The impact of commercial weed killers on our environment is a topic for many heated discussions. Some people are full into not using them and some think it's time to become more natural in our treatment of the dreaded greens. If it is beginning to be one of your concerns, there are several organic strategies that offer some success in controlling the invasion of weeds in our gardens.

Many would suggest that preparing the garden is the first step in controlling weeds. Early on, one should get out there with their hoe and dig up the weeds and then install a barrier in the areas they want to be weed-free. This could entail using a fabric barrier under some mulch to limit the amount of air and sunlight a weed would need to survive. Another even more organic choice would be newspapers instead of the fabric barrier, since they will eventually disintegrate into the soil. Obstacles such as edging stones around a garden can also help keep the weeds out as well.

Planting ground covers where we want to keep weeds away is another way of controlling the bad boys of the green crowd. Such invasive flowers such as liriope or ajuga can beautify our landscape and vegetable gardens but can keep the weeds from invading.

Then there is the old stand-by many folks keep on hand in their garden shed. A spray bottle made up of vinegar, salt and soap will readily kill most any weed it touches - it can also kill anything else green it happens to hit, so one should be careful in applying it to its target. To be clear, it kills what you see but not the root system so several applications will be necessary, and if the weed is a hardy sort one may have to just dig it up.

The recipe for this spray is 1 gallon of white vinegar, 1 cup of salt and a tablespoon of dish soap. There is an alternative recipe that calls for a stronger vinegar and borax one might look into if they want a hardier solution. This solution needs to be applied on a sunny day for it to do its job.

Rock salt will also keep the weeds down and pretty much anything else where it is applied. This is one way of using up the salt left from de-icing winter walks, however it will affect the soil where it is used. It may also hurt nearby plants but it can kill off some weeds that vinegar cannot.

Another suggestion is totally chemical free in that it entails pouring boiling water on the weeds. This is a pretty effective method of controlling weeds however one should be careful not to burn themselves as they carry a hot tea pot to the garden. If the weed regrows it will be in a weaker state than the original and with each application of hot water it will become less and less a problem.

Finally, if all else fails one could just pull up certain weeds and eat them. Dandelion greens, plantain and clover mixed together make a fine edible salad - some folks grow them for this purpose. Think about that - growing weeds on purpose - there really are two sides to every coin.


Do you have a house that you would like to showcase or a room that you would like to display? The Herald-Dispatch is seeking people who are interested in showing off their unique, elaborate, quirky or simply interesting homes, rooms and spaces for possible publication in our "Homes" section.

You must be willing to be interviewed and allow us to photograph your home or space. If you're interested, please send your name, address and contact information to Rachel Bledsoe at or 946 5th Ave., Huntington, WV 25701.


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