The war against weeds seems to be an endless battle for gardeners.
Usually, we immediately resort to chemical pesticides, not knowing that there are ways to get rid of weeds naturally and without killing healthy grass.
The most important thing is to act as soon as possible; you need to kill the weeds before they sprout their roots.
As they grow, weeds compete with nearby crops or plants by stealing soil nutrients, sunlight, air, or water.
In this post, we will discuss 18 proven ways to kill weeds naturally without killing grass.
Table of Contents
- 1 How To Kill Weeds Naturally Without Killing Grass?
- 1.1 1. Remove Weeds By Hand
- 1.2 2. Use Cardboard Or Newspaper To Smother Weeds
- 1.3 3. Dry Them Up With Vinegar
- 1.4 4. Kill Weeds With Hot Boiling Water
- 1.5 5. Dump Handfuls Of Baking Soda
- 1.6 6. Control Weeds Naturally With Mulch
- 1.7 7. Use Corn Gluten Meal For Effective Weed Control
- 1.8 8. Rubbing Alcohol, Vodka Or Gin Will Get Rid Of Weeds Without Killing Grass
- 1.9 9. Make Your Own Weed Killer With Dish Soap
- 1.10 10. Use Borax To Kill Weeds
- 1.11 11. Let The Goats Eat Weeds
- 1.12 12. Use Bleach As A Weed Killer
- 1.13 13. Smart Use Of Landscape Fabric To Prevent Weed From Growing
- 1.14 14. Use Correct Borders And Edging
- 1.15 15. Fight With Hoe
- 1.16 16. Plant Some Ground Cover For Weed Control
- 1.17 17. Dense Planting
- 1.18 18. Cultivation
- 2 FAQ
- 3 Conclusion
- 4 References
How To Kill Weeds Naturally Without Killing Grass?
Weeds can reduce the growth of their neighboring plants.
That’s why it’s imperative to remove them before they start to spread and become an even more difficult task.
However, did you know that you can do it naturally without putting your health at risk from chemicals?
Continue reading to find out how to get rid of weeds without killing grass or other plants.
1. Remove Weeds By Hand
Perhaps this is the most basic technique for killing weeds without killing your lawn. You can manually pull the weeds and be guaranteed that they are safe around neighboring plants.
Among the ways to get rid of weeds naturally, pulling out the weeds is the most personal and time-consuming.
Yet, working on it firsthand can make you more meticulous about what roots to pull up or not.
Using a trowel or a small cultivator, loosen the soil around the weeds. Make sure the area has already been softened by water so you can do the job easily.
Unfortunately, you will have to pull out weeds by hand on a regular basis if you want to get rid of them.
The good news is that weeds with taproots like dandelions and thistles get weaker when they are pulled often, which can kill them in the end.
2. Use Cardboard Or Newspaper To Smother Weeds
Suffocate the weeds by suffocating them. Cover large areas or garden borders with thick cardboard, newspaper, old carpet, or black plastic bags to suffocate the weeds.
Weeds will not receive enough sunlight to encourage photosynthesis with these items on top. However, keep in mind that this is not a quick fix; you will need to leave the cover in place for months.
Overlap the materials in the area you prepared to be your garden a few months ago. Slowly but surely, the weeds will die from malnutrition.
3. Dry Them Up With Vinegar
Using vinegar, you can permanently remove the weeds. The acetic acid in the condiment will dry up the moisture in weeds and eventually kill them.
It’s still debatable whether vinegar kills weeds deep down their roots, so pull some after it dries up in a day or two.
Using a spray bottle, smear pure vinegar directly on the grass. Avoid spraying the soil because the acidity of vinegar can change the pH of the soil.
Some recommend combining vinegar with salt or dish soap, but this is still a contentious issue because these ingredients are said to deplete the soil and kill the good grass nearby.
4. Kill Weeds With Hot Boiling Water
Boiling water is an easy way to kill weeds that grow on your lawn or on your sidewalks.
Weeds thrive in the narrow spaces between the cement, and only these tough, strange grasses thrive in these sidewalk cracks.
Pouring hot, boiling water on the weeds will cause them to burn.
Also, since this method only uses water, you can also rest assured that it will not leave any toxins behind.
However, we recommend using a jug or container that has a spout so you can pour the water directly on top of the weeds.
