From DIY repellents to our best tips for stopping these pesky plants from sprouting in the first place.

By Alexandra Lim-Chua Wee
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Jesse Chehak

Few things are as frustrating as spotting the return of stubborn weeds in your lawn or garden. And while your natural instinct may be to reach for conventional weed killers and herbicides, spraying these chemicals on your lawn can not only compromise the health of your landscaping in the long-run, but they can also be problematic to your own health. "Many conventional weed killers use chemicals and pesticides can not only kill healthy soil, but also make your lawn dependent on the next chemical treatment," says Kel Giard CEO of Clean Air Lawn Care, a sustainable lawn care company. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can help keep these pesky plants at bay.

DIY Weed Killers

If you're looking to stunt the growth of a handful of stubborn weeds, there are a few homemade solutions that can help solve your problem. One easy and free solution? Boiling water. Pouring it over a weed patch should help shrivel up the plants; just be sure to do so slowly, carefully, and as close to the weed itself as possible to avoid burns. Keep in mind, however, that this will not nip the weeds at the root, but rather knock them out temporarily. Other ingredients that can help rid your lawn of weeds include lemon juice and vinegar, which are applied similarly to the boiling water technique; however, Giard recommends using any of these methods as carefully as you would any weed killer-spot-treating the weed as close to the plant as you can, otherwise you may risk killing the surrounding grass as well.

Opt for Organic Weed Killers

If you are going to spring for a spray to nix your weeds, Giard recommends choosing ones that have iron as a main ingredient. "Iron can works as a natural weed-killer because it wilts the weeds by overfeeding it," he tells us. There are a few brands in particular that Giard recommends including Fiesta, a selective lawn weed killer that targets specific weeds in your lawn, such as dandelions, barnyard grasses, and catch weed, without damaging the surrounding grass. It also comes without any unpleasant odors and is safe to use around pets. As for non-selective or broad spectrum herbicides, or solutions that work on broadleaf and grass weeds, Giard suggests Burnout (which uses citric acid as its active ingredient) and Avenger (which uses citrus oil). "These use acidity to kill the plants similar to how the vinegar technique works," he says. Both products are also non-toxic and made in the USA.

Catch Weeds Before They Start

To help prevent these plants from sprouting in the first place, Giard says it's helpful to remember these two rules: keep your soil healthy and don't over-cut you lawn. "If you have healthy soil and healthy roots, you'll help prevent weeds before they get going," he notes. Using organic fertilizer is one way you can help make sure your soil stays in top shape. "Secondly, mow higher. The shorter your grass is, the easier it is for weeds to push through the soil. Higher and thicker grass can also help choke out weeds." Even a subtle change of mowing at three inches instead of two-and-a-half can make a difference.

Comments (21)

Anonymous
May 26, 2017
Works, bye bye chemicals
Anonymous
May 14, 2017
About watering, don't be conservative. Water is a natural resource and valuable public trust or commodity. Agri-business uses it to make money, they don't conserve they utilize water for profit. Infact 85% of the public's water is moved through the central valley for use in Agriculture. This may surprise you but 80% of all agricultural commodities produced in California are exported to Africa, Asia and Europe. So the next time you conserve water remember you are helping our farmers make more money.
Anonymous
May 7, 2017
My husband and I buy white vinegar online. It is horticultural vinegar. We use it in a spray bottle and don't do anythign to it. We have a stone driveway and lots of weeds spring up and it is amazing how well this works. I would be VERY careful if you use it on grass. It definitely kills dandelions, but will also kill your grass. We never use boiling water and it works wonderfully. I agree that it works even better when it is hot out. The sun makes it work doubly well. But remember, this is acid. It's just not toxic like an herbicide. Martha is totally correct on this one.
Anonymous
June 3, 2015
Spray weeds in walks, driveways, and terraces with vinegar. Carefully spray weeds in beds or lawn. Keep the spray off desirable plants. Vinegar is an acid and is non selective. I use 10% full strength and add a little dish detergent which helps it stick to the weeds. The vinegar spray works even better on hot days.
Anonymous
June 1, 2015
Very interested in the weed killer vinegar mixture - can't seem to find the formula. Please send it to me. Thanks
Anonymous
May 30, 2015
so, here's a tip, if you have a Keurig coffee maker. When you descale it using vinegar, I use the boiling hot vinegar and the subsequent hot vinegar dilution on weeds. Then I don't feel as though I'm wasting so much water, rinsing out the pot!
Anonymous
May 30, 2015
It's the boiling water that does the trick-not just the vinegar!
Anonymous
August 2, 2014
cider vinegar or white?
Anonymous
July 7, 2014
Since the people who posted this aren't answering. I wouldn't try this around other perennials or trees. It probably will kill the grass too....but don't quote me.
Anonymous
July 6, 2014
I have tried the vinegar, salt and dish detergent recipe three times now and the weeds are still thriving. I will try the vinegar and lemon but am not holding my breath.
Anonymous
July 5, 2014
I tried straight vinegar, wilted a couple of leaves, but that was it. Weeds still growing.
Anonymous
June 29, 2014
Well it kill my plants in my garden?
Anonymous
June 22, 2014
Use straight vinegar. I don't know about the lemon. For stubborn weeds I use a mixture of 16 oz straight vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt and a few drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid (blue). The Dawn kills the oils on the plant allowing the vinegar and salt to kill it.
Anonymous
July 31, 2013
why put this on here if your not going to be more specific? Straight vinegar? Pure lemon? already know that in my yard boiling water doesn't work! Please give more details??Anyone??
Anonymous
May 20, 2012
i too need to know if the weed killer will kill grass and the new trees i planted. also is it pure vinegar, pure lemon juice , etc or is it diluted with water??
Anonymous
March 21, 2012
Does anyone know- does this only kill weeds or anything in it's path? Wanting to use it in an area with bushes nearby. I don't want to kill the bushes too!
Anonymous
July 4, 2011
I used weed killer & nearly killed my cat as I did not know he used our garden to do his business untill he went out one morning, i will be trying the vinegar,lemon, will write again if it has worked or not.
Anonymous
July 4, 2011
No worries about harming pets or wildlife
Anonymous
July 24, 2009
I did the vinegar , and next day they were gone!!!
Anonymous
July 19, 2008
works perfectly!
Anonymous
July 12, 2008
This is fantastic and so natural!