Renovation & Design

Looking for a friendly herbicide

Social media appeal attracts plenty of suggestions for handling two acres of weeds

Laurie Mustard / Winnipeg Free Press

This Ready-to-Use WeedEx Dandelion Bar chemical weed killer came from a garage sale, but Laurie Mustard is leaving it unused in hopes of finding a less hazardous solution for weeds.

It’s starting to look like I need a goat. Maybe two.

How many goats does it take to keep two acres free of weeds and unwanted grass? Is it possible to teach a goat which grass is the unwanted grass? Probably not.

Because of the controversy with chemical weed and grass/plant growth control products, I would prefer just to find natural-born killers for this application and not roll the dice on risking the good health of the people and animals who wander my yard regularly.

I mean, the warning on my Ready-to-Use WeedEx Dandelion Bar chemical weed killer with 2,4-D leaves little doubt this is not healthy stuff to be around. "Re-Entry Interval for Turf: Do not allow people (other than applicator) or pets on treatment area during application. Do not enter treated areas for 24 hours."

Twenty-four hours? Forget it.

Sure, I can keep the people and pets off of it, but not the bunnies, deer, raccoons, skunks, mice, stray cats, butterflies, birds, bees and so on that frequent my yard 24-7. Loving animals and wildlife as I do (which is why I don’t eat them), I don’t want to put their health at risk either.

Why do I have this "killer" bar? I got it at a garage sale a few years ago, read the warnings after I got home and now am just keeping it as part of my "cultural anthropology" collection. Could be worth millions some day.

So, what are the best natural treatments for controlling weeds, etc.? When in doubt, reach out! I did, appealing via social media to all who may be able to help with suggestions, and got a truckload.

Bea Broda: "I have always picked them. I also have a tool that pinches the roots of the weed perfectly so you can pull them while standing up."

I reminded Bea I have two acres, and invited her over. She left town. Clever woman.

Valarie Newsham says, "We used boiling water to kill the weeds on our long driveway, worked for us."

Boiling water was a popular response; however, apparently it does have its downfalls.

A responder who shall remain nameless for comedy’s sake informed me: "I used boiling water... but it killed my grass too!" I gently and lovingly replied, "It’s very difficult to find boiling-water-resistant grass." She laughed.

Blair Chetwynd instructed: "Use this recipe. Two litres of white vinegar (the cheap stuff), 250 grams of salt, ½ tablespoon of liquid dish soap, stir well. Drop liquid in the middle of unwanted plant. Use as needed. Also, boiling water on sidewalks and driveway cracks works great too."

Lots of votes for boiling water. Gonna try that.

Cindy Thorarinson: "Epsom salt and vinegar."

Onil Fillion, on the other hand, poo-poo’ed the vinegar/soap/salt method: "It only works for a short time because it only kills what’s above the ground, it does not kill the roots. I tried it."

I poured straight vinegar on a patch of grass in my driveway, killed it stone-cold dead. Maybe it’s in the application.

Local comedian/artist Jon Ljungberg offers: "I wax." Thanks for sharing, but that’s a different column, Jon. And that’s a visual I did not need.

So generally, the various different vinegar recipes and boiling water ruled the day.

I’ll wrap on a related challenge: the grass/weeds that thrive under a chain-link fence. How ’bout a one-inch-thick, eight-inch-wide inlay of recycled rubber strips between poles to eliminate that? I should go into business.

Elaine Stevenson says she’s given up: "Tried the dish soap and vinegar — yes, it killed weeds, but they came back even stronger. Alas, nothing seems to work! And creeping charlie won’t go away, Laurie. I’m having nightmares."

Hmm, I think Charlie’s a friend of Ljungberg’s. I’ll get back to you.

So... any Rent-a-Goat peeps out there?

Comments or feedback, love to hear from you!


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