You buy organic food. You opt for all-natural cleaning products. You favor herbal remedies over any kind of prescription meds. So it stands to reason that you’ll apply this same “keep it real” philosophy when it comes to your yard. You want to treat it like nature intended—i.e., without harsh chemicals.
But just how well do all of those easy-peasy, chemical-free lawn care strategies actually work? Let’s break down the myths you’ve heard—and talk about what’s true instead.
Myth No. 1: Boiling water kills weeds
Truth: “Pouring boiling water on leaves and stems of weeds and plants you don’t want is an effective way of killing them,” admits Ty Jones, president and owner of Deans Services, a lawn care and pest control business in Leesburg, FL. “But it’s not going to have any sort of long-term effect.”
Myth No. 2: Vinegar’s acidity wipes out weeds, too
Truth: The active ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid. But in order to actually kill weeds—not just make them smell like a vinaigrette—”you’d need a vinegar with a concentration so strong that it becomes hazardous,” Jones says.
Myth No. 3: Epsom salt gives you lush, green grass
Truth: Epsom salt does contains magnesium, so it can promote germination, uptake of nutrients, and general health. “But it’s more of a secondary nutrient,” Jones says.
In other words, it works best when it’s used with a commercial fertilizer product. (Which might defeat the purpose of using Epsom salt in the first place.)
Myth No. 4: Baking soda is a natural herbicide
Truth: Baking soda is a desiccant—meaning it sucks the water out of plant cells, drying them out and weakening them until they die.
“But baking soda won’t discriminate between your healthy grass and weeds, so be really careful if you’re using it on your lawn,” Jones warns.
Plus, like so many DIY methods, baking soda’s likely going to damage the surface of your weeds, but won’t penetrate the roots.
Myth No. 5: Soda or beer provides instant fertilizer
Truth: Carbonated water could have a positive impact on the health of your lawn. But proper watering from your hose or sprinkler will work just fine and be cheaper in the long run. And as for soda? It’s a flat-out no-no.
Myth No. 6: Pouring dish detergent on plants will kill insects
Truth: Most dish detergents contain phosphate, bleach, dyes, and fragrances—in other words, all the chemicals you’re trying to avoid to be truly “natural.”
Organic lawn care that actually works
If you’re set on organic yard care, then you’re going to have to work a little harder than pouring an IPA out in the grass. The good news, according to Jones: “It’s extremely possible to have an organic lawn care regimen that works effectively.”
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