Seven Tips to Kill Weeds Naturally, Without Harmful Chemicals
If you see a weed-free lawn, chances are it is regularly sprayed with weed killers. The small warning signs posted in the lawn after spraying help keep kids and pets off the grass for a while, but the chemical residues persist after the signs come down. These chemicals stick to skin, shoes and soil and get tracked into our homes. All weed killers pose possible health risks, especially for pregnant women and young children. For a healthy, beautiful lawn without toxic chemicals, try these seven steps:
1. Set your lawn mower blades higher – Longer grass crowds out weeds and holds more moisture for a greener summer lawn. Raise your mower blades to 2.5 inches or higher.
2. Learn to tolerate some weeds – A chemical-free lawn may have some unwanted clover and dandelions, but it is safe and non-toxic for pets and kids playing outside.
3. Keep up with routine lawn care – A healthy lawn out-competes weeds. Leave clippings on the lawn to improve the soil. Rake up thatch in late spring to help rain percolate. Apply slow-release organic fertilizer in spring and fall. Aerate in early summer or fall to increase air and water circulation to grass roots. Seed your lawn and any bare patches after aeration. Use seed without added pesticides and fungicides (check the label).
4. Weed by hand – Once a week is usually enough. Walk through your beds and gardens, cutting off any new weeds at the surface. If you have more time or are facing a fast-spreading invasive weed, dig into the dirt and get the roots. You can weed grassy areas that have excessive weeds. Reseed afterwards if needed.
5. Use mulch or ground cover for beds – Two to three inches of mulch helps retain soil moisture and block sunlight that weeds need to grow. Ground cover also blocks weed growth – local nurseries carry a variety.
6. Use a vinegar spray – For a natural spray that kills weeds, use a solution of 4 parts water to 1 part white vinegar. You may have to spray more than once, and then spray again if the plant re-sprouts from the roots.
7. Use an organic lawn care company - To find a lawn care company specializing in organic, chemical-free lawn care, check the non-profit Beyond Pesticides’ company guide.
For more ways to keep your family safe from toxic chemical exposures, visit HBBF’s Healthy Home page.