If you enjoy spending time outside your home, you’ll know that keeping a well-maintained outdoor space is about more than planting a few flowers every year and occasionally trimming your hedges. Yards across the country, and indeed here in Charlotte, are often plagued by pests, difficult growing conditions, and invasive plants or weeds. Our friends at Modernize know that weeds can be particularly difficult to cope with: clover, thistle, and dandelion top the list of broadleaf weeds prevalent in this area of the country.
With homes across the Queen City filled with these kinds of weeds, many homeowners race to their nearest home improvement store and stock up on chemical-filled weed killers that harm the environment and may or may not work. Fortunately, there are quite a few additional ways you can keep your backyard weed-free without dousing your property with heavy duty chemicals. Here are some eco-friendly ways to eliminate weeds in your backyard.
Perhaps the most convenient way to rid your yard of weeds is by purchasing a commercial lawn product. If you want to save the environment while killing your weeds, shop for organic products with keywords such as natural or people-safe so you know that you, your pets, and local wildlife will be safe. Most organic herbicides on the market are food-grade quality and contain many of the same ingredients you would use to make your own weed killer at home. Look out for OMRI certifications and listings as well as other organic labels to be sure that the product you have chosen is approved by professionals.
If you like the idea of applying an herbicide to your weeds but don’t want to use store bought varieties, you can make your own weed killer from common household ingredients. Vinegar, salt, dish soap, boiling water, and even vodka can kill weeds without any harmful chemical effects. As mentioned above, many organic herbicides contain a mixture of water and vinegar or salt, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find a ratio that works to rid your lawn of weeds. Just be aware that some of these natural weed killers (including salt) will sterilize the soil surrounding the affected area, so we recommend that you apply your product carefully with a spray bottle to contain the effects of your homemade product.
In order for the weeds in your lawn to grow, they need what every other plant needs: nutrient-rich soil, water, and sunlight. If you have a problem with weeds in your flower beds or around bushes and trees, it might be a good idea to consider putting up a barrier to keep these unwanted plants at bay. Any kind of barrier will do here, so you can opt for a store-bought ground cover fabric and cover it with mulch, or simply use newspaper, sawdust, wood chip, grass clippings, slate, or even old carpet scraps to prevent weeds from popping up. This particular method only applies to larger areas, such as around garden beds and shrubs, so if your problem has more to do with weeds in between sidewalk cracks or in your grass then another option would be best here.
One of the most effective—yet dangerous— ways to banish weeds without chemicals is to burn them. If you happen to have a propane torch lying around and a very steady hand, you can kill weeds by briefly blasting them with heat as close to the base as possible. Of course, this method works best for stubborn weeds in your sidewalk cracks, and we can’t stress enough that you should always take care when dealing with fire. It’s also a good idea to keep Charlotte Water’s water use guidelines in mind when making the decision to torch your weeds, since the city and surrounding areas have limitations and ordinances that prohibit overwatering.
Many of us have become accustomed to convenience and want to purchase products that provide instant results with minimal effort. However, sometimes the best way to go about doing something is the old-fashioned way. The same certainly applies to weeding: while sprays and other products will stop weeds in their tracks, the most efficient way of ridding your yard of weeds is to pull them by hand. This method is laborious but effective, and it’s ideal if you only have a few stubborn weeds throughout your outdoor areas. If you decide to take the old school route, remember that the best way to hand-pull weeds is to remove both the flower and the entire root system, or they will simply grow back.
If none of these methods provide results for you or you have questions, visit our Charlotte, NC lawn care page for information on hiring a professional to take care of your weed problem. You can make your weed-killing adventure even more efficient by supporting local business and saving yourself time and hassle—just make sure you choose a pro who uses environmentally friendly products rather than chemical-filled weed killers. Whether you’re planning to contact a lawn care professional or complete the job yourself, now (early fall) is the ideal time to do it because your efforts will have maximum effect late in the growing season.
Featured image courtesy of Modernize
Kaitlin Krull is a writer and mom of two girls living the expat life in the UK. She enjoys writing for Modernize with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on home projects with confidence.