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12 Ways to Get Rid of Aggressive Weeds Without Resorting to Roundup

You dont have to resort to chemical herbicides in order to get rid of invasive weeds. Safer options exist that will work just as effectively. They may take a bit more persistence, but the benefits of organic control methods far outweigh the negative health effects of chemical pesticides.

So whats the big deal about Roundup? Its a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide, which means it kills most plants that it comes in contact with. Roundup is also the most widely used herbicide in the world.

Glyphosate is the active herbicidal ingredient in Roundup. Many genetically modified food crops, such as corn and soybeans, have been scientifically designed to be resistant to glyphosate. Farmers can then spray Roundup on their fields and kill all the weeds, leaving only the food crop standing. This greatly simplifies weed control, but it also means the food crops are literally covered with Roundup. And so is any food you eat thats made from these crops, like corn chips, bread, and other packaged food.

A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that glyphosate residue in our food may enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. This can lead to disruption of normal body functions and the development of diseases such as Parkinsons disease, infertility and cancers.

A French study also found that a filler ingredient used in Roundup, polyethoxylated tallowamine, was more deadly to human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells than the main herbicidal ingredient glyphosate.

We’re just starting to understand the serious long-term health and environmental effects of Roundup and other popular herbicides. The less we use these chemicals, the better. Try some of these effective organic weed-control methods instead.

1. Mulching.

Covering the soil with an extra layer of organic matter can smother and inhibit weeds, as well as prevent new seeds from germinating. You can mulch with compost, bark, wood chips, newspaper, cardboard, grass clippings, straw, or most other organic matter. But make sure not to get hay, which can have a lot of unwanted seeds. You can also put ground cloth, old shower curtains, or other thick material underneath a pathway made of wood chips or gravel to prevent weeds from growing through.

2. Hand-Digging.

Manual removal with a shovel, hoe, or other tool is an effective spot-treatment for basically all weeds. Many weeds may come back and need to be dug again. But consistent hand-weeding will greatly reduce their populations. When young weeds are promptly dug out, they wont be able to seed and reproduce. And regularly digging up weeds with tap roots, such as dandelions or thistles, will weaken the root and eventually kill the plant.

3. Competition.

Weeds cant take hold if theres no space for them. Try planting dense groundcovers and perennial plants in ornamental beds. The shade and heavy root systems of trees and shrubs can naturally prevent weeds from growing underneath. If youre battling weeds in your lawn, make sure you use grass varieties appropriate for shade, drought, or other difficult areas where a regular lawn might not grow well, leaving openings for unwanted visitors.

4. Regulate Food and Water.

The nutrients and irrigation you give your garden will encourage weeds as much as the plants you want to grow. Only give your plants what they need. Well-established trees, shrubs and perennial plants can often do well without a lot of extra fertilizer and irrigation. Vegetables may need a bit more, but you can be selective. Heavy feeders can get extra compost, like squash and cucumbers. However, you can feed crops like root vegetables much less.

5. Solarize.

Solarizing involves covering an area of weeds with a heavy plastic sheet. This works best in full sun where the heat will collect under the sheet and literally bake the weeds. Leave the sheet in place for 4 to 6 weeks. Youll know its done when the weeds underneath are clearly brown and desiccated.

6. Limit Tilling and Digging.

Turning over the soil in your vegetable patch or other beds will bring new weed seeds to the surface. Experiment with the no-till method of gardening, where you try to disturb the soil as little as possible. For example, if youre seeding vegetables, only dig down as far as you need to plant the seeds instead of deeply digging or tilling the entire bed. The no-till method has also been shown to improve soil structure and fertility, as well as increase beneficial soil organisms.

7. Corn Gluten Meal.

Corn gluten meal is a powdery byproduct of the corn milling process thats been found to prevent weed seeds from germinating. Its often applied to lawns, or can be used in other garden areas. Its non-toxic to animals and you can buy certified organic corn gluten meal. If you cant find it in your local garden center, corn gluten meal is available online.

8. Vodka.

Try spraying a mix of 1 ounce vodka, 2 cups of water, and a couple drops of dish soap on weeds with good sun exposure. This will often dry them out and kill them. It doesnt work well in shady areas. Also be careful not to overspray onto any of your regular plants, the vodka will dry out whatever plants it hits.

9. Vinegar and Salt.

Regular 5 percent household vinegar can be used on its own against weeds. Its even better mixed with salt and dish soap. Mix 1 gallon of white vinegar with 1 cup of table salt and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish detergent. Put the mixture into a plastic spray bottle and spray directly on targeted weeds.

10. Soap.

The oil in soap naturally breaks down the surface of waxy or hairy weed leaves. Adding a few drops of liquid dish detergent to vinegar or vodka sprays will help it stay on the leaves and have the greatest impact.

11. Boiling Water.

Simply boil a kettle of water and pour it over any undesirable weeds to burn them. This works especially well for weeds growing in cracks of pavement or cement. The water will cool as it runs off to the sides of your pavement and wont hurt any plants along the border.

12. Flame Weeding.

This involves passing a flame over a weed briefly in order to fatally heat the plant tissues. A flame weeder is typically a wand connected to a propane tank. These may be carried at your local garden center or hardware store. Flaming will only kill the weed parts above the ground, not the roots, so you may need to flame your weeds a few times before theyre gone. Clearly, this should not be done during any dry spells when there is a risk of fire. Always follow the safety precautions that come with your flame throwing device.

