Organic gardening doesn’t mean that you have to allow invasive plant species and pesky weeds to wreak havoc in your garden; it just means that you have to avoid toxic chemicals when eliminating them. Everyone wants unwanted plants out of their gardens and lawns for good, but it can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to remove them effectively. These pesticide-free tips will kill unwanted plants organically and allow your garden to flourish.
Avoid Invasive Plant Varieties
A plant that grows and reseeds itself where you don’t want it to and is difficult to control can be considered an invasive plant variety. Weeds can be invasive, but invasive plants are not necessarily always weeds. They can actually be quite beautiful plants, but they can be hard to eliminate when they sprout up in places where you didn’t plant them, and they take hold.
Some common examples of invasive plants include:
- Butterfly Bush
- Barberry Bush
- Burning Bush
- English Ivy
- Oriental Bittersweet Vine
- Japanese Knotweed
- Creeping Charlie
- Varieties of Mint that can tunnel roots under the ground
Prevent Weeds Before they Start
There are a couple of things that you can do to prevent weeds before they start. Maintain the soil in your garden bed by keeping the soil pH balanced, densely planting your garden plot to suppress weed germination, and not cutting your lawn too low. These ideas can help, but weeds are everywhere, and they will find their way to your lawns and gardens at some point. Here are some tried and true ways to kill unwanted plants organically so that you can win the war on weeds.
Organic Remedies to Kill Unwanted Plants and Weeds
Luckily there are wide varieties of organic methods that you can try that have been proven successful in killing unwanted plants and weeds. If one doesn’t do the trick, try the next one on the list, as organic gardening sometimes means using trial and error to find what works best in your garden.
Old Fashioned Weeding
Don’t underestimate good old-fashioned pulling by hand to remove troublesome plants and weeds by the roots. This method gets the job done with a little bit of muscle and tedious plucking. Consider selecting your unwanted plant-pulling day for after a heavy rainstorm when the soil is loose and saturated. This will make the job much less arduous.
You must dispose of your weeds and unwanted plants far away from your compost pile and garden, or they will regenerate themselves in full force. The most eco-friendly way of doing this is to submerge weeds in a bucket of water and cover the bucket for a couple of weeks until they breakdown into mush. Then you can pour the decayed mixture to bolster the content of your compost pile.
A reliable weed and unwanted plant killer can be found right under your kitchen sink. Combine the following three items, place them in a spray bottle and spray on the leaves of the weeds or unwanted plants on the morning of a hot, dry day. Use care to spray only the weeds and unplanted plants that you want to kill so that you don’t massacre the plants that you treasure.
- Two parts Distilled white vinegar
- One Part Water
- A few drops of dishwashing soap
- Spray Bottle
Salt and Water Mixture
Dehydrate invasive plant varieties and pesky weeds with a super simple salt and water mixture. This manner of eliminating weeds should be used only in areas where you don’t want anything to grow, such as stone pathways and on areas with pavers. Using a salt and water mixture will wipe out other beloved vegetation as well if not used sparingly and in well-defined regions.
- Mix 6 TBS of Table Salt
- Just enough water to dissolve the salt
- Spray Bottle
Boiling Water Method
That’s right! Just boil up some water in your tea kettle and pour the scalding water to kill unwanted plants. This method works best on younger weeds that are not very well established.
Choke out nuisance weeds and plants with mulch in your garden beds. Cut unwanted plants and weeds to the ground and apply heavy mulching tactics to impede their growth. Get creative and use alternative mulching methods like straw, newspaper, leaves, cardboard, black weed tarp, or use a few inches of traditional mulch. The main thing to consider when smothering weeds and out of control plants with mulch is that you need to block sunlight from reaching weeds altogether.
Plant flowers, crops, and ground cover plants on the bare spots in your garden beds. Your planting will naturally compete with weeds for water, soil nutrients, and sunlight while protecting bare soil from receiving stray weed seeds and reseeding invasive varieties. Covering bare spots in your garden bed also has the mutual benefit of helping the soil to maintain balanced moisture levels and combats erosion and nutrient depletion
How to Keep Weeds from Returning
Once your garden is cleared of weeds, it is crucial to continue to maintain the garden to keep weeds from making your garden and lawn home.
- Ensure that any compost that you add to your garden is well-decomposed and free of weed sprouts before adding it to your garden bed.
- Always cover your compost pile to keep flyaway seeds from embedding themselves in the soil.
- Keep up with young weeds that are bound to sneak into your garden. A regular routine of tackling unwanted plants will keep weeds from propagating.
- You can also keep weeds at bay by adding corn gluten meal to the soil. You can find this at local garden centers or online. Cornmeal gluten does not kill weeds that are already there but can help stop weed seeds from germinating.