5. Dump Handfuls Of Baking Soda
Baking soda has many uses and one of them is killing weeds. The chemical composition of sodium bicarbonate can increase the salinity of the soil, and weeds cannot survive soil overloaded with salt.
A handful of baking soda is enough to cover each weed from driveway cracks. Others suggest mixing baking soda with water, but you can use it directly on moist weeds.
Ideally, apply the powder during the season when they are most active like spring or fall.
6. Control Weeds Naturally With Mulch
It is beneficial to your plants but stifling to weeds.
Mulching with organic or inorganic material around plants and over weeds will keep the soil moist with enough warmth for good plants but will block air and sunlight for bad weeds to survive.
Mulch can be from old grass to tree bark like cedar trees.
Thick mulch along with a weed barrier will also prevent young weeds to thrive and stop them from taking roots.
It is important to keep the mulch thickness in check to effectively obscure the sun’s requirement for weeds.
You can use compost or sawdust for finer mulch texture since wood nuggets are coarse and the gaps may be another hole for weed to come out.
7. Use Corn Gluten Meal For Effective Weed Control
A byproduct of the corn milling process, corn gluten meal is a pre-emergent and an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic herbicides.
It offers protection from weeds taking roots after germination but does none to those who have already sprouted. It is effective in minimizing the weed population but in a very tricky, timely manner.
The standard application rate of corn gluten is 20 pounds/1,000 square feet of lawn though it can vary depending on soil types.
The application requires precision in weather conditions. Corn gluten needs water initially, but a dry period is then required to stop weed seeds from full germination.
8. Rubbing Alcohol, Vodka Or Gin Will Get Rid Of Weeds Without Killing Grass
Your party beverage can kill weeds. Use alcohol or vodka (gin if unavailable) to get rid of weeds naturally without killing grass.
Compared to chemical pesticides, alcoholic drinks are friendlier to the environment and kill just as much.
They will dehydrate the weeds, breaking down the wax cuticle covering the weeds, drying them, and ultimately killing the weeds.
Take advantage of the sunny weather since the likes of vodka utilizes sun energy to burn broad-leaf weeds.
Be very specific because its effectivity is only recognized on weeds with broad leaves such as dandelions, chick weeds, wild onions, mullein, and plantain weeds.
The alcohol will wither them, turning them dry and brown so you just have to pull them out after so they cannot be revived.
9. Make Your Own Weed Killer With Dish Soap
It is fun to know that a cleaning agent as common as soap can help in killing weeds. It is very safe for other grasses, attacking only where it is locally sprayed.
The oil in soaps can remove the waxy texture of weeds that protects them from drying out. Soap can wash this away allowing it to become weak and dry.
Mix some soap and water in a spray bottle and spray it directly on the weeds.
The solution can also be used in cracks in walkways or patios, easing your task of clearing up the weeds outside.
10. Use Borax To Kill Weeds
Okay, this one is debatable. So, can you use borax as a home remedy to kill weeds but not grass? Yes, it works, but if not used carefully, it can also kill turf grass. Borax contains boron, and this is important for plant growth.
However, a little excess of it by an outside addition is highly toxic to plants. When you opt to use this, try to isolate your plants and use it as a spot treatment only for areas you wish to grow plants later.
Dissolve 5 teaspoons of borax in 1 quart of water. This is enough for a 25-square-foot lawn. Use the solution to stop weeds from avoiding good plants. The borax solution is especially effective in creeping ivy.
11. Let The Goats Eat Weeds
Goats are browsers, not grazers. They feed on leaves, fruits of high-growing woody plants, soft shoots, and shrubs, thus not only the low-lying vegetation.
Goats will eat almost all the undesirable plants on the lawn but it might include those harmful to them. They don’t chew the lawn evenly but surely they are a cheaper and better option than pesticides or rental machine mowers.
If you have decided to have goats to naturally remove weeds, make sure to surround your plants and the not-to-be-eaten grass with sturdy protection.
Build some fence around them since these animals are not raised to differentiate weeds from not. They are also quite an explorer so keep them contained with a strong barrier.
12. Use Bleach As A Weed Killer
A potent substitute for vinegar, bleach can kill weeds in just a few days after misting them with it. Bleach has the strong ability to raise the soil’s pH.
That’s why you should be careful not to let bleach overrun to kill weeds, not grass.
You also have to be extra careful about using it near bodies of water. The runoff of bleach is harmful to fish and other aquatic life.
