Weeding question

(Question)

Please suggest ways to get rid of weeds growing in a pathway, without using a synthetic weedkiller. I’ve heard of homemade concoctions that might work ?

(Answer)

Thank you for writing, and especially for your concern regarding the use of pesticides/herbicides, commonly known as weedkillers. As of April 22, 2009, Ontario has banned the use of more than 250 pesticides, and over 80 pesticide ingredients for cosmetic use. The law bans the sale of pesticides “for cosmetic purposes on lawns, gardens, parks and school yards, and includes many herbicides, fungicides and insecticides”. And this includes our walkways.

You’ve asked about homemade solutions. As a precaution: various combinations of vinegar, salt, or dish detergents, have unfortunately proven to result in mixtures that are non-discriminatory.  These can not only kill weeds, but damage/kill plants adjacent to the weeds, and also kill the microorganisms in the soil. Additional salts in soil can be very problematic. And acidic vinegar  can cause serious negative damage to the PH of the soil, once absorbed. Just so you’re aware. Toronto Master Gardeners do not approve the use of natural home remedies due to the above.

So the removal of weeds requires some strategy.  What types of weeds are growing? Do they remove easily ? If so, pull weeds growing between paving bricks, or from edges of concrete sidewalks, followed up with vigilant weed pulling from time to time. Alternatively, if the weeds are stubborn, rotary weed cutters will trim off the top of the plants, seriously reducing their ability to thrive. And high-pressure water washers can remove most plant material from cracks between bricks or concrete.

And finally, and depending on the design and area of your walkway, after you have removed the lion’s share of your weeds, you could strategically plant your own ground cover where the weeds like to grow, and beat them to the punch. Ground covers are both decorative and problem solvers. Many thrive in shade, and others are ideal for preventing soil erosion, and for weed control. Here are a few suggestions to consider, before you visit your local garden centre. Hopefully some of these options will be helpful to you, depending on the specific nature of your walkway.

Irish and Scotch moss (Sagina subulata verna and aurea) 5 cm tall; Thyme (Thymus varieties) 5 to 10 cm tall; Golden creeping Jenny, moneywort, golden pennywort (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’) 5cm tall.

And also, below, are a few informative links.

https://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/pesticides/highlights-of-ontarios-cosmetic-pesticide-ban/

https://landscapeontario.com/perennials-for-ground-covers