Weeds are the worst. They compete with my flowers and shrubs for nutrients, water and sunlight. And since weeds are native and superbly adapted to my little slice of heaven, they usually win the war with my exotic perennials, which were propagated God-knows-where.
I could spray the intruders with herbicides, and continue to pollute the watershed and kill the honeybees, vital pollinators whose populations are shrinking.
Or I can get rid of weeds naturally, using my brawn and brain to defeat these plants, whose only real crime is growing where I don't want them:
Ridding Your Yard of Weeds, Naturally
4 Natural Ways to Kill Weeds
The best way to get rid of weeds naturally is to yank or dig them up by the roots. I wait until a good rain loosens the soil, then I grab the weed tops and slowly pull.
If I've got too many weeds and not enough time, I cut off their heads (which feed the roots) with a sharp hand weeder or goose-neck hoe. But I'm always careful because these sharp tools can take off a toe, too.
It's not practical to boil alive acres of weeds. But cooking a weed here and there is easy to do with a teapot filled with steaming water. I kill weeds growing on my flagstone patio that way. I carefully tote the water from my kitchen to the weeds, and douse thoroughly.
The acetic acid in vinegar is a desiccant and sucks the life out of plants. You can use it straight, or mix it 1:1 with water. Pour into a spray bottle, point and shoot.
Be careful not to wet the grass or plants around the weeds, because they'll shrivel into nothing, too. Best to spray on windless days.
Smothering weeds beneath black plastic or the Sunday section of the Times not only kills the suckers, but slowly bakes and decomposes weeds into rich compost to nourish the soil. This also is a good way to prepare fresh beds for planting: pile on the paper in autumn, and the area will be ready for planting in spring.
An ounce of prevention is worth hours of weeding cures. Here are three ways to prevent weeds from growing in the first place:
Weeds beget weeds. If you get rid of weeds before they develop seed heads, you'll have fewer to pull next year. If you pull weeds when they are young, feed them to your compost pile. If you pull after seeds already have developed, toss weeds in the trash.
Cover garden beds with two to three inches of mulch, which makes it harder for weed seeds to take hold.
Sprinkle corn gluten meal on your garden about three weeks before weeds usually appear -- about March 15 in most places. The meal inhibits root formation and stops weeds from growing.