A short aside: We've vacationed with a group of friends in the Carribbean for several years now. Last year, we visited Aruba for the second time. Two of my friends are scuba divers and they shared over dinner one night how shocked they were by the growth of algae on the reefs since our first trip there two years earlier. And what causes the algae to grow unchecked like that? Run of from golf courses that are spraying heavy doses of week killers and fertilizers. The products we all use affect our environment folks!
Back to safe weed killers. We've struggled with this issue. Fertilizing our plants has been pretty easy to figure out. Egg shells, coffee grounds, marine-based products all work nicely in the yard and are easy to access. But the weed killers are problematic.
Many pet owners, including us, have used the Round-Up brand of weed killers available at the home improvement stores. The company says that it is safe for animals after three hours of use. However, from an environmental standpoint, it's questionable. Although, it has been tough to find an good alternative to removing those troublesome weeds that sprout up in the cracks of sidewalks and driveways.
One trick I learned from one of the gardening sites I frequent, is to use boiling water and pour it directly on the weeds. A bit labor intensive and involves a high use of energy to make, but at least it's just water you're dumping in the ground.
With the rise in popularity of organice produce and farm more products are becoming available for the commercial gardening market. This should benefit the homeowner as well, it just might not be as easy to procure these products at first.
The first new weed killer product we've come across is made by a company called Avenger. Their weed killer product is made primarily from the essential oils of citrus fruit, specifically limonene. You will see a warning label on the bottle; although it is natural, it is still strong and could burn your skin. Once the product is dry on the plant, it is safe to be around.
The other product of interest to us is made by a company called Eco Smart. The active ingredients in their weed killer are 2-phenethyl propionate, a naturally occuring ester found in peanuts and, eugenol, which comes from clove oil. Of cource, they also have a warning label about keeping the product away from children and pets.
The most obvious option for safe weed removal is to pluck them out by hand. This is time consuming and physically laborious. If you have the time and can do it, then so be it. You can also hire out weed removal. It will cost you more, naturally, but it is still the most eco-friendly and supportive of local business. Most landscapers and tree companies offer this added service.
Just make sure you hire people who like animals.