Pour undiluted bleach over the weeds trying your best to localize the spread. In one to three days, it should brown the weeds and dry them.
Pulling it out will be very easy since the roots are now dead. Words of advice, wear complete body protection against inhaling bleach and/or potential skin irritation if in direct contact.
13. Smart Use Of Landscape Fabric To Prevent Weed From Growing
Landscape fabric is a weed barrier, but unlike your smothering tools, these have higher quality, are tougher, and last longer.
The same concept of blocking the sun but with landscape fabric allows water and airflow.
Since the fabric is specially formulated to allow the growth of desirable plants but not weeds, a weed barrier effectively prevents new seeds of weeds from germinating and taking root.
It is usable on its own, but you may top it with mulch for a better appearance.
Clear the area, using a rake to even the soil, and remove sharp objects that may damage the fabric.
Roll out the landscape fabric on your now flat lawn and allow it to overlap by at least 3 inches.
Optionally, you may cover it with mulch, but it doesn’t need to be thick since you must maintain and regularly replace it before turning it into soil that is good for weeds.
14. Use Correct Borders And Edging
Why don’t you decorate your lawn with rock edges?
They are big and good barriers to stop weeds from reaching your landscape, Weeds that have been sat upon by heavy borders will eventually die, trapped in the darkness.
Design your flower bed with rocks, fences, or bricks. The heavy and cutting edges will stop weed runners from overtaking your garden.
Just be careful when using mowers in this area. The rough texture of the materials can damage lawnmowers.
15. Fight With Hoe
Before entering the battleground against weeds, you must, of course, equip yourself with a weapon and hoe is a good one.
Hoeing early in the morning when the soil is still dry from early watering. Doing this will get rid of weeds as soon as they start to grow, and hoeing deep enough will also get rid of their roots.
Sweep the areas where you noticed weeds sprouting with a hoe. Make it as quick and accurate as possible to make sure the unwanted things get cut off.
Caution in using hoes, exercise some accuracy to avoid reaching the good plants. For tighter spots, use hoes with shorter handles.
16. Plant Some Ground Cover For Weed Control
Another way to get rid of weeds naturally is by using ground covers. They work like mulches smothering the weeds beneath it.
The advantage is you know it is a live ornament and a great competitor of weeds. The ground covers must be thick and dense to spread blocking out the sunlight.
Plant the ground cover far before you establish planting so they can mature then. Choose the plant most suitable to your preference with a thickness suitable to suffocate weeds.
17. Dense Planting
Be practical! If a spot is already dense with plantings, how can an outsider fit in?
Keep your lawn with a high density of good plants and no weeds will be able to crowd in. the little opportunists will find no space to germinate.
Take advantage of the killed weeds. During rototilling, which surely rids weeds, leave the dead weeds in the soil where they can decay and turn into humus.
Not only that, but the technique will also aerate the soil, allowing good circulation of air and loosening the soil.
What kills weeds permanently but not grass?
Herbicides kill weeds permanently without the side effects of killing grass. Lawn specific herbicides work by getting into weeds’ structures like their leaves and altering how the plant gets its nutrients. The most common herbicide used is one that contains 2,4-D. 2,4-D poses little danger and is incredibly effective at eradicating weeds without harming your grass.
What kills weeds fast naturally?
A mixture that contains vinegar, salt, and dishwashing soap is the most effective DIY and natural solution for killing weeds quickly. Each of these ingredients contains certain qualities that work together to eliminate weeds. For instance, salt and vinegar contain acetic acid, which causes the plants to dry out and die, while dishwashing soap helps bind the salt and vinegar to the leaves.
How do I permanently get rid of weeds in my yard?
You can use household bleach to permanently kill weeds. Pour the bleach directly on the weeds and wait till the weeds have turned brown. Once they do, they are effectively dead and you can manually pull them out. Then run water around the area to flush the bleach and you should be able to grow plants or grass with no weeds.
Is it better to pull weeds or spray them?
Hand-pulling weeds is preferable if you have a small number of weeds. However, spraying weeds is preferred if you have a major weed infestation.
Removing weeds should not affect your healthy plants as much as possible. You can easily apply these techniques from your kitchen or local stores at the most.
You can try this and see if your lawn is back to your dream grass plot. Positively speaking, you might as well save your and your family’s health too.
When you learn how to get rid of weeds naturally, you will never need to use toxic pesticides again.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.