DIY Weed Killer

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Children on grassIt is a jungle out there of both mini and grand proportions on my one-acre. Last summer, when lawn services pushed warning flags of caution into suburban lawns (alerting children and animals alike to STAY OFF!) I headed out to pluck and cuss. My fingers and thumb engaged in a weed tug-of-war; with me being determined to prove which of us species was the stronger. Knowing that if I plucked only its little weed-neck, spidery roots would return with a vengeance in a matter of weeks.

One season, I convinced myself the tiny green plants looked “quaint” growing between the bricks. I told myself I was going for the “cottage-y” look. When I returned from a vacation, my quaint brick décor was 23 inches high. Our home moved right past “cottage-y” and straight into “abandoned lot,” which I’m not sure the neighbors appreciated.

There must be a better, and better-for-you, option than the herbicides we had sprayed over previous years. Staring at my 100-foot long brick walkway, I tapped my flip-flopped toes. How…to… make this…fun?

Enter Home Eco-Momics Science Laboratory:

In a semi-controlled experiment, I played with my walkway:

  • I poured boiling water into the cracks of the first third of the walkway.
  • I sprinkled baking powder into the cracks of the second third.
  • On the last third, I used my neighbor Kevin’s DIY Weed Brew.

Observations were made, lessons learned, and photos taken.

  • The boiling water worked the quickest, but I had less control of its effects.
  • Baking soda took several days longer to kill the weeds, but was effective.
  • The weed cocktail, however, worked great, and the hotter the day the better for application. Sizzle.

While I profess simplicity, I do like concocting elixirs with household ingredients, so Kevin’s Weed Killer is now my preferred method.

Kevin’s DIY Weed Killer

½ gallon of white vinegar. The higher acetic level of vinegar the better. Household white vinegar is 5%, which worked fine for me, but a 9% or higher is preferable.

½ bottle lemon juice. I splurged on organic. Then rubbed some into my hair to encourage highlights while outside. Makes for a great crazy-scientist hair-do

½-cup castile soap. Castile soap is a vegetable-based soap. Dr. Bronner’s is a popular brand (which you can find at Target, Whole Foods, Vitacost, or Amazon). As you see pictured, I used Vermont Soap. Friends and I ordered together to share shipping. You can purchase castile soap in smaller quantities, but since I use it in a multitude of places—from refilling hand soap containers to household cleaning—I invest in a large container. Mix & voila!


  1. I recommend NOT creating this standing over the lawn. You REALLY don’t want to accidentally spill vinegar onto the pretty lawn. A pillow sized patch of dead grass will appear three days later. Too big to blame on the neighbor’s dog.
  2. Searching for the recipe next summer on Choose Wiser isn’t a bad thing, but to make it easier, write the recipe on your container.
  3. You can add salt into the mixture for an extra-strength potion. Salt isn’t good for bricks or places you will eventually add plants.
  4. I pour my concoction into a spray bottle and send responsible kids outside with a ready-aim-fire mission.
  5. If you don’t like my options and decide to surf for DIY weed killers, please do NOT use chlorine bleach. It maybe a DIY tip, but this is harmful to more than your weeds.
  6. I have heard, but haven’t tried yet, that this work on the roots of poison ivy as well. Especially first year vines. The older ones may need several seasons of application. Any one up for testing that theory out?

Do you like learning by adventure? Check out the Little Changes Book Trailer.