What is Organic Weed Killer?

N. Phipps

Dense planting is always helpful when it comes to reducing weed growth; however, another approach is oftentimes needed. Organic weed killers do not contain harmful chemicals. They are deemed environmentally friendly and safe for use. By using an organic weed killer, there’s no need to worry about endangering people, pets, plants, or the surrounding area. This provides an alternative to using chemical products.

A small amount of bleach, mixed with water, can be used to spot treat weeds.
A small amount of bleach, mixed with water, can be used to spot treat weeds.

While there are various types of organic weed killer, most are acidic in nature. These acids work by lowering the pH levels of target weeds, which ultimately kills them. Since acids dissipate quickly after contact, these natural weed killers are not threats to nearby plants. Many are commercially available, such as BurnOut II weed killer, which is manufactured by St. Gabriel Laboratories. This can be used to kill weeds in gardens, walkways, driveways, beds and lawns.

Using organic weed killers can produce healthy food free from chemicals.
Using organic weed killers can produce healthy food free from chemicals.

Other forms of organic weed killer come from homemade solutions. Vinegar solution is probably the most popular type of homemade organic weed killer. Typically, the more concentrated the vinegar, the more effective it is at killing weeds. For instance, those having at least eleven percent or higher concentrations will provide better results. Vinegar also works best in smaller areas and, like BurnOut, can be used nearly anywhere.

Organic weed killers eliminate weeds without damaging the environment.
Organic weed killers eliminate weeds without damaging the environment.

While vinegar is good for eradicating unwanted plants quickly, additional applications are almost always required. Vinegar solutions typically kill broadleaf weed foliage on contact but do not penetrate the roots of established plants. Therefore, it is usually recommended for use on young weeds and seedlings.

A vinegar solution can be used as an organic weed killer.
A vinegar solution can be used as an organic weed killer.

In addition to acid-based organic weed killers, there are also some that are more alkaline in nature. Bleach is an example of this type of weed killer. Unlike vinegar solutions, however, only a small amount of bleach, no more than five percent, should be used. Spot treating weeds with bleach works in the the same way as vinegar but shifts the pH level of target weeds in the opposite direction.

Using an organic weed killer can be more effective than manually removing weeds.
Using an organic weed killer can be more effective than manually removing weeds.

Other, more traditional forms of organic weed killer include hand weeding or removal with a suitable garden instrument. The use of organic mulch is another option that has many benefits. This type of mulch consists of pine needles, wood chips, shredded bark or leaves. Mulch smothers out weeds before they become a problem. It also retains moisture, regulates soil temperature, and breaks down over time, which adds nutrients to the soil. Organic mulch is often reapplied annually.

Mulch can help keep weeds at bay.
Mulch can help keep weeds at bay.
Vinegar, which can be used as an organic weed killer.
Vinegar, which can be used as an organic weed killer.

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