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In the UK, gardeners often have to tackle the everyday task of disposing of weeds in their gardens. While commercial herbicides offer quick fixes, they come with environmental concerns. This article delves into how to make homemade weed killer, providing eco-friendly solutions that are both effective and easy to prepare. Using everyday household items, we’ll explore methods that are not only kind to the environment but also gentler on your pocket if sticking to a tight garden budget.

Benefits of Using a Homemade Weed Killer

Weeds can be a gardener’s worst nightmare. They disrupt the beauty of a pristine lawn or garden and are notoriously stubborn. While manual weeding is the most effective way to remove them, it’s back-breaking and time-consuming. Who wants to hunch over for hours under the scorching sun?

Commercial herbicides offer a quick fix, allowing you to eliminate weeds with a simple spray. However, concerns about harsh chemicals might make you think twice, especially in regards to ones that contain glyphosate which can also disrupt bee navigation. What if you could create an efficient weed killer using ingredients already in your kitchen?

Good news: you can. With some everyday kitchen items, those pesky weeds won’t stand a chance with your homemade weed killer. 

Make sure to keep your social garden occasions cosy with our vast range of fire pits on sale now. 

Ingredients for a Homemade Weed Killer

A highly effective homemade weed killer can be made using white vinegar, salt, and washing up liquid. Both vinegar and salt are rich in acetic acid, which dries out and destroys plants. Washing up liquid acts as a surfactant, ensuring the solution penetrates the leaf pores instead of just sitting on top. 

To prepare a substantial amount of weed killer, mix together a gallon of white vinegar, a small cup of salt and a tablespoon of washing up liquid. Stir well and transfer to a spray bottle for convenient application. Store the rest indoors for future use. For better results, use the spray during the warmest part of the day when the sun can improve its effects. 

Directly spray the weeds, ensuring they’re thoroughly drenched. However, exercise caution as this mixture doesn’t differentiate between weeds and other plants; if weeds are growing near plants that you would wish to keep (especially if you are learning about when to plant alliums), make sure to remain delicate with your spraying techniques.

Effective Methods To Eliminate Weeds

spraying weed killer to eliminate weeds

There are many different yet effective methods to eliminate weeds in your garden, whilst being environmentally friendly and cruelty free. As you take part in this activity, make sure to keep your garden in good sted, especially if you have spent the time to build a bug hotel; after all, you don’t want to harm animals and creatures that you have attracted to your garden.

Here are our recommended methods to help eliminate weeds using household items: 

1. Boiling Water Technique

Boiling water is an effective home made weed killer, especially on pathways and pavements where surrounding plants won’t be harmed. If you are targeting a cluster of weeds among other plants, be sure to avoid harming the plants you wish to keep. 

A pro tip: repurpose the water used to boil vegetables after use.

  • Ideal for: Walkways, patios, driveways, garden borders, isolated weed patches.
  • Our Take: Simple, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

2. Lemon Juice 

One of the main features of lemon juice is citric acid, which can help to kill weeds.

Recipe: Extract juice from approximately five lemons or use pre-packaged lemon juice.

  • Ideal for: Walkways, pavements, driveways.
  • Our Take: Opt for pre-packaged juice for a quicker solution; otherwise, it can be a bit time-intensive.

3. Salt-Based Weed Killer

Salt, specifically sodium chloride, can dehydrate and kill plants. However, it’s not garden-friendly as it can harm other plants and alter soil pH. It’s best used on non-soil surfaces. For the most effective results, dissolve the salt in water, adjusting the concentration as needed.

Recipe: Mix one part table salt with two or three parts water (avoid rock, sea, or Epsom salts).

  • Ideal for: Walkways, patios, driveways.
  • Our Take: Affordable and straightforward.

4. Baking Soda & Vinegar Mixture

Some communities are exploring vinegar as a sustainable homemade weed control solution in urban areas. For better results, combine it with baking soda, salt, or lemon juice.

Recipe: Mix one part baking soda with two parts white vinegar. Add lemon juice if desired.

  • Ideal for: Young weeds or those in paved regions.
  • Our Take: Budget-friendly, though it has a strong odour.

5. Mulching

Mulching is the process of layering the soil with material, and is a great way to suppress weeds. Options range from homemade compost to specialised weed barriers. Mulches not only deter weeds but also retain soil moisture and can provide nutrients. As earthworms integrate the mulch into the soil, they enhance its quality.

  • Ideal for: General garden areas.
  • Our Take: Effective and offers multiple benefits.

Additionally, there are other non-chemical alternatives like flame guns and battery-operated weed burners for safe weed elimination. And if you like our homemade garden remedies, you can also learn about how to use rooting hormone next! 

How to Make Your Own Weed Killer

Of course, if you would prefer to make your own weed killer, this can prove to be just as effective as the other methods above, and may well last longer depending on the quantity which you make. 

Recipe For Making Homemade Weed Killer

  1. Begin by pouring a gallon of white vinegar, preferably 5% household variety, into a container. While this concentration might take an extra day or two to show results, it’s effective.
  2. Next, mix in a cup of regular table salt, ensuring it’s fully dissolved by stirring with a long spoon.
  3. Incorporate 1 tablespoon of liquid washing up liquid into the mixture. This soap ensures the vinegar and salt cover and cling to the weeds effectively.
  4. Once well-mixed, transfer the concoction into a spray bottle for application.

