Natural alternatives to Roundup

Photo courtesy of Nad at

Have you ever heard the story of Sisyphus? According to Greek Mythology, he was cursed to push a rock up a hill for eternity, only to watch it roll back down every time he neared the top. For gardeners, fighting weeds can be a Sisyphean task. No matter how many we kill, they’re always trying to sneak back into our garden. That’s why herbicides are so popular – they offer freedom from weeds and freedom from weeding too!

Roundup is the most widely used herbicide in the United States, but new studies suggest that weeds are evolving which can survive even the strongest herbicide treatments. Over time, the weeds that Roundup doesn’t kill will spread into treated areas in a process called Weed Shift. Also, the soil itself can work against herbicides. So called “problem soils” – where microorganisms have adapted to digest man-made chemicals – require even higher concentrations of herbicide to kill weeds.

This means that farmers are going to be using stronger and stronger concentrations of Roundup and getting diminishing returns. A huge arms race is going on in the cornfields and gardens of America, and plants are just a bit more persistent than we are. Unfortunately, a lot of wildlife is going to get caught in the crossfire.

The company that makes Roundup has positioned itself to profit from this situation by producing more of the herbicide and also developing new strains of “Roundup Ready” soybeans, cotton, and corn that can survive stronger chemical treatments. In the long run, the weeds are going to keep evolving until glycophospates are uneconomical to use. There may eventually be a wild plant that drinks Roundup like office workers drink coffee. But before that day gets here, farmers will spend a lot of money that they could have spent elsewhere.

The only way to win this game is not to play. There are plenty of alternatives to chemical herbicides, and weeds aren’t as likely to develop a resistance to those. Over millions of years, plants evolved defenses of their own to edge out competition. By using those organic defenses, it’s possible to control weeds the natural way – and as the cost of treating and re-treating areas with Roundup rises, it can be more cost effective too!

Here are some of the products we’ve tested:
Nature’s Avenger ORMI Organic Herbicide
This product works by killing the leaves of weeds. It breaks down quickly and will only kill the plants you treat directly (which prevents it from accidentally harming other plants or animals after it washes off onto the soil).

Burn Out II Natural Herbicide (small containers)

Black Jack Organic Vinegar
The high acidity of this herbicide melts the cell walls of weeds. It uses natural Vinegar, Yucca Extract, Olive Oil, Garlic Oil, Citrus Oil and Molasses to bind directly to the weeds that you apply it to.

Crabgrass Killer
Organic Crab Grass Killer
This all-natural product kills Crabgrass, Chickweed, Basketgrass, and other hardy grasses that often displace St. Augustine and Bahia lawns. It’s safe to use on yards where children or pets will be playing and it only kills the plants that absorb it through their leaves.

Organic Weed and Feed
Bradfield Organic’s Weed and Feed
This last product is a preventative treatment against weeds. It contains corn gluten, which has proven effective at stopping seeds from germinating. That means you can apply this to your established flower bed or vegetable garden and not worry about any intruders popping up.