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If you spend any time at all on your lawn or garden, chances are that you have struggled with weed infestations at some point along the way. Weeds can appear in a whole slew of shapes and sizes, but tend to share a few basic characteristics that have made them the pests they are to so many green thumbs.
They thrive even in unworked soil, spread quickly, and can easily choke out your favorite flowers or plants if left unchecked. Gardeners throughout the ages have tried all manner of tricks to get rid of weeds for good, sometimes more successful than others.
In some cases, a combination of methods is best, especially since some of these methods are more devoted to removing the weeds themselves and others to prevent them from growing, or growing back.
Many with a green thumb opt for simple physical removal. It might be old-fashioned, but if you happen to be out with your trowel anyhow, another few moments to cut away some offensive vegetation can save you a lot of problems in the future.
For weeds growing on the sides of buildings or cracks in concrete, you can try an unused kitchen knife to dig under the weed, or a lighter or small kitchen torch to kill it off above ground.
These methods are all that many people need for ridding themselves of one plant, or treating a concentrated area. But those looking for more widespread treatment or prevention will almost invariably find themselves turning to one of the many chemical remedies that have been developed over the years.
Different methods may be more or less practical, so you may want to experiment a bit until you find one that suits your particular case.
A good place to start is to use boiling water with no added chemical components. It is by far one of the cheapest and safest things you can spread around your garden.
Enhance this with a measure of salt to form a saline solution that will wither weeds in a hurry, or simply apply salt to cracks in pavement and brickwork and let the rain do the work for you.
For those ready to fight weeds a little more aggressively, some basic household chemicals have a good reputation as weed killers. Baking soda, known far and wide for its many unintended uses, can be all you need.
Apply a dusting of baking soda to the soil will raise the sodium content beyond what the weeds can tolerate.
Bleach is a household item for many. Well known for cleaning the toughest of messes.
This is one of the more toxic substances people readily keep around for long.
A small dose of bleach will kill both the plant and the root structure beneath it, preventing any possible regrowth. Users should take caution not to use it near desired plants.
Bleach can very easily leak into the surrounding soil.
If you have it around, borax is just as effective if not more, and has the added advantage of being a dry substance. No need to worry about it sloshing over the rim as you move around the yard.
Not only does it have the same herbicide qualities as bleach, but it has also been reported as an effective deterrent against insects and rodents when applied near the foundations of a house.
If you want something a little less caustic for weed control, corn gluten is a gentler option, although somewhat harder to lay hands on. This grain byproduct is 10% nitrogen, creating a chemical imbalance in the soil that stunts and eventually kill roots.
It is recommended to lay this out preemptively, as it may not be effective once the roots have formed and the plants sprouted.
The popular machine lubricant WD-40 has achieved some fame for the volume of tasks it can be used around the household. It works outside as well.
Spray some on the offending weeds and they should wither and die in short order. This makes the job simpler since WD40 often comes with an extremely precise nozzle that allows you to target only one plant instead of a patch of ground.
Soil imbalance and direct treatment are not the only things that can kill a weed, though. You can also try and starve it of sunlight and air by covering it with some impermeable material.
Old newspapers or carpet sections are ideal for this, as they can easily be cut to cover only the plants to be killed. For greater effectiveness, weigh them down with mulch to effectively create a complete seal that deprives the plant of its supply of air and sunlight.
One final thing that some homeowners have found effective is strong alcohol such as vodka, applied by mister to plants in direct sunlight. A crucial part of plant biology is a waxy substance that maintains the plant’s equilibrium as it photosynthesizes.
By dousing the plant with alcohol it will dissolve that coating and cause it to dehydrate too quickly in the sunlight.
As many of these methods include some form of chemical agent, it should be noted that these are only to be employed with protective clothing for the eyes and hands, ideally, through a jug, watering can, or spray gun of some kind. Never handle caustic or toxic items barehanded, even for a short period of time.
When applying your chosen weed killer to the plant, you may want to invest in a good spray bottle to make certain it goes only where it is intended to go.
Should a spray gun be unavailable, a standard soda bottle can easily be remodeled to help with the task. Cut the top half off using a tool that will give a smooth and level cut and pour the herbicide in through the neck of the bottle.
This will give a firm seal between the weed killer and the ground, ensuring that only the offending plant is treated and preventing herbicide from leaking out before your job is done.