With the advancement of biotechnology in the 2000s, farmers and landowners nowadays use chemicals as the primary method to control weeds.
However, before 1900, nobody had thought of the idea that chemicals could be an option for selectively removing weeds without injuring or killing desirable plants.
Instead, they would kill weeds naturally using salt (sodium chloride) to non-selectively control the common hawkweed or plough the land to remove the unwanted plants.
But what are the best organic methods you can use to control weeds today?
Because of such challenges, chemical control becomes an option to make things easier. However, chemicals contribute harmful toxins to the environment, negatively affecting other plants and organisms or contaminating groundwater.
Therefore, using organic methods to control weeds can avoid the detrimental effects of chemicals.
What are the best organic methods for weeds control?
These are the top ten organic ways you should consider for weed control.
1. Boiling water
Boiling water offers an effective way of controlling weeds on your lawn naturally. When you pour hot water on the leaves of an unwanted plant, the high temperatures break down the plant’s cellular structures.
As a result, the weeds cannot retain moisture and eventually dehydrates. Depending on the plant and the water temperature, the treatment can work within hours or a few days.
An advantage of using boiling water for weed control is that it is non-selective and will kill both new and mature plants.
2. Corn gluten
Corn gluten works well when applied as a pre-emergent herbicide. It is an effective method that can control crabgrass and other lawn weeds.
Furthermore, the technique offers nutritional properties to the soil, providing it with the much-needed nitrogen.
Since corn gluten is an effective pre-emergent herbicide, it will not prevent weed seeds from germinating. Instead, it will suppress the seeds from forming roots after germination.
But you must time the application well to ensure that the germinating weed seeds only include shoots, not roots.
3. Crowding out weeds
Crowding is an effective method to kill weeds organically but not grass. Ideally, you have to crown out weeds to prevent them from growing.
In other words, crowding is whereby you make your lawn dense. A denser lawn creates no room for weeds to grow.
Since the lawn grass competes with other weeds for nutrients, sunlight, water, and space to grow, unwanted plants will not grow.
In addition, you can crowd out weeds by fertilizing regularly to improve lawn grass density. You should also water and aerate the lawn.
Weeds can encroach on a lawn, garden, or yard and quickly outgrow desirable plants. You can opt to edge your property to provide a weed-free barrier to prevent this.
That will ensure you avoid pulling the weeds by hand or using chemical options to control the weeds. Edging is more effective when used within flowerbeds.
You can use vinyl barriers or dig a trench near the wanted plants to keep the weeds out.
Fertilizing is one of the best organic methods to control weeds. However, the option is only effective when done at the beginning of the growing season.
Furthermore, fertilizing can work well when you use plant or animal-based material. The material should either be a by-product or end-product of naturally occurring processes like manure and composted plants.
Ensure to apply excessive amounts of fertilizer before growing your lawn or garden. The fertilizer will make the soil conditions less inviting for many weeds.
Flaming is an effective method for killing large patches of weeds naturally. When flaming weeds, the heat applied destroys the plant’s cell structure.
The procedure curtails the growth of the plant through photosynthesis. Since the cell structure cannot grow, the plant eventually dies from the leaves to the roots.
Flaming works well if you catch weeds early when they are at least four inches tall. Weeds above four inches will require multiple flaming applications to die.
Irrigation is an organic method of controlling weeds in gardens. Generally, surface, drip, and sprinkler are the primary irrigation methods for growing crops.
However, surface irrigation is the most used since it floods fields with water.
Some weeds propagate vegetatively, and others develop from seeds. Therefore, flooding an area with enough water restricts seeds’ germination and reduces weeds’ abundance.
Where surface irrigation is not an option, drip irrigation can also work. However, drip irrigation can only wet the soil within the vicinity of the drip line and in the area where you want the excellent crop to grow.
As a result, the soils between rows do not get enough water or even fertilizer, curtailing the proper growth of weeds.
Mulching involves applying a thick layer of mulch to a garden area to prevent weeds from reseeding. Furthermore, it helps smother the weeds, eventually killing off the roots.
Ideally, mulching is more effective when applied after hand weeding to ensure the unwanted plants do not emerge for a second time.
Also, it must block the weeds from getting enough sunlight. You can also apply mulch directly to the weeds, but you must put at least three layers for the method to work well.
9. Soil solarization
Soil solarization is among the best organic methods you can use to control weeds. It involves covering an area with a clear plastic or cardboard on a hot sunny day.
The energy from the sun will heat the water molecules in the soil. That heat will then stay trapped under the plastic or cardboard for long, enough to kill the weeds and pests.
Solarization works well when the soils are moist. Therefore, you can irrigate your land or wait until after it rains to lay down the plastic cover.
10. Landscape fabric
You can kill weeds on your lawn by covering them with landscape fabric. The thin barrier allows moisture and air to penetrate or remain in the soil.
At the same time, it blocks sunlight and wind from reaching the weed seeds, thus preventing them from germinating.
Salting is whereby you use salt or sodium chloride to kill weeds.
When you mix salt and water and pour it on the growing weeds, it dehydrates the plants and disrupts the internal water balance of its cells.
As a result, the plant will wilt and eventually die. Salt works well when applied in plenty. However, results can occur after ten days of the application. For the best results, you should use Epsom salt.
12. Vinegar solutions
You can kill weeds permanently with vinegar or any vinegar solution. Vinegar is a natural or organic alternative to any chemical herbicide. It is generally acidic.
The acid in the vinegar will kill the leaves before reaching the plant’s root system. But the use of vinegar as a method of weed control can be even more effective when combined with salt and liquid dish soap.
That is because acetic acid and sodium chloride will draw moisture from the seeds causing them to wilt and die.
Final thoughts on organic methods to control weeds
You do not have to use chemicals to eliminate unwanted plants on your lawn, garden, or patio. Instead, you can use organic methods to control weeds and preserve the environment safely.
The best ways to consider are mulching, solarising, salting, flaming, fertilizing, edging, and crowding.
Furthermore, you can use boiling water, vinegar solutions, corn gluten, and landscape fabric to prevent weeds from growing.
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Carla is a student pursuing a B.S in Agricultural Systems Technology. With a passion for landscaping for over 4 years, Carla loves plants. She has previously contributed to several other sites in the space before joining InsightWeeds.