Natural DIY Weed Killer Spray

Reader Contribution by Kathy Shaw
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Path before spraying
Photo by Kathy Shaw

Path 24 hours after spraying
Photo by Kathy Shaw  

I’m one of those crazy people that actually likes to weed. I think it is soothing and find that I can really put my life into perspective and get a great attitude adjustment when weeding for an hour or two. It also helps get out aggression when you are angry or frustrated about something and have large weeds to yank!  With that said, I really can’t stand weeding paths. To my mind, paths were made to keep weeds in check and have a clear place to move about between plantings. Paths usually have much more compacted soil making weeding that much harder, so when the gravel, mulch or whatever material used for paths start sprouting weeds, I reach for my weed spray. 

This spray is great on small weeds ONLY and they should shrivel within 24-48 hours. Because it includes borax, DO NOT USE in gardens or wild areas as borax can stay in the soil and inhibit growth—which makes it perfect for use on paths and patios.  Any weeds that are larger than 2-3 inches tall should be pulled before applying as they may not die, just be weakened.

DIY Weed Killer Spray

  • 2 cups borax
  • 4 cups water
  • 1.5-2 gallons white vinegar

Directions:

1. Gently boil the borax and water until the borax dissolves completely.  (If this step isn’t done, it can clog your sprayer.)

2. Meanwhile, pour the first gallon of vinegar into a two gallon sprayer tank. The sprayer should be placed in a spot where it won’t hurt the area if the borax splashes, as it will leave a white crystalline residue that can be hard to remove from some surfaces.

3. Once the borax water is ready, pour it into the sprayer.

4. You do not have to wait for the water to cool.

5. Top off the sprayer tank with as much of the second gallon of vinegar as it will hold and start spraying.

Patio before spraying
Photo by Kathy Shaw

 

Patio 24 hours after spraying
Photo by Kathy Shaw 

Tips for Success with Homemade Weed Sprays

  • Timing is everything. The smaller the weeds, the better it works.
  • Time it for a dry part of the week, preferably two days after a rain and/or a day or two before the next rain event.
  • Spray on a day that the sun is shining, the hotter the day the better.
  • When spraying bricks, spray all the cracks early in the season which may help prevent weeds later on. I typically spray our brick patio completely when the chickweed emerges and perhaps once a month or less after that, dependent on any newly emerging weeds.
  • Any leftover borax-vinegar mixture should be removed from the sprayer and be stored separately in a glass or plastic container (empty vinegar jug?) so it doesn’t clog the nozzle or tubes in the sprayer while in storage. Be sure to label the container. The borax can leave a crystalline residue and the vinegar can sometimes start to form a mother, a viscous cloudy substance that will clog the sprayer if left in the sprayer tank.
  • Be sure to clean the sprayer after use, especially the nozzle. As my husband advises:  rinse everything three times.
  • I never have any leftovers. Once the brick patio and gravel paths are sprayed, I will spray the driveway cracks until the mixture is used up.
  • As another reminder, do not use in areas where you want plants. An easier method for small weeds in these areas would be straight vinegar with a little dish soap as the vinegar will kill whatever it touches.
  • If there are reseeding plants in your gardens nearby, be sure to keep them deadheaded to avoid additional spraying in the future.

The brick patio pictures below represent before and two hours after in full sun where you can see those dang weeds withering away already.  One weed was left as a “control”. I think that when paths are weed-free, guests won’t notice weeds in your garden as much as they will be framed so well. 

Patio before spraying
Photo by Kathy Shaw

Patio 2 hours after spraying
Photo by Kathy Shaw


Kathy Shawhas gardened for more than 30 years, including as a test gardener for Organic Gardening magazine. She and her husband, Pat, are Master Gardeners and owners of Kathy’s Island Botanicals, where they make and sell natural bath products. They live in an earth-sheltered home on 35 acres in central Wisconsin. Read all of Kathy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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