Gardening

Homemade weed killer for the lawn

Every year there seems to one species of plant that thrives more than it usually does. I remember a few years back when sweet clover could be seen popping all over in places where it hardly grew at all before.

This year it is the low-growing lawn weed with the purple flowers called creeping charlie that’s making the rounds. It’s all over our area, even in farm fields. It’s so dense in many places that it forms a purple mat that’s easy to spot from quite a distance away.

There are chemical herbicides on the market that will control creeping charlie and other broad leaf lawn weeds. But what can you do if you are trying to avoid exposure to chemicals?

The easiest thing to do is just ignore it and accept that it is a part of your lawn’s ecosystem.

Another possible solution to try is a homemade borax-based  broad leaf  weed killer that uses 20 Mule Team Borax as its main ingredient. Researchers in Wisconsin discovered that borax used in the right concentration, killed broad leaf weeds while leaving the grass untouched.

You probably already have the active ingredient in your laundry area.

You probably already have the active ingredient in your laundry area.

The science behind this concept is the element boron. Boron is an essential micro-nutrient that all plants need. In too high of a concentration, it will kill a plant. Grasses are more tolerant of high levels of boron than are broad leaf weeds like creeping charlie. That means weeds will die of a boron overdose easier than grass.

The problem with this solution is the amount of borax needed to work varies with soil type. Certain soils neutralize boron more efficiently than others.

A good formula to start out with is 8 to 10 ounces of 2o Mule Team Borax to 2 1/2  gallons of water (the volume of a standard hand-held pump sprayer). It’s a little difficult to get it to dissolve so mix it in a pail first then fill your sprayer. Spray that amount over 1,000 square feet of lawn.

Sometimes the grass will start to turn brown but it eventually will out grow any damage. Like cleaning fabric, try it out in an inconspicuous spot before doing the entire area.

Consider the borax treatment an experiment.

Bob Dluzen

As a result of being a gardener for more than 40 years, 30 of those as a professional, Bob’s gardening has become an integral part of his life. “It’s the ever-changing seasons and the wide variety of plants and gardens that keeps me intrigued,” he says. Bob lives and gardens in rural Monroe County.