An unwelcome byproduct of all this heat is really tough weeds and some very unwelcome insects. I have some effective, yet safe, alternatives for you to try in your house and garden to get rid of these unwanted visitors.
As far as the weeds are concerned, we are getting a huge amount of them this year. I religiously put down pre-emergent (gluten-based) granules in my yard and garden beds every year, but this year we have had so little rain that they are not leaching into the soil as they are supposed to. There isn’t even any dew in the morning, things are getting so dry. As a result, the oxalis, carpetweed, sedge and even some crabgrass are sprouting. If at all possible, try to pull them before they go to seed and multiply, if there aren’t too many. If you have an overwhelming amount, I would suggest a spray of a selective herbicide that targets weeds only. Most of these now are available with spray containers attachable to hoses. They are quick and simple to apply.
On walkways, a simple non-toxic and inexpensive way to kill weeds is with household vinegar. I fill an old spray bottle with white vinegar and spray away on all my brick pathways, and within hours the weeds are dead! This also works to spray on cement sidewalks, in cracks, or joints where they seem impossible to remove in any other way. It is totally safe to walk on by people, pets, or wildlife.
For getting rid of bugs, whether it’s ants or fleas, my favorite method is with boric acid. You can buy it in the laundry section of your supermarket (I use the Borax 40-mule team brand.) Just sprinkle it on ant hills or encircle your house with it. A couple times through the summer months should do it, but if you are lucky enough to get drenching rain you might need to reapply. The insects walk through it, ingest it, and carry it into their nests, which gets rid of them all. You can even sprinkle it on your carpets, and furniture indoors. (Just sprinkle it on — let it sit for an hour or so — then vacuum it up.) This will get rid of all kinds of bugs that you or pets might have brought in from outdoors, but in the amount used, it will not be toxic to us or our pets.
If your bushes are being attacked by spiders, it’s because they are attracted to places that are dry and dark. This is easily remedied by opening up the bush by pruning out some of the branches, creating better air circulation and light, and then really washing the plant out with the hose (each branch!). By doing that, it will create the wrong type of climate for spiders to hide in. There are also predator insects which can help rid your plants of other insects; for instance, ladybugs will eat aphids, and praying mantis will eat spiders. Some of the predator bugs are available for purchase through garden centers and online.
I would love to hear from you with any non-toxic methods you know of regarding weeds or insects. There are so many highly dangerous products on the market, and I’d love to share any safe alternatives. We only have one Earth, so we need to protect it!
Update- I have recently heard of a great way to get rid of fire ants. Club Soda- pour it directly into the center of the ant hill, and within a couple of days it will be gone. The carbon dioxide will kill them without harming the environment. One-liter should be enough for 2-3 anthills.