Nothing makes a hard core green thumb madder than weeds in the lawn or garden. They're ugly. They compete for light, water, and nutrients. Sometimes they make you itch or sneeze! It's no wonder that Home Expo Mart has aisles and aisles of chemicals that you can use to kill those weeds before they take over your favorite green spot.

The problem with pesticides is that they don't stay where you put them. Every time it rains, the water runoff washes trace amounts of the chemicals away -- into the nearest creek. These pesticides add up in the water supplies downstream from you. And the green thumbs applying pesticides upstream from you... well, let's just say that here in the DC metro area, tapwater is safe to drink. But using alternative methods to kill the weeds in your lawn and garden is responsible behavior.

Here are a few tips for nontoxic alternatives to chemical pesticides that can help you have the lawn or garden of your dreams:

Tip #1: Corn Gluten Meal
If you have a well established lawn or perennial garden, you can prevent weeds from growing by with an application of corn gluten meal in early spring. Corn gluten meal is nontoxic and has no effect on plants that are already established. It does, however, prevent the proper root formation of weed seedlings that would otherwise germinate in the spring and try to take over your lawn. It is one tool that will help you do your part to protect nature.

Tip #2: White Vinegar
You've probably heard the saying "you catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar." Here's a little secret: Vinegar repels weeds, too. You can kill almost any plant by applying white vinegar, especially if they are in a sunny location.

Think of using vinegar where you might otherwise spot spray an herbicide. As with herbicides, vinegar may need to be applied more than once to get the job done. But be careful! Vinegar will not discriminate between the plants you want and the ones you don't.

However, you can save money by buying the least expensive, largest container of white vinegar you can find. This will be much less expensive than the typical cost of herbicides.

Tip #3: Use Landscaping Fabric
For planting beds, barrier methods such as landscaping fabric to keep weeds from growing are especially effective. Applying landscaping fabric around existing plants is easy and effective -- it blocks the light from reach the soil, preventing weeds from growing. Cut holes in the fabric before you place it over existing plants. The fabric blocks the light, but don't worry, it lets the water through.

Tip #4: Pull!
If you catch them early, most weeds are easy to pull. It's only after you neglect your garden for a bit that removing the weeds becomes a chore. Go out in the morning, when there is dew to moisten the soil and to make weed pulling easier. Similarly, pull weeds after a rainstorm. You will find that roots come out fairly easily when the soil is moist. You also might to invest in some simple weed pulling tools to help you effectively get roots out of the ground. Any good lawn and garden center will carry these. Foam pads for kneeling when you are weeding also make the task more comfortable.

In closing, many safe options exist when you are seeking to eradicate weeds from your landscape. Corn gluten meal is good for your lawn. Vinegar will get your weeds. Landscaping fabric prevents them from growing, and you can pull weeds when the soil is wet and it is easiest to do so. Enjoy responsible gardening so that your family and pets are not exposed to harmful herbicides.

So now you've dealt with your weeds. You've followed these tips. And now it's time to relax and enjoy the rewards! Next time your guests are over for that backyard cookout, enjoy the admiration they express over that lush green grass you've worked so hard to care for. Then, tell them about these extra steps you've taken to do your part for the environment and watch the look on their faces.


Author's Bio: 

Are you a green thumb in the Washington, DC or its suburbs? If so, check out the Metro DC Lawn and Garden Blog, your source for "green" news and tips in the area. This article was placed in this directory by the Water Words That Work, LLC, an environmental awareness and communication company.