Ag Buzz: Homemade Weed Killer Safer Alternative

By Nikki Honosky, WVSU Extension Associate

We’re deep into the summer season. Many people have been enjoying the weather, the chance to get out of the house. Summer is also the time when most are concerned with their yard work.
Grass and weeds grow quickly in the summer, which makes its upkeep a summer chore. The weeds are more of a concern for most people because of how quickly they can spread. An easy fix for weeds is to occasionally spray down the area with a weed killer.
The most common weed killer that comes to mind is Roundup. Roundup is a glyphosate, which means that it will kill pretty much any plant it comes into contact with. The way it works is that the plant’s leaves will absorb it and pass it down into the roots. This makes it so that the plant can’t produce certain proteins, which it needs to grow and survive.
Eventually the plant will die because of this. Most weed killers mix in the glyphosate with other chemicals to cause it to stick only to the plants and area it was sprayed in. This helps to keep it from drifting into other areas that you may not want sprayed down.
The downside of weed killers like this is that it contaminates the soil or groundwater where you sprayed. It can also be harmful to any beneficial insects and pollinators in the area.
A way to deal with this is to make your own weed killer. There are various different ways to make your own weed killer, but most follow the same pattern. Most homemade recipes will involve some sort of combination of an acid, detergent, and water. In a recipe, those three items will be the main components, but you aren’t limited to that.
Depending on what your spraying or personal preference, you may decide to add things like salt or mineral oil. Only use salt if you don’t want to replant anything there though.
An easy recipe for a homemade weed killer is to get one gallon of white vinegar, one tablespoon liquid dish soap, and optionally one cup of salt. This is a basic recipe and can be quite effective, especially on younger plants.
Recipes made with vinegar can be less effective on hardier weeds, so it will possibly take multiple treatments. If you want to get rid of any weeds on a sidewalk or driveway, there is another useful recipe. The recipe is just two quarts of boiling tap water and a teaspoon to tablespoon worth of salt. Be careful when dealing with boiling water, but it should serve to kill any plants that you put it on.
The best time of day to spray the weed killer would be when it’s the sunniest. The downside to using homemade recipes is that, unlike the chemical versions, it will take multiple treatments to stop any weeds or unwanted plants from growing. This is because the homemade weed killers don’t eat down to the roots like their chemical counterparts.
This is just a few examples of how you can make your own weed killers, but there are plenty of different options available. Not to mention that certain recipes can be more effective depending on the type of plants you want to deal with.
Be careful when handling some of the different recipes in order to stay safe when handling some of these ingredients though.
You can easily learn more about this by doing research on the Internet or by asking those with experience dealing with weed killers.
If you have any questions, you can contact me at the WVSU Extension Office at the Welch Armory. I am available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment. Feel free to give me a call at (304) 320-5446.
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