Skip to main content

5 Safer Weed-Killing Alternatives to Roundup

The controversy over the adverse health effects of Glyphosate, which is the main ingredient in Roundup, is well documented (Google "health effects of Roundup"), especially related to genetically modifying food crops to resist repeated drenching with Roundup. Granted there probably aren't many people or pets eating the weeds from the cracks of the driveway, so spraying Roundup there may have a less direct or immediate impact on our health. It is also important to mention that there may be more toxic lawn chemicals on the shelf at your garden center than Glyphosate (Google "2,4-D"). Notwithstanding, there are good reasons to be cautious about spraying a toxic chemical in areas where we and our loved ones relax and play; and in general, we think it is a very good idea to reduce the use of chemicals as much as possible to keep them out of our public water supply (which usually contains some level of Glyphosate, by the way). Here are some safer options for addressing weeds and grass in non-lawn areas:
  1. Hand-pulling - Pulling weeds is the safest, most effective way to eliminate them and it provides instantaneous results, which are some of the reasons why hand-pulling weeds is included in the Crownover Green Lawn Treatment Solution. There are a variety of weed pulling tools ranging from less than $10 for a very basic hand tool to about $50 for one that enables you to pull weeds without even bending over. These tools are especially useful on weeds such as dandelions that have a deep taproot. Pulling all of the weeds on your property may not be a viable option, and certain weeds cannot effectively be selectively removed from turfgrass.
  2. Weed Torch - A weed torch, which is powered by small propane canisters, can be purchased for less than $50. Burning weeds is effective, provides instantaneous results, and involves less elbow grease than hand-pulling. However, there is an obvious safety concern. Please be careful.
  3. Boiling Water - Yes, water. Boiled. It's actually very effective and works quickly, but is only practical if you have just a handful of weeds to kill. If you have a lot of weeds, it could take a while to boil enough water to kill them all. Also, please be careful.
  4. Vinegar - Pour vinegar into a spray bottle, add a couple drops of dish soap, and spray it on your weeds on a hot sunny day. The soap helps the vinegar stick to the foliage of the weed and many weeds will shrivel within an hour our two. Grassy weeds, not so much (although don't spray it on the grass you want to keep), and waxy broadleaf weeds will need a follow-up application. The advantages of vinegar are that it is cheap, fairly safe, easy to get, and quick to apply to a large number of weeds.
  5. Other Safer Sprays - There are several organic liquid products on the market, and the big box garden centers stock a couple of them. At some local garden centers or online you can find 20% horticultural vinegar, which is four times stronger than common household vinegar, or products that contain citric acid, cinnamon oil, clove oil, or herbicidal soap.
There is not necessarily one best choice for killing weeds. Choose the one that will work best for you based on your budget, patience, and overall preference. And please note that a substance capable of killing an unwanted plant might also kill a desirable one, so be careful when applying it near turf or ornamental plants.

Go to Crownover Green's main website.

Popular posts from this blog

My grass is brown during the winter. Is it going to be ok?

Winter can be hard on a lawn, even in the Wake Forest, NC area where the cool season is typically relatively mild with short periods of freezing temperatures. Along with sometimes frigid temperatures will come browning of your turf. Is brown grass during wintertime healthy grass, or is it a sign of a problem or deficiency?

Most plants experience color changes during winters in our transitional climate zone, and all of the turfgrasses that are common in our area experience some degree of browning.

Bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass during Winter

Bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass, which are the most common warm-season turfgrasses in our area, turn sandy tan in color during dormancy from late fall through early spring. This is normal. There is nothing that can be done to keep warm season grasses from turning brown in winter, although some people who do not like the dormant color of their lawn choose to "paint" their brown grass green or overseed with a winter ryegrass, which is green. Berm…

How much should I water my lawn?

We often talk with folks about watering lawns and the most frequently asked questions related to watering are 1) "How often should I water my grass?" and 2) "How long should I run my sprinklers?"

How often should I water my grass?

The answer to this question is simple: Usually not more than twice per week unless you are establishing a new lawn with sod or seed. More frequent watering may be causing more problems with your lawn.

Many people we talk with say they water twice a day, every day, every other day, or at least three times per week. If you are one of these people you may be enabling your lawn's addiction to water and creating weed and disease problems. The frequent watering offenders tend to be those who have automated in-ground irrigation systems.

The problem with frequent watering is not that you are using more water than necessary (although you might be). The problem is that by watering frequently, you may be preventing your turf from reaching its ful…

How can I get rid of moles in my yard?

Moles can cause damage to a landscape, including turfgrass, small annual plants, and paver patios or walkways. They tunnel unseen through the top few inches of soil in search of prey, and leave a trail of damage behind them. In a lawn, the tunnels appear as narrow ridges that may have a small hole here or there where the mole popped its head out. In a lawn with a lot of mole activity, the surface may feel spongy as it is walked upon. These are tell-tale signs of a mole problem.

Many homeowners think that applying a grub control solution will deter moles. Unfortunately, this is not the case, though you will find lots of pest control companies in the Raleigh, NC area and sites all over the web that tell you this will work. You may also have heard this from some of your friends and neighbors. They say killing the food source of moles will send the moles elsewhere, but grubs are not the main food source of moles. While they do eat grubs, the main staple in a mole's diet is earthworms.…