Picture of Natural and CHEAP Weed Control
I made this instructable to provide a option for people to move away from damaging chemical herbicide that destroy our environment everyday. This instructable shows how to make 3 natural, cheap, organic, and simple herbicides made from ingredients readily available at home and also CHEAP. This is a instructable entry for the Get In the Garden Contest.

Step 1: A Shot of Vinegar

Picture of A Shot of Vinegar
If you are tired of hand pulling of broad-leaved weeds(such as dandelions, Plantains, henbits, and Mulleins). Here is a cheap easy solution to your problem

Ingredients and Supplies:
dishwasher liquid(optional)
pump spray bottle

1. Fill the spray bottle with vinegar(or mix 3 parts vinegar to one part dishwashing liquid)
2. Spray in narrow stream
3.Rinse sprayer well after done

TIP: Don't get carried away with this method (repeated applications will acidify the soil)
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MichaelP194 months ago

Here is another option for organic weed killing - the Garden Hotshot. Please give it a look and tell me what you think. www.gardenhotshot.com

MichaelP194 months ago
Hd5cruzr10 months ago

Anyone heard of the "herbicide" where you use Epsom Salts? I believe it uses both epsom salt and alcohol.. but not sure. I've heard it is effective.. but wondering how it works around good plants.. IE, does it 'poison' the ground around it such that the good plants suffer.. or is it just a surface control?

Oh, p.s. I've never noticed it poisons the ground when you spray, because the amount of salt is pretty minimal. That would be a different story if you were to pour this directly on the ground however. If you want to kill some ground so no weeds or plants ever come back in that spot again for a few years, then by all means, pour it on.

Yes, but don't use Epsom salts, which is a plant fertilizer, use plain old table salt. Add a cup of salt to a gallon of distilled white vinegar and a squirt of dish soap, mix well (I just add everything to a 1 gal bottle of vinegar as it comes from the store and shake.) Put the mixture in a spray bottle then go spray your weeds at high noon on a sunny hot day. The weeds will be dead in about 10 mins.

I use 1 cup of rubbing alcohol + 3 cups of water, and a squirt of dish soap to kill insect pests on my plants. Some plants may be a little sensitive to the spray, so do a test area first before you spray the whole plant. I've never had it kill a plant however, at worst you'll probably only get a few dead spots on the leaves of sensitive plants. I wouldn't recommend using this on a sunny hot day, do it early morning or evening (same as you would for any pesticide used on plants.)

Mel6323 years ago
Water is a chemical.

Especaly if it is city water

Water is an element not a chemical
Water is a compound of two elements; oxygen and hydrogen, H2O. Elements are chemicals out of which everything else is made. Therefore everything not only contains chemicals but is made up entirely of them.

When someone says that something contains chemicals, they usually mean that it contains chemicals that are manufactured by man through a chemical process rather than by nature as in photosynthesis.
Um, no. Water is a chemical compound, composed of two atoms of hydrogen (an element) and one atom of oxygen (another element).
kittywitty5 years ago
I used to love pulling weeds, but now I have over-used my thumb, and pulling out weeds is too painful. I like the boiling water method or simply salt. (

My father likes to over fertilize the dandylions, thereby killing them - this has issues.

As for the worms, I HATE them because they eat my plant roots... especially bulbs, and they are not indigenous to the Native US soil, but brought here by the European settlers. The damage done by soil worms to the native plant population is tremendous, altering the majority of the landscape prior to European settlers (from National Geographic Article on Jamestown, maybe 2 years ago).
Worms do not eat roots or bulbs, grubs do.

Do some more research on the subject.
If there are less composted material to eat, they will eat roots and bulbs... find them inside my bulbs all the time, because I mulch with pine needles which isn't as yummy as leaf litter.
treesneedtobehugged (author)  kittywitty5 years ago
Never heard of any earthworm type being bad for the landscape as they only release fertilizer and its a common myth that they eat plant root or bulbs. Worms are great for the ecology of America and the boiling water method is probably the safest for killing weeds
There are worm like critters that eat some plant roots, but they are not earth worms. As stated above earthworms do not eat plant roots but live on dead and decaying vegetable matter, turning it into valuable compost.
part is right ,,most is wrong--I was surprized myself about --worms-- If you research worms you will find they are not good as the common folk think they are --Bad, bad wormns !!!!!!!!! research is key in any dispute !!
 Its not a myth. worms do eat bulbs and plant roots. its their prefer diet. How do you think the leaves and yard waste get decomposed? Lots of my tulips and lily bulbs have been wormed to death. Hence, I have solved the problem by using Dichotomous Earth, which is pulverized sea shells, and is harmless to us, but extremely sharp microscopically, and hence any insect size soft shell buggers will dehydrate to death. If those worms did not mess with my bulbs and fragile roots, they won't die.

