Whacking Weeds: Natural Weed Control

Weeding is dreaded by all who care for their lawns, but preventions methods exist.


| March/April 2005


My brother was helping tend my garden. Searching the leaf shapes for clues, he asked, “Which ones are the weeds?” I replied with a wink, “The ones you don’t want, of course.”

Merriam-Webster defines a weed more precisely as “a form of vegetable life of exuberant growth and injurious effect.” The definition can be subjective—what one person sees as a weed, another might add to the salad bowl (see “Weed Eaters,” page 82). Yet identification is easy when compared to removal. Anyone who’s battled the tenacious, sunny yellow flower-tops called dandelions knows it. Exuberant, indeed!

You could take the easy, chemical attack, but it’s not the best approach. Common herbicides damage more than weeds; they poison your yard’s balanced ecosystem—and possibly that of your regional watershed—by killing beneficial plant diversity.

The long-term risks of human exposure to weed killers are still unclear, although there’s evidence linking them to some forms of cancer; damage to the kidney, liver, and nervous system; and fetal growth retardation and genital deformities. Do you really want your kids and dog to play on a lawn sprayed with synthetic chemicals? Thankfully, there are eco-friendly alternatives that control weeds and promote a healthy yard.



Prevention is the Best Medicine

Homemade weed killers fall into the category of post-emergence controls, which means they kill the weed after it's broken through the soil and is visible. You've probably heard claims of super-duper solutions using everything from rock salt to gin. While the effectiveness of many is inconsistent, a few have proven results.







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