Over the recent past, there have been numerous concerns about the use of Roundup and whether there are any glyphosate alternatives.
But the real concerns began back in 2015 when the World Health Organization’s cancer agency IARC declared that glyphosate was a probable human carcinogen.
Since then there have been many lawsuits against Monsanto.
Therefore, begging questions on whether there are any alternatives to Monsanto's roundup.
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 took this question to both online and offline forums to find out answers.
I asked the /r/gardening community on Reddit to name their favorite free or cheaper roundup alternatives.
I also asked on Quora.com as well as on Facebook groups.
And the responses were INTERESTING.
I received a flood of suggestions, and even now as I compile this, some are still coming in (which I'll keep updating for freshness and accuracy).
I’ve also included a few of my own favorite alternatives along with suggestions from our audience.
Let’s get started!
19 Best Glyphosate Alternatives on a Budget
1. BioSafe Weed Control Concentrate
BioSafe Weed Control is an organic herbicidal soap providing a burn down of annual and perennial broadleaf weeds and grasses within hours of application.
The perfect choice for both avid and new gardeners, this herbicide is easy to use with visible results; it will start to work immediately, destroying the cells of the unwanted plant within hours.
As a non-volatile and water-soluble herbicide, BioSafe Weed Control is not harmful to people, pets or the environment.
Use on areas where unwanted weeds and grasses are present.
Spray on patios, walkways, and along edgings. When treating in gardens, do not spray desirable plants. Great for vegetable garden paths too.
Spray on a variety of weeds and grasses such as Bittercress, Chickweed, Liverwort, Mustards, Pigweed, Moneywort, Spurge, Velvet Leaf, Bentgrass, Bluegrass, Crabgrass, Nimblewill, Ryegrass, Bermudagrass, Dandelion, and Ragweed.
Apply when weeds are dry from dew or rainwater.
Results are faster in warmer weather, however, BioSafe Weed Control is effective at all temperatures.
Works on contact, so for the best weed control, thoroughly and uniformly cover undesirable plants.
Check out the list of the best weed killers for gardens, lawns or flowerbeds.
2. Weed Slayer - Organic Herbicide
Up until now, most of the safe roundup alternatives have not been systemic. Meaning taproots remain untouched.
When taproots are untouched, chances of the weeds reviving themselves increases up to 75%.
However, this organic weed slayer works a little different.
Developed by Agro Research International, this herbicide is certified organic and provides safe yet effective control of hard to kill grasses and weeds.
It is a unique two-part broad spectrum organic herbicide with one part being made from Eugenol, a plant-based essential oil of clove and the second part a unique proprietary bio surfactant that helps translocate the herbicide material through the plant.
As a rule of thumb, for any herbicide to be considered effective, it must:
- Adequately contact the weeds
- Be absorbed by weeds
- Move within the weed plants to the site of action without being deactivated
- Reach toxic levels at the site of action
All which are common characteristics of the organic weed slayer with an added advantage of environmental friendliness.
Finally, gardeners have got a safe and effective organic alternative to Roundup.
3. Doctor Kirchner Natural Weed Killer
This natural weed killer provides a safer alternative to harmful herbicides - for those that want to kill the weeds and still care for the environment and the health of those around them.
The formulation works fast and requires no mixing or safety gear – so anyone can spray weeds without the health concerns of harmful chemicals.
Natural Weed Killer is a people & pet friendly, ready to spray, non-selective vinegar and ocean water solution.
This stuff kills weeds down to the roots and is completely pesticide free!
4. Using White Vinegar
Vinegar is a versatile substance and can be used to replace many commercial home and garden chemicals - glyphosate being one of them. Vinegar is a safer and cheaper alternative to roundup and other harmful chemicals.
To help get rid of notorious weeds, I'd confidently recommend 30% Vinegar Concentrate which is effective, yet non-toxic.
However, you should dilute it to about 15% before using a pump sprayer to target the unwanted weeds.
Spray 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!
5. Red Dragon Weed Torch
Weed dragon garden torch kit helps eliminate the risk of chemical residue and run-off, making your lawn and garden safe for your family and pets.
Designed for home owners or landscapers who don't need the power of a farm torch, this handy tool helps keep your lawn and garden weed free and reduces the need for mowing or chemical use in hard-to-reach places.
In fact, the 23-inch handle length and 10-foot gas hose make it a snap to reach every corner of your yard or garden so you can aim precisely and get optimum coverage exactly where you need it.
Just make sure not to use it on already dry weeds.
6. Pasture Cropping
One of my favorite glyphosate alternatives is something called “pasture cropping”.
It’s a way to grow grains in symbiosis with the perennial grasses of a native grassland.
This is one of the best alternatives to herbicides in Agriculture and generally gardening.
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!
7. Weed Pharm Organic Herbicide
Weed Pharm Organic is a horticultural Bio-Pesticide for non-selective control of herbaceous weeds and grasses which surround food crops or non food crops.
Typical weeds controlled by this organic herbicide include; moss, liverwort, crabgrass, ryegrass, bluegrass, Canada thistle, pigweed, nightshades, , quack grass, ragweed, chickweed, ground ivy, broadleaf weeds and more.
Best results are achieved from applications made if full sunlight in temperatures above 60 degrees to actively growing young weeds.
More dense weeds should be cut to 4 Inch, cuttings removed and remainder sprayed.
8. Thick Cover Crop and a Roller-Crimper
The other 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 roundup or natria 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 it brings.
Thick cover crop technique is one of the oldest glyphosate alternatives used.
Update: Many people have been asking me if Natria is the same as Roundup. Here's what I know so far.
Natria vs Roundup - What is the difference?
These two otherwise popular weed killers have similarities in their efficacy but quite different in their composition.
For instance, Natria has Maleic Hydrazide (ammoniated soap of fatty acids) as its active ingredient while Roundup's primary ingredient is glyphosate. Therefore, these two herbicides are quite different.
9. 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.
This is also a great way to exercise while at home!
10. Mechanical Weeding
For non-selective weed control this is your best alternative and which explains the success of glyphosate:
Here's an interesting map of the United States showing how much glyphosate has been used in every state.
11. Judicious Use of Glyphosate
*Some contributors still insisted on using glyphosate although in a judicious manner*
Below is such a contribution;
There are many glyphosate alternatives - 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 roundup.
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.
12. Mulching as a glyphosate alternative
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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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! This is one of the most fun glyphosate alternatives - no doubt about it.
According to treehugger, the edible weeds that you can find in your yard might be different ones than the ones I find in my yard, due to weather, soil conditions, and geography, here are some of the most common garden weeds that can be used for both meals and medicine:
- Lamb's Quarters
- Wild Amaranth
- Curly Dock
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.
17. Burning the weeds
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.
18. 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.
Principally, weeds are plants whose undesirable qualities outweigh their good points, at least according to us humans.
Our activities create weed problems since no plant is a weed in nature.
Though we may try to manipulate nature for our own good, nature is persistent. Through manipulation, we control certain weeds, while other more serious weeds may thrive due to favorable growing conditions.
Weeds are naturally strong competitors, and those weeds that can best compete always tend to dominate.
It is a natural law - the stronger ones survive.
Apply this principle 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 off them safely in case you are not 100 % sure you can consume or utilize them in some other way.
Done correctly, competition is one of the most effective glyphosate alternatives.
You've just read about the best glyphosate alternatives you can use today to kick out weeds from your garden.
Now, it's your turn.
Moreover, 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 roundup alternatives myself!
We aim to keep this list evergreen and regularly updated.
So if you feel we’ve missed any great glyphosate alternatives when putting this list together, you can suggest them for inclusion in the comments or email them to email@example.com
Disclosure: I'm a participant in the amazon associate program which means I'll earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when you buy through some of the links in this article, in which case I thank you.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in November 2017 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.