Thursday, April 24, 2008

Frugal Friday -- Weed killer

Nine years ago we moved into our wonderful home on the campus of the school where we work.

Off of the great room, where the boys spend most of their non-school waking hours, we have a beautiful brick patio. The boys play basketball out there most afternoons, the little ones like to ride their bikes around on it (when a b-ball game is not in progress, hopefully), and it provides a great place for our fire pit when we roast marshmallows on summer evenings.

As wonderful as this patio may be, it also brings plenty of frustration during the summer months. In between each crack of each brick weeds, moss, and ground cover plants defame the beautiful brick patio. So, I weeded, and weeded, and the kids weeded, and weeded. One year we bought Round Up. After spending a small fortune and three hours of work we were weedless for a few months.

Last year I figured there had to be a better way. I started thinking about natural options, safer for my kids and dog, and better for the environment. For some reason I thought of salt. I thought about how the ocean water kills land plants, and how in long ago history they would salt the fields of their agrarian enemies to cripple their crop production.

So, I tried it. I pulled out the canister of table salt and sprinkled it liberally around the patio shortly before a rain, used most of the canister. A couple days later the weeds were brown and brittle. I swept my patio, and didn’t see another weed for a month and a half! This time, in the midst of a dry spell, I filled a spray bottle with strong salt water and sprayed the porch down. Same effect – dead weeds and no new ones for the remainder of the growing season. So, lots of salt, with a little moisture in some form or another (even a heavy morning dew has been enough) to move the salt into the cracks, and those weeds are history!

I would much rather pay a buck or two for a canister of salt than $35 for strong chemicals that barely do twice as good a job.

You do have to be careful to not allow too much run off onto plants that you want to keep (we haven’t had a problem with this, but it could potentially be an issue), but anywhere that you don’t want anything to grow, salt is an inexpensive, all-natural weed killer.

For more Frugal Friday tips, head over to Crystal’s blog!


FishMama said...

This is a great idea - as long as you're using it where you don't plan on growing anything. Just a caution for those who might try it. Salt can damage the soil (the pH I think), making it difficult to sprout something. Obviously, on the patio is a great use for this. But, you might not want to do it in your flower bed.

Salt is also great for a slug/snail barrier.

5intow said...

Thanks, fishmama, for reinforcing that. I mentioned it, but it does bear repeating, salt is for where you don't want anything to grow.

Thanks for stopping by!

Niki said...

i had no idea..thanks!


Erin Edwards said...

What a wonderful idea!!! I am going to try it in my gravel driveway! Thank you!

The Q Family said...

This is such a neat idea. Do you have anything that can kill weed from the lawn? Obviously, salt won't work there since I still want the grass to grow in that area.

Amy @ The Q Family

5intow said...


I wish I had a good answer for natural lawn management, but the only advice out there is pull the dandelions and just let the clover grow.

One interesting tidbit I found on this site:

is that weeds grow to balance out soil. Dandelions crop up when calcium is low. Unfortunately, no cheap remedy, and I don't think I am about to start buying supplements for my lawn, I spend enough on them for my family!

Anyone else have frugal, natural weed killer for lawns or gardens?


The Q Family said...


I agree. Manicure lawn is not my top priority. :) My kids love dandelion and clover anyway. I will have them unless I get a warning from my HOA. :)


Sarah Corbin said...

Wow - thanks for a fantastic tip, and one I'd never heard before! Those $0.33 cans of salt from WalMart are getting a workout from me this summer! Thanks so much.

Liisa said...

Thank you so much for posting this! We have tried everything on our gravel driveway including the very expensive weed killers and nothing has worked. We will be giving this a try!