It’s that time of the year when our lawns are still dormant, but cool seasonal weeds are beginning to pop up in the lawn and landscape. The 14th century reformer, Martin Luther, once said, “You can’t stop a bird from flying over (or landing on) your head, but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair.” While no lawn or garden will ever be 100% weed free, we can keep the weeds from taking over your lawn. Organic weed control involves a multitude of gardening techniques and it is quite possible to have a weed free lawn & garden and not use toxic synthetic chemicals.
Henbit Annual Poe (Bluegrass) Many of your cool season weeds, but not all weeds, will die out when the temperatures get to be in the mid to upper 80 degree mark. Henbit, annual poe (bluegrass), and other cool season weeds will naturally die off in the warmer temperatures, especially if they get direct sunlight. When the temperature warms up, usually April/May, mow and bag your lawn to 3/4 an inch shorter than normal for two weeks in a row. Put down a high nitrogen organic fertilizer or corn gluten meal, and your weeds will naturally die and disappear.
Weeding by Hand
The first thing to understand is that the health of the soil is the key point in creating a weed free lawn. Healthy soil yields a healthy lawn and landscaping that will resist weeds. Use organic fertilizers, compost and organic soil amendments to build the health of your soil. Sow grass seed in the spring to thicken up your lawn. Trim and thin out the canopy of your trees so that your lawn receives the proper amount of sunlight. (Remember, Bermuda grass needs a minimum of 8 to 10 hours of direct sunlight every day to be thick and healthy. St. Augustine needs a minimum of 4 hours of direct sunlight.) Also, over watering or areas in your lawn where the water drains poorly and the soil stays moist will also cause your lawn to be thin and sickly. Our southern grasses must completely dry out between waterings in order for them to be green, lush and weed resistant.
We recommend using a 10% vinegar based herbicide with orange oil, molasses and bio wash. Spraying a vinegar herbicide on dormant grass won’t harm your turf, but if you over seeded with winter rye or fescue, the vinegar will kill the cool season grass. You can buy the organic postemergent at the organic store. If you don’t know where to buy the post-emergent, we will sell you a gallon of our recipe, or you can hire us to spray your lawn for weeds.
Organic weed control is much more than killing weeds safely. It is first about growing healthy turf in fertile soil and minimizing weed pressure. Organic weed control is further achieved by using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to establish weed thresholds, prevent weeds, and eradicate as a last resort.
So learn how to make safe homemade weed killer, and have another tool in your gardening know-how arsenal. You are on your way to a kid safe, pet safe garden! Remember, if a spray will kill weeds, it might kill other plants too, so be careful, even with safe weed killer!
We found this basic homemade weed killer recipe at ‘Saving Cent by Cent‘. Her tutorial is great, and we did a little research on the formula. It’s a well regarded recipe for killing weeds without chemicals, but a couple of cautions. Using vinegar and dish soap is great basic weed killer on it’s own. When you add salt, you can affect the soil and make it difficult to grow things there in the future. So if you are killing weeds where you want nothing to grow, go ahead and use the salt. But if you want to replant in that spot, either emit the salt, or use it sparingly. This homemade weed spray is best used in full sun on a warm day, and is most effective on young weeds. Read her tutorial for her recipe and lots of great tips. Otherwise, here is a general formula for making it in larger batches that works!
Mix in a spray bottle and spray directly onto leaves. Photo by ‘Meijer‘.
Rubbing Alcohol Weed Killer
None of us like weeds in our garden. We want what we planted to be what we planted! And weeds will choke out the plants in your yard that you actually want there, stealing nutrients, water and sun. On the other hand, these days we have been enlightened to the positives in cutting as many chemicals out of our lives as possible. While we know the “Round-Up” vs. “Homemade Weed Killer’ debate is real for both sides, we choose to err on the side of caution whenever possible. And using natural weed killers when we can just makes good sense. After all, it’s not just you, your pets and your kids being exposed to chemicals you spray in the yard. It’s the bumblebees and song birds too! (And microorganisms, and other living things, but that’s another post.)
Some of the best natural weed killers are often forgotten, not to mention definitely safe!
Borax weed killer can be used in lawns, but use cautiously. Anything overused can cause damage to other plants. Most commonly used for killing “Creeping Charlie” or “Ground Ivy”, the US Department of Agriculture recommends this recipe to cover 1000 square feet of lawn. A borax solution will also kill ants! Check out ‘The Gardening Cook‘ and their take on borax weed killer spray.
We think you would also enjoy our posts on 12 Brilliant Container Vegetable Garden Ideas or Should You Eat Organic? The Dirty Dozen and The Clean 15! on our sister site, OhMeOhMy! And don’t forget to join our Home & Garden DIY Facebook group and our Pinterest page so you see right away when we post new ideas and advice!