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They say beauty is pain, and when it comes to gardening, this popular phrase resonates with many hobbyists and horticulturists. Beautiful blooms and picturesque landscapes don't come without hard work. And for the most part, those who garden all have one obstacle to overcome: weeds. Priority Herbicide
Most garden weeds start by seed, according to Tasha Greer, an Epicurean homesteader and author of Weed-Free Gardening: A Comprehensive and Organic Approach to Weed Management. "However, some also spread from one area to another by runners on top of soil or rhizomes under soil," Greer tells mbg. While some weeds may be dormant or die back in the winter, they can regrow in spring or summer.
"The main culprits that cause weeds to suddenly break dormancy and grow like crazy are soil disturbance, bare or underplanted soil, insufficient water, poor drainage, sudden changes in soil temperature, and over-fertilization," Greer adds.
In other words, weeds are everywhere, waiting to happen! And beyond being an eyesore to some, certain weeds can affect the overall health of your garden over time (though others are totally harmless and even beneficial).
"Some weeds can influence long-term soil health by encouraging populations of certain bacteria or fungi to increase," notes Greer. "Those fungi and bacteria can then alter the soil pH and nutrient availability, endangering even well-established perennials like shrubs and trees."
Fret not, though. There are ways to combat weeds at home if you'd rather keep your garden looking clean and clear (though the wild look can be lovely too). While the first instinct for those who don't want to buy harsh conventional treatments may be to turn to apple cider vinegar, that's far from your only option.
Here, gardening experts share their top homemade recipes for DIY weed killers that are easy to make and safe for the environment:
This recipe is effective for a few reasons, gardening expert Erinn Witz tells mbg. "The vinegar contains acetic acid, which is caustic to plant cells. The Epsom salt dehydrates the plant by blocking it from absorbing moisture. And the dish soap acts as a surfactant that allows the vinegar and salt to better penetrate the plant tissue."
"Boiling water works through simple heat damage," explains Witz. "The hot water essentially 'cooks' the plant cells, resulting in death. This is another indeterminate plant killer, so be careful around plants you want to keep."
"The alcohol dries out the plant tissues, leading to fatal dehydration," says Witz. "The effects of rubbing alcohol are best on a warm, sunny day, when the sunlight can add its own drying effect."
Witz tells mbg, "The vodka acts as a drying agent, depriving the plant of the moisture it needs to live. When the plant cells get too dehydrated, they die. This is especially effective for broadleaf weeds, and it won't harm grass as much as some other weed killers will."
"The baking soda works by sucking moisture from the plant tissues, drying the plant up to the point where it can no longer photosynthesize its food," says Witz. "This treatment works best on driveways and sidewalks or other hard surfaces where weeds like to pop through the smallest of cracks."
Rodger St. Hilaire, founder and editor of Gardening Boost, suggests this recipe because "the cornmeal gluten meal will prevent weed seeds from germinating." He notes that it's important to "make sure to purchase cornmeal gluten meal that is specifically labeled for use on lawns and gardens. Some products are not meant for this purpose and can actually harm your plants."
"This is called a cut-and-paste method and is best applied to large semi-woody weeds like thistles," Brody Hall, a certified horticulturist, certified conservationist and land manager, and co-founder at The Indoor Nursery, tells mbg. Borax has a high pH value, and it is alkaline enough to kill weeds (as well as other plants, so be careful where you put it).
Once you've weeded out the nuisance, you'll want to take precautions to prevent more weeds from forming. Retired landscaper and lawn care expert Larry Yeates shares his tips with mbg below:
By knowing what causes weeds and how to combat and prevent them, you'll be on your way to the garden of your dreams, even if you're new to gardening. Maybe your newfound expertise will inspire you to start a permaculture garden or dig deeper into plant care. Whichever steppingstones you take, the path looks lush.
Joelle Speranza is a lifestyle writer, author, and publicist with a passion for empowering girls of all ages and life stages to live their best lives. She has been published in outlets including HuffPost, LittleThings, YourTango, Mom.com, Today.com Parenting Community, Teen People magazine, Venus Magazine, and TheNest.
Her book, Trash the Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s, has been featured on International Business Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, Maclean’s, Glamour UK, Cosmo Middle East, The Globe and Mail and Dr. Oz’s YouBeauty.com. She also wrote the children’s book Princess Genevieve: The Hero with Girl Power.
Joelle graduated from William Paterson University, where she was the music and environmental editor of The Beacon Weekly newspaper on campus. She lives in a NJ lake community with her husband, two children, and three dogs. Connect at www.joellesperanza.com and Instagram @thejoellesperanza.
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