10 Alternatives to Roundup - Moms Across America

10 Alternatives to Roundup

Updated July 16, 2019

A California jury recently awarded over $2 billion in favor of a couple with cancer, ordering Monsanto to compensate for failing to warn consumers that exposure to Roundup weed killer causes cancer.

Even as more people continue to learn about the dangers of Roundup—Monsanto’s best selling weed killer—the herbicide remains in heavy use in the U.S. and around the world.

Most of our 10 Alternatives to Roundup require new ways of thinking about weeds. But if you have neighbors or family who insist on spraying, check out Pulverize® Weed & Grass Killer.

Pulverize Approved for organic gardening, this safe weed killer eliminates unwanted vegetation fast. And it comes in a spray bottle that is easy to use.

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What else can you do to be safe?

While Roundup and similar products are still being sold and used, consider doing the following to protect you and your family:

10 Alternatives to Roundup

1. Mulch and Permaculture

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2. No-till cover crops

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3. Saturated steam weed control

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4. Electric shock weed control

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5. Electric weed control

Most of the other alternative herbicides used by farmers or gardeners fall into the following categories:

6. High Percentage Vinegar sprays like OSM

7. Iron-Based Herbicides

8. Salt-Based Herbicides*

9. Phytotoxic Oils (aka Essential Oils)

10. Corn Gluten

Why Use Alternative Herbicides?

Screen_Shot_2018-02-19_at_12.27.38_PM.pngGlyphosate is so widely used in the U.S. and around the world that traces of the chemical have been found in breast milk, cotton products, beer, wine (even when made with organic grapes), eggs, oatmeal, and non-dairy coffee creamer, among other products.

The herbicide has also given rise to genetically modified food, which has been linked to health issues such as infertility, immune problems, faulty insulin regulation, accelerated aging and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.

In March of 2015, glyphosate was classified as a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO).

But if the health risks are not enough to convince you to consider an alternative herbicide, maybe the environmental impact will change your mind…

A recent U.S. Geological Survey study sampled waterways in 38 states and found glyphosate in the majority of rivers, streams, ditches, and wastewater treatment plants that were tested. Glyphosate also was found in roughly 70 percent of rainfall samples.

Watch this video to learn more about the effects of glyphosate herbicides on your health and our environment:

Please share this video.

How to Use an Alternative Herbicide

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In order to get the best results from an alternative herbicide, it is best to use in conjunction with other helpful practices, like working to improve soil health, plant nutrition, and irrigation. Remember, an alternative is generally going to be a contact herbicide (except for electric shock), not a systemic herbicide, which kills the entire plant by entering the vascular system.

Contact herbicides generally work by burning plant foliage that comes into contact with the product. They are only capable of killing weeds that have emerged—they have no residual activity on weeds that emerge after application.

Other Ideas for Alternative Herbicides

Acetic Acid – Commonly known as vinegar, acetic acid affects the cell membranes of a plant and causes rapid breakdown of foliage tissue on contact. Vinegar used for herbicidal purposes can be organic household vinegar, which is roughly five percent acetic acid or agricultural vinegar, which has an acetic acid concentration of roughly 20 percent. Insufficient quantities, agricultural vinegar by itself will quickly burn down a weed.

There is much debate on the efficacy of household vinegar versus agricultural vinegar in alternative herbicides. Research has found that acetic acid concentrations between 5 and 10 percent can provide viable control of very small, young weeds that have one or two leaves (or are within two weeks of germination). Larger weeds with three or four leaves more are likely to survive this concentration. Using higher agricultural vinegar with a higher concentration of acetic acid and increasing the application volume can improve weed control.

Salt* – Some choose to combine vinegar with salt to make their alternative herbicide more potent. Like vinegar, salt is a desiccant, so it dries out leaves and stems. 

Oil or Soap – Oil will break down any coating or other natural barriers that many weeds produce to protect their leaves. By using oil or soap in your mixture, you give the vinegar a greater chance to penetrate the weed. Additionally, oils and soaps break the tension water on weed surfaces, which keeps the mixture from running off.

If you would like more information on ingredient concentration levels for your alternative herbicide, check out this article from Garden Counselor.

*BEWARE: any form of sodium chloride is toxic to almost all plants and soil communities. It does not break down, and after it kills the grass in your walk, will poison and even kill large specimen trees where their roots run under the sidewalk or treated area.

Alternative Herbicide Tips

  • Alternative herbicides work best when applied on a hot day. If possible, wait until the humidity is low and morning dew has burned off. This will allow the mixture to stay in contact with weeds.
  • Be careful not to spray the mixture on plants you do not wish to kill. You can do damage to the plants you are trying to protect if you aren’t careful.
  • Use gloves and protective eyewear, as the mixture can damage your skin, especially if you are using agricultural vinegar with a higher concentration of acetic acid.
  • Larger weeds and perennial weeds may wilt or discolor after application, but in some cases, they will regrow a few days or weeks later. These weeds will require multiple applications to be controlled.

Are Alternative Herbicides Effective?

A University of Maryland study found that properly applied acetic acid-based alternative herbicides have promising results controlling the following weeds:

  • Broadleaf Plantain
  • Carpetweed
  • Common Chickweed
  • Crabgrass
  • Cutleaf Evening Primrose
  • Ground Ivy
  • Ladysthumb
  • Lambs Quarters
  • Oriental Mustard
  • Pale Smartweed
  • Spiny Amaranth
  • Tumble Pigweed
  • Velvet Leaf

The Top 5 Benefits of Alternative Herbicides

  1. Public health safety
  2. Avoidance of lawsuits
  3. Improved soil and water retention
  4. Improved water quality
  5. Improved longevity of landscaping

Download PDF of this article here to share with your neighbors.

Article by Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC with additions by Zen Honeycutt of Moms Across America.


Showing 5 reactions

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  • Karin Westdyk
    commented 2019-07-04 17:59:45 -0700 · Flag
    Best alternative is hemp grown in rotation.
  • Lisa Crowe
    commented 2019-05-18 18:57:21 -0700 · Flag
    Thank you this article is exceptionally informative. I shall share.
  • Todd Honeycutt
    commented 2019-04-01 11:26:15 -0700 · Flag
    Robert – we’ve added your warning about salt to our text. Thanks!
  • Robert Shaw
    commented 2018-08-13 09:35:33 -0700 · Flag
    Please do not advise adding salt to make any herbicide “extra strength”. Table salt, sea salt – - any form of sodium chloride is toxic to almost all plants and soil communities. It does not break down, and after it kills the grass in your walk, will poison and even kill large specimen trees where their roots run under the sidewalk or treated area. I screwed up big time with this once, and if you take just a moment to logically think about the use of salt, it doesn’t make sense at all.
  • Burton Schrader
    commented 2018-06-22 18:09:18 -0700 · Flag
    Where can I find this/these products in Thailand please. I can find wood vinigar here but thought it was for bugs not intrusive plants. Thanks