What Ingredients To Use

Vinegar: Its main component, acetic acid, accounts for about 5% in household vinegar. As a desiccant, it extracts moisture from plant leaves, effectively killing the upper growth. It’s especially potent against young or small weeds. However, plants with deep roots, like dandelions, might resist its effects. The good news is acetic acid degrades swiftly in soil, causing only temporary harm. Accidental splashes on neighbouring plants might cause browning but are unlikely to be fatal.

Salt: Commonly known as sodium chloride, this desiccant is a potent addition to the weed-killing formula. It can tackle some plants that vinegar might spare. However, its impact on soil lasts longer than vinegar, potentially harming the roots of adjacent plants.

Soap: Acting as a surfactant, soap enhances the spread and absorption of the vinegar or salt on weeds. It can also penetrate the waxy protective layer on some leaves, making the solution more effective.

Usage Guidelines

Using homemade weed killer in the UK is non-discriminative, meaning it targets any plant it touches. For best results, spray the mixture on a sunny, dry day, ensuring all parts of the weed are covered. Typically, plants treated with this solution perish within a week. It’s crucial to note that in high quantities, this solution can be harmful beyond just plants. The mix of salt and vinegar can be toxic to small animals.

Moreover, it can disrupt the soil’s natural balance. Avoid direct spills on the ground. If treating a large weed-infested area, consider a follow-up with soil nourishment and hydration to restore its health. Store any remaining solution in a sealed, labelled container in a cool, shaded place for future use.

Enjoy your weed free garden after using your homemade weed killer from the luxury of our teak dining furniture, banana benches and wooden garden chairs.

Natural Weed Removal: Hand-Pulling

hand pulling weeds

For those committed to eco-friendly solutions, manual weed removal is the gold standard. For many garden enthusiasts, yanking out weeds is as much a daily ritual as sipping morning coffee. The task becomes notably simpler under certain conditions. 

Firstly, targeting weeds when they’re young ensures easier removal due to their underdeveloped roots, increasing the likelihood of uprooting the entire plant. 

Secondly, post-rain sessions are ideal, as the damp soil makes the task less strenuous. After a thorough hand-pulling session, consider adding a protective layer like mulch or paper to prevent weed regrowth. This method not only effectively combats weeds but also aids soil health.

When To Use Weed Killer

To maximise the usefulness of your homemade weed killer, choose a sunny, cloudless afternoon for application. Under the sun’s rays, you should observe the weed leaves browning in just a few hours, gradually darkening until they wilt away.

Addressing Resilient Weeds

A limitation of homemade weed killers is their inability to penetrate deep into weed roots, unlike some commercial products. This means that hardier weeds might withstand the initial treatment. It’s wise to revisit the treated areas multiple times over several days to ensure complete weed eradication. You can also use garden tools to aid you in the process.

Lemon juice, with its acidic properties, can strengthen the weed-killing prowess, especially when combined with white vinegar. While this concoction primarily targets plant leaves, its effectiveness is evident when applied on a sunny day. 

However, expect the wilting process to span a day or two, so a touch of patience is essential.

Environmentally Friendly Methods Using Homemade Weed Killer

In conclusion, there are a multitude of homemade weed killer methods and solutions which offer a sustainable alternative to commercial herbicides, especially in light of concerns surrounding chemicals like glyphosate. As we strive for greener gardening practices, embracing these natural remedies ensures our gardens flourish while keeping the environment in mind.

For more tips on how to better protect your garden, learn how to stop birds eating grass seeds as well as when to plant bulbs throughout the year. 

FAQs

What is the most powerful homemade weed killer?

One of the most powerful homemade weed killers is by mixing vinegar, salt, and washing up liquid. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which acts as a desiccant, drawing moisture out of plant leaves, while salt dehydrates the plant further and washing up liquid helps the solution adhere to the weeds.

What are the 3 ingredients of homemade weed killer UK?

The three ingredients commonly used in the UK for a homemade weed killer are:

White vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
Salt (table salt or rock salt)
Washing up liquid (to help the solution stick to the weeds)

How do you make homemade weed killer?

To make a homemade weed killer using the three ingredients mentioned:

Mix 1 gallon of white vinegar and 1 cup of salt until the salt dissolves.
Add 1 tablespoon of washing up liquid to the mixture and stir well.
Add the mixture into a spray bottle.

Spray the solution directly onto the weeds, ensuring you cover the leaves and stems. It’s best to apply on a sunny day for maximum effectiveness. Be cautious when applying, as this solution can harm desired plants as well.

Can I mix bleach and vinegar to kill weeds?

It’s not recommended to mix bleach and vinegar, as this combination produces toxic chlorine gas, which can be harmful to breathe in. While both bleach and vinegar can act as weed killers individually, they should never be combined for any purpose due to the potential health risks. If you choose to use bleach or vinegar separately, always ensure you’re in a well-ventilated area and wear protective gloves and eyewear.

Sources

Herbert, L. T., Vázquez, D. E., Arenas, A., & Farina, W. M. (2014). Effects of field-realistic doses of glyphosate on honeybee appetitive behaviour. The Journal of experimental biology, 217(Pt 19), 3457–3464. [online] Available at: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.109520 [accessed 18/09/23] 

GOV.UK (2019) Acetic Acid: General Information. GOV.UK. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/acetic-acid-properties-uses-and-incident-management/acetic-acid-general-information [accessed 18/09/23] 

Flickr. (2022) Weeding the backyard at MWMO. Flickr. [online] Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/134605195@N07/52099163221 [accessed 28/09/23]

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Anna Sharples

Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches - a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.

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