Natural Weed Killers You Should Use in Your Garden

Last update: 1 year ago

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Ask a gardener of any skill level what the hardest part of having a garden is and they will all tell you the same thing – getting rid of weeds.

Invasive plants are everywhere and it’s no wonder why we have so many commercial weed killers on the market. However, synthetic pesticides pose a threat to children and pets if swallowed. Fortunately, there’s quite a lot of ways to get rid of weeds naturally. Some of these eco-friendly methods include…

Weeding by hand

This is the most basic and easy way to dispose of the pesky plants growing in your garden.

Use a handy tool, such as a claw or trowel, to loosen the weed roots.

After that, pull the weed by the root.

Use gloves to avoid spreading seeds anywhere else.

Boiling hot water

Prepare a large pot or kettle of water by boiling it on a stove burner or outside burner. You should determine how much water you’ll need based on the size of the weeded area. Utilizing oven mitts, carefully transfer the boiling water to the weeded area once the water is steaming hot.

Pour boiling water gradually onto the weeds on your lawn, driveway cracks, or garden paths, avoiding other desirable plants. If necessary, repeat the steps above.

If the weeds are growing in large groups, consider cutting them down a bit so you can easily reach their taproots. You’ll have a better chance of permanent results if more heated water is applied to the roots.

For some plant sorts, it might take several tries, but it will kill them eventually and your garden will be once again weed-free.

This method is also good for spots you plan to replant because it won’t damage the soil.

Landscape fabric

landscaping fabric installed by Fantastic Gardeners

Image license:Creative Commons Licence / Image Owner: Fantastic Gardeners

If you’d like to suppress weed growth in pathways, you can install a landscape fabric or ask for professional landscapers to do so.

Usually, the fabric is covered with a layer of mulch, and that’s another place where weeds can develop.

However, their roots will be shallow and pulling them off will be a piece of cake.

The use of landscaping fabric is an effective way to control persistent weeds that spread throughout the garden. Weeds are prevented from getting the light they need for photosynthesis, which discourages their growth. By laying landscaping fabric over a large area, you can kill weeds throughout the garden at once.

Landscape fabric is surprisingly environmentally friendly. The landscaping fabric lasts for 5 to 10 years before degrading, so you can reuse it several times. In addition to being eco-friendly, landscaping fabrics are often made from recycled and sustainable materials.


A salt weed-killer mixture can be made at home easily. You can dissolve salt in water by adding rock salt or table salt. Start with a weak mixture containing a – 3:1 ratio of water to salt. You can increase the salt amount daily until the salt begins to kill the target plant. Weed-killing effectiveness can be improved by adding dish soap and vinegar. As a result, the plant is able to absorb the salt solution better since it lowers the surface tension of the water.

In order to avoid damaging nearby vegetation, it is extremely important to apply salt to weeds with extreme care. Keep the solution from splattering by using a funnel to direct the salt water to the weed. After applying the solution, water any nearby plants well. It will mitigate damage and allow the salt to leach below the root zone.


You might know that vinegar is great at cleaning tough spots, like limescale or red wine, for example. But did you know it’s also a natural weed killer?

Pure vinegar (white or cider), just like salt, causes dehydration to unwanted plants.

Although strong on its own, white vinegar can become even deadlier to undesired plants when combined with some ingredients.

Let’s simply call these vinegar weed killer recipes:

Vinegar and lemon juice

What do these ingredients have in common? They both have high acidity levels. Combine them and you’ve got yourself a natural herbicide which kills first and asks questions later.

The way to prepare it: buy vinegar with at least 10% acetic acid. Pour a quart of that vinegar (about 1 litre) in a spray bottle and add 4 ounces (113 millilitres) of lemon juice. You’re set to go, but even though natural, this herbicide cans till sting your skin and eyes. We recommend you wear safety gloves and goggles.

Vinegar and salt

Salt dehydrates plants and that’s why it works well with vinegar. It also makes your salad taste better, just like vinegar, but that’s another topic altogether.

The way to prepare it: add one cup of table salt to a container full of vinegar. Caution: this solution is very strong. Use it only for weeds between tiles and cement cracks. If it gets into your soil, it will damage it and nothing would ever grow there. For maximum effect add some liquid dish soap to the solution. This will ensure the solution will better stick to the weed of choice.

Vinegar and soap

Liquid soap will hardly help neutralise the pungent smell of vinegar, but it will definitely improve its weed-killing properties.

The way to prepare it: fill a container with one gallon (about 3 litres) of vinegar. Then add one ounce (28 millilitres) of dish soap. That’s it, really. Little known fact: you can use this solution for killing pests as well. Like they say: two birds with one stone.

