It happens every year: The beautiful gardens of May and June—aided by new plantings and moderate spring weather—give way to weeds and bugs as July heats up. While many turn to chemicals to solve the problem, this quick fix leads to lingering environmental problems.
Instead, why not tackle your weed problem the green way?
Better Homes & Gardens offers these options:
Mulching: Cover the dirt in your garden with a 2 to 4 inch layer of organic mulch, such as pine bark, straw or grass clippings (from a yard that hasn’t been chemically treated). This way, you’ll get two benefits in one: suppressing weeds and adding nutrients to your soil as the mulch breaks down at the same time.
Solar power: Let the sun do the trick by placing a thin sheet of plastic over an area of weeds. It can take 4-6 weeks before the sun will kill weeds, so it’s not a quick fix, but it’s an easy one. (Note that any wanted vegetation will also be killed if the plastic is fitted over them.)
Fire: A propane torch is effective in killing weeds, particularly those in areas without desirable plants, such as concrete with weeds growing between the cracks. Be sure to choose a non-windy day and use excessive caution.
Boiling water: Use this in the same places you might a propane torch: on a spot free of desirable plants.
Natural products: Try organic herbicides. Trial and error will help you find what works best.
Vinegar: White vinegar contains 5% acetic acid, an ingredient that will kill weeds with less established roots. “For a vinegar to be most effective, you’ll have to apply it frequently,’ notes BH&G. “It can also kill nearby plants if you’re not careful.”
By hand: Sure, it’s old-fashioned, but it works. Use a dandelion weeder (a tool with a forked end) to remove the weed and its roots, to stop any possibility of regrowth.
DON’T use salt or dish water: They are toxic to the environment.