Do Organic Herbicides Work? - Weedtechnics

Do Organic Herbicides Work?

Jeremy Winer

Natural Weed Killers – Do Organic Herbicides Work?

We all dream of a flourishing garden, but pesky weeds can quickly turn that dream into a nightmare. Many gardeners turn to organic herbicides as a natural alternative to synthetic weed killers. But before you grab that bottle of vinegar, let’s delve into the world of organic herbicides and explore their effectiveness.

What is an Organic Herbicide?

Organic herbicides are natural products or man-made versions of natural products that kill plants. Unlike synthetic herbicides, they’re derived from organic sources like vinegar, clove oil, or corn gluten meal. However, the term “organic” doesn’t automatically translate to completely safe or environmentally friendly.

Pre-emergent vs Post-emergent Herbicides

Understanding the timing is crucial for successful weed control. There are two main types of organic herbicides:

  • Pre-emergent Herbicides: These target weed seeds as they germinate, preventing them from establishing themselves in your garden. Examples include corn gluten meal and certain essential oils.
  • Post-emergent Herbicides: These take aim at existing weeds, aiming to kill the plant itself. Vinegar, boiling water, and some concentrated essential oils fall under this category.

When is a Weed Dead?

Don’t be fooled by a wilting weed!  Just because a weed looks defeated after applying an organic herbicide doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gone for good.  Some weeds, particularly perennials, can recover from seemingly fatal injuries.  Be patient and monitor the treated area for regrowth.

Examples of Natural Weed Killers

Here are some commonly used organic herbicides:

  • Vinegar: A readily available option, but its effectiveness on established weeds is limited.
  • Boiling Water: Effective for killing small weeds on patios or driveways, but use caution around desirable plants.
  • Corn Gluten Meal: A pre-emergent option that works best on certain weed types when applied before weed seeds germinate.
  • Essential Oils: Oils like clove oil or citrus oil can be effective, but proper dilution and application techniques are crucial to avoid harming desired plants.

Important Note: Always research and follow specific application instructions for any organic herbicide you choose. Improper use can damage plants or be ineffective.myths about organic herbicides

Some Common Myths About Organic Herbicides

Let’s address some misconceptions surrounding organic herbicides:

  1. Organic Herbicides are Safer: While generally safer than synthetic options, some organic herbicides can be toxic. Always read labels carefully.
  2. Organic Herbicides Harm the Environment Less: Improper use can still harm the environment, so responsible application is key.
  3. Organic Herbicides are Extracted From Natural Products: Many are produced in factories like synthetic herbicides.
  4. Organic Herbicides Don’t Contaminate Groundwater: Improper use can lead to contamination, so follow application guidelines.
  5. Synthetic Herbicides Contaminate Soil: While possible, proper use of synthetic herbicides can minimize this risk. Remember, responsible application is crucial for any type of herbicide.

Do Natural Weed Killers Work?

Organic herbicides can be a helpful tool, but their effectiveness is often lower than synthetic options, especially for established weeds. Here’s where the limitations come in:

Natural Pre-emergent Herbicides:

These can be moderately effective in preventing weed seeds from germinating, but their success depends on factors like soil temperature, moisture, and weed type.

Natural Post-emergent Herbicides:

These can be less effective than synthetic options, often requiring repeated applications and potentially harming desirable plants if not used carefully.

Do Natural Weed Killers Work?

Here’s a closer look at some popular options:

  • Myths About Straw And Hay In The Garden: While mulching with straw or hay can suppress weeds to some extent, it’s not a complete solution. Weeds can still grow through or on top of the mulch.
  • Vinegar Weed Killer Myth: While vinegar can kill tender seedlings, it’s generally ineffective on established weeds.
  • Corn Gluten Meal – Does it Work For Weeds?: Corn gluten meal can be moderately effective in preventing certain weed seeds from germinating, but it requires consistent application and may not work for all types of weeds.

Remember:  Read labels carefully and follow application instructions for all organic herbicides.

The Bottom Line:

Organic herbicides can be a part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy for your garden. However, they often require more effort and repeated applications.


Changing Trade Logos and Labels Explained Certified Organic

PS:Australian Certified Organic (ACO) is a certification body that ensures the integrity of organic products in Australia. They certify farms and businesses that meet the Australian Certified Organic Standard, one of the most respected standards in the world . This standard prohibits the use of synthetic chemicals, fertilizers, and GMOs . To be ACO certified, a business must undergo regular audits to ensure they are complying with the standards . You can find more information about the ACO standard on the Australian Organic website .

In Australia, the term “organic” is not protected by law, so the only way to be sure a product is truly organic is to look for the ACO Certified Organic BUD logo. This logo signifies that the product has been certified to meet the rigorous Australian Certified Organic Standard .

About the Author : Jeremy Winer

Jeremy Winer has 30 years of practical experience in implementing integrated holistic approach to organic weed management across urban landscapes, recreational parklands and wetlands. He currently runs Weedtechnics specialising in providing chemical reduction and non-toxic weed control programs to municipalities across Australia. He has developed, patented, manufactured, and commercialised the Steamwand method of creating saturated steam for vegetation control.