Nothing ruins a garden more than the sight of those pesky weeds. It seems like no matter what you do to prevent them, they always find a way to work their way back in.
If you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle, you are. No gardener is immune to the wrath of invasive weeds.
By now, you probably already have a pretty well-stocked weed-fighting arsenal. Even if you’ve got plenty of products to kill them off, you may still be struggling to find one that does the trick.
If you’ve heard of the ‘bleach trick’, hold your horses and stick with us to learn a little more about how bleach kills weeds, and if you should be using it in your garden.
How Does Bleach Kill Weeds?
In short, bleach DOES kill weeds. If you want to get rid of them permanently, you may want to try covering them with undiluted bleach and leaving them for a few days.
This method should kill any existing weeds at the root, and prevent new ones from emerging.
Although bleach wasn’t designed to be used as a herbicide, there’s no denying that it works. Bleach works by raising the pH level of the soil and making it tough for any surrounding vegetation to survive.
Bleach makes the surrounding soil extremely alkaline, which will not promote plant growth. Bleach isn’t just toxic to plants, it’s also dangerous to humans and animals, too.
Remember: Bleach increases the pH level of the soil. Although this may be fine for weeds growing in patios or driveways, it can be an issue in flower beds.
Although undiluted bleach is stronger, diluted bleach can be poured or sprayed onto the weeds, or in the cracks in the gravel, slabs or driveway you’re trying to treat.
Should You Use Bleach To Kill Weeds?
Although bleach does kill weeds, most gardeners won’t recommend using it. This is because bleach doesn’t just kill weeds, it also kills anything else in its path. This includes surrounding plants, trees, grass, and even insects.
Bleach can also produce other unwanted environmental effects if it seeps into the groundwater, which can also be illegal in some places.
If you do need to use bleach as a herbicide, here are some tips to help you do it safely:
- Use protective equipment such as gloves and goggles
- If you’re spraying bleach, only do so when the weather is calm. High winds and risk could risk dispersing your bleach treatment into areas you don’t want to treat
- Keep children and pets away from the area during and after treatment
- Return to the area after a few days to pull out the weeds, and ensure you’re wearing gloves when doing so
Can You Use Bleach On Weeds In A Patio?
Bleach has a tendency to kill surrounding plants and grass, but what if your weeds are growing on your patio, or in an environment that doesn’t have soil? Can you use bleach?
Although we’d still recommend using a designated weed killer, you could still use bleach in these environments if you have to. It will be a lot safer for the surrounding environment than applying weed killer to a flower bed, or another area with soil.
However, if the areas you want to treat in your patio are close to surrounding patches of grass, there’s a risk that the bleach will eventually make its way there – especially if it starts to rain.
Bleach can also trickle between the patio slabs and work its way over to the soil. This can be dangerous for your plants, grass, animals and insects, so take care to avoid treating ‘high-risk’ areas like these.
Alternatives To Bleach
Bleach isn’t always the best herbicide. If you want to try some more environmentally friendly and effective alternatives to treat your weeds, here are a few of our tried and tested suggestions:
Baking soda can be sprinkled on the weeds in your patio, and gently swept between the cracks. We’d recommend dissolving your baking soda (half a cup) with a tablespoon of vinegar first.
Put your mixture into a spray bottle and start treating the affected areas!
Boiling water is another effective treatment for weeds. However, it only works as a herbicide on the portion of the plant it comes into contact with.
Therefore, this method will work best on young weeds that have only just emerged.
Sometimes, all you need is a good old trowel. You can use a trowel to help you reach those pesky weeds that have established themselves in between stones and also in lawns.
If you’re using a trowel in grass, we’d recommend damping it first, or using a trowel in turf that is still actively growing, to make the process easier.
Although bleach does work as a herbicide and it CAN be used to kill weeds, we wouldn’t recommend using it unless you absolutely have to. Bleach can cause serious damage to the grass, plants and insects surrounding your weeds.
If you do need to use it, we’d only recommend doing so in a patio rather than a flower bed to reduce the risk of damage to surrounding areas.
Don’t forget to check out some of our tried and tested alternatives to bleach if you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly alternative!