Weeds. The bane of every gardener's reality. Unwanted weeds don't care if you just cleaned up your garden, don't have time to tend things or if the weather isn't cooperating with you. Seemingly overnight, your once weed-free flower beds are taken over. However, before you reach for traditional chemical herbicides containing toxic chemicals to eradicate the growth, consider some safer, eco-friendly options. Organic weed killers control numerous types of weed—minus the harsh chemicals. They are safer for your pets, children, beneficial pollinators and the environment.
Many traditional fast-acting chemical weed killers contain the herbicide glyphosate, which is known to be toxic to pets, aquatic inhabitants, beneficial pollinators like bees and butterflies, as well as humans if not used correctly. Although organic herbicides are glyphosate-free and considered more natural weed killers, it's still important to follow instructions for their safe use. They can still kill desirable plants if accidentally treated with the product, but overall, they are safer for your pets, children and the environment.
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We've outlined important considerations when selecting the best organic weed killer for weed control whether for vegetable gardens, lawns, flower beds or use on driveways. We've also given our review on some of the best organic herbicides that don't contain harsh chemicals but will still keep weeds at bay.
What to Consider When Purchasing Organic Weed Killers
Pre-Emergent Herbicides vs. Post-Emergent Herbicides: Just like traditional chemical weed killers, there are two types of organic weed killers. Pre-emergent herbicides kill weeds before sprouting occurs. You apply the product to the ground and it prevents weed seeds from germinating, as well as any desirable seeds you've planted. On the other hand, post-emergent herbicides control weeds after they've germinated and grown. They will also kill your desirable plants if you accidentally get the herbicide on them.
Selective Weed Killer vs. Non-Selective Herbicide: Selective weed killers only target specific types of weeds. For example, a selective weed killer might only focus on killing unwanted weeds like broadleaf weeds, crabgrass, thistle or dandelions. When it comes to lawn care, most herbicides for use on turfgrass are selective. They only kill the selected weeds stated on the label, leaving the turfgrass unharmed. However, most natural weed killers are non-selective.
Non-selective herbicides are most common when it comes to natural weed killer products. These types of herbicides kill anything the products get on and will destroy desirable plants in your flower gardens, as well as kill unwanted weeds. Use caution when using non-selective herbicides in your garden and be sure to apply the weed killer only on the plants you are trying to kill. For the best results, don't apply if rain is in the forecast and if outdoor conditions are windy, as the herbicide can drift to your desirables.
Organic Herbicide Ingredients: It's always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the ingredients contained in any organic herbicide and instructions for its use. Some of the natural ingredients found in organic weed killers include acetic acid (the main component in vinegar), salt, essential oils like clove oil and soap, which is used as a sticker to assist the herbicide in sticking to the weed and not run off. Other natural ingredients include D-limonene, which is derived from citrus, citric acid and a derivative of coconut oil called caprylic acid.
Additionally, the household vinegar you use for cooking isn't as strong as horticultural vinegar, so it might not kill your unwanted weeds or offer the same weed control as a stronger solution. It might affect the green leafy growth above the soil line, but the roots will remain alive. You also should use caution when using a product containing a large amount of salt. Salt will kill everything, and if used regularly, can negatively affect the soil and anything you try to grow in the area, taking years to leach out. Organic herbicides containing large amounts of salt are best used on hardscape areas like driveways and kept out of your vegetable and flower gardens.
The Best Overall Organic Weed Killer
Doctor Kirchner Natural Weed & Grass Killer
If you like the idea of supporting a small business that manufactures an organic weed killer that works and has high reviews of satisfaction, then you can't go wrong with Doctor Kirchner's Natural Weed & Grass Killer. The mix contains 4% sodium chloride and 96% seawater, vinegar and a small amount of soap used as a sticker. The organic herbicide doesn't contain any type of toxic chemicals that will disrupt hormones and it's safe to replant in the treated area after 24 hours.
