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Green Barbarians–Ellen Sandbeck

A Buddha A Day–Ellen Sandbeck


Dear Ellen,

Is there a simple, nontoxic way to kill the weeds that are growing in the cracks in my driveway? I'm trying to avoid using chemicals, but I don't want to waste a lot of time.

Al, Walnut Creek, California

Dear Al,

Though the commercials make it look as if weeds simply disappear after they are sprayed with herbicide, the remains of dead weeds will still need to be pulled out of the cracks. There are a couple of nontoxic methods for killing weeds that are every bit as effective as the chemicals.

1) Spray the weeds with full-strength white distilled vinegar, making sure to thoroughly wet the leaves. This works best when the weeds are in full sun. The combination of vinegar and sunlight burns the weeds and kills them.

2) Pour boiling water on the weeds.

Most chemical herbicides are not preventive; they must be sprayed directly on the leaves. Killing the weeds with natural methods will keep your driveway weed-free just as long as will a chemical treatment. There is, however, one natural method that will help prevent the growth of weeds in pavement: grind up empty sunflower seed hulls and sprinkle the powdered hulls in the cracks. Sunflower seed hulls strongly inhibit the germination and growth of all other plants. If you have a birdfeeder, you probably already possess plenty of sunflower hulls, if you do not feed birds, the chances are good that someone in your neighborhood does, and that person would probably be happy to let you rake up their excess sunflower hulls!

Environmentally yours,



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