Vinegar also evaporates quickly after use, so your cat and dog can walk safely in the garden.


Mulching is an effective way to control perennial weeds. By preventing sunlight from reaching weeds, it keeps them well below the surface, where most will eventually die. Mulches are especially useful around perennial crops such as fruit trees and bushes, but they can also be used around annual crops.

Keeping on top of weeds with this method won’t solve the problem instantly, but it will help you to avoid epic weeding sessions.

You should start by putting down a weed barrier. It is ideal to use newspaper (or cardboard) as an alternative to landscape fabric because it is permeable, completely biodegradable, and enhances soil fertility.

Spread the newspaper five or six sheets thick and overlap them generously to prevent weeds from getting through, then soak it well. Spread two to three inches (5-8 cm) of loose, well-rotted organic mulch over the newspaper (or cardboard).


Newspapers quickly go out of date, but fortunately, they can still serve your garden well.

Use old newspapers to cover low-growing plants.

Make the cover at least four layers thick.

Eventually, the lack of sunlight will be the demise of your weeds and will stop weed seeds from developing.


Wide-leaf weeds like dandelions, mullein, and plantains can be easily killed with vodka. Using vodka appropriately can eliminate weeds from your home and keep your garden looking gorgeous.

When it is hot and sunny, go to the area where weeds are growing. Make sure to apply vodka throughout the entire plant’s body.

To burn the plant effectively, vodka must use the sun’s energy. You may need to reapply vodka if the weather changes after you apply it.

If you are dealing with another weed variety which you can’t recognise, you might want to book professional garden clearance services instead.


In flame weeding, weeds are heated just enough to kill them by passing a flame over them briefly. The goal is not to burn the weed up, but rather to destroy its tissue so that it dies. A flame weeder kills only the surface of the weed, but not its roots.

Annual weeds are killed by flame, but perennial weeds often regrow from the roots left behind. Two to three treatments are necessary for perennial weeds to die back. When you kill off the tops of the weeds often enough, they eventually give up and die.

The flame weeder setup consists of a hose connecting a wand to a propane tank. Before using it, make sure you read the instruction manual thoroughly.


In addition to pellets, corn gluten meal is also available in powdered form. It is spread in a specific amount, which depends on how many square feet of ground needs to be covered.

It is necessary to water the lawn lightly after the meal is distributed evenly on the ground so that the oils can be activated. The application is only effective for around 5 to 6 weeks if it works. After that, the meal must be reapplied.

Weeds that have not sprouted yet can be controlled by this method. Perennial weeds with established roots will not respond to it.

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Carpet scraps

Got an old carpet you no longer need?

Cut it up into scraps and use them as a weed barrier.

The old carpet pieces will stop invasive plants from growing and still allow water to drain.

Keep in mind that the scraps should not remain on the soil for more than a year.

Ground cover plants

Ground cover plants are great when you need to cover bare patches of soil and, wouldn’t you know it, they also compete with weeds.

In fact, they are so competitive that they will deprive the weeds of their much-needed nutrients, water, and sunlight.

For more information on ground cover plant types, go to RHS.


Weeds are, after all, plants and some of them are perfectly edible. Some examples of weeds you can prepare for dinner include: curly dock, wild amaranth (pigweed), dandelion, red clover, watercress, and chickweed.

You can also check this link for some tasty invasive plant recipes.

By the way, you can even make vodka out of Japanese knotweed!


Nitrogen-rich soil benefits all plants and promotes their growth. Green, leafy growth requires nitrogen, as well as the healthy absorption of other essential nutrients.

Sugar is a carbon nutrient and does not contain nitrogen. Sugar on weeds can restrict growth in some plants, especially those not adapted to low-nitrogen environments. The reason for this is that microorganisms in soil must source their nitrogen from the earth. This leaves little room for weed growth. Therefore, sugar weed control can be achieved with direct application to pesky weeds and invasive plants.

Sprinkle a cup (240 mL) of sugar around the base of the weed, or even a handful if necessary. Coat the soil thickly over the root zone of the unwanted weed. After a day or two, recoat the weed if it is still growing or not showing signs of decline.

However, there is a slight downside. Sugar is likely to attract ants and other sweet-loving bugs.

Lemon juice

The citric acid from freshly squeezed lemons will make any weeds shrivel away and die in a few days.
Fun fact: ants really don’t like lemon juice either. No need to call an exterminator, instead drive them away with some lemon juice.


To get rid of weeds naturally with bleach, pour some of it on the pesky weeds growing between the cracks of your walkways.

In a couple of days, you should be able to remove the plants easily.

The bleach will also keep them from coming back.

