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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

An all-natural herbicide that will destroy weeds, not YOU

I'm coming to learn something about having your own home: it's a lot more work than I'd thought!  Maybe I should have paid more attention to Dad.  Well, at least there have been no rats and badgers and alligators so far (knocking on wood).

What there is however at this time of year are weeds.  Lots and lots of weeds.  Coming up through every crack in the driveway it seems.  And though my driveway isn't all that cracked up (compared to this domicile's proprietor) the renegade vegetation has proven to be a nuisance.  From the road it can look like the asphalt has been treated with Rogaine.  Or when Bugs Bunny rubbed plant growth tonic into Elmer's scalp during that scene in "Rabbit of Seville":

Weeds are something I can't remember Dad doing too much about with our driveway, since it was a gravel one on a dirt road.  But I don't know if he used Roundup.  There's been a lot of litigation about that product though and no small concern about it's effects on health of humans and our furry companions.  Consulting with friends confirmed it in my mind: do NOT use something made in a laboratory.  They're just too questionable.

So what's a guy to do?  Well, two possible answers were provided by said friends.  The first was to use a blowtorch, as is a common practice in Europe.  Couple problems with this though: my driveway would eat up a lot of propane in short order.  And there is still the lingering reputation I have as a pyromaniac back in the Cub Scout days.

A few other friends made another suggestion, practically identical every time.  It was an all-natural solution that was almost guaranteed to wipe out the weeds.  It sprays like a store-bought herbicide, affording lots of control.  It is also fairly fast-acting and thorough.

Here it is, what I've been using the past few weeks: a vinegar-based concoction that should give you some excellent results.  All you need is:
- two gallons of white vinegar.  I used 5%, which you can probably find in the cleaning section of a grocery store.  It's good for cleaning floors and also teeth-rotting finesse if you want to pickle those summer cucumbers with some extra bite.
- a nice-size bag of epsom salt.  A product which is said to be good for soaking feet and a superior laxative, but is NOT a good salt for seasoning a hamburger with (do not ask how I know this).
- a biodegradable dishwashing liquid.  I use Dawn, that classic standby.  But any biodegradable liquid for cleaning dishes should be adequate.
- a two-gallon garden sprayer, the kind with the pump and hose and nozzle that can direct the formula onto the detested vegetation.
Sprayer with driveway a few days after treatment
with vinegar/epsom salt solution
Very simple procedure.  And it's best if you wait for a good morning with clear skies, before the sun gets too high in the sky and the temperatures start climbing through the day.

Pour the vinegar into the sprayer.  Then drop in about two handfuls of the epsom salt.  Put the top on the sprayer and swirl it around good for a bit.  Then open the sprayer and pour in a few good squirt of the dishwashing liquid.  Close up the sprayer again and shake it up real good.  Then prime the sprayer's pump and aiming the nozzle in a safe direction (meaning away from grass you don't ordinarily want to decimate) get the juices flowing.  When it's set to go, start spraying the weeds wherever you find them.  A good liberal dose in all the spots should do the trick.

The mechanism is that the vinegar begins to kill the weeds outright.  The epsom salt also enhances the work of the vinegar but it mostly gets down in the the crevices and attacking the roots of the weeds.  Dishwashing liquid helps to keep the solution adhering to the leafs and stems of the weeds, which you want especially as the day progresses.

Results?  Starting at around 9 a.m. during the three times I've used the stuff so far, by noon there was already noticeable decay of the weeds.  By 6 p.m. the weeds' were structurally intact but obviously dead.  Solid rain a few days later washed away the deceased vegetation from the driveway.  It also worked wonders on the walkway up to my front door and those pesky spots on the back patio.  From the road it almost looks as if the driveway is a slab of solid unbroken asphalt.  It takes a focused look to really notice the cracks.  A few weeks later I used a third batch to clean up some persistent spots and had plenty enough solution to apply to the driveways of my neighbors.  Their driveways are now similarly absent of weeds (at least the parts most visible from the road).

There ya have it folks!  Something you can make on your own, with common ingredients found either in nature or that is completely safe to the environment, that will kill unwanted plants without endangering the health of your kids, your pets, or yourself.  True, you may have to apply it a few more times than a chemical formula, but it still works beautifully against weeds... and the peace of mind is well worth it.

Thanks to everyone who made this suggestion!


Eric James said...

Seems that you missed a spot. One small weed is still sticking out.

Chris Knight said...

Not anymore.

It's amazing what tweezers can do ;-)