Tuesday, 25 July 2017       

Weed Killers Recipe

Weed Killers
Dan writes~
Do you know a "recipe" for a homemade weed killer? My lawn gets so weedy by late spring and I do not like using chemicals as 2,4-D.

A. I know the feeling. I have found a few homemade remedies and a list of suggestions to help keep your lawn free of weeds. Remember to always use caution with any chemicals, including the ones below, and to tend to your lawn with good water and food throughout the growing season. A stressed lawn is more apt to be overrun by weeds.

Weed Killer

Mix 1 gallon white vinegar, 1 cup table salt, and 1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid together and spray on weeds. To do so, remove approximately 2 cups of vinegar from the jug, pour in the salt and dishwashing liquid, then return the 2 cups of vinegar to the jug. Close the lid and shake to mix.

Transfer to a spray bottle (after shaking to mix the ingredients) as needed. It works as well, if not better, than Chemicals, but is much cheaper. Be careful, it will kill whatever you spray it on!

If you go purchase vinegar, 10% acidity, 20% acid would be better, and spray it on the weeds in the heat of the full sun, you will have an effective weed killer.

from Environment Canada, CBC Radio Canada

The key to a weed and pest-free lawn is to build strength in your grass.
Overseed every year to create a dense lawn that will crowd out weeds.
Fertilize naturally with manure and compost.
Encourage good bugs: worms, lady bugs and spiders.
Mow less often. Keep grass 6 cm tall to crowd out weeds and grow longer roots.
When watering, allow the sprinkler to soak the grass, to build deep roots.
Rake out thatch to discourage pests
Dig out any weeds by hand.
Learn to tolerate some weeds. Pesticides are not worth the health risks.

Their All-purpose weed killer:
Boil a liter of water, add 2 tablespoons of salt and 5 tablespoons of vinegar. Pour directly on weeds on sidewalks, driveways, etc., while still hot.

Cheap Weed Killer

From: Paula Vogelgesang

Makes a quart

Pour 4-ounces of lemon juice concentrate in a 1-quart spray bottle. Fill it to the top with white vinegar. Shake well and spray on the weeds. This is good for spot-weeding. It will kill dandelions and Creeping Jenny although if the plants are big ones, it may take more than one dose. This is really good to spray between cracks in a sidewalk.

Safe around kids, pets etc. This is basically two forms of acid so if you really soak the ground, nothing will grow for several months.



A subscriber wrote that she found a weed killer in a mail order catalog, safe for the environment, biodegradable and safe for pets, for "only" $8 per quart. It was made of lemon juice and vinegar (both cheaper than $8) so she made her own formula, tried it, and sent it to me.

I tried this and it works quite well. I called my Extension Agent and he said that basically it is two forms of acid and perfectly safe around kids and pets.

He did caution that if you use too much, it could make the ground so that it won't grow anything for a few months ... but that's okay, especially in the cracks in the sidewalks!


In a 1-quart spray bottle, pour 4 ounces of lemon juice concentrate (you can get the cheap stuff ... it works just as well), then fill the bottle up with white vinegar (28 ounces). Vinegar (on sale) costs around a penny per ounce and the lemon juice concentrate I bought was 3 cents per ounce.

For the mixture detailed above, that's a total of 12 cents for lemon juice and 28 cents for vinegar, which means the homemade version costs 40 cents per quart instead of $8!

Lori writes~ I was wondering if you had a recipe for weed control. We have a very large hill that is always weed infested. We have a daughter currently going through cancer therapy, she is 7 years old. I do not want to spray any poison around her where she can breathe them. That would be wonderful if you can suggest something.

Shlyj writes~ Is there a good home recipe for a weed and grass killer that won't have an adverse effect on my iris' ?

A. Here are some products safe for your family:

Stop dandelions and weeds with all-natural WOW!® Plus. Combines a corn byproduct with a complete lawn food so you can weed-and-feed in one application.

Granulated WOW!® Apply with either type of spreader. For broadcast spreaders OR drop spreaders. Same formula as original WOW! but you can apply it with either type of spreader.

Weed Barrier Mat - Medium Weight. Peas, cucumbers, and tomatoes stay clean and less vulnerable to soil-borne diseases. Guaranteed for 3 years! Cuts weeding time and retains moisture in soil. Harvested crops are easier to prepare. 3 ft x 24 ft mat.

Original WOW!® (Without Weeds). Stops emerging weeds in your lawn or garden! Original pre-emergence weed control kills weeds and keeps your lawn green and beautiful. Nontoxic to humans and pets.

N-Lite!™ Special Lawn Food. Used with WOW!®, N-Lite!™ provides complete nutrients for healthy, thick turf. Use with WOW!® to provide the balance of other important nutrients your lawn needs to thrive.

