So many of us aspire to have it all. The manicured lawn, pruned shrubs; and a backyard that is both gracious and welcoming to invite friends, and family into. And then reality hits. There are weeds growing everywhere! There is crabgrass growing in the cracks where the driveway meets the walkway and huge dandelions taking up space under all the shrubs. The backyard has been overrun with weeds you don’t even know the name of and sometimes it feels like there are more weeds than grass. You know that using harsh chemicals on your lawn is dangerous to not only the soil and the water supply, but your family as well.There are solutions to the weed issues, some are time intensive and several can be made at home.

Hand weeding
This takes time and continued effort, but is the most environmentally-friendly weed control method. All you need is a mat to kneel on and a small shovel or weed fork for getting at the roots of deeply rooted weeds. Weeds will diminish if you can get rid of the weeds before they bloom and seed. Dandelions can scatter hundreds of seeds if allowed to seed. (If you have children you can turn it into a contest to see who can make the biggest weed pile. If you choose the hand weeding route, try to do it the day after it rains. It may be a bit muddier, but you will have an easier time freeing the roots.

Boiling water
Yes, mere boiling water can take care of the crabgrass on your sidewalks and driveway or paths. It must be targeted to what you want to kill, as pouring boiling water on your healthy plants will damage them.

Vinegar
This can be useful for some weeds without deep roots. The acetic acid in the vinegar will disrupt the weed’s cells. Most household vinegar is 5% acetic acid, and concentrations of up to 20% can be found at home improvement stores or garden centers. Use a spray bottle to target weeds, and repeat as needed.

Dish Soap, Vinegar and Salt:
An effective combination is one gallon of vinegar, a cup of salt, and a tablespoon or so of dish soap.While the vinegar affects the plant cells, the salt dries up the tissue and the dish soap allows the liquid to stick to the weed.Use only on warm, sunny days as you don’t want the solution to enter your ground soil.Use a spray bottle and focus on clumps of weeds as the salt can be damaging. Commercial or store bought weed killers may work faster, but with continued effort you can achieve the yard you want for your family without chemicals seeping into your soil.