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11 Ways to Control Weeds Without Chemicals

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11 Ways to Control Weeds Without Chemicals

Weeds are many home gardeners’ biggest enemy. Roundup and other chemicals may seem like the best weapon in the arsenal against weeds. However, many experts discourage the use of chemicals. They can leach into fruits and vegetables. They also runoff and trickle down into groundwater.

Moreover, they are more expensive and less effective than many other methods. Ronald Smith of the North Dakota State University Department of Plant Sciences said, “Weed and seed” combinations in particular are typically weak and practically useless on home gardens and lawns. He said a blanket herbicide application cannot reverse a heavy weed infestation in a lawn.

“This is not a debatable point. It is something we nailed down here at NDSU years ago in field trials,” Smith said.

Fortunately, there are better ways to prevent and control weeds before they take over. However, Smith notes that only a full-time assault on weeds can keep out every weed.

“It is totally unrealistic to think that anything short of the efforts, budget, and fanaticism that a professional golf course superintendent puts into caring for the greens, tees, and fairways, will produce a weed-free lawn,” he said.

Here are seven strategies for preventing weed growth, and four methods of controlling existing weeds, with the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

(Click through to the end, or click the left arrow, for a printable list.)

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122 comments

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10:47PM PDT on Apr 4, 2014

Burning some weeds causes them to spread. The most effective method I've found is to put black plastic over the area that has weeds. Water the ground before hand. Hot sunny days will boil the weeds and kill them. In Colorado we have weeds that have root systems 5 or 6 feet down. digging them out is impossible but this method works. I've even used boiling water after I've made sure there are no worms in the area.

I also think we need to change our notion about weeds. We're wiping out Monarch Butterflies because many of us won't tolerate any weeds and even if we're willing the county/state might not be. Monarch Butterflies need Milkweed. We've got 2.5 acres of land and I'm planting milkweed on it. Laws be damned.

10:19PM PDT on Apr 4, 2014

Can u plant grass on top of black weed sheets

5:13AM PDT on Jul 16, 2013

..my kitchen yard is infested...very interesting, thanks!

10:13AM PDT on Jul 14, 2013

Some good ideas, never use Roundup!!!!

1:17PM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

I'm trying to cultivate a moss carpet, but pulling and digging weeds is tedious and unending. Any suggestions?

1:17PM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

I'm trying to cultivate a moss carpet, but pulling and digging weeds is tedious and unending. Any suggestions?

1:17PM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

I'm trying to cultivate a moss carpet, but pulling and digging weeds is tedious and unending. Any suggestions?

3:32PM PDT on Jun 14, 2011

I definitely will try newspaper under my mulch. I have found that a commercial grade of fabric is needed as weeds will still come in any areas where the mullch is thinning. I used black plastic on a slope (what was I thinking??) before wheelbarrowing in rock and a lot of it slipped to the bottom. ;>) Thanks for the article with lot of tips Chaya.

7:32PM PDT on Jun 8, 2011

@Megan Saxbury: your point being? Are you saying that since God condemned man to eat bread in the sweat of his brow, we shouldn't find better or easier ways to garden? I guess we'd better give up the the rototillers...and the long-handled cultivators...and even the hoe, since I'm sure Adam didn't have one.

7:28PM PDT on Jun 8, 2011

@Mike & Janis: with that big a dandelion invasion, you basically have two choices: poison, or learn to live with them. In the latter vein: when my children were small I encouraged them to bring me daily bouquets of dandelions (when they got a bit older I had to pay them a small bounty, but it still got the blossoms into a flower bowl instead of sending seeds all over the neighborhood). In addition, I harvested the leaves for the table. Neither trick will eliminate dandelions, but they'll help control them and keep them from spreading even further.

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