A pet safe weed killer can kill weeds in your lawn or garden but won't hurt your furry friends. Such weed killers are often made with natural ingredients, such as salt or sugar, or use homemade treatments like boiling water to kill weeds.
Reasons for Choosing a Pet Safe Weed Killer
Most lawn and garden weed killers, pesticides and fertilizers are created using man made chemicals, some of them quite harsh to both living organisms and the environment as a whole. Even though a product may be deemed acceptably safe for sale and use on a home lawn, it's not likely to be safe to touch or accidentally ingest.
If you've ever driven past a house that's recently had a commercial application of lawn fertilizer or weed killer and seen the white or blue warning flags placed by the company, you may recall that those flags typically warn that "chemicals have been used on this lawn; do not let children play here for 24 hours." When children or pets touch the lawn or ground where harsh chemicals have been applied, some are absorbed through the skin. Children may touch their hands to their mouths or eyes, directly ingesting the poison. Cats and dogs can pick it up on their paws and lick the weed killer right off. The majority of commercial lawn weed killers are not safe to use around pets.
Alternatives to Commercial Weed Killers
To begin your search for a weed killer that is safe for pets, talk to your pet's veterinarian. He or she may be able to recommend a few safe weed killers to use around the lawn and garden. Other safe ways to kill weeds in the lawn or garden include:
- Manually removing them: While this may seem labor intensive, it's actually the very safest way to remove weeds. If you just have a dandelion or two in the lawn, you can use a long, thin digging fork to dig down and grab the roots (dandelions have a long taproot). Local weeds in the flower and vegetable beds can all be pulled up by hand. It's safe, plus it gives you good exercise too.
- Boiling water: Like humans and pets, weeds die from scalding water. This is a good method for killing weeds that grow up between the cracks in the sidewalk, driveway or patio area. Simply boil water and pour over the weeds. Be very careful not to spill any on yourself!
- Salt: A sprinkle of salt onto weeds is also a pet safe weed killer. Do not use a lot of salt, however, on flower or vegetable beds; it will kill plants you want to keep, too.
Make Your Own Spray
For people who like to use a spray-on weed killer, you can make your own pet safe weed killer.
- Mist spray bottle
- About 2 cups of boiling water
- One cup of white vinegar
- Drops of clove oil or lemon oil
Mix the boiling water, vinegar and scented oil together in the bowl. Allow to cool enough to pour into the plastic spray bottle without damaging the bottle. Spray the mixture directly onto weeds, being careful not to spray it onto plants you want to keep. This mix will work best when sprayed around noontime under a bright, scorching sun. Apply daily and after rain or watering to ensure it stays on the weeds.
Composting and mulching suppress weeds and add nutrients back into the soil. They're well worth the effort and will reward you with a healthy garden and lawn. Landscape fabric, spread over an area and anchored by hammering pins into the ground, suppresses weeds. Cut through the fabric to dig a hole and plant trees, shrubs and perennials. Mulch on top of the fabric to create a pleasant appearance. If any weeds do sprout on top of the fabric, they tend to be so shallow rooted you can easily pull them up. Other organic lawn care techniques may also help.
If you have any concerns about whether or not a gardening product is safe to use around your pet, call the manufacturer or talk to your pet's veterinarian. If you think your pet has been poisoned by a garden chemical, seek treatment immediately from a qualified veterinarian.