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Organic Weed Killer for Your Organic Garden

Updated on February 13, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Pelargonium, often called geranium has a natural herbicide. Image:public domain
Pelargonium, often called geranium has a natural herbicide. Image:public domain

If you have an organic garden is seems senseless to pollute it with toxic weed killers. You can find organic weed killers are many garden centers, on the Internet, or make your own. Organic weed killers are made from natural ingredients that are often derived from plants and are not harmful to the environment, wildlife, or you. You should not assume, however, that organic means that the mixture is safe for bees and other beneficial insects.

Always check the labels carefully and use according to the manufacturer's instructions. Many of these natural weed killers rely on the combination of the substances in the weed killer and the ultra-violet rays of the sun to kill the weeds. If this is true with the product you have chosen be sure to use it somewhat early on a sunny day.

Most organic and natural weed killers raise the pH level of the soil where they are applied for a brief period of time. Normally they will dissipate after a day or two and everything will go back to normal.

Nature's Avenger Organic Herbicide

Nature's Avenger is a citrus oil based product. It is environmentally friendly and there are several different types.

The manufacturer suggests that it can be used successfully in the following areas:

  • Foundations
  • Sidewalks
  • Driveways
  • Around shrubs
  • Around flower beds
  • About anywhere you would use a commercial weed killer

This product has won awards, and is EPA registered and approved for use in the organic garden by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The company claims that you will see visible results in two hours and that the Nature's Avenger is as effective as commercial synthetic herbicides.

A benefit to this product over some other ones is that is will work on a cloudy day. This is unusual as most products will need some heat and sunlight to “burn” the cells of the weeds. Organic planting can be done within hours of treating an area. Cost is comparable to chemical herbicides.

Scythe Organic

Scythe is another commercial herbicide which works by burning the cells of the plants. It is made of natural fatty acids and pelargonic acid, a substance derived from geraniums. Sprayed on grasses and broad leaf weeds you can expect to see results in hours. Plants that are adversely affected by Scythe are:

  • Most weeds
  • Most grasses
  • Most lichens and mosses

The product does not seep through the surrounding soil and so will not hurt nearby plants. It is an intensely concentrated product, just two and a half gallons will treat an acre. You will need to read the instructions provided by the company to know which concentration to use on the weeds you are dealing with.

It seem very expensive at approximately $150.00 for 2 ½ gallons but the high concentration levels keep the total cost similar in scope to other products.

Homemade Organic Weed Killers

Homemade organic weed killers include many products that you may all ready have in your pantry.

Boiling water- boiling water poured over young, emerging weeds can kill them by literally cooking them. Nothing difficult about it, just pour boiling water over the plant. Totally organic (unless you have toxins in your water!) and very inexpensive. The boiling water will cook anything it comes in contact with including the roots of other plants and stray fingers and toes so be careful.

Salt-salt will kill anything. It is a long term fix because, especially in large amounts, it will keep the soil from being able to grow anything for a year or so. This is great for gravel walks and driveways but shouldn't be used in garden situations.

Vinegar – Use either white or cider vinegar. The acids in the vinegar works like commercial herbicides and will kill the leaves of the plant pretty quickly. It will not kill the root and so the plant may try to grow more leaves. Keep spraying it with the vinegar until it gives up. This treatment does not have a long term effect on the soil.

Cornmeal – interestingly corn meal has a substance in it, corn gluten, that is a pre-emergent. This means that seeds will be unable to sprout in the presence of this product. It is an excellent choice for garden areas where you will be planting actual plants in rather than seeds. Corn meal also guards against slugs, snails and other soft bodied pests.

Soap- adding a small squirt of a natural soap, not a detergent, to any herbicide will help the herbicide kill the plant. This is because the soap causes the plant cells to absorb more of the weed killer.

With any homemade herbicide, and most commercial organic herbicides, you will need to keep track of the weeds you are trying to kill and treat them more than once. Organic weed killers for your organic garden are a safe choice but depending on your situation they may work more slowly in come circumstances.


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    • profile image

      suzy a 7 years ago

      Thanks for the great article, Marye. I find that if you combine the salt and the vinegar, and add a sticker such as detergent or oil, you`ve got yourself a preety effective product! I`ve used it to good effect on acreage, two applications should be enough. It`s best applied on a good hot sunny day.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 7 years ago from the short journey

      Thank you so much! Timely info... :)

    • Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

      Tatjana-Mihaela 7 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

      Thank you for excellent tips.

    • hitechlandscaping profile image

      hitechlandscaping 7 years ago from Spanaway, Washington

      I have a good deal experience with Apple Cider Vinegar. We liberally applied to invasive plant species in an environmentally sensitive area and had relatively good results after the third liberal application!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      Jack, These are some good suggestions instead of using pesticides. I've used marigolds around my gardens for years. I have 2 citrus trees and living FL means lots of bugs so I mix a little mineral oil, dish soap and water mixture to spray on the leaves which works very well. Great hub.

    • Barbara Gray profile image

      Barbara Gray 8 years ago

      The best organic natural weed killer is pull them out by the roots,.place them in a special place and let nature take them back.

    • Hi-Jinks profile image

      Hi-Jinks 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      As a past garden center manager, I wished these products worked as well as non-organic weed killers. They do not. They are too slow in a sociality of 'I want it done now like yesterday.'

    • RVilleneuve profile image

      RVilleneuve 8 years ago from Michigan

      Great information! I could use this right about now.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Very useful info. I had a fight with my partner over Roundup and he reluctantly took it back. Thanks for this info

      Sorry about the multiple posting!

    • LadyJet profile image

      LadyJet 8 years ago from

      Hi... I liked your article on organic and non-organic weed killers. Two others you might want to add: 1) coffee grounds--if you don't drink coffee, you can ask the coffee shops or coffee wagons to save them for you (won't kill all plants, but will kill alkaline ones as coffee grounds are acidic--and slugs hate grounds), and 2) a light dusting of a mixture of boric acid and baking soda.

      Keep up the good work!