Thursday, May 9, 2013

Green Living Column, June 2013: Removing Weeds The Natural Way

The rainy season is upon us again, and it usually results in an increase in weeds. The use of chemical weedkillers and herbicides, however, has been linked to water and soil pollution and the deaths of insects, frogs, toads, birds, tree shrews and even companion animals such as dogs and cats. How, then, do we remove weeds without resorting to chemical weedkillers?  Here are some safer ways of removing weeds and preventing weeds from growing:
(1) Spread layers of wet newspaper on top of areas where you do not want weeds to grow. This prevents sunlight from reaching the soil and thus inhibits the growth of grass and weeds.  Old garbage bags, pieces of tarpaulin or old carpet and shower curtains work as well. However, this method can be rather unsightly, so you may wish to restrict this to the insides of flowerpots, borders and in the spaces between plants.
(2) After pulling out weeds, sprinkle normal table salt on the soil to stop weeds and grass from growing. Be careful not to salt the soil where other plants such as flowers grow, as you might end up inadvertently killing them. Salt also works well on edges of lawns, in cracks in the concrete or in the spaces in between tiles.
(3) Spray vinegar directly onto weeds to kill them. However, vinegar can kill other plants that it comes in contact with, so although it is eco-friendly and biodegradable, it takes a little forethought to manage an effective application. Applying vinegar onto weeds is best done on a sunny day without the risk of wind blowing the vinegar onto other plants or the rain to dilute or wash the vinegar away.
(4) Make a liquid soap spray to spray directly onto weeds. Mix 5 tablespoons of liquid soap (such as dishwashing liquid) in one quart (4 cups) of water in a spray bottle. Coat the weeds with the soapy water. Works best on hot days as well.
(5) A kettle of boiling water is usually enough to kill weeds, especially those growing in cracks in the concrete, but does not prevent weeds from growing in the same spot in future.

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