Non-toxic removal of weeds
Encountering weeds in the garden is part of the growing season,
and for many this means resorting to chemical herbicides and fertilizers.
But there are non-toxic ways to rid your garden of unwanted plants:
- Ball weeders: a central ball levers weeds out of
the soil when the handle is pressed after inserting the prongs
next to the weed. Lee Valley Tools makes a variety called Dandelion
Digger with a long handle to make the job easier. Lee Valley
Tools can be reached at 1-800-871-8158 or www.leevalley.com.
- Hoes are now available in several models that perform
weeding tasks. Go to a local garden store and ask about collinear,
stirrup, eye, and swan styles.
- Flame weeders: hold the flame over weed leaves for
a few seconds, and the water in the plant cells expands and bursts
the cell walls. Peaceful Valley Farm Supply in Grass Valley
carries one called Primus Garden Flamer. Visit their website
- The Weed Hound: push its jaws into the soil around
the weed, turn the handle, and pull up. It dislodges the weed
at the root. The Weed Hound is being discontinued but can still
be found at some garden centers.
- Corn gluten meal: kills weeds before they come up,
and fertilizes the lawn at the same time.
- Fast Acting Weed Killer from Necessary Organics works
on weeds that have already come up. Call 1-800-468-2472 or visit
- Nature's Glory Weed and Grass Killer is made from
lemon juice and vinegar: contact at 1-866-298-2229 or www.naturesglory.com.
Also made from these natural ingredients is Burnout Weed
& Grass Killer from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply.
- Pull weeds before they have seedheads. If they do have seedheads,
throw them out rather than mulching them or putting them in the
compost heap. They might reseed themselves if given the opportunity.
Mulching is a good way to keep weeds down and keep your garden
plants healthy. A thick layer of mulch insulates the soil, conserves
moisture, and reduces evaporation. It also reduces erosion and
keeps plant foliage off the soil, which reduces soil-borne diseases
and keeps pests away. When it decomposes it adds humus and nutrients
to the soil. Be careful not to apply so much mulch that it smothers
the soil surface; air circulation is important. And keep mulches
several inches away from the bases of plants. This provides air
circulation, prevents rotting, and denies easy access for pests.
Savio, Yvonne, and Steve Zien. Weed workshop. Sacramento Bee,
April 28, 2001.
Back to CEHS website: