It goes without saying that having a yard is quite pleasant. You can plant flowers or have a beautiful vegetable garden to eat fresh vegetables throughout the summer season. But, unfortunately, having a backyard often means there will be weeds. If you’re tired of fighting dandelions and want to avoid using pesticides in your garden, here are 15 home remedies to try to control the weeds in your backyard.
1. Pull them out
Roll up your sleeves. “The best way to get rid of weeds will always be to pull them out”, explains Teryl Ciarlo from Teryl Designs. She suggests to pull them at the surface but to wait to do it after a rainy day (when the earth is looser): it will be easier to do. Insert a knife or a screwdriver in the earth to remove the roots that are deep into the earth.
2. Opt for a physical barrier
Know that controlling weeds starts way before you start looking for them on your land. “Think of putting a layer of fabric in your yard covered with a layer of mulch or straw”, advises Missy Henriksen from the National Association of Landscape Professionals. A physical barrier prevents undesirable plants from sprouting.
3. Use mulch
With or without fabric, experts all say that mulch is a must-have item in your yard. “A weed problem can easily be resolved: keep your soil fresh and humid, and eliminate the light these bad plants need to grow with mulch”, explains Kris Holland from Black River Landscape Management.
4. Cut them
The key to making sure your weeds don’t spread is to pull them from the root. You can do it by hand or with a machine. But consider yourself warned: a lawn mower does not kill perennial weeds and even certain annual plants will grow back and try to flower once again so it is not a permanent solution.
5. Don’t mow your lawn too often
Yes, the height of your grass does truly matter. “The length of your grass can have an impact on your health and make you less or more sensitive to weeds”, explains Henriksen. “Opt for grass that is between 2-3 1/2 inches long to avoid an infestation.
6. Dig strategically
Removing grass creates a new place where annoying plants can prosper, even if you don’t see some around. “Most lawns have weed seeds in their soil”, explains Holland. “When you dig the earth to plant flowers or vegetables, only dig the part you will need.”
7. Hire some goats
Goats can get to zones that machines and people can’t get to and their hoofs turn the soil when they graze”, explains M. Ciarlo. If you live in the country, having goats is a great way to get rid of weeds.
8. Smother them
Cover slow-growing weeds like clovers and crabgrass with newspaper and eventually the lack of sunlight will exterminate them. Adding sections of mulch and covering them can also prevent their apparition right after you eliminate them. “Once the newspaper starts decomposing, it also nourishes the soil, which becomes a huge advantage for gardeners”, states Ciarlo.
9. Pour boiling water on them
Know that tap water can also help you eliminate weeds. “My favourite “homemade” way to kill weeds in sidewalk cracks is to pour boiling water on them”, explains James. “This works really well on weeds and the results are instant: if you add a tablespoon salt to your boiling water, it will be even more effective.
10. Use a torch
For large surfaces, consider using a special propane torch with a long handle like a flamethrower. Contrary to what you might think, you will not burn the weeds directly. You will hover the torch above the weeds long enough to heat them and eventually kill them. If, however, the weeds are very dry, don’t use this method.
11. Add salt
Save up on inexpensive ice salt at the end of the winter and sprinkle some on the weeds in the cracks to remove all spring weeds. Salt is also a good barrier to add all along your lawn against weeds and other places a lawn mower cannot reach but pour some carefully. Il can cause erosions on concrete surfaces and can leave the soil sterile for a long period of time.
12. Add a border
Physical barriers, like grass and wall borders, are a durable solution to fight against weeds. Create simple and affordable borders with old bricks or wood lying around. Cut them in 8-inch “spade” shapes and press the pieces in the ground one beside the other to form a continuous border.
13. Try the vinegar hack
Water the weeds with vinegar to kill them. James recommends using a horticultural kind with 20% acetic acid. “It is not selective, which means that it will kill everything that is green but it isn’t very effective on grassy weeds”, he says. “Know also that vinegar is acidic, which means that your soil’s pH will probably drop.”
14. Plant the most plants and flowers possible
Know that in any garden, there is an enormous rivalry for resources between your plants, where only the strongest ones will survive. It is suggested then to plant flowers and plants that naturally remove weeds by stripping them from water and nutrients.
15. Eat them
“It is time to integrate other herbs in your salads”, says Ciarlo. A lot of weeds are edible, like young dandelion sprouts. Some books and websites can help you identify the edible ones. (But when in doubt, don’t eat them. There are a lot of plants that become toxic once you ingest them.)