You work hard at horticulture, so the last thing you want is gnarly weeds littering your lawn or popping up smack dab in the middle of your prized petunias. Weeds can even sneak into your driveway or sidewalk, becoming a tripping hazard as well as an eyesore. But there's no need to spend your summer on hands and knees, yanking them out, or to resort to pricey chemical killers whose toxins can damage your property. Instead, follow any of these four easy, effective methods for making weed killer and attack those irksome interlopers ASAP. Just take care to not to douse nearby plants, because these equal-opportunity herbicides won't discriminate between weeds and your landscaped lovelies.
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- Vinegar (white or cider)
- Dish soap
- Table salt
- Spray bottle
- Corn gluten meal
- Rubbing alcohol
Thrifty Triple Threat
They look harmless enough sitting on your kitchen counter, but vinegar, dish soap, and salt make a tenacious trifecta against weeds. Combine equals parts of these ingredients and pour into a spray bottle. Spritz your homemade weed killer unsparingly onto the stems and leaves of the undesirables in flower or vegetable beds during high sun, low wind conditions. (Avoid getting it on cement, which salt can discolor or even erode.) The dish soap will disintegrate the cuticle of the plant, allowing the salt and acetic acid in the vinegar to desiccate and destroy weeds.
Corn Meal KillerScattered over weed seeds, as opposed to mature weeds, corn gluten meal acts as a natural, non-toxic pre-emergent that can prevent germination. For optimal results, begin by tilling the soil in an established flower or vegetable bed to unearth weed seeds. Then, sprinkle the mighty maize directly over the seeds during a dry weather period. Steer clear of plots with recently sown flower or vegetable seeds as the corn gluten meal can stunt their growth along with the weed seeds.
Very Hot Stuff
Put the kettle on and boil some water, then take it outside (or fill a flask). Gently pour over the crown of pesky plants to scorch them in matter of days. Aim carefully, because the hot liquid can also burn surrounding plants-or your toes. While one application may be sufficient for weeds with short root structures, perennials with long taproots may require two to three applications before reaching their permanent demise.
Dilute two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol in a bowl with four cups of water. Transfer the solution to a spray bottle and liberally coat the leaves of weeds in flower or vegetable plots, preferably on a sunny day. As the alcohol dries, it will wither the leaves and eventually kill uninvited vegetation.