Lucky for me my little balcony garden doesn’t seem to attract weeds (caterpillars and aphids on the other hand, they love it!), but I know many of you that have ground level gardens aren’t quite so lucky! So, I’ve done some research and today I thought I’d share my learnings on chemical free weeding so you can have a flourishing garden without having to rely on nasty chemicals.
The best part of some of these tips is not only will they reduce the chemicals you need to use on your garden but they will actually help reduce the number of weeds that show up in the first place, and that has to be a win! So here we go – chemical free weeding ahoy!
Mulch The Soil
Placing a layer of mulch around your plants creates a layer which blocks light and restricts the weeds from growing. Sugar cane mulch is an excellent option as it is unlikely to have any seeds in it that would result in more weeds showing up (which would really defeat the purpose!). The added bonus of mulching is when you lay it over wet soil it helps to retain moisture so it’s particularly useful in this warmer weather.
Use White Vinegar
White vinegar is lower strength than industrial vinegars you will get from hardware stores so is much safer to use around your plants. Just spray straight onto the weeds, particularly on sunny days as the vinegar will break down if it gets rained on. You may need to use it a few times to achieve the same results as you would with industrial vinegars, but it’s definitely a better option than dousing them with chemicals!
Pouring boiling water on weeds that have popped up along pathways or other similar surfaces is an effective way to knock out weeds, although it’s best for smaller patches. Rather than boiling water specifically for weed killing I’d recommend using water you’ve boiled for other purposes (pasta, eggs, that kinda thing) so you’re not using extra water and energy unnecessarily!
This is probably an obvious one, but relying on hand weeding is an excellent way to remove weeds, particularly to ensure you get to them before their root systems get too deep or they start releasing thousands of seeds into the soil and the air. If you moisten the soil first the weeds will come out easier too!
Use Physical Boundaries
Building physical boundaries like retaining walls or lawn edging can help keep weeds at bay by stopping their spread through your wider garden. You can go all out and build proper retaining walls or raised veggie gardens, or go a little more DIY and use wooden scraps like decking boards, whatever suits your needs!
If you’ve got the space then bringing some chooks into your backyard can help with weed control as they will happily eat them for you, leaving you with weed free soil with added natural fertiliser, plus eggs of course! It’s best to rotate them around your garden a few weeks at a time for some intensive grazing and then mulch the soil after you move the chickens on to make sure you don’t lose the nutrients and to keep the weeds away.