Use caution when applying around desirable plants, as the organic herbicide is non-selective. However, when plants are saturated in the herbicide, it will kill weeds as well as unwanted grasses—so it shouldn't be applied to your turfgrass. You can say goodbye to unwanted weeds like crabgrass and dandelions, however. Plus, it's fast-acting, showing results 24 hours after use. It comes in a 1-gallon bottle, so you'll need to transfer the product into a spray bottle or pump up sprayer. No worries when it comes to the kids and pets, however, because both can play in the treated area as soon as the herbicide dries.
The Best Value Organic Weed Killer
Natural Armor 30-Percent Home & Garden Vinegar
If you're looking to keep a couple of dollars in your pocket but want an organic herbicide that still gets the job done, then Natural Armor's 30% vinegar herbicide is the one. The natural herbicide contains no toxic chemicals and only contains a straight solution of 30% industrial strength vinegar, which is six times stronger than household vinegar. It's a non-selective herbicide, meaning it will kill anything sprayed with the solution.
Best of all, no mixing is required and the 1-gallon bottle comes with an attached sprayer, so it's ready to use when the need calls. You'll get the best results spraying the unwanted weeds or grasses on a dry and warm sunny day. You can also use the organic herbicide for other DIY household cleaning chores, so it's not only budget-friendly but also has a wealth of other uses outside of your garden. It's safe for use around children and pets.
The Best Fast-Acting Organic Weed Killer
Natural Elements Natural Herbicide and Weed Killer
If you're searching for a fast-acting organic herbicide for weed control that won't have you waiting days to see results, then the natural herbicide by Natural Elements can answer your call. The product states you can typically see results an hour after its use and it kills weeds completely in 24 hours. Its main ingredients are a mix of commercial-grade vinegar, salt water and soap, which are safe to use around children and pets.
You can use the organic herbicide in organic gardening, vegetable gardens, flower gardens, hardscape areas, as well as garden areas with mulch. It takes care of most broadleaf weeds and unwanted grasses. However, it will kill your turfgrass, so be careful when using it around the lawn. You'll see the best results when used on a warm and sunny day and by saturating the targeted weed. The weed killer comes in a 1-gallon container and no mixing is required, as it's ready to use.
The Best Pet-Safe Organic Weed Killer
Just For Pets Weed Killer
The last thing anyone wants is to poison their pets or make them sick by spraying toxic chemicals in the yard. Just For Pets organic herbicide is formulated to be safe for pets and children to play in the treated area as soon as the product dries, which doesn't take long. The natural herbicide doesn't contain any harsh chemicals and is glyphosate-free. Its ingredients include vinegar, citric acid, salt, water, clove oil, lemon juice and glycerine and it comes in a ready-to-use gallon container with an attached sprayer.
The non-selective formula kills a wealth of different unwanted weeds and grasses and is safe to use in all your garden areas, as well as driveways and patios. For the best results, use it on a warm, sunny day. You should start seeing results in as little as an hour, and the product completely kills weeds in 24 hours.
The Best Pre-Emergent Organic Weed Killer for Lawns
Bonide Corn Gluten Weed Preventer
When it comes to lawn care, it can be difficult to find a pre-emergent herbicide safe to use on turfgrass that won't only kill the weeds but your lawn, too. Bonide's weed preventer is made from the natural ingredient of corn gluten and although it won't kill existing weeds in your lawn and gardens, it will prevent weed seeds from germinating and kill them before they can grow. The organic herbicide kills both annual and perennial weeds, as well as broadleaf weeds.
It's safe to use in all your garden beds as well as the lawn and is safe for both pets and children. When used as directed, the weed preventer won't harm any of your desirable plants. The solution comes in a ready-to-use 1-quart spray bottle that you attach to the end of your hose and it treats 1,000 square feet. Although it won't kill weeds already infesting your lawn, you won't have to worry about new ones sprouting and taking root.