If you research worms, and the colonial landscape verses modern times.. oh here is one link, and the following link is the national geographic article. 



PecanCorner2 years ago
treesneedtobehugged ,thank you for a great Instructable! This is what I came here looking for this morning. I am working in the yard, and some weeds are breaking off or otherwise difficult for me to pull out of the hard, dry, caliche-based, alkaline Texas dirt that I am coping with. I came in for a break and searched "homemade weed killer". I will try all three of these this week to see which is best for my personal weeds/dirt/climate combination. Thank you so much!
aliceaod2 years ago
Dandelions, Plantains, and Mulleins are all very beneficial herbs.
Samw aliceaod2 years ago
A weed is anything you don't want. A leftover potatoe in corn field can hold disease and is therefore a weed.
Not to negate your statement.
if you have a specific weed problem you will find that the soil is deficient in the element that the weed produces. e.g. you will find gorse, buttercup, sweet pea, lucerne or other legumes growing wild where the soil is deficient in nitrogen
dandelion contains calcium and iron.
so the best thing to do is cut the tops of the plants and leave it to break down into the soil. when you do this, the plant will also shed roots, providing food for worms and soil bacteria etc...

Can you expand on this? I have an ever expanding problem with dandelions.
Mel6323 years ago
Vinegar is a chemical.
gallyn6 years ago
I like the idea of using boiling water or vinegar since I'm disabled with arthritis and can't get down to pull the ugly things out. But I want my yard to be beautiful. I do have a portable steamer and I wonder if hot steam wouldn't work as well. I'm going to try it. Thanks for the hints.
I have an industrial steamer that I hardly ever use. What a great idea, it is really easy to aim just where you want it!
 My fathere used to Pour A little petrol On them and Burn them !
get a blowtorch, its alot of fun to kill weeds with
lemonie6 years ago
None of these images are original, and there's nothing here to suggest that you've actually done any of these things. Also these are non-specific herbicides (as far as I'm aware), pulling them up with your hands is actually better from an environmental perspective. L
treesneedtobehugged (author)  lemonie6 years ago
Don't have a camera at the moment and yes they are natural and they do work. I mean how can boiling water be good to weeds and it doesn't hurt nothing. All of these methods are natural and why don't you try them out
I pull them up - no carbon-based energy required. Hot water will kill soil bacteria and harm worms. Alcohol and vinegar would do the same I should think. L
kirnex lemonie6 years ago
Over-fertilization (which is increasingly common) is also responsible for the overgrowth of bad bacterias, which incidentally make soil inhospitable for worms. Alcohol and vinegar (especially in smaller doses, as with weed control), while affecting the bacterial content of the soil, actually help to sterilize it, thereby facilitating the return of good bacteria levels. In soil, I do prefer vinegar to alcohol, primarily because it is easier to neutralize with the use of baking soda or small amounts of lime. But for things like weeds growing between patio stones, etc. the BEST weed killer is a combination of warm 91% isopropol alcohol and a small amount of salt: the alcohol actually evaporates before it even can be washed off the patio area, and it is super-fast acting.
lemonie kirnex6 years ago
I dislike the polarising of bacteria between "good" and "bad" - can you explain that in more detail (I'm generally interested)? L
kirnex lemonie6 years ago
Sure. (In reflection, I realized I also didn't distinguish the "over-fertilization" issues I was referencing, but more about that in a minute).

Obviously, pro-bacteria (we'll call it that, rather than "good") will differ in different regions and soil types, but the basic idea is that under ideal conditions (say, a soil that's rich in nutrients, pH balanced, and fortified with compost, which is rich in pro-bacteria), you will have a bacterial balance that is ideal for proper plant growth and development. You can liken it to the types of pro-bacteria that live in our stomachs and intestinal tracts.

