Is there an effective organic weed killer?

For those who like organic gardening it’s easy to post a question, provide advice or show off results. Here’s my contribution to starting a dialog.

Does anyone use an organic method of killing weeds besides pulling them out?

Corn Gluten meal, which I will apply in a week or two here…

One can use a large piece of old carpet and laid it on the garden area. Cut a 8 inches hole every 3 feet and plant peppers or tomatoes and you will have a weed free garden and less water usage.


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I have a flamer setup. Its a propane tank bungeed to an old hiking backpack and a very powerful torch. It does well on the first round of annual weeds in the spring when they first come up. Its not so good for perennial weeds or bigger weeds later in the year. I have to admit the best part of flaming is the satisfaction after a bad day of work of frying everything in sight! :imp: Watch carefully for fires, it can be dangerous.


I’ve seen vinegar recommended as a herbicide.

Personally, I’ve had excellent results w/ wood chip mulch smothering the weeds. The nice thing about this method is that it’s feasible on a large scale. About the only real menace of a weed it won’t control is bindweed, which will grow right up through it.


I just tried the vinagar. I’m no sure I used if I used enough. Time will tell. The other suggestions sound good also.

I’ve used mulch like Olpea with a few layers of newspaper underneath.

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Here is a factsheet I Googled about vinegar.


I try to lay down cardboard when planting new beds, does a good job. I do use roundup for pernicious spots, but not often.

A stirrup hoe can do quick work of a weedy area, definitely consider it if you have a larger area to weed.


I have one and yes it works very well.

There is a newer product out there called Scythe, it is not OMRI listed but supposed to be very benign/short lived and does work well to burn most weeds. Not sure if it is actually extracted from pelargoniums or a synthetic version. The application rate is really high and it is not cheap.

When weeds take over my flower beds…i grab thick cardboard (free) and dump wood chips over it to make it look nice…usually buys me a season until the worms eat the cardboard. /

I’ve never treated weeds in my grass because my grass is just weeds. Its tough to grow a nice lawn here unless you have a lot of shade or a good sprinkler system…soil is too sandy.

Yes, 10% acetic acid, otherwise known as pickling vinegar. Regular vinegar off the shelf is too dilute (5% acetic acid). You’ll need to apply it 2 or 3 times, as opposed to “once and done” with something like RoundUp, but it does work. 20% acetic acid is pretty strong, so wear gloves and glasses/goggles. I’ve used pickling vinegar to kill grass/weeds popping up in my driveway seams and in between my pavers with success.


Smother/dig/pull. Bermuda grass is forever though. :slight_smile:


For those of you that put down cardboard does it disrupt your watering regime?

No, its doesn’t disrupt watering; water just slowly breaks down the paper with the help of soil on top of it.

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The worm and soil critter activity under cardboard will blow you away. Put mulch on top and you’re building up living soil over time. Smothered weeds are good food for your soil herd.

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I should add that thinking organic is about thinking control and determining what you can live with. Killing weeds is always temporary because birds, the wind, etc, scatter more seeds.

A good smother control strategy is to plant things that will out compete and choke out weeds. Dichondra grass does a great job as a living mulch for me. Here’s a patch with some violas strewn in around my Pom tree area:

The dichondra grows on top of a thick layer of mulch. If a weed pops up in the thick living mulch it is very easy to pull as you pass by.

We didn’t have very good luck with vinegar, and an on-line recipe involving dish soap was worthless.

Heavy mulches either smother weeds completely or encourage things to grow close to the surface where they can be readily pulled. My wife faithfully does “dandelion patrol” throughout our yard and the neighbor’s to de-head dandelion blooms before they can set seed, and that helps a great deal. I like landscape fabric covered with rocks or pavers.

Patty, where do you buy 10% acetic acid?