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Money Saving Alternatives to Chemical Weed Killers

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Whether you're growing your own garden or maintaining a lawn, weeds are a major nuisance. These plants compete for resources with other, more useful, plants, and they can very hard to kill. Because of their toughness, many people choose to use harsh chemicals to kill them off, but this causes its own problems. For one, the chemicals can be dangerous and plants can develop a resistance to them, requiring harsher weed killers to kill future generations. For another, these chemical concoctions can be quite expensive. 

Fortunately, chemical weed killers aren't your only choice for weeding your garden. Here are a few homemade methods you might try: 

Vinegar. Of all the substances in your home, vinegar is one of the most useful. Not only can it be used to clean surfaces and clear clogged drains, it's also an effective weed killer. Just pour it over problem areas and return once it's soaked in to remove the dead plants. 

Salt. Sprinkle some salt over the area where your weeds are growing and it will kill them. Be careful not to go overboard with this. There's a reason why invading countries would salt the earth of cities they pillaged: Salted earth won't grow anything, whether weed or friendly plant, and it can take years for the ground to recover. 

Boiling Water. When applied directly to the troublesome plants, boiling water will kill them without damaging the surrounding land. Just be careful not to burn yourself or hit any of your other plants. 

Cornmeal. When sprinkled over soil, cornmeal will prevent seeds from sprouting. This is less toxic to the ground than salt, so you can use it a little more liberally, but don't sow the cornmeal until your seeds have germinated. As an added bonus, the cornmeal will attract worms, which will loosen up and fertilize the soil. 

Newspaper. Rather than poisoning or killing the weeds, you can prevent them from growing by laying down newspaper or a layer of protective mulch. This will prevent weeds from sprouting up in areas between your plants by blocking sun and light. 

Manual Labor. Pulling weeds up by hand isn't always the most fun way to spend an afternoon, but it's good exercise and ensures that you don't kill off any good plants along the way. You can make it easier by wetting down the area first to soften the soil. 

By using natural, DIY weed-killing methods, you can ensure that your lawn or garden is maintained safely while saving money. Household items, like vinegar and cornmeal, are extremely cheap and nontoxic, and every bit as effective as commercial weed killers. 

Before killing off all of the weeds that creep into your home or garden, take a second look and see if you can actually benefit from them. Some plants that traditionally considered weeds have been cultivated and incorporated into people's diets over the years. Since your yard will be chemical-free, you know any edible weeds you find will be safe to eat. 

Here are a few edible weeds to look out for in your yard: 

  • Dandelions
  • Purslane
  • Chickwood
  • Burdock
  • Stinging nettle
  • Wild mustard
  • Wild rhubarb

You can search online for edible weeds or check out a guidebook from your library so that you can familiarize yourself with what they look like, where to find them and how to eat them. Although allowing invasive species to take over your yard isn't ideal, harvesting the weeds is a very eco-friendly way to deal with them. If you don't like the idea of eating them yourself, you can check to see if you can feed them to pets or wildlife

Jessica Bosari is a freelance writer and blogger for various publications and her own blog. You can read more of Jessica's work here. If you have any comments or questions about or about saving money, leave your comments in the form below or email Thanks!


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