U-Shaped Pins. Handy for weed barrier mats, floating row covers, and super-light insect barrier. Easiest way to hold down row covers and weed mats.

Recipe for Weed Killer:
1 oz. white vinegar
1 oz. cheap gin
8 oz. water

Mix together and pour this on the weeds and they will be long gone.

How to Kill Weeds in Cool Climates

Ray writes~
I live in Tacoma, Washington, 40 miles south of Seattle, and the temperature ranges are cool, from 40 to 60, during all the spring months, and even through the month of June. During these moist, cool months, from February to June, weeds grow profusely, go to seed, and reproduce abundantly. The well known weed killers, such as, Roundup, Weed-B-Gone, etc., do not work during these cool temperature months. For them to work, the temperature must be in the 70's and our area may not reach the 70's until July. By July, weeds dominate everything that is not hand weeded. Please do your research and discover a Weed Killer that will work in the 50 to 60 degree temperature range.

A. I was not able to find much for you except this website. Check here for more details:

Apply pre-emergent weed preventers in late winter and very early spring to keep pesky weeds from sprouting in lawns, shrub beds, tree wells and flower gardens next growing season. An ounce of prevention is definitely worth several pounds of cure! Weed seeds lie dormant all winter before "springing" to life as temperatures warm. Get the upper hand by applying pre-emergent herbicides early to keep these seeds asleep permanently! To clear up confusion, a pre-emergent (weed preventer) keeps seed from sprouting while post-emergents (weed killers) kill weeds that have already sprouted. Neither one will do the job of the other... Pre-emergents are often combined with fertilizer in products, like Best Turf Supreme Crabgrass Preventer Plus Lawn Fertilizer and Scott's Turf Builder Plus Halts, to wake up your lawn in spring while making sure weed seeds never wake up. Other Pre-emergents like Portrait and Amaze Granules can be spread without feeding the lawn or other plants. For a complete discussion of pre-emergent weed

Organic Weed Control

Pat writes~
Will you please provide a recipe for killing weeds? I would appreciate this so much. We, here, in Florida, have brown grass, due to no rain, but plenty of weeds. We have to watch our budget, are not permitted to water, get fined.

Lilac writes~
I was wondering if you had a recipe for weed control. We have a very large hill that is always weed infested. We have a daughter currently going through Cancer Therapy, she is 7 years old. I do not want to spray any poison around her where she can breathe them.

A. This time of year, yards are full of weeds, but there are organic ways to get rid of them. Spraying 100 percent vinegar on weeds works great. Or, trying using a hula hoe to cut weeds below the root line. The small hoe is available at any home center, hardware store or nursery.

To get rid of weeds at the roots, use Finale or Round-up. Use either product early in the morning and don't water for at least 24 hours. Make sure the surrounding plants are healthy before you spray.

For a more potent mixture, mix a little ammonium phosphate and soap with Finale or Round-up. This works well on Bermuda grass. Contact Herbicide is good to use on annual weeds and will kill only the leaves. I like Weed Be Gone, but any brand will work. It is available at any home center.

Manage kills nut grass and purple and yellow nut sage. Pre-emergent kills weed seed in the soil before the plants emerge. Always wear gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and a hat when using any chemicals. A mask to cover your nose and mouth is also a good idea.


Amber writes~
Weed killers: Is using vinegar and lemon juice safe on lawns?

A. That would depend upon the concentration used. If you poured it straight out of the bottle onto patches of lawn, no, it could seriously burn the areas. I am curious what weeds you are trying to kill. There are organic, safe substances which may be used to kill weeds in beds and lawns. Check for 'Safer' products, for one. Both vinegar and lemon juice have not been proven to eradicate weeds effectively.

Karen writes~ I used vinegar and lemon juice and only 5% strength vinegar for dandelions. I now have burned grass..any suggestion?

A. The recommendation was to spray only on what you wish to kill. You need to aim the spray right into the center of the dandelion plant and all the leaves around it. If you spray it on grass in the heat of the day, you will kill some of the blades. It will not kill all the roots, so keep this damaged grass well-watered and do not feed. It should pop back within a month. Or, you can use chunks of sod as plugs into the areas which were damaged, as you would where pets have ruined lawn areas, simple die offs, and fungal infections. This is what the GardeningWithGary site says:

"It works as well, if not better, than chemicals, but is much cheaper. Be careful, it will kill whatever you spray it on! If you go purchase vinegar, 10% acidity, 20% acid would be better, and spray it on the weeds in the heat of the full sun, you will have an effective weed killer."

I need a weed killer recipe that is safe to use around an above-ground swimming pool. In the pool care manuel it says to use a non-petroleum weed killer, so it won't destroy the vinyl liner. I haven't been able to find any weed killer of this kind.