What to Plant, Weed and Prune in May
Yoga for Gardeners: Recover from the Garden on the Mat
How to Make Your Garden Wildlife-Friendly

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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12 Ways to Get Rid of Aggressive Weeds Without Resorting to Roundup

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What to Plant, Weed and Prune in May

If youre a gardener in the Northern Hemisphere, the month of May is an excellent time to refresh your garden after its winter sleep. Dont know where to start? Try some of these simple steps to prepare your garden for a smooth growing season ahead.


Whether youve been stockpiling packages of seeds or have trays of young seedlings waiting around, May is the perfect month for getting the majority of your plants in the ground.

1. Vegetables and Annuals

At the beginning of May, start hardening off any seedlings and potted plants youve kept in the house. Put them outside during the day so they get used to direct sun and cooler temperatures. Always bring them back inside at night if the temperatures are below freezing.
Young vegetable and ornamental annual seedlings can be planted out as soon as the risk of frost has passed in your area. This includes onion sets and seed potatoes.
Sow cold-tolerant vegetable seeds directly in the soil in early May or late April. Examples are green peas, lettuce, mustard greens, kale, arugula, spinach and root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, beets and radishes.
After your frost-free date later in May, you can direct seed warm season veggies like cucumbers, beans, squash, melons, pumpkins and herbs including basil, dill, parsley, marjoram and oregano.
Direct-sow ornamental annual seeds after the risk of frost has passed. Annuals like alyssum, lobelia, poppies, sunflowers, cosmos, marigolds and nasturtiums all grow well from direct seeding.

2. Perennials, Shrubs and Trees

Select what types and varieties you want in your yard, and pay close attention to the maximum size they will reach when mature. Trees and shrubs in particular can outgrow their space quickly if youre not careful.
If youve been storing any potted perennials inside, harden them off the same as annual seedlings.
Prepare your planting site by digging a hole about twice as large as your pot. Mix some compost in around the edges and make sure the soil level comes up to the bottom of your plants pot. Remove the plants pot and brush your hand lightly against the outside of the root ball to loosen it, taking apart any circling roots. Place it in the prepared hole, fill in with soil, tamp down with your hand or foot, and water it in well. Cover the soil surface with mulch for better moisture retention.
If you bought any bareroot perennials, shrubs or trees from mail-order catalogues, plant these as soon as they arrive in a similar way.
May is also a good time to plant summer-flowering bulbs, such as lilies, dahlias, alliums, canna lilies and gladiolas. You can buy fresh bags of bulbs and plant them directly in the ground. Or plant out any non-hardy bulbs youve overwintered and stored from last year.
Planting perennial vegetables are another option this time of year. Try experimenting with eatable plants such as asparagus, rhubarb, horseradish, or herbs like oregano, thyme, sage or lovage.


Unfortunately, the explosive May growth you see in your garden also applies to weeds. An important first step is to never let weeds go to seed. Deal with them as soon as they start. These are some of the worst types of weeds to watch out for and how to keep them under control.

Weeds with tap roots. Some of the hardiest weeds fall into this category, including dandelions, thistles and docks. Their strength lies in the nutrients and energy stored in the tap root. Repeatedly digging up the tap roots by hand will weaken the weeds over time until they eventually die. You can also spray the plants individually with an organic herbicide or treatment such as vinegar, boiling water or a small flame thrower.
Annual weeds. These often come up in large groups of fresh seedlings in May. They can be hand-weeded if there arent too many. Smothering is an option for larger areas. This involves covering the weeds with newspaper, cardboard or other organic mulch in a thick enough layer to block out all light reaching the ground. Keep the covering layer moist and leave it in place to decompose during the growing season. Plant what you want around it.
Creepers. Weeds that spread through underground roots can be especially invasive, such as grasses and bindweed. Hand-dig any smaller patches that have started, taking care to remove shoots that have grown sideways. You can solarize an affected area by covering it with a heavy plastic sheet and leaving this in place for a few weeks until the weeds underneath have all died from the heat.
Other Intruders. Keep an eye out for unwanted tree or shrub seedlings that might have drifted into your yard from invasive neighbors. You might also have to remove perennials you planted previously, but have since shown their ugly sides.


Its best to prune trees and shrubs at the end of the dormant season just before they start to grow their first leaves. This is often in April or May, depending on your location and the individual plants. Keep these tips in mind as you plan your spring pruning.

Early spring-flowering shrubs should be pruned immediately after flowering because the shrub will start to set flower buds for the next year. This includes shrubs like forsythia, lilacs, magnolias, ornamental cherries and apricots, and azaleas.
Berry bushes like raspberries and blackberries should be pruned as early as possible to remove any old, non-productive branches. This will encourage new fruiting growth.
Prune hedges as they start to grow in the spring and a second time in mid-summer to keep the growth even and compact.
For multi-stemmed shrubs, such as forsythia or hazelnuts, you can remove one-third of the main stems in spring to control growth and improve the shape.
If you havent already, make sure to cut the dead growth from last year off any herbaceous perennial plants. These include perennials like daisies or ornamental grasses that die down to the ground each year. You can also divide and move around any perennials that need it.
Fruit trees are typically pruned during late winter or summer. Spring weather conditions can promote the spread of bacteria, so avoid pruning trees like apples, peaches, cherries or pears.
Avoid pruning hardwood trees in May for the same reason, such as oaks, maples, walnuts or birch.
You can prune off dead, diseased or insect-infested branches at any time of year.

How to Create a Wildflower Garden
Yoga for Gardeners: Recover from the Garden on the Mat
8 of the Best Spring Flowering Shrubs

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.


What to Plant, Weed and Prune in May

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Nature Zap NZ19 Electric Weed Killer


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EvoOrganic WFGB_BO 8-foot x 10-foot Weed Free Garden Watering Blanket With Header Hose


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