How to kill weeds naturally — 7 totally organic ways to remove unwanted plants

The chemicals in the weed killer can also make its way into the soil
The chemicals in the weed killer can make their way into the soil (Image credit: Getty Images)

Knowing how to kill weeds naturally is important because many weed killing products contain harsh chemicals that can be harmful.

The chemicals in the weed killer can also make their way into the soil. When it rains, the chemicals can be washed away and could make their way into surrounding areas or could even end up in rivers or lakes, polluting the water.

Research published last year also suggests that a common herbicide may be playing a role in rising rates of inflammatory bowel disease in humans. The study, published in Nature, suggests that propyzamide, commonly used in agriculture to kill weeds, may increase inflammation in the large and small intestines. So while it's always handy to sometimes be able to use these products, it does make sense to try to cut back as much as possible and look for greener alternatives when dreaming up garden landscaping ideas.

Read on for the best ways to get rid of weeds in your garden naturally.

How to kill weeds naturally 

Organic gardening emits fewer emissions, uses less energy, and may improve biodiversity. Gardening expert Calum Maddock at HomeHow.co.uk, outlines six  ways you can tackle weeds without resorting to polluting products

1) Pull the weeds out

If you just have a few weeds here and there, you may be able to get rid of all of the weeds by hand. Removing the root is the most important thing to remember when pulling up weeds.

Pull carefully at the base of the weed to make sure it is pulled out completely. If you are pulling up nettles or a weed you do not recognise, always wear gloves when doing so. If you struggle to pull the roots up with just your hands, consider investing in a weed pulling tool like this inexpensive manual dandelion weeder from Amazon or this mechanical weed tool by Fiskar, also from Amazon. These can be especially useful when you have a lot of weeds to remove. 

Once pulled up, make sure you don't compost any perennial weeds as this can potentially spread more around your garden. 

You can see how effective weed pulling tools can be in our article where Garden Ninja explains why you should get rid of perennial weeds before scarifying.

2) Use lemons

Simply cut a lemon in half and then squeeze the juice over the weed. The citric acid in the lemon should kill the weed within a few days. This method is especially effective when there is strong sun shining on the weeds. The lemon juice can be used as it is, there is no need to dilute it.

Alternatively, you can get some powdered citric acid, like this bucket of citric acid from Amazon, and mix this with water in a spray bottle. Then, simply spray the weeds with the solution. 

3) Use salt

Salt can be quite effective at killing weeds. Sprinkle some salt liberally over the weed and leave it there. This should kill off the weed within a few days. Salt is also great for deterring insects and slugs. Be careful not to sprinkle the salt on the surrounding grass or plants as this could kill them off too.

You can buy 25KG bags of salt for this purpose here on Amazon.

4) Use eco-friendly weed killers

There are now many eco-friendly weed killers available to buy like this natural weed killer by Roundup from B&Q. These solutions usually come in a spray bottle. Simply spray the solution directly onto the weed and leave it to do its thing. These eco-friendly weed killers will usually kill off the weeds within a few days. 

5) Reach for the vodka

This method works best for weeds that get a lot of sunlight. Create a mixture of 1 part vodka and 2 parts water. Then, add a couple of drops of liquid dish soap to the solution. Spray the solution directly onto the weed and this will dry the weed out and kill it off. Again, avoid the lawn and plants.

6) Mulching 

While this won't technically kill weeds, mulching can be an effective prevention technique for weeds in your garden. This is the process of adding a material such as wood chippings over your soil.

Mulching around established plants will suppress new weed growth as well as helping your soil retain moisture in hot weather You can read more on 'what is mulching' in our piece on the topic.

7) Boiling water

And lastly, you can try simply boiling water in the kettle and pouring it on the weed. This will cause the weed to burn and die.It's worth checking out how much electricity does a kettle use if you plan to use this method regularly.

What are common pitfalls of killing weeds naturally? 

Some of the natural methods listed above may not work as well as chemical weed killers. In many cases, you will need to repeat the process several times before the weeds are eradicated completely.

Some of the methods listed above may also affect the surrounding plants and grass, so you need to be careful during the process.

For example, salt or boiling water could kill surrounding plants and grass, so it’s important that you only get the weed and not anything around it. 

And if you are looking for solutions for how to remove weeds from gravel or how to get rid of bindweed be sure to check out our guides on these too.

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.