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Do-It-Yourself Herbicides

Do-It-Yourself Herbicides

DIY Herbicides to Try in Your Backyard

An herbicide is a substance toxic to plants and is used to remove or kill unwanted vegetation. However, they can also be toxic to humans and pets and, if used at high levels or used improperly, they are a source of nonpoint source pollution. Based on your personal values and the extent of your weeds, commercial herbicides may not be right for you. If weed matting, mulch, and hand pulling aren’t working, you might try a DIY herbicide. Here are a few ideas for herbicides you can make yourself with basic kitchen ingredients.

  • In an empty, clean spray bottle combine 2 cups vinegar, 2 Tbs salt, 2 tsp dish soap. Spray on the leaves of unwanted plants when it’s hot and sunny.
  • Combine 4-6 cups of water and 1 tsp salt in a pot and bring to a rolling boil. Immediately pour on unwanted vegetation. Works best on small weeds growing in sidewalk, pavement, and patio cracks.
  • Apply clove essential oil directly to leaves of unwanted vegetation. Or, in a small spray bottle combine 1-2 cups water, a pinch of salt or ½ tsp vegetable glycerin (to help disperse the oil), and 20 drops clove oil.
  • Pour a bottle of lemon juice into an empty, clean spray bottle. Thoroughly spray unwanted vegetation when it’s hot and sunny. Several applications may be necessary, however, be careful not to overapply since lemon juice is an acid and could affect the Ph of your soil.
  • Sprinkle baking soda on unwanted vegetation, covering the leaves and stems with about 1 tsp per plant. Or, sweep baking soda into patio and pavement cracks to prevent weeds from starting.

These ideas may be less concentrated and contain more familiar ingredients than commercial products, but they’re still herbicides. So always wear protective clothing, wash your hands after use, and be mindful of possible future exposure to children and pets.


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