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Simply put, weeds are the bane of my existence. They surround our building -- peeking up from cracks in the concrete, mocking me as they brazenly poke their haughty heads through the weed-proof layer beneath the mulch. I hate weeds!

Luckily for me, living in a highly-urbanized downtown area doesn't leave much space for weeds to grow, which keeps my weed stressing at a tolerable level. I can't imagine how crazy I'd be if I had a real yard, with real grass, and lots and lots of real weeds. Suffice it to say, weeds and I don't get along, and I'm always on the look out for new, ingenious ways to kill them.

The most obvious way to kill weeds is to buy some name-brand chemicals from your local hardware store, and spray those suckers till they shrivel up and die. Over the years, however, there have been allegations made that certain weed killers are harmful to the environment (beyond the weeds) and wildlife. So what's the best way to get rid of weeds using safer, less expensive ingredients? The three most common DIY weed killers are:

  1. Vinegar - Supposedly the high acidity kills weeds. It's cheap, fairly benign to the environment, but smells like... well, vinegar.
  2. Bleach - Bleach isn't much better for the environment than store-bough weed killer, but I heard if used in small amounts, it will kill weeds and dissipate rather quickly.
  3. Salt - Ever heard the saying, "salting the earth." Apparently salt makes the ground inhabitable to weeds, or any other plant for that matter.

So, how well did these DIY solutions stand up to the name-brand weed killer? As you can see in the video, none of them were quite as effective as the expensive weed killer I bought from the store (although the bleach came close). The biggest problem with simple, DIY weed killers is that they're not systemic -- they only kill what they touch, which leaves the weed wounded, but far from dead. A good weed killer gets inside the weed, destroying the root system and devouring the cells like a virus from a cool sci-fi movie.

Still, the most environmentally-friendly AND cost-effective way I've found to remove weeds is by simply using a little elbow grease and pulling those suckers out by hand (roots and all). Sure it takes a lot longer, and isn't nearly as easy as spraying them with dangerous chemicals, but it gets the job done while having the least impact on your surrounding environment, and in the end, that's all that matters.

NOTE: No matter how tempting it may seem, do not mix the bleach and vinegar together to make a super weed killer like this person did. The combination will create toxic chloride gas, which is not a good thing.

  • Josh

    I've been told that borax is great for killing creeping charley.

  • Peter

    Mixing bleach and vinegar might not be a good idea, but the really dangerous combination is bleach and ammonia. That creates an extremely lethal chloride gas which was used as a chemical weapon in WWI & WWII.

  • Berkana

    You forgot fire. Home made weed burners work extremely well. My favorite is to put small piles of live coals left over after I'm done barbecuing onto the weeds growing out of the cracks between the concrete. I assure you, the live coals work better than weed killer; the weed is cooked all the way down through the roots by the time the coals go out.

  • Joe

    The best safe, organic method I have found to kill weeds is boiling water. Get a metal pump canister, the kind exterminators use, and fill with boiling water. Then spray away. Just make sure you thoroughly saturate the area where the weeds are. The hot water bursts the cells of the plants. You can see them start wilting and dying within a short time. And talk about being environmently safe, and cheap.

  • Joe

    Geat idea and web page.

  • S. Uhlig

    I boil a gallon of vinegar and add 1 cup of salt, plus 1 tablespoon of dish-washing liquid. Works pretty slick. You have to be careful of the fumes, though.

  • Kim

    what about dollar weed? And not sure what they are, but they are these little tiny,shallow rooted weeds that look like a green carpet growing between the cracks in the patio? They are easy to pull up, but they come back so fast I can't keep up!

  • 7 Comments / 1 Pages

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