If you have patio or driveway pavers, you probably struggle with weeds, regardless of where you live.
We just experienced our first big storm of the season here in south Florida with Hurricane Isaias…too early this year! It lost strength, was downgraded to a Tropical Storm and stayed offshore for us all weekend. After making landfall as a Hurricane again in North Carolina, it quickly flipped back to a Tropical Storm and is currently riding off into the Canadian sunset.
At any rate, we had to clear our back patio in preparation for the 70+ mph winds. That means we dragged everything from the patio into the house. My cats love the jungle we created from all the plants…AND the inevitable lizards.
Yuck. I hate finding severed lizard heads & tails on my hardwood floors. I’ll never get used to that.
However, this was great timing to spray the weeds while the patio was bare naked!
I am all for natural products, especially after giving birth to two small humans, so I will always choose non-toxic if it all possible. Now that we have cats who hang out on the patio…ditto for keeping their little paw pads chemical-free.
When we first moved here, I really wasn’t paying attention to the weeds in the yard, or anything in this house for that matter. I was pregnant with my son and a bit overwhelmed. Pulling weeds factored low on my priority list. I didn’t even notice them. Lack of sleep will do that (ha!).
Those pesky little weedies try to take over our patio every summer. The hot humid weather in Florida encourages their growth, as well as mold. MOLD. MOLD!! I had no idea how much of a problem mold would be until I moved to this state.
Does Bleach Work?
Yes, but I don’t recommend it for regular weed maintenance.
Our HOA requires clean roof tiles and they will graciously hand out violation notices if you are not in compliance (she says clearing her throat). So, we have hired someone to power wash the roof, patio, walkway & driveway every two years since we’ve been in this house.
The power washers almost always use bleach, which I don’t like for the toxicity, but there is really no other way to stay on top of the mold growth in Florida on roofs and patios.
I only use bleach when absolutely necessary, as chronic use causes all kinds of medical problems, especially in children. It is also very detrimental to the environment.
Bleach also kills any other living plant around the weeds if you accidentally spill some. And it’s very toxic to vegetable plants…which we grow on our patio as well.
But when it comes to mold and my kids’ lung health, I will happily lock them in the house for the day to get the roof and patio taken care of every one or two years. I’d rather have mold-free pavers under their little toes while they run and play all summer. Call it Peace of Mind.
Note: There are plenty of natural alternatives to clean your laundry & house without endangering yourself and those you love. I’ll make a future post about what I use.
However, this bleach power wash treatment doesn’t last very long for preventing weed growth. Weeds LOVE the sun, rain, high heat, and humidity cocktail of our tropical climate…especially May-October. Yes, it’s hot for many months down here and rains almost every day in the summer, even for a few minutes. (But our winters are amazing!!)
I usually pull weeds by hand while taking care of other plants…or have the kids help when they need a chore before doing something fun, which these days consists of lots of Minecraft!
But a year ago this month, my angry and persistent lower back pain decided to rear its ugly head and flung itself into crisis mode. I seriously could barely walk or even get out of bed. It was excruciating. Truly.
I had failed to see my chiropractor for too long after several years of treatment…and I am so sorry I did that. My spine was SCREAMING at me. I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease years ago, and it decided to rear its ugly head last year. Needless to say, bending over is no fun. I have to be very careful when gardening, loading the dishwasher, doing yoga, laundry, etc.
So, instead of engaging in the back-breaking work of pulling weeds by hand, I decided to take care of them the easy and natural way. There weren’t too many yet, but I wanted to get on top of it before my patio looked a giant Chia Pet.
Remember Chia Pets? They still sell them! I’m thinking this will be a fun going back to school present for my kids. 😆
Two summers ago, we went on a six-week trip overseas to see family and attend two weddings. When we got back, the back patio looked like a jungle. It was hilarious! Seriously, the weeds were knee-high between the pavers. I immediately sent the kids out to harvest as many as they could. At the time, I didn’t know about this natural weed killer recipe.
My neighbor popped over and after we laughed at the weeds, she told me that another neighbor uses this miracle natural weed killer recipe. She has dogs (beautiful Golden Retrievers) and doesn’t want chemicals on their paws. Both of them use this mixture and it works every time!
After a few months, I finally wrote down the recipe from my other neighbor and swore I would try it out. I even bought this inexpensive 2 Gallon Lawn & Garden Sprayer…but it sat in our garage for two years, unused.
Until Today! I dug it out, found the recipe, and FINALLY used it!
I’m here to share with you how EASY this is to mix up and keep on hand. The supplies are very simple. You probably already have them in your pantry.
Natural Weed Killer Recipe
- 1 Gallon White Vinegar
- 1 Cup Table Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Dish Soap
Tip: Make sure to write the mixture in permanent marker on the side of your container if you store the leftovers for future use. Everyone says they’ll remember what’s in a DIY spray bottle… until time passes, and they forget. 😉
I prefer the 2-gallon garden sprayer because we have a LOT of pavers and need more of the mixture. Plus, it’s much easier to carry this pump bottle and use the long spray nozzle than a handheld spray bottle, which would require bending over the entire time. Your back will thank you if you have a large patio or driveway to cover.
If you only have a few troublesome spots, this heavy-duty plastic spray bottle works great.
My kids helped me mix up the solution and we discovered something that would have helped the process…
Tip: Don’t use the sprayer to mix the solution. Pre-mix the vinegar & salt in a large bowl or small bucket. Make sure to completely dissolve the salt before adding the dish soap.
I poured all the ingredients directly into the pump container and had to find something long to stir it with. We ended up using an upside-down, extendable, hot dog roasting fork. It worked just fine but would have been much easier to mix in a bowl with a spoon first.
Once mixed, spray away! It’s best to do it when the pavers are completely dry and there’s going to be strong sunlight after you spray.
I saturated the existing weeds and left the plain pavers untouched for now.
I started with one gallon and ended up mixing another batch. Two gallons covered the existing weeds but not all the pavers that surround our house. I think that will be a good way to tell if it’s working.
I’ll compare the difference in a few months to see if anything regrows on the sprayed versus non sprayed pavers.
Not All Weeds Are Created Equal
It is important to note that not all weeds will be affected by weed killers, natural or man-made, the same way.
In the photo below, the grassy-looking weeds were heartier and required more spraying than the weeds with leaflets.
An hour later, the first weeds I sprayed had already started to shrivel and dry up…
Five hours later and it’s raining again…hard. Hopefully, the sun was able to work its magic for the last few hours.
This photo below was taken the next morning on that particularly thriving lineup above…
The solution worked pretty fast and was very successful!
Tip: Because this is a completely natural product, you will have to reapply more often than if you used a chemical weed killer. Rule of thumb is to spray early and often to stay on top of it.
We have trouble year-round in our climate, but mostly in the summertime when the heat and humidity are at their highest. When I used to live up north, weeds started in late April/early May…Spring time in a four-season climate.
You’ll be happy with the results and even more pleased that you are using toxic-free products you can find in your own kitchen!
Enjoy the rest of your summer and Happy Weeding! 🌱