Lawn care: Does baking soda really work to kill weeds? Fact-checked

Gardening expert on how to keep your garden free of weeds

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Weeds can spring up in all corners of the garden, from your lawn to the cracks between patio paving slabs. Though weed killers can be purchased from gardening stores and supermarkets, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) encourages gardeners to use natural methods before turning to pesticides.

According to the gardening charity: “The RHS believes that avoiding pests, diseases and weeds by good practice in cultivation methods, cultivar selection, garden hygiene and encouraging or introducing natural enemies, should be the first line of control.”

One natural method regularly touted for its weed busting abilities is creating a solution using baking soda, but does it really work?

How does baking soda work to kill weeds?

According to experts from Hunker, baking soda works to kill weeds due to its high sodium levels.

This makes it phytotoxic, or in easier terms, poisonous to plants.

Baking soda works just like salt when killing weeds by extracting water from plant cells, which results in dried foliage.

However, the problem with this is that, if baking soda is not applied carefully, it can attack other plants and damage soil in the area.

Hunker explains: “Targeted baking soda application can help kill certain weeds without affecting other nearby plants.

“You must also be careful to minimise how much baking soda enters the soil, though, as it can cause damage to your future garden.”

However, if you live in an area with frequent rainfall, this can help to protect the soil from excess salt.

Which weeds can baking soda kill?

Some weeds are more susceptible to damage as a result of the use of baking soda.

According to Hunker: “There’s good evidence for baking soda effectively killing liverwort, moss and crabgrass.”

Before getting to work with your natural weed killer, you should check whether the specific plant you are targeting is likely to be impacted.

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How to kill weeds using baking soda

There are a couple of different methods gardeners can use to treat weeds using baking soda.

Two of the most common include sprinkling baking soda or creating a solution and spritzing plants with the liquid.

You can create a natural herbicide spray by mixing baking soda with water to help you better target your application.

Hunker recommends adding two to three tablespoons of baking soda to a quart of water. Make sure you mix until the powder is fully dissolved.

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Transfer this solution into a spray bottle and liberally spray the weed when it is warm and sunny outside.

Avoid spraying at a time when rain is forecast, as this can wash away the solution.

When spritzing the weed, be sure not to spray any surrounding plants or soil.

Alternatively, you can sprinkle baking soda directly onto the weed.

This is a particularly useful method for targeting liverwort in a greenhouse.

Hunker adds: “It can be a good idea to wait until after a period of rain to try this method on small spots of crabgrass growth, as moisture on plant surfaces will help the baking soda stick.”

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