13+ Best Glyphosate Alternatives (As Voted by the Gardening Community)
Over the recent past, there have been numerous concerns about the use of glyphosate popularly known as Roundup.
Issues regarding the health and environmental implication have been raised.
Therefore, begging questions on whether there are any alternatives.
Looking for a list of glyphosate alternatives that will help you to efficiently get rid of weeds in your garden? Then look no further.
I asked the /r/gardening community on Reddit to name their favourite free glyphosate alternatives.
I also asked on Quora.com as well as on Facebook.
And the response was INTERESTING.
I received a handful of suggestions, and even now as I compile this, some are still coming in.
I’ve also included a few of my own favorite alternatives along with suggestions from our audience.
Let’s get started!
1. Pasture Cropping
My favorite glyphosate alternative is something called “pasture cropping”.
It’s a way to grow grains in symbiosis with the perennial grasses of a native grassland.
So the idea is to not plow or spray herbicides of any type, and do “weed control” with a careful mowing/grazing and planting schedule.
It’s a bit more advanced scientifically than the current antiquated forms of industrial agriculture.
And it is a bit trickier to learn how to do it.
But the results speak for themselves. More productivity by far (producing both a grain crop and forage for livestock) and at the same time improving the soil rather than degrading it, all on minimal inputs!
It is even an AGW mitigation technique sequestering 5–20 tonnes CO2e / ha / yr into the long term carbon cycle! Read why pasture cropping is such a Big Deal.
2. Thick Cover Crop and a Roller-Crimper
My second favorite glyphosate alternative is a thick cover crop and a roller-crimper to make a thick weed suppressing mulch that weeds find difficult to germinate through.
Read more about how Roller-Crimper Helps Combat Herbicide Resistant Weeds
After crimping then the no till planter makes a pass
This way no herbicides at all can still produce weed free fields.
Often though many farmers will do both. They will grow a cover and use a roller crimper, but also spray glyphosate too.
They use less though and get better results than standard industrial methods. At least for a while as they gradually wean themselves from all pesticides and fertilizers.
In many cases it takes a few years to gradually convert to these more modern methods.
It shows that any farmer can start reducing their inputs and begin restoring the soil, with all the benefits that brings.
3. Using White Vinegar
If you find the “pulling out” method too effort-consuming, try killing taproot weeds via this one.
Pour some vinegar on the affected areas of your garden and you will be happy to see the weeds dead just a couple of days later.
Their roots can wither even if you use pickling liquid, but if you are determined to kill naturally the strong and long taproots of the invaders, vinegar is the perfect solution.
Make sure to use on a wind free day and you’re set.
4. Physically Pulling the Weeds
You do not have to be a professional gardener to know that not all weeds are equally easy to be pulled out of the ground.
In case you have to deal with darnels with taproots or dandelions for instance, you will have to put some efforts.
It will be wise of you to first water the soil around the weed or even wait for a heavy rain and pull the invader after that.
The water will soften the ground and will make the task easier for you. Keep some tools like screwdrivers or knives at hand and use them if you have to loosen the roots before pulling the weed.
5. Mechanical Weeding
For non-selective weed control this is your best alternative and which explains why the success of glyphosate:
6. Judicious Use of Glyphosate
*Some contributors still insisted on using glyphosate although in a judicious manner*
Below is such a contribution;
There are many alternatives herbicides - just that none are as effective or as cheap. Cheap not only in the product cost itself, but in the ease of application and longevity of the result.
I might spray glyphosate twice a year - with a backup of one spray of glyphosate.
On the other hand I might have to use a monthly spray (during the growing season) of a paraquat type chemical; or one application of an amitrol backed up with four or five paraquat applications.
Alternatively, depending on the weed profile, I might use one of the selective “grass” herbicides (twice a year), but that would also mean that I’d have to repeat the application with an herbicide specific to the broadleaf weeds.
Some of these latter chemicals are not compatible with some food crops and can damage them severely.
We used to do all these things - which was why when “Roundup” became available our farming became so much simpler.
Preventing the contact between the weed seeds and the soil is a very clever way to fight the invaders in advance.
Cover the ground with mulch (you can also try a few layers of newspapers) to keep the seeds away from sunlight and thus limit their chance to sprout.
Both newspapers and mulch are biodegradable, so they will also improve the soil’s quality while smothering the nasty weeds.
A weed barrier fabric has also been found to be most effective weed control product on the market today and, therefore, reduces the need for herbicides.
8. Use a Bleach
The bleach straight out of the bottle is very effective in killing grasses and other weeds.
Because bleach raises the pH level of the soil extremely high, it kills most vegetation and prevents it from growing in the near future.
Therefore, bleach is not your typical weed killer and it should never be used as a grass or weed killer on or near areas where you want other plants or grass to grow.
9. Use Elbow Grease
Good old elbow grease is the best weed control. Before perennial weeds get established, remove the roots with a hand fork.
This is great exercise and very effective.
10. Eat the Weeds
Having done some reading I learned that many weeds can be a nutritious addition to our cooking.
Why not make a delicacy out of them!
Salt is a great lawn maintenance product. Sprinkle carefully your garden paths and the edges of your lawn to make a barrier for the weeds.
Treat the areas which cannot be reached by the lawn mower with salt (both rock and table salt will work) to make the space barren and ease the battle with weeds for a certain period.
Many hobby gardeners prefer this method because it is neither difficult, nor expensive. You will only need a weed scorcher or a blow-torch which are widely available on the market.
It is not even necessary to set the unwanted greenery on fire, as this can actually be very dangerous sometimes.
If you simply run the hot flame over the weeds, they will wither and die after no more than a few days due to the lack of moisture.
13. Boiling Water
This idea is also a very simple and inexpensive way to dispose of all the greeneries that have occupied your beloved garden.
Use the water in which you have boiled vegetables or pasta to go even more eco-friendly and not waste nature’s resources.
Just pour the boiling water precisely onto the weeds. It will take no more than several days for even the strongest of them to shrivel.
Scalding water is the ultimate nature-friendly way to kill weeds, but you will have to watch out as it might cause severe skin burns.
It is a natural law that the stronger ones survive.
Apply this principle to your landscaping and design your garden in a way that will create natural competition between your plants and the weeds.
Make sure you pick flowers and herbs that will consume the resources like water, sunlight and nutrients faster than the invaders.
This way you will stimulate the natural extermination of weeds without having to do anything else to kill them.
The healthier and richer your garden is, the fewer weeds you will have to worry about.
Choose the method which is best for your situation and deal with the unwelcome weeds once and for all.
After you manage to exterminate them, take as much advantage of them as you can. Use the weeds to make compost for your garden or include the edible ones (yes, a lot of weeds are edible) in your salads and meals.
Chicory, dock or dandelions can substitute spinach in many recipes.
However, in case you cannot identify which weeds are edible and which are not, it will be better not to experiment.
Some sprouts may even be poisonous, so dispose of them safely in case you are not 100 % sure you can consume or utilize them in some other way.
I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to the discussion on online gardening communities for helping us to put this list together.
I learned about a few cool new glyphosate alternatives myself!
We aim to keep this list evergreen and regularly updated.
So if you feel we’ve missed any great glyphosate alternative when putting this list together, you can suggest them for inclusion in the comments.