1. Pull Them
We know: Duh. But if you’ve ever tried it, you know that some weeds are much tougher to pull than others — particularly dandelions and other weeds of the taproot variety. To make it easier, water the area directly around the weed or pull them after a rainstorm, when the ground is softer. Insert a knife or screwdriver alongside the deep root to loosen it before pulling
2. Pour Boiling Water on Them
Drain pots of boiling water directly onto the weeds that invade your garden (you can even use the leftover water from boiling pasta or potatoes). A splash of scalding water will shrivel even the toughest weeds in a couple of days
3. Smother Them
Cover low-growing weeds like clover and crabgrass with several layers of newspaper and eventually the lack of sunlight will exterminate them. Similarly, putting down layers of newspaper (it’s biodegradable) and covering it with mulch can prevent weeds from sprouting up in the first place.
4. Salt Them
Stock up on discounted rock salt at the end of winter and sprinkle it on garden paths to fight weeds in the spring (table salt works, too). Salt also makes a good weed barrier along lawn edgings and other places a lawn mower can’t reach, but apply it carefully. It can erode concrete surfaces and can leave the ground barren for a prolonged period of time
5. Divide and Conquer Them
Physical barriers, like lawn edgings and retaining walls are a long-lasting solution for keeping weeds at bay. Make simple — and cheap — edging out of scraps of pressure-treated decking boards. Cut them into 8-inch “pikes” and hammer the pieces into the ground next to each other to form a continuous edge.
In the garden, there is a competition for resources among your plants, where only the strongest survive and thrive. Plant ground covers, flowers, and garden crops that will naturally beat out weeds for sunlight, water, and nutrients. The same principle applies to your lawn: Maintain a thick, health lawn, and you’ll have less weeds.
7. Pour Vinegar on Them
Douse weeds with vinegar (or even the leftover liquid from a jar of pickles) and they’ll be DOA a few days later. This is a good method for exterminating weeds with long taproots, like dandelions, dock, and plantain.
Many weeds are edible, like the young greens of dandelions, dock, and chicory, which can be eaten raw in salads or cooked like fresh spinach. Pick up a copy of the classic wild-foods field guide Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons ($13, amazon.com) to help you identify edible sprouts in your yard. (But when in doubt, don’t eat it. Many plants are poisonous when ingested.)
One man’s weed is another man’s rose. Many weeds are native plants that Mother Nature intended to thrive in your area — that’s why they can be so hard to kill. Learning to love weeds is just a matter of looking at them in a different light. For example, in Japan, moss is cultivated and prized for use in landscaping, while in the U.S. and elsewhere, moss is commonly eradicated with chemical pesticides.