Weeds are probably one of the greatest evils that hobby gardeners have to fight against. There is no real end in sight. The weeds often come back after a few weeks or months. Desperate gardeners quickly resort to chemical agents. but gentle weed killers should also be able to provide long-term relief. In this guide we will explain it to you.


Why not just live with the “weed”? – So that this idea can bear fruit, here is a little reminder (or enlightenment) of what a weed actually is. The herb became an “un” herb because humans classified it that way. Like so many other classifications of humans made without background knowledge and consideration, this classification does not necessarily serve the human well-being on closer inspection.

More specifically, weeds were invented by farmers, gardeners, and contractors. “Weeds” are anything that grows and makes it a little more difficult for people to use the land, gardens, parks, building plots or railway tracks. These weeds are not only harmful, they also have various beneficial effects:

  • Wild herbs are important genetic resources for plant breeding and species conservation
  • enable the (survival) life of beneficial insects and the entire fauna
  • they protect resources by regulating soil erosion and nutrient leaching
  • they keep soil life healthy

We now have a completely different problem with the weeds: in the past, the weeds that were bothering us were removed mechanically by human work; today, this is done with herbicides to save on manpower. Herbicides are nothing but poison.

This poison is causing us increasing problems. In monocultures, herbicide use leads to the resistance of many weeds (often imported from other countries) and thus to even more herbicide use or rampant spread. Herbicides also damage the plants that are not intended to be controlled. Last but not least, they leave toxic residues in our food, our soil and our surface and ground water. Not only since health effects on the population have been observed have responsible people been demanding less herbicide use, scientists are researching the conditions for minimum herbicide use in agriculture, exploring indirect weed control measures and biological weed control methods. 44 percent of all plant protection products used in Germany are such weed control products. An unfortunate large part of it is spread out in the house and allotment garden.

Even if you’re not one of those home gardeners, a rethink could be a lot more relaxing. After all, the home garden should be a green recreational area, so it might not be a completely wrong idea to simply change one’s personal perception of one or the other disturbing – green – little plant until it is no longer bothersome. The real gardener (in contrast to the “plant producer”) is not bothered by the weeds anyway. Weeds loosen the soil and transport nutrients up from deeper soil layers, where subsequent planting then benefits, and they feed beneficial insects and birds.

Harvest and eat weed

Many of these weeds are edible wild plants that can really enrich your diet. A number of gourmets have already acquired a taste for it. If you have already committed yourself exclusively to gentle weed killing, these herbs are actually exemplary natural organic foods.

Here is a small selection of the weeds that like to grow in the garden, but can also enrich your menu:

  • nettles
  • daisy
  • ground elder (makes really delicious wild spinach)
  • Shepherd’s purse (roots should taste similar to ginger when dried)
  • Potato Roses
  • dandelion
  • Taubnessel
  • Vogelmiere

These plants are really just a few examples. Apparently, almost every wild herb can somehow be used in the kitchen. This use of weeds from your own garden is an exciting idea, especially for curious gourmets who are not afraid of bitter or even unfamiliar tastes.

Gentle weed killing by hand

Once you’ve stewed ground elder with wild spinach and mixed dandelion into your salad, you’re already in the middle of gentle weedkilling. The gentlest way to finish off a plant is, still, to pull the plant out of the ground by hand.

Very easy to pull out by hand, e.g. B. combat all weeds that grow very quickly. They could not anchor themselves very firmly to the ground with their roots during rapid growth. With other weeds, you have almost no other choice because no other herb or highly toxic pesticide has grown against you.

The spotted hemlock can be combated very well by pulling out the roots (cutting off the young roots), because these grow straight down like a carrot. The giant hogweed or Hercules perennial also forms a root in the form of a beet stretched straight down and is best combated by hand. Any chemical control of these and similar plants only works with such an intensive use of pesticides that there is a risk of poisoning the environment. And that’s why it’s generally not allowed for private individuals.

