Weeding is one of the most dreaded gardening tasks, especially if you’re manually pulling all of the unwanted growth in your landscape. Chemical weed killers can expedite the process, but many gardeners are concerned about their long-term health and environmental impacts.
For a non-toxic and more sustainable alternative, some people opt for organic herbicides. But what’s the difference between a regular weedkiller and an organic one? And what are the best organic herbicide options out there? Let’s break down the basics of weed management and see the most popular options on the market for organic gardening.
What you need to know about organic herbicides
The main ingredient in many commercial weedkillers is glyphosate. Because this ingredient has potential links to cancer, it has raised concerns for many gardeners, as it may not be safe for kids and pets playing in the yard, let alone for use in vegetable garden beds.
By contrast, organic herbicides mainly use natural ingredients and essential oils. Most organic herbicides for weeds break down quickly in hours. You cover your weeds in them, and they work by damaging and dehydrating the unwanted plant. They work best when you use them on dry days when rain can’t wash away the herbicide.
There are a few things to keep in mind when you buy organic herbicides, however. They tend to be pricier and require multiple applications. Many organic herbicides are also non-selective, meaning they kill anything that they come in contact with, so they work best in large areas of weeds. To check if a product is suitable for growing USDA-certified organic produce, visit the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) website.
We’ve identified the three best organic weed killers on the market that have been proven, time and time again, to kill weeds and protect plants and vegetables. These are our favorites for every need.
Best overall: Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed and Grass Killer
A top-selling and trusted organic product, Green Gobbler is the go-to weed killer for many organic gardeners. It’s made from ethanol distilled from corn grain. Free from harsh chemicals, it uses 20% acetic acid that is four times stronger than cooking vinegar.
We’ve seen it dry up weeds within 24 hours, including crabgrass, dandelions, clover weeds, moss, and more. Just be aware: it is non-selective, so spray close to the weeds that you want to remove, lest you accidentally kill one of your precious plants.
Best for vegetable garden: Preen Organic Weed Killer
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance solution to the weeds in your vegetable garden, Preen Organic Weed Killer has you covered. Simply sprinkle it over your garden once every four to six weeks, and crabgrass, dandelions and other common weeds will be banished instantly. We also take immense comfort in knowing this weed killer is safe for kids and pets as well; no need to erect a fence or prevent your little ones from playing in the yard.
Best value: Ortho Groundclear
Ortho Groundclear usually costs under $20 a gallon. It kills weeds and grasses effectively without glyphosate. It comes with an easy-to-use continuous spray and starts working 15 minutes after application. It’s suitable for hardscapes, landscape beds, and around vegetable gardens. Deweeding on an overcast day? It’s rainproof within two hours of application and drying.
For safe and effective weed elimination, consider adding organic herbicides to your garden supplies. With a little bit of work, your garden should be free of pesky weeds in no time, and you’ll be able to enjoy your garden knowing you haven’t put your plants, yourself, and the environment at risk.
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