Safe lawns: What weed killers are not toxic to pets

Pet-friendly ways to control your lawn, with weed killers that are not toxic to pets.

Several things in life can be depended on, most notably the proverbial death and taxes, but also the fact that weeds will somehow invade your garden and lawn to make your life miserable. There are seemingly hundreds of various chemicals and herbicides available on the shelf to eradicate these annoying plants, but many are quite toxic, especially to animals. So, what are you to do when you want to get rid of weeds, but also make sure your pets are safe? Believe it or not, there are options available to you.

If you’re the ambitious type, you might prefer to hand pull new weeds as they begin to emerge, but this is time-intensive and can put a strain on your back, plus, most people would rather spend their time tending their gardens, not just the weeds. There are some things you can do to prepare your garden to lessen the chance of weeds springing up and these include forcing the weeds to sprout before you plant. You can till the soil and then water as if you’d planted already, but when the weeds emerge, pull them out or lightly re-till the soil making sure not to dig too deeply or you could stimulate additional seeds. Repeat this if you have a lot of weeds. Then, once you’ve eradicated most of the weeds in your plot, go ahead and plant the desired seeds. Some weeds can have trouble sprouting if there isn’t enough sun, so planting the plants you want close together to provide shade might help in those instances.

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What weed killers are not toxic to pets

Mulching is probably one of the best ways to stop weeds from breaking the surface. Once you’ve cleared an area of weeds, place a few inches of mulch over the area. The mulch cover is excellent for your desired plants and is great for preventing those dreaded weeds from sprouting. There are even plants that give off biochemicals that can either prevent or enhance plant growth. Some plants that prevent weeds are rye, buckwheat and black mustard. You can also plant some vegetable plants together and they will stop weed growth. If you plant squash and corn together, their chemical emissions will help to suppress weeds near them.
One important thing to remember about herbicides is that they will usually kill all plants or similar plants as well, so a little prudence is required when applying chemicals. A broadleaf herbicide will kill all broadleaf plants. It can’t discern the difference between a weed and a daisy. There are some more natural mixtures to use if you want to avoid the harsh chemicals. A solution of corn gluten is an excellent weed killer. It’s known as WOW or WeedzSTOP and is made of the extract of protein from cornmeal. It prevents the germination of seeds if applied early in the spring and then later in the summer. Applying this carefully so as not to kill desired seeds should have good results while not harming children or animals. Another derivative from fruit and vegetables is a solution made from pedagogic acid, the fatty acid from grapes, apples and carrots. This mixture lowers the pH in the soil enough to kill broadleaf weeds like dandelion.

Some tests have been started on a vinegar solution (acetic acid) as a post-emergent herbicide. The more concentrated the acid, the more effective. The vinegar you buy at the store is about 5% acetic acid. The way it works is that the acid disrupts the membranes in the plant, causing it to die relatively fast. Up to 20% acetic acid has been shown to kill 80-100% of the weeds it was sprayed on. Using vinegar is a good way to kill weeds because, other than the smell (which will dissipate after a short time), it’s harmless to people and animals.

So, enjoy your summer knowing that you can protect your pets while keeping your garden weed-free.

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