Five Eco-Friendly Solutions for Your Apartment Weed Control Woes
A weed left unchecked is a terrible thing to behold. Towering over your delicate turf, crusted with spiky leaves and stickers, weeds can certainly add an ugly blot on an otherwise perfect landscape and make for a real apartment home improvement headache.
While you could zap it with chemical herbicides, they come with many of their own unsightly problems. Namely, they’re often toxic to humans, fish, and other wildlife—and runoff can carry the remnants into nearby rivers and streams. In fact, some sources say that chemical pesticides and herbicides are on par with commercial agriculture when it comes to pollution and waterway destruction, dumping an unprecedented 90 million pounds of toxic chemicals into freshwater supplies every year.
That’s the bad news. The good news? It is possible to curb crusading crabgrass and determined dandelions without dumping a ton of toxins onto your lawn.
Read on for five greener apartment weed control tips:
1. Get the right grass for your climate
There’s a reason they call it Kentucky bluegrass—and not, you know, California bluegrass. Although poa pratensis actually isn’t native to The Bluegrass State, it’s still well acclimated to the climate (Californians, try zoysia or St. Augustine grass). Sowing a species that’s suitable for your region will help you avoid ugly bare spots, for one, but it will also help your grass establish itself so it can fight off weeds and invading species. In general, tall fescue makes a great choice for the very Northeasternmost states, while zoysia works well for zone two. Zone three, go for St. Augustine grass or centipede grass—zone four, Bermuda or tall fescue. If you hail from zone five, though, opt for strong, sturdy buffalo grass, or if you’re up in the Northwest, a sprinkling of Kentucky bluegrass is your best bet. Stick with these recommendations and you’ll give your lawn a fighting chance against weeds—and use less water irrigating it, too!
2. Use epsom salts as an all-natural fertilizer
As you just read above, a healthy lawn is your best shot against interloping weeds, but chemical runoff from conventional fertilizers are hugely destructive to marine life. Perhaps most damagingly, they fill local waterways with algae-encouraging nutrients, which clogs streams and rivers. Then, when the algae dies off, the decomposing blossoms suck the oxygen supply dry, poisoning fish and other animals and creating polluted dead zones. That’s a huge price to pay just for some greener grass, especially when you could be helping your lawn with all-natural epsom salts. In contrast to commercial fertilizers, epsom salts dissolve easily into your lawn, and add necessary magnesium to up soil pH and balance out excess calcium and potassium. Just add two tablespoons to every gallon of water you use on your grass—nothing could be simpler or safer!
3. Eviscerate weeds with a liberal corn gluten application
Dandelions and crabgrass: the twin enemies of backyard perfection. But with a little early prep, you can create a space that these rogue plants find intolerable, all with a little natural corn gluten. In early spring, just before the forsythia blossoms, dust your lawn with organic corn gluten meal. The gluten works in two ways: not only does it prevent crabgrass and dandelion seeds from germinating, it also feeds hungry lawns nitrogen when they need it most. Of course, it must be done in at the right time if you want to battle weeds in apartment landscapes, so make sure to get the timing right!
4. Zap wayfaring weeds with white vinegar and water
Oops! You waited too long to do the corn gluten thing and now you’re really in the weeds. Don’t panic. You can still hit existing weeds hard with a mixture of organic white vinegar and water. In fact, for a really potent spray, stir a gallon of vinegar together with a cup of table salt and a tablespoon of dish soap. Mix it together well, then pour it all in a spray bottle and take aim at your targets. Spray carefully to avoid disturbing the grass around the weed, and try to get out on a sunny day, when the vinegar will dry out before it can drip on neighboring blades of grass. Get out with this concoction once every few weeks, and the weeds will soon get the message.
5. If all else fails, dig it out
This probably isn’t what you want to hear, but sometimes the best herbicide you can get is a little elbow grease and some time with a spade. Particularly virulent specimens of weeds, like blackberry brambles, can return unless their root structure is totally removed and destroyed. In fact, if the weeds are really bad, your best bet may be to dig it all out and resod. That’s where a little maintenance can really pay off in the long run. It may be a little more time-consuming to manage weed the all-natural way, but trust me, if your local fish could say thank you, they’d be down on their knees expressing their gratitude for your concern for the local environment.