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Before you dig into spring gardening, spend these last weeks of winter getting a headstart on weed control with these eight deadly weed killers.

weed controlWeeds start to sprout as soon as winter's frost disappears. Photo: Art Smokes, Flickr

If you're like most avid gardeners, you can't wait for the first signs of spring to surface. Unfortunately, that includes garden weeds, which start to emerge as soon as the last frost of the year is gone. Use these last weeks of winter to practice some necessary weed control before digging into your spring gardening checklist.

We rounded up the best organic weed control methods and products in three categories: home remedies, weed barriers and eco-friendly weed killer.

Pick your poison based how extensive your weed problem is and how much you're willing to spend.

DIY WEED KILLERS
The easiest weed control products to use (and the least expensive) are the ones you already have on hand. The one draw back with organic weed killers is that they're not designed to protect plants like certain store-bought weed killers, so be careful to sidestep the plants you want to keep alive when applying these chemical-free weed control solutions.

Vinegar works against pesky weeds but may require multiple applications to do the trick. It works better with the help of some sun. But be sure the forecast doesn't call for rain; the vinegar needs some time to set in.

Cornmeal prevents weed seeds from germinating when sprinkled on the soil. It's best to wait until after your seeds sprout to make sure the cornmeal doesn't harm your new plants. In addition to its weed control properties, cornmeal attracts worms, which loosen up the soil.

Boiling water is probably the simplest thing to use, but make sure not to douse your plants - or burn yourself.

Salt is another simple solution but needs to be applied carefully because salt can poison the soil. A spoonful is all that's needed to kill dandelions and other similar weeds but it's best restricted to gravel areas and those not intended for plants. Salt can kill plant roots and important organisms like fungi and earthworms. So target its application and use sparingly to areas where runoff won't kill your other plants. WEED CONTROL BARRIERS
This style of weed control is a bit more involved, but the effects can last longer. The barrier keeps out light and must be heavy enough to prevent weeds from growing through it.

Newspaper forms a natural barrier against weeds, but be sure to remove the color pages because the chemicals in the colored ink will get into the soil.

Garden mulch spread on top of weed control fabric produces a similar effect. It will not prevent tough weeds from growing through but it can prevent weed seeds from sprouting. And on top of the fabric, mulch decomposes more slowly, helping to keep the soil moist for plants.


WEED BLOCKING PRODUCTS
A variety of environmentally friendly weed control products exist on the market. To be the most effective, chose one that targets the stubborn weeds in your garden.

Burnout is an organic horticultural vinegar comprised of 20 percent vinegar rather than kitchen vinegar's five percent. It's a good alternative to toxic weedkillers.

Weed-Aside Herbicidal Soap
is a fatty acid weed killer that dehydrates plant tissue. It works on weeds, unwanted grass, algae and moss that have already sprouted.


Here are some more great gardening tips from DIY Life:
Weeds: If you can't beat 'em, have 'em for dinner
Make Weeding Easy and Satisfying
Avant Yard: Crabgrass Control


And check out this video:




  • Cindy

    Does anyone know how cornmeal would work in an area where ants are popular? Would it be the perfect 1-2 punch I need to kill weeds and ants, or would it kill the weeds and feed the ants to grow like weeds? Thanks!

    Reply
  • Lemmy

    I think the author has made a small error. CORN GLUTEN meal (from your garden shop or sold online) is a safe and useful pre-germination herbicide. Keep your cornmeal for the kitchen; it won't do anything for your weeds at all.


  • TG

    Is corn glutten readily available?

    Reply
  • wcs

    i like how he uses colored newspaper in his picture!!

    Reply
  • 4 Comments / 1 Pages
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