Whacking Weeds: Natural Weed Control

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

| March/April 2005

  • Planet Natural provides a variety of eco-friendly garden products including this natural weed killer.
  • Feel safe using Planet Natural’s herbicidal soap.
  • Corn gluten meal has proven very effective in pre-emergence weed control.
  • Saint Gabriel weed and grass killer—made from plant oils—is available in concentrate or pump.




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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