It’s hard to find a homeowner that thinks weeds are a great addition to their landscape. There is no question that weeds are a constant battle, and finding a way to keep them in control, aside from having to pull them all by hand is quite important. Spending your summer on your hands and knees pulling weeds that magically appear overnight is not our idea of a good time either.
One of the most common commercially available products for weed prevention is Roundup. Although it does wonders on weeds, new studies show just how dangerous Roundup can be to humans. In this guide, we will quickly highlight what makes Roundup so dangerous and, ultimately, some alternatives to help you manage the weeds without such a harsh chemical.
Popularity of Roundup
Roundup was an incredible solution for year-long weed control. You spray a small amount of Roundup on a weed and usually the next day it would be gone. What made it even more remarkable was that Roundup would kill the roots as well. You had to be careful with Roundup as it could be detrimental to grass and any other surrounding plants as well. However, for weed control, there was no question that it worked.
Dangers Of Roundup
Roundup contains an active ingredient called Glyphosate, which is the biggest cause for concern. There are other weed killers that also contain Glyphosate, but Roundup was (and still is) one of the most commonly used. Part of the problem with Roundup is that it was developed and marketed for home use, and not all homeowners know how to handle a chemical like this properly. However, regardless of how it was handled, using Roundup has been linked to possibly causing Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Because of the risks of using Roundup, many home owners are looking into some alternative methods.
How To Kill Weeds Without Roundup
If you think just because Roundup is dangerous that you will have to start pulling weeds by hand, you are wrong. There are plenty of other weed killing methods that are worth trying. Some of the more natural processes are going to be better for you and the earth, but they will not work to eliminate weeds as quickly and permanently as you may have hoped.
The BEST Method is Prevention
Hands down, the best way to kill weeds without Roundup is to preemptively spray pre-emergent herbicides which are found to be much safer than Glyphosate. Tenacity Turf Herbicide works wonders at preventing a wide array of weeds from starting, and can even kill certain weeds that are already present. You will need a gallon sprayer and mix the product yourself with water – but one bottle lasts a long time since you only use a tiny bit at a time.
- Tenacity is a systemic pre-emergence and post-emergence herbicide for the selective contact and residual control of weeds in...
- When applied as a pre-emergent, weeds absorb Tenacity during emergence from the soil.
- Target pests: Barnyardgrass, Carpetweed, Chickweed, Clover, Crabgrass (large & smooth), Dandelion, Foxtail, Goosegrass, Henbit,...
Alternative 1: Post Emergent Herbicides
There are other weed killers out there that can do an adequate job of controlling your weed population. Roundup would not just kill the weed growing above the ground, but it would then transfer to the ground and take out the roots, that is what made it so effective. Many of the other post-emergent herbicides will kill the weed on contact, but the roots are still left, and the weed can eventually regrow.
In general, you will want to look for things that are OMRI certified. OMRI stands for the Organic Materials Review Institute. They are the group that decides if a product can be considered organic or not. For a food product to be considered organic, meticulous guidelines must be followed. If you see a post-emergent herbicide that is OMRI certified, you should have confidence that this is a safe weed killer for you to use.
I personally use Ortho Ground Clear, which is OMRI certified. However, to make things difficult, it’s important to note that there’s different versions of Ortho Ground Clear, some of which DO contain glyphosate. Any of the versions marketing “year-long” control or complete vegetation killer likely have glyphosate – so just be sure to check the ingredient label before purchasing. Here’s the one I use that does not contain that ingredient and does not have any impact to soil.
- Acts on contact—see results in 15 minutes
- Ortho GroundClear Weed & Grass Killer works on all types of weeds and grasses
- OMRI listed for organic gardening
Natural Armor is another alternative that contains no glyphosate. This is easy to use and fast-acting choice. Natural Armor is safe for pets and children to be around as well. The problem that you will find with all of the more natural options that contain no glyphosate is that they will not be nearly as strong. Most of the time, they are more expensive as well. Unfortunately, this is just a reality when it comes to maintaining your health as well.
- ✅CONTAINS NO GLYPHOSATE - Natural, Concentrated Formula STOPS Weeds and Grasses Right in Their Tracks. Weeds and Grass Will Look...
- ✅ EASY TO USE – Friendly for People & Pets. Ready To Use, Just Spray and Go. No Messy Mixing or Diluting.
- ✅ PLACES TO USE – Use Anywhere You Don’t Want Weeds and Grass Growing Such As, Around Flower Beds, Shrubs and Trees, Barns,...
Alternative 2: Manual Pulling
Yes, we know you probably don’t want even to read this option, but it is a reality. When it comes to manually pulling, we also recommend putting down some weed barrier. Depending on your location, whether it be mulch, weed control, or pine straw, it is probably a good idea to find something that will help you keep the weeds in control. If you do an excellent weed pull at the beginning of the season and then put down some mulch, you should be quite happy about keeping the weeds in control over the growing season. Even if you hate weeding, it is best to stay on top of the situation and pull a few weeds here and there instead of waiting for it to be completely overrun. I highly recommend using a weed puller to avoid the back-breaking labor.
Alternative 3: Fire
When we say that fire is an alternative to round up, we don’t suggest lighting all of your landscape beds on fire. Fire is best used to treat weeds growing in pavers or on sidewalks. You can use a torch to kill these weeds. The best part about this method is that sometimes those weeds between pavers can be tiny and impossible for you to grab to pull manually, a portable torch can fix this problem for you. Make sure only to use this method on non-flammable surfaces, and it’s probably worth waiting until you have had a bit of rain, so the environment is not overly dry and subject to a fire. When using a blowtorch to kill weeds . . .
- Sweep the area first, especially to make sure there is nothing flammable nearby
- Light the torch and walk along your pavers hitting any of the weeds that you see
- When you have finished, you can sweep the weeds away, and your patio should be weed-free (for a little white at least!)
Alternative 4: Vinegar
You may have thought it was an old wives’ tale that you could use vinegar to kill weeds. It really does work (and fast), however you have to spray them pretty regularly or else they come back. We find that the best solution is to create a mixture of dish soap and vinegar. This seems to have the most immediate impact. The soap is both dense and sticky, and it helps the vinegar adhere to the weeds. Here’s an easy recipe:
- 1 gallon white vinegar
- 1 cup salt
- 1 tbsp dish soap
There are several types of vinegar available on the market. Regular white vinegar should work fine, but some landscaping supply stores will sell horticultural vinegar. Horticultural vinegar has a much higher acidity content. This high-level acidity will help to kill weeds quicker if you happen to struggle with regular white vinegar.
Since the acid in vinegar is intended to dry your weeds out, it is best to spray your vinegar soap concoction on the weeds when it is very hot out, and no rain is expected. If it rains a few hours after you spray for weeds, you will likely find yourself spraying again.
Alternative 5: Corn Gluten
If you already have a weed problem at your house, it is too late for corn gluten. Corn gluten is known as a pre-emergent herbicide. It needs to be placed in your grass or flower beds prior to the weeds arriving. If the corn gluten is not placed at precisely the right time, it will be ineffective.
The bad thing about corn gluten is that it can get a bit expensive. If you are not entirely sure as to when your weeds are expected to arrive, you may end up purchasing this expensive pre-emergent and having it not be beneficial. However, when appropriately used, corn gluten is a safe and effective way of managing weeds, especially crabgrass.
The fact that there are no great weed killers that are also completely safe for humans can be a bit discouraging, but we do have alternatives that work. Take this as a positive and try and put a little time into your weeding each week, if you stay on top of the weeds using any of these methods you really won’t spend as much time as you think.