The World's Easiest, Safest, and Best DIY Weed Killers

Manual weed pulling has many benefits - including being safe, producing stuff for the compost bin or chickens, and often doing a better job of getting weed roots out of the soil - but sometimes

You. Just. Can't. Do. It.

Weeding by hand can be really overwhelming! And while you can go for the unkempt look, weeds rob desirable plants of water and nutrients. So here are a few tricks for getting rid of weeds easily - and without nasty chemicals.

1. Boiling water. Fill a tea kettle with water and bring it to a boil. Remove the kettle from the stove and liberally pour the water on weeds. But be careful not to get the hot water on desirable plants, or they will die, too. (In fact, I recommend this method only for non-plant places, like driveways, sidewalks, and walkways.) This method works best if you do it on a hot, sunny day. And, of course, be careful not to burn yourself!

2. Vinegar. Spraying ordinary household vinegar on weeds also does the trick. Again, do it on a hot, sunny day and avoid spraying desirable plants. (Try using an old lampshade around the weed to block the vinegar spray from getting onto desirable plants.) Because household vinegar is a low in acidity, it may take a couple of applications. Or, seek out "horticultural vinegar," sometimes available at gardening centers. It has a higher acidity - but be sure to wear gloves when using it. (Heinz also sells what they call "cleaning vinegar," which has a slightly higher acidity than ordinary household vinegar and may do a better job at killing weeds.)

Want extra punch? Add a drop of liquid dish soap to the vinegar; it will help it "stick" to the plant, making it a bit more effective.

3. Newspapers or cardboard. Smothering weeds is very effective. A layer of cardboard (preferably corrugated) or at least 4 sheets of newspaper (not glossy paper) will do the trick. If you want things to look more attractive, put mulch (like straw or bark mulch) on top. Tall weeds will need whacking down first, of course.

And a couple more DIY weed killers, which I recommend with caution:

4. Rock salt. A sprinkling will kill both weeds and desirable plants, but it can make the soil totally barren for some time - and it will erode concrete.

5. Rubbing Alcohol. Pouring this on a plant will kill it, but it's more pricey than other choices listed above.

6. Corn gluten meal. Many, many sources claim that once an area is free of weeds, you can sprinkle cornmeal over the area and any seeds that remain won't sprout. A bonus: It works in lawns! But corn gluten meal doesn't always work - and when it doesn't, it actually promotes weed growth.

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