It’s a well known fact that weeds give us a lot of headache, and when I say a lot that’s a understatement in itself. Weeds share adaptations to ruderal environments. That is to say: disturbed environments where soil or natural vegetative cover has been damaged or frequently gets damaged, disturbances that give the weeds advantages over desirable crops, pastures, or ornamental plants.
By adhering to the following ways you should be able to get rid of the weeds as well as the headache it brings along especially in winter:
- Suffocate them: Just like the plants you actually want in your garden beds, weeds have a hard time surviving without adequate sunlight. You can kill existing weeds, prevent new ones from growing, AND help keep moisture in the soil for the plants you do want using a little bit of old newspaper and some garden mulch. Simply cover the area with several layers of large newspaper strips (newspaper is biodegradable), then put enough mulch on top of the paper to cover it completely.
If some strong weeds manage to push through your first attempt, just add another layer of newspaper and then some more mulch. The result will be suffocated weeds and no more growth of these unwanted plant companions.
- Use Vinegar: The acetic acid in 5% vinegar is a desiccant that sucks the life out of plant leaves. It’s most destructive to young plants with immature roots, though it just rolls off weeds with waxy leaves, like pennywort or thistle. Make sure you cover desirables before spraying, because vinegar is an equal opportunity killer. Keep your spray on-target by removing the bottom from a 2-liter plastic soda bottle, and placing it over the weed. Spray vinegar into the mouth of the bottle, which will keep it from splattering on your vegetables.
- Eradicate them with oil: We’re not talking about diesel oil, old engine oil or gasoline – those things are all toxic to your soil and should never be used on garden weeds, but you can use cheap vegetable oils, like sunflower or canola oil. These oils are biodegradable and are broken down by bacteria in the soil, and contain natural herbicide and pesticide properties.
Essential oils are effective weed killers too, particularly clove, summer savory, cinnamon and red thyme. Use any of the oils mentioned, and simply dribble the oil onto the weeds so that it coats and smothers them.
- Soap: The oil in soap can break down waxy or hairy weed surfaces, making them vulnerable to desiccants. So add a few drops of liquid dish detergent to vinegar or vodka sprays to keep the solution on leaves. The soap also makes leaves shiny, which will help you keep track of what you’ve sprayed.
- Boiling water: After you’ve made yourself a cup of tea, take the kettle outside and pour the boiling water on weeds, which will burn up. This is a particularly good way to whack driveway and walkway weeds, because the boiling water can run off impervious surfaces and cool before it reaches border plants