With the seed weeds, they can also score points for brain work instead of manual work:

  • deliberately let it grow for 2 to 3 weeks in spring and then pull it out
  • Seeds are in the ground anyway and cannot be sorted out

“Brain work” can also help to push back root weeds: the roots do not belong in the compost. Since they are not safely killed, but in the household waste (or in the teacup).

Even weeds that are not suitable or used in the kitchen can often be used for other purposes after weeding. Nettles or tansy, for example, make an excellent plant strengthening and fertilizing liquid manure. But not the dangerous invaders like hogweed or ragweed. They should be incinerated or disposed of without contact with the environment.

Mulch and ground cover

A more convenient secret weapon among gentle weed killers is mulching, or covering the soil with ground covers. Where there is no light, nothing grows, not even weeds. Both measures make the ground even better.

Adjust nutrient supply

When weeds are plentiful in a certain area, it is an indication that something is wrong with the nutrient supply in the soil in that area. For example, if your lawn B. is suddenly overgrown by clover, this is a sign that there is a lack of nitrogen. Plantain, on the other hand, indicates soil that is too compact and too alkaline in pH.

You can use the various weeds here as indicator plants by exploring which indicator plants (more modern: bioindicators) indicate which nutrient deficiency or nutrient surplus.

Once you have explored this, you can take appropriate countermeasures through nutrient withdrawal or nutrient supply. Then the problem with the weeds will take care of itself.

Soil remediation helps against weeds

Sometimes a real renovation of the garden soil is required because the entire soil is overfertilized or has a pH value that is only tolerable for a few weeds. Ranunculus appears z. B. likes to live on acidic soil. If a pH value has confirmed a suspicion in this direction, you can make the stay in your lawn uncomfortable for the buttercup by applying lime.

In the long run, you should then ensure that the pH value of the soil regulates itself (and does not tilt towards alkaline after liming). For this purpose, the floor z. B. loosened. Then you should make sure that a proper lawn can develop, along with the appropriate soil organisms.

The beds in our gardens are often over-fertilized and thus largely deprived of healthy soil life. Here then z. B. absolute restraint with nitrate or phosphate fertilizers. Green manure could be the first step in soil remediation, followed by planting with mixed crops following a specific crop rotation.

Home remedies for weeds

If vinegar or vinegar essence is recommended for weedkilling, it will work, albeit with unpleasant consequences under certain circumstances: Vinegar kills the weeds if it is poured in high concentrations on the plants, but it also quickly damages the surrounding leaf veins, just like herbicides. Just like weed killers, vinegar must not be spread uncontrolled anywhere on green areas. Our plant protection law prohibits this, under threat of severe fines. It is the same with substances such as saline or even hydrochloric acid. In contrast, weed killers with a systemic effect can almost be described as comparatively harmless.

Scorching or dousing with sufficient amounts of boiling water can effectively kill weeds. However, scorching takes quite a bit of time and even more energy. Pour boiling water over it takes even more time and probably even more energy. Without insisting on the costs and the environmental aspect, weeding is probably faster.

Gentle industrial weed killers are rare

When you search the internet for gentle weed killers, there are many search results. If you take a closer look, you will actually always end up with the “normal weed killers”, which were only given the tip for advertising: “Strong against weeds, gentle on the environment”.

These are then e.g. B. Products with the active ingredient pelargonic acid, which is classified as “not harmful to the environment when used properly”. However, in connection with pelargonic acid, a warning is given of the risk of serious eye damage if it comes into contact with it. It should be kept away from drinks, food and animal feed, if swallowed seek medical advice immediately. It doesn’t sound that harmless, Hanz. Apart from that, manual work is recommended again.

There is gentle weed killing, but there are no gentle weed killers. Dealing with weeds in a relaxed manner that is not harmful to your health only works if you understand that weeds are also plants. If something really bothers you, good old manual work has to be used. By the way, you are not alone when you are dealing with really unpleasant, invasive weeds: there is usually help from the local plant protection or environmental office to combat them.

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