16 Ways to Kill Garden Weeds

Keep unwanted weeds from infiltrating your garden with these simple remedies.

weeds dandelion gardenKostenko Maxim/Shutterstock

Baking Soda

Looking for a safe way to keep weeds and grasses from growing in the cracks of your paved patios, driveways, and walkways? Sprinkle handfuls of baking soda onto the concrete and simply sweep it into the cracks. The added sodium will make it much less hospitable to dandelions and their friends.

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Bleach

Do weeds seem to thrive in the cracks and crevices of your walkways? Try pouring a bit of undiluted bleach over them. After a day or two, you can simply pull them out, and the bleach will keep them from coming back. Just be careful not to get bleach on the grass or plantings bordering the walkway.

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Boiling Water

Need to find out how to kill weeds on your driveway or walkway? Heat up your tea kettle. Pouring boiling water will kill stubborn weeds, according to HouseLogic.com. Like the natural approach? Here are 14 ways to control weeds without chemicals.

Borax

Get the jump on those weeds that grow in the cracks of the concrete outside your house by sprinkling borax into all the crevices where you’ve seen weeds grow in the past. It will kill them off before they have a chance to take root. When applied around the foundation of your home, it will also keep ants and other six-legged intruders from entering your house. But be very careful when applying borax—it is toxic to plants.

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Bottles

When using herbicides to kill weeds in your garden, you have to be careful not to also spray and kill surrounding plants. To isolate the weed you want to kill, cut a 2-liter soda bottle in half and place the top half over the weed you want to spray. Then direct your pump’s spraying wand through the regular opening in the top of the bottle and blast away. After the spray settles down, pick up the bottle and move on to your next target. Always wear goggles and gloves when spraying chemicals in the garden.

Carpet Scraps

Place a series of carpet scraps upside down and cover them with bark mulch or straw for a weed-free garden path. Use smaller scraps as mulch around your vegetable garden. Now that you’re learning the secrets of how to kill weeds, you should also check out these tips your garden center won’t share.

Corn Gluten Meal

Before weeds emerge, try some corn gluten meal. An organic byproduct of the corn milling process, corn gluten meal is made up of 10 percent nitrogen. It works by inhibiting weed roots from forming, according to TheSpruce.com. But the timing is important: You have to apply corn gluten meal to soil before weeds emerge.

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Landscape Fabric

The benefits of landscape fabric? This all-natural method takes longer to decompose than mulch. But don’t buy just any type. “Hold the fabric up to the light and make sure the pores in the fabric are small enough to prevent weeds from growing through the barrier,” the Family Handyman recommends. “Also, a good-quality landscape fabric is one you can’t tear or stretch easily. It should feel stiff, not flimsy and limp.

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Newspaper

Like carpet, laying down newspaper will block sunlight, prevent oxygen from reaching the soil, and smother weeds that are already growing. Put down ten layers of newspapers on the soil, wet it with water to hold it in place, and then cover with mulch, HouseLogic recommends. Once you get rid of those weeds, learn how to plant the perfect vegetable garden.

Salt

Those weeds that pop up in the cracks of your walkways can be tough to eradicate. But salt can do the job. Bring a solution of about 1 cup salt in 2 cups water to a boil. Pour directly on the weeds to kill them. Another equally effective method of how to kill weeds is to spread salt directly onto the weeds or unwanted grass that come up between patio bricks or blocks. Sprinkle with water or just wait until rain does the job for you.

Shower Curtains

Those old shower curtains will also come in handy next time you do any landscaping with gravel or bark chips. Just place the shower curtain under the mulching material to prevent annoying weeds from poking through. While weeds can be pests, bugs can be beneficial.

Spray Bottles

Fill one with undiluted white vinegar to get rid of the weeds and grass poking out of the cracks in your concrete, as well as ants and other insects—but be careful not to spray it on your plants; the high acidity could kill them.

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Vinegar

Are dandelions sprouting up in the cracks of your driveway or along the fringes of your patio? Make them disappear for good by spraying them with full-strength white or apple cider vinegar. Early in the season, give each plant a single spritz of vinegar in its midsection, or in the middle of the flower before the plants go to seed. Aim another shot near the stem at ground level so the vinegar can soak down to the roots. Keep an eye on the weather, though; if it rains the next day, you’ll need to give the weeds another spraying.

Vodka

For a quick and easy weed killer, mix 1 ounce (30 milliliters) vodka, a few drops liquid dish soap, and 2 cups water in a spray bottle. Spray it on the weed leaves until the mixture runs off. Apply it at midday on a sunny day to weeds growing in direct sunlight, because the alcohol breaks down the waxy cuticle covering on leaves, leaving them susceptible to dehydration in sunlight. It won’t work in shade.

Trowel

Looking for an extremely hands-on approach to how to kill weeds? A trowel is an easy way to dig them up, particularly if they’re big weeds, the Washington Post reports.

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WD-40

Don’t let pesky prickly weeds like bull and Russian thistle ruin your yard or garden. Just spray some WD-40 on them and they’ll wither and die. For more pro tips, check out these 13 things your landscaper won’t tell you.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada