Despite attentive gardening practices, unwanted weeds muscle in—fast! Weeks spent coddling flowers and vegetables so they produce blossoms and edibles feel lost when weeds sprout, stealing soil nutrients.
Many people spend hours pulling and raking these unwanted shoots, spraying their vegetable gardens, flower beds, and lawns with brand-name weed killers. But most popular lawn and garden products contain toxic chemicals that do more harm than good.
Organic weed killers are much more effective because their natural ingredients kill unwanted plants without posing risks to food production or the environment. Here’s a look at the best organic weed killers available.
- BEST OVERALL: Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Natural Armor 30% Industrial Strength Vinegar
- BEST SPRAY: Natria Grass & Weed Control With Root Kill Herbicide
- BEST MULTIPURPOSE: Earthborn Elements Borax Powder
- ALSO CONSIDER: Eco Garden Pro Organic Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer
Before You Buy an Organic Weed Killer
The best organic weed killers are easy, one-step options for removing wild, unwanted weeds like dandelions, poison ivy, and more. But some of these products may not provide the results desired by select users. Organic or natural weed killers are often nonselective and can kill all plant types, making them hard to use in vegetable gardens, flower beds, or grassy areas.
Bob Vila always recommends a more traditional route, pulling pesky weeds by hand or using a weeder to ensure that the only plants affected are the ones users want to eradicate. For interested users, we offer a DIY alternative to store-bought weed killers later in this article.
How We Chose the Best Organic Weed Killers
Our list of recommendations is the result of a deep dive into organic solutions for weed killers, which help users find more environmentally friendly options for killing weeds. We split our top picks into specific categories to provide shoppers with more targeted options for their needs. We made sure to include large gallon spray bottles for expansive coverage and smaller sprayers for occasional spot treatments, as well as a powder alternative that users simply mix with water to the desired strength.
Several of our recommendations are vinegar solutions of varying concentrations because vinegar is a highly effective and natural weed killer. Depending on the specific weed problem, either of the 20 percent or 30 percent concentrations listed below will be appropriate.
Our Top Picks
To qualify as a top pick, an organic weed killer should be potent enough to kill the weeds causing the problem. It should also contain chemical-free ingredients that will not contaminate fruits and vegetables or leave harmful residues in the environment.
The best organic weed killer will vary from gardener to gardener, depending on individual needs and weed type. The following weed killers contain natural ingredients and will kill a range of weeds.
Crabgrass, dandelions, thistles, and other weeds are history with just a spritz of Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer. Derived from corn, this natural herbicide is nonselective, meaning it kills all vegetation with a turnaround time of 24 hours. Plus, the easy-to-use spray attachment makes application a cinch.
The 1-gallon quantity of this Green Gobbler is especially beneficial along fence lines, around patios and pool areas, and in mulched flower beds where weeds and grasses tend to sprout most. It should not be sprayed on desirable plantings because they, too, will die.
- Type: Spray
- Size: 1 gallon
- Formula: Nonselective; corn derivative; 20 percent vinegar
- Biodegradable formula is safe for humans, pets, and any surrounding wildlife
- Easy-to-use spray application is suitable for precise or large-scale weed control
- Results begin to appear within 24 hours of application; suitable for those needing a fast-acting formula
- Less effective on stubborn weeds; suitable for more sensitive weed varieties
Get the Green Gobbler organic weed and grass killer at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or The Home Depot.
To control weeds without spending a lot of cash, consider this Natural Armor concentrate. Available in a 1-gallon jug at an attractive price, this organic pet-safe weed killer contains vinegar that’s six times more potent than the household variety. It can be applied using the attachable trigger sprayer, by pouring it into a smaller spray bottle, or by using a pump-type garden sprayer.
This industrial-strength organic weed killer contains only pure and natural ingredients that are environmentally safe. It’s a nonselective vegetation killer that’s well suited for lawn edging and removing weeds from fence lines, between sidewalk cracks, and among patio pavers. This Natural Armor vinegar weed killer spray can also be used to clean mossy stone garden statues and outdoor ornaments.
