeds. If you are looking for the best natural weed control methods, make sure you are starting with healthy soil!
Cover the ground with landscape fabric:
We do this fairly regularly and while it is effective for a year or two, it will break down eventually. Weeds also like to grow around the edges. You can buy landscaping fabric for natural weed control in most lawn and garden stores. Don’t forget to buy a few fabric stakes or staples to hold it down.
This can be time-consuming if you have a large yard. Hand-picking them is a tough but effective way to control weeds, especially if you can pick them before they go to seed. Every year you should see fewer and fewer weeds as the seeds already in your soil start to become fewer and fewer. Do this after a good rain so the soil gives up the roots easily.
Vinegar and other organic herbicides:
Spray your weeds with vinegar or a natural herbicide. This is one of the best natural weed control methods I have found so far. This works best in an area where you don’t want ANYTHING growing. Grass in the cracks of your driveway or clover amongst the patio stones, for example. These organic herbicides will kill surrounding grass and plants. Take care when using them!
Try a flame weeder:
Yes, you can actually kill weeds with fire! And as long as you do it safely with an approved flame weeder, you should have fairly good luck. Read my post about using a flame weeder to kill weeds before you attempt this for yourself!
Is weed killer safe?
If you are currently using NON-natural methods of weed control I would really like you to rethink your choices! Many of these chemical sprays have been shown to have serious harmful effects on humans, animals, and our environment.
According to The Environmental Working Group, “Extreme levels” of the herbicide, Roundup, have been found in much of our food supply. Skip the dangerous chemicals and choose natural weed control methods instead. Or, maybe just let those weeds live with all those pretty tulips you planted! Do you have any other natural weed control methods to share?
Want more gardening tips? Try a few of these posts!
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire and has worked in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging and freelance writing to share this knowledge with others. Learn more about her HERE.