Just as the bacterial ratios in our digestive systems need to be properly balanced (i.e. the pro-bacteria is present in high enough ratios to inhibit the overgrowth of bad, or antagonistic, bacteria), the same is an issue in soil. (Incidentally, this is the number one reason it is recommended that if you are POTTING a new plantling, you sterilize the soil first. Where the soil in the ground can, over a longer period of time, regain a homeostatic balance of bacteria, a potted plant cannot, and thus the chances of the plant succumbing to a bacterial, fungal or viral infection are much great).

At any rate, just as taking antibiotics can throw off the balance of pro-bacteria in the digestive tract, overuse of alcohol or another antibacterial agent can (theoretically) do the same in your soil.

The problem with over-fertilization (primarily a bi-product of overly-aggressive lawn care) is that some bad bacterias and fungi thrive when introduced to some types of chemical fertilizers used for lawns. Specifically, it is often the run-off after rain that introduces these fertilizer into beds where they then can throw off the balance of bacteria in the soil. This will then impact the viability of the plant, thus also making it more susceptible to viral infection as well.

If you have any questions about the quality of your soil as it pertains to bacterial/fungal content, there are home test-kits available at many garden centers. Most of the time, though, they aren't really necessary unless you are having problems with: 1) run off from a lawn that is aggressively fertilized, or 2) having viability issues with plants in a bed where the soil and drainage seems otherwise healthy. Usually, most problems with plant viability have more to do with incorrect watering, pH, placing plants in incorrect sun for the species, or improper drainage. Anyhow, hope this helped. :-)
lemonie kirnex6 years ago
I understand the general area, I was more after the bacteria. E.g. you know soil aeration is important - anaerobic bacteria will produce different chemicals to aerobic bacteria. High levels of nitrogen can lead to ammonia, and all sorts of other things go on in the soil too. Do you know of a (fertiliser) cause & effect that illustrates this? (and thanks for the details!) L
kirnex lemonie6 years ago
Hi, sorry it took a while--been out of town. Anyhow, I can't and won't tell you I know specifics...I'm a casual gardener who makes some attempt to utilize all those things I learned in my university science classes to prevent KILLING the plants I am actually trying to grow. I do know that there are quite a few devastating bacteria that tend to be more regional (one reason many serious horticulturalists try to encourage people to utilize locally grown plants--as a containment measure). I also have seen, first hand, by living in a neighborhood where all my neighbors are constantly fertilizing their lawns, that it has drastically changed the ecosystemic profile in our immediate vicinity. We have an overflow pond that used to attract egrets, herons, swans, and geese--among other wildlife. This was when our development was freshly built and no one had a lawn to fertilize. Fast forward five years, and there are no longer any of those birds visiting our neighborhood. Additionally, we are constantly battling various fungis and bacterial overgrowth both in that pond and in the more wet areas of our properties. It's obvious there is a correlation. Regarding sterilization, I've also had problems with verticillum wilt with plants potted in soil that has had diseased plants prior, and was not sterilized prior to re-use. I get around this, now, by sterilizing small batches of soil in my oven on a cookie sheet lined with foil, Makes the house smell bad, but is effective. I do also clean out pots with a solution of dish soap and alcohol prior to re-use--especially terra cotta pots, as they are pourous and can obviously harbor bacteria within the clay. It's greatly reduced the amount of loss I've had since. There are some great books by Ortho on regional diseases of plants, and common diseases and infestation of plants of all sorts. I use mine constantly. They really do a nice job detailing some of the more common bacterial, viral, and insect diseases for both indoor and outdoor plants. I definitely recommend checking those out for detailed information about plant diseases in general
lemonie kirnex6 years ago
Thanks - I've got some stuff to look for from that. Shame about the pond - eutrophication? L
kirnex lemonie6 years ago
Indeed! Sad, isn't it? One reason I am fully in favor of trying to encourage organic gardening with my neighbors. Unfortunately, the grand-bourgeios ethic seems to be to use as many commercial chemical agents as possible, and trying to encourage people who do nothing themselves to opt for compost bins and natural alternatives is futile. Everyone is sad our birds are gone, but no one is willing to assist in reversing the problem!
lemonie kirnex6 years ago
You could make warning signs (black on yellow) that say "polluted by garden run-off" - skull & cross bones. Put them up around the pond...? L
kirnex lemonie6 years ago
Ha! Actually, that's a good idea. I can think of a couple of neighbors who I could attribute the sign to... but I'd have to post it clandestinely. We happen to be chair-holders in our civic league. I might get booted for being "weird" (they only suspect it, thus far).
treesneedtobehugged (author) 6 years ago
What environmental effect does baking soda have?
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