- Type: Spray
- Size: 1 gallon
- Formula: Nonselective; 30 percent vinegar
- Ideal for large areas needing extensive weed control; 6 times more potent than comparable formulas
- Attachable trigger sprayer is built-in or can be used with a small spray bottle or pump-type sprayer
- Suitable for lawn edging, removing weeds from fence lines, and getting into other tight spaces
- Some users experience clogging with the sprayer; may require occasional maintenance
Get the Natural Armor organic weed killer at Amazon.
No need to mix or pour Natria Grass & Weed Control into another container—it comes in its own spray bottle and is ready to apply. The product contains ammoniated soap of fatty acids, a natural ingredient that penetrates weed foliage to destroy the plant. The product is nonselective, so it shouldn’t be applied on a windy day if desirable plants are nearby.
For the best results, it should be sprayed until weed foliage is saturated. The herbicide travels through the foliage and stems to the roots, destroying the weeds completely and preventing regrowth. Natria won’t contaminate soil: Gardeners can safely sow seeds 5 days after use.
- Type: Spray
- Size: 24 ounces
- Formula: Nonselective; ammoniated soap
- Ready-to-use formula; simply turn on the spray head and begin weed killing
- Usable in most outdoor areas; suitable weed killer for lawns, cracks in pavement, edging, and more
- Great for spot treatments; spray applicator is precise for killing specific weeds and not desirable plants
- Weeds in treated areas may grow back; requires reapplication from time to time
Get the Natria organic weed killer at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or Lowe’s.
Multipurpose borax can kill weeds, control unwanted insects, and boost laundry detergent—and it’s the sole ingredient in Earthborn Elements borax powder. Borax, short for “sodium borate,” is a natural mineral mined in desert regions, including California’s Death Valley.
To use, mix with water at a ratio of 10 ounces of borax to ½ cup of hot water, stirring until the powder dissolves. Next, further dilute the solution by pouring it into 2½ gallons of water, then spray it directly on weeds with a spray bottle or pump-type garden sprayer. Like many other natural weed killers, borax is nonselective; take care to spray weeds only on a calm day so desired plants aren’t affected.
- Type: Powder
- Size: 1 gallon
- Formula: Nonselective; sodium borate
- Versatile product can be mixed to varying strengths depending on a given user’s needs
- Durable and resealable container for safe storage and transport if necessary
- Can be used on flower beds, patios, driveways, sidewalks, and stepping stones
- Effective quantities can vary; may require some tinkering to get the right strength
- Must be mixed into a solution by the user; may be tricky the first time
Get the Earthborn Elements organic weed killer at Amazon or Earthborn Elements.
The Eco Garden Pro Organic weed killer contains high-strength vinegar for effective natural weed eradication. It comes ready to use and should be sprayed full strength on weeds until foliage is saturated. It’s nonselective, so take care not to let overspray get on desirable plantings.
Eco Garden Pro is eco-friendly and safe for honey bees, soil, and groundwater. It contains no harmful or toxic ingredients, so users can feel comfortable applying it to weeds in vegetable gardens or around fruiting vines. One gallon of this ready-to-use weed killer treats 1,000 square feet. Results can be seen in as little as 24 hours, and no retreating is necessary.
- Type: Liquid
- Size: 1 gallon
- Formula: Nonselective; sodium chloride and vinegar
- Safe for groundwater and surrounding vegetation; perfect for those who live near wooded areas with wandering animals
- Suitable for most weed varieties; moss, green grass, poison ivy, and more
- Ample quantity per purchase; provides enough weed killer for 1,000 square feet
- Sprayer not included; may need to be purchased separately for effective application
Get the Eco Garden Pro organic weed killer at Amazon or Eco Living Solutions.
Or, DIY Your Own Organic Weed Killer
Buying an organic weed killer is a reliable option. But for those who prefer the DIY approach to killing weeds, there is an at-home remedy for weed control that can be made with basic essentials found in most kitchens. Here’s Bob Vila’s favorite natural weed killer recipe.
In a large bowl, combine:
- 1 gallon of white household vinegar
- 1 cup of salt
- 1 tablespoon of dish soap
After combining the ingredients, pour the DIY weed killer into a spray bottle or sprayer and apply. As an added tip, try to apply when it is sunny out to help dry out and shrivel the weeds. The combination of the weed killer and the sun will attack the root systems of the weeds and speed up the killing process.