Disclaimer: Bleach is actually a highly poisonous material for plants, pets and humans alike. If bleached, the soil pH becomes very acidic and nothing will grow for the months to come. If you are determined to use bleach, you will have to avoid spraying plants you want to keep, don’t let pets or kids go near the treated spot and don’t use it around days with rainy weather forecast. Water will help the bleach spread throughout your garden and will kill off other plants.

In the end, it all boils down to desperate times, desperate measures.


The spray oil is popular for its wide range of uses and it is even good for killing off thistles.

Congratulations, you now discovered one extra use!

Just spray some on the invasive plants and watch them wither and perish.

Disclaimer: Be also careful with WD-40. Although it’s the DIY-er’s best go-to tool for pretty much anything, don’t abuse it as it can kill not only weeds but your regular plants too. For reference, check the above bleach disclaimer.

So there you have it, your own guide to dealing with invasive plants in your garden. Natural methods are highly effective when combined together – choose several of the above methods for maximum effect.

Need a gardener?

Enter your postcode to view our rates and availability in your area.

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For questions about the services we offer visit our main site or you can always call us at 020 3404 4881


Did we miss anything? Do you apply other methods in fighting weeds organically? Drop a comment below or share them on social!

19 CommentsLeave a comment

    • Vodka works well for both killing the weeds and killing the time! Keep it up there, Zac, you’ve got a nice blog going on.

  • Thank you for the great advice, Eco friendly does a lot of things in our environment. I’m sure this info would definitely a help to other people as well.

    • Very good remark, Mollie, we’ve added a couple of disclaimers above on the usage of bleach and WD-40 in your garden. Thank you for pointing it out!

  • Fantastic tips! What about so-called noxious weeds for example canada thistle or wormwood? They’re particularly resilient, and canada thistle is terribly annoying. I would love to learn a resolution that does not involve chemicals like all my neighbors use.

    • Hello there, Paula! So, when it comes to canada thistle, it’s so nasty to deal with because of its elaborate root system. It goes deep into a garden and that makes it a nightmare to deal with. Best way to prevent canada thistle is to make your garden unwelcoming. Canada thistle grows best in low fertility gardens, so try to gradually increase its fertility – this will boost the strength of the rest of your plants which will overcompete the weed. What’s more, you can test your soil for fertility, either by purchasing a tester kit from Amazon, or checking this website (first method is more secure).

      As far as organic weed control is involved – use a pair of scissors and snip off the base of the plant. Don’t pull it off – for every pulled off canada thistle two grow in its place. Keep a sharp eye and when it starts growing again, snip off the base one more time. This way, the plant will use its limited resources before new leaves have the chance to grow and will slowly die out.

      It’s not a quick fix, but it’s evil and permanent.

      Let us know if it worked for you!

    • Hello Ann! Are you talking about dock weed? Now that’s a pickle as it’s quite difficult to remove, has sporadic bursts of coming out of nowhere and is resilient enough to withstand most regular methods of weed control. So, we’ll suggest to gradually kill the plant using herbicidal soap. Applying the herbicide will impede the leaves from growing. However, you might also want to try a rooting out the dock weed using a dandelion fork (don’t ask us why it’s named this way, however, its shape is perfect to dig out deeply rooted weeds).

  • Thanks for all that info i will have to give it a try and see which one works well.Every year i have been pulling the ivy by hand and it keeps growing back.Ialso have noticed it has turned thecement in my stone walls to powderand i really dont like that at all.Iwill up date ya in a few months if one of them works.Thanks and cheers Brigid

  • Hi which of these would be best to tackle blackberry bushes? I have a lot which are over taking my garden & my other plants , any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks

  • Can you tell me what this is all over my clothes Please it’s sharp bits are causing me al lot of problems but can’t add pictures

  • While you manicure your lawn to make it look beautiful, it also makes the garden a victim to more weed attack.

  • Thanks for this great article! Two questions if you are still looking at this thread:
    1) Is vinegar and salt OK for wildlife? I’m most worried about making sure the birds / foxes / rabbits in and around my garden are OK
    2) Do these methods last as long in suppressing weeds as commercial weed killers? Any one better than another for long lasting effect?

  • Hi, i have a Rice paper plant that has started to get through are paving and also into our neighbours garden, it’s taking over our garden. What can i use to get rid of it please.

  • Useful tips, but as the article says: Bleach and WD-40 are chemicals that will damage your soil and therefore the organisms in it and any other good plants nearby. In addition they will form run-off into water courses, potentially harming or killing whatever is living there. Try and stick to the more natural forms of defence! Thanks for the article, I am sure it will help inform gardeners.

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