I am trying to stop using chemicals on my lawn and garden, but I am being driven crazy by weeds. Are there safe alternatives to weed killers?

I think discontinuing the use of chemical solutions is wise. Do we really want our children and pets running, rolling, and playing in a lawn full of chemicals? At present, we are unsure of the long-term effects of human exposure to weed killer, but according to Natural Home & Garden magazine, studies have linked them to some cancers, kidney, liver, and nervous-system damage as well as certain birth defects. Luckily, there are natural and organic alternatives to common chemical weed killers.

The best ways to control weeds is prevention. The use of a rich mulch reduces volunteer seeds, supports plant health, and locks in moisture. In addition, it helps to cover your garden area with plants because the more healthy plants, the fewer weeds. That being said, we can’t stop nature. There will always be birds overhead and seeds flying through the air.

Pulling weeds can be tedious, but it is really the best way to remove them. You can also give the following home remedies a try.

Pour boiling water from a teakettle, in a small stream directly onto the weeds. This method is best for killing large areas of weeds because while the boiling water will kill the weed it will also kill neighboring plants.

Fruit or grain-based household vinegar works well on Canada thistle and young weeds. Older weeds seem to be able to stand up to the acidity in vinegar, so you may need to apply the vinegar several times to get results.

There are also safe over-the-counter solutions available. Look for products that are labeled certified for use by organic growers. Some examples are Scythe® herbicide, BurnOut II Weed & Grass Killer, and corn gluten meal 10-0-0. Take care when using spray and granulated products because like chemical solutions, many will kill plants as well as weeds. For more information on organic gardening supplies, check out http://www.extremelygreen.com/.