This homemade weed killer will create a full gallon of foolproof organic weed killer that can be applied to large or small patches of weeds. Feel free to keep this mixture labeled and in the garage or with other cleaning supplies, but still keep it away from children and pets between weed-control applications.
Our top pick, the Green Gobbler organic weed killer, is less toxic than traditional formulas, while the Earthborn Elements organic weed killer is a great multipurpose choice. Popular lawn and garden options from Roundup, Bonide, and Ortho weren’t listed because they didn’t meet our sustainability guidelines—each contains ingredients (glyphosate, 2,4D) with harmful effects.
What to Consider When Choosing an Organic Weed Killer
Before buying a weed killer, shoppers will want to investigate ingredients and read labels to determine whether the product will kill only specific weeds or all vegetation without using harsh toxic chemicals. It’s also a good idea to be mindful of the difference between natural herbicides that kill existing weeds and those that stop weed seeds from sprouting.
Pre-Emergent vs. Post-Emergent
Like chemical weed killers, organic herbicides are available in two types: pre-emergent and post-emergent. Herbicides that are pre-emergent destroy seeds or prevent them from sprouting, while the post-emergent kind kills weeds that have already sprouted and are growing.
The difference between the two is crucial because once a pre-emergent product is sprayed on soil, it will prevent all seeds from sprouting there—weeds as well as those of desirable plants and flowers. While this type of spray will stop weeds from growing alongside fence lines, driveways, and patios, if any of it lands near a plot of soil intended for flowers or a vegetable garden, it’s unlikely that any seeds planted there will sprout.
Selective vs. Nonselective
A selective weed killer will destroy only specific types of weeds but not others. For example, herbicides developed for lawns likely target broadleaf weeds, such as chickweed and clover, but they won’t damage turf-type grasses.
Nonselective weed killers will kill all vegetation—both weeds and desirable plants—so gardeners should use them with caution. To rid an entire yard of dandelions, spraying or broadcasting a nonselective weed killer will kill the grass along with the weeds.
When it comes to natural herbicides, users have very few selective products to choose from; the majority are nonselective and designed to kill most forms of vegetation. They can be used between sidewalk cracks or patio pavers or to create fence lines. They shouldn’t be used near desirable plants and flowers, especially on windy days.
True to form, organic weed killers will not have toxic ingredients. Shoppers looking for lawn-care items to start or maintain a garden may be surprised to find several household ingredients, such as vinegar, salt, and corn, present in some organic weed killers. Other beneficial ingredients include soaps and essential oils, such as cinnamon or clove.
Lesser-known ingredients, like citric acid, caprylic acid (a coconut oil derivative), and D-limonene (derived from citrus fruits), also feature prominently in many organic weed killers. For added benefits, manufacturers may combine two or more of the above ingredients to control specific types of weeds.
Natural weed-killing products are available in various forms, with some better suited to specific types of application.
- Spray: Easy to use and offering uniform coverage, most sprays are designed for direct application to the weed’s foliage. Spraying should be avoided on windy days to avoid harming desirable plants.
- Liquid concentrate: For those with large crops or heavy weed infestation, a liquid concentrate may be best. It can be diluted with water and easily applied over large areas with a pump-type garden sprayer.
- Powder: Meant for broadcasting over specific areas, powder herbicides can also get carried by the wind and inadvertently kill nearby plants.
- Salts: Products containing salt will kill plants, so care should be taken with them. Salt makes soil infertile and it can take years to leach it out. Salt-based nontoxic weed killers are often best for patio pavers or sidewalk joints rather than flower beds.
Natural nontoxic weed killers eliminate unwanted plants and grasses without leaching toxins into the soil or groundwater. Many shoppers switching from a traditional weed killer to an organic type often have questions and concerns they’d like addressed before deciding on a specific brand. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about organic weed killers.
Q. Will organic weed killers damage my soil?
If they contain salt, then yes, they can. Natural herbicides that contain vinegar or other nonchemical ingredients only stay in the soil for a few days.
Q. Are organic weed killers completely safe and free of toxic elements?
Most organic weed killers are considered environmentally safe, but just because a product is natural or organic doesn’t mean it won’t cause headaches or other symptoms. Always read warning labels.
Q. How often can I use organic weed killers?
That depends on the product. Most sprays can be used whenever new weeds appear, and some may require two or more applications to get rid of certain types.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.