A. After searching around, I have not located any information on a non-petroleum weed killer for your needs. The pool area must not be sprayed with any petroleum-based oil as it certainly may damage the liners. The best source said to consult your local pool supply company or the company which sold the pool and/or vinyl liners. Soy and other vegetables bases have been cited as desirable.

Lou writes: I am interested in finding an organic weed killer for dandelions .. what exactly is in your product "WOW"?

A. As mentioned in my page on Weed Killers, a by-product of corn syrup production, a pre-emergence weed control, all-natural WOW! (with-out weeds) Plus can weed-and-feed naturally in one operation. Ingredients are not listed, but described below. Just the term herbicide conjures up all sorts of dangerous feelings and one wonders how safe are these products There are several alternatives to eradicating weeds. One is to hand dig or pull them out. However, everyone is looking for something easier. Two such possibilities are a corn gluten weed killer and a weed eraser. The corn gluten weed killer can be bought under several brand names: WOW!, WeedzSTOP and A-mazing Lawn. All three of these products are made with a high concentration of protein extract from cornmeal. They should be applied early in the spring and again in early August. They work by preventing the germination of seeds. This may work up to 6 weeks. Be careful and not use it in the veggie garden or on a new lawn since it will kill other seeds too. The cornmeal will also act as a nitrogen fertilizer. The weed eraser is made from a pelargonic acid. This is a fatty acid found in grapes, apples and carrots. It performs by lowering the pH level just enough to kill broadleaf weeds such as the dandelion and pigweed. WOW! Plus controls crabgrass, dandelions and other pesky weeds while feeding lawn with a complete, balanced, all-natural fertilizer. It is easy to apply and saves you time and effort; you can weed and feed your lawn naturally with just one application. It reduces germination of dandelions and other broadleaf weeds by as much as 90% allows kids and pets to play on the lawn right after application. It provides nitrogen and other nutrients grass needs for strong root growth, stress resistance and a beautiful green appearance releases nutrients gradually, as nature intended. How WOW! Plus Works: Soon after sprouting, young weeds send out secondary "feeder" roots that draw nutrients from the soil. But WOW! Plus stops these roots from developing, so seedlings quickly die, usually before you see any green growth! Dandelions, crabgrass, creeping bentgrass, foxtail, lamb's quarters, purslane, redroot pigweed and many others cannot survive. Do not worry about overapplying WOW! Plus. You can use eight times the recommended rate without harming your grass, and you'll find that high doses are even more effective in controlling weeds. Do not worry about lingering synthetic chemicals. There are none. Unlike traditional chemical treatments, WOW! Plus is safe right after application. Start using in the Spring. Apply 10-20 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. when forsythia starts to bloom, through July. This timing corresponds with the time when crabgrass begins and ends germinating. Yearly spring and fall applications at 10lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. provide as much as 85% weed control after two years and 91% after three years. Plus it provides balanced fertilization. Applications at 20lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. provide even better control, because the percentage of weed control increases with higher application rates. Water deeply after application. (Do not use WOW! Plus on recently sown grass, because it will affect lawn seed germination, too. Wait until after the first mowing to apply.) WOW! Plus is granulated for use in either drop or broadcast spreaders. All-natural WOW! Plus is not toxic to humans and pets.

Audrey writes~

Does anyone know how to get buttercup weed out of a lawn without poison. I
thought I heard of Borax but I'm not sure.

A good nonchemical method to kill these fast growing and spreading Buttercups?
Believe it or not, buttercups are pretty low on the "impossible to control"
scale (compared to other weeds and grass). They pull out fairly easily and do
not seem to regenerate from root fragments. Then mulch heavily with very coarse
wood chips to smother and impede any new growth. Some gardeners weed with blow
torches these days, but you may find that a bit extreme. Since the 1920s, borax
detergent has been used as an herbicide to eradicate weeds. Apply borax when it
is actively growing in the spring, when no rain is expected for 48 hours. The
borax treatment appears to be most effective during warm summers when soil
moisture is ample. If the borax solution is applied in too high a concentration,
or repeatedly, it will then be toxic to grass and many other plants. This
treatment can be applied only once each year for two years. Be sure to use the
borax spray only in the lawn because research shows established grass is
tolerant of the spray. It should not be used in gardens. A healthy lawn is the
strongest defense against weeds. Maintaining a regime of proper mowing
practices, watering and fertilization will enable any gardener to combat weeds
in a lawn.

Borax Solution Control: Dissolve 10 oz. Twenty Mule Team Borax in 4 oz. (½ cup)
warm water. Dilute in 2.5 gallons of water. This will cover 1,000 square feet.
If you have a smaller area to treat, cut the recipe accordingly.

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