Written by an area Landscape Architect and birdwatcher with over 30 years of experience with landscaping in north Texas: what works and what doesn't. Emphasis on attracting birds to north Texas yards, and reducing required yard maintenance. Tips, trivia and proven advice for a natural, low-cost approach for this unique and sensitive part of the country.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Safe, natural weed killers you can use if safety is a concern at your house
There are several natural weed killers around that won't kill or injure wildlife, pets, birds or children. If you have any of these around, you may want to be safety-conscious and use one of these alternatives to Roundup. Nobody makes a ton of money by selling this stuff, which is why you don't see them advertised. But they work safely, and that's what matters.
1. Vinegar –
A favorite choice for natural herbicide use is 10% white vinegar made from
grain alcohol. It should be used full strength.Nature's Guide now has a20%
vinegar registered and sold as an organic weed killer: works well! Vinegar
Herbicide Formula: 1 gallon of 10% (100 grain) vinegar
Add 1 ounce orange oil or d-limonene
Add 1 tablespoon molasses (optional)
1 teaspoon liquid soap or other surfactant
Do not add water!
Shake the mixture well
before each spraying and spot spray weeds. Keep the spray off desirable plants.
This spray will injure any plants it touches. This natural spray works best on
warm to hot days.
Vinegar sprayed on the
bases of trees and other woody plants will not hurt the woody plants at
all.Use only natural vinegars and avoid
all vinegars made from glacial acetic acid.
2. Molasses -
Dry or liquid molasses can be used to safely kill hard-to-control weeds. The
dry product is used at 20 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. as a fertilizer and fire ant
repellent. Doubling that rate causes a herbicidal effect on certain weeds.
3. Corn Gluten
Meal - It is a natural weed and feed fertilizer. It should be
broadcast to prevent grassburs, crabgrass, and other annual weeds that
germinate from seed. The key is to broadcast the material before the weed seeds
germinate. “CGM” on the bare soil around
the young plants feeds them, to help develop big healthy plants while keeping
the competing weeds at bay. CGM can also be used in seed planting but only
after the seeds have grown into small seedlings.
4. Crabgrass Killer - Crabgrass
Killer is a natural weed killer used to kill crabgrass, chickweed, and other
similar weeds. Cinnamon bark is the active ingredient in the Agralawn product. It’s
especially effective on clovers of all kinds. Apply it dry to moistened
foliage, to kill quickly without hurting most grasses in a typical lawn.
5. Fatty Acid
& Plant Oil Products - There are several of these fancy,
strong soaps and plant oil products on the market including Monterrey, EcoSmart,
Herbicidal soap, Scythe, and Racer. They are non-selective herbicides that
usually have to be sprayed more than once.
6. Hand Tools and
Mowers - Hand weeding is always recommended and it doesn't take much time if done a little at a time, regularly. Many lawn weeds, especially the purple Henbit coming up now, are
easily controlled or eradicated with a once-over with your lawn mower! In fact, most weeds, if you keep cutting them down with a lawn mower, will just die.
OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape
Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years.
He is the recipient of a
Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the
American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of
Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His
office is at Yost87@charter.net in Denton.