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The Best Pet-Friendly Weed Killers

Safe alternatives to harsh chemicals

Keep Pets & Kids Safe With These Weed Killers

By the team at DIY Gardening

Hello and welcome to DIY Gardening’s guide to pet-safe weedkillers.

My name is Daniel Woodley, and I’m a keen gardener, and the proud owner of a rebellious Labradoodle called Dougie.

According to the National Pesticide Information Center, one of the most popular garden weedkillers in the world can persist in the soil for up to 6 months and can cause pets to “drool, vomit, have diarrhoea, lose their appetite, or seem sleepy” (source).

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that in my garden, not when I have a pet, and when there are other, much safer options.

Below I’ll show you safer alternatives that work well on weeds and moss.

Daniel Woodley and Dougie the Labradoodle

1) Electric Pet-Friendly Weed Burners: 

Hozelock Green Thermal Weeder

A Safer Alternative: Perfect For Hard Surfaces

Electric weed burners are powered from the mains and provide a powerful blast of heat to kill off the weeds.

There is much confusion about how these devices work. Contrary to what many consumers think, they aren’t designed to burn the weeds to a crisp or vaporise them but instead to kill them with a short blast of scorching air. The dead weeds then naturally breakdown and decompose.

All it takes is a 5-second blast, and the weeds will die, then within a week, most should be well on their way to decomposing.

You can use these pet-friendly weed killers on patios, driveways, paths, gravel, most other hard surfaces and also flowerbeds.

Unfortunately, you can’t use electric weed killers on lawns as it will also kill the grass a few inches on either side of the weeds.

Our favourite pet-friendly electric weed killer is the Draper Weed Burner, but we recommend you explore our guide to the best electric weed killers, you’ll find cheaper products and a nifty guide worth reading.

2) Roundup Natural:

Roundup natural

Much Safer Than Regular Roundup

Roundup Natural is produced by Bayer and is a safer alternative to the other chemical-laden products they have in their range.

The key ingredient in this pet-friendly weedkiller is Pelargonic acid which breaks down naturally and harmlessly in the soil.

Use this systemic pet-safe weed killer to kill grass, clear weed-infested areas of the garden, remove weeds from gravel paths and gravel driveways, along fences etc.

This US government factsheet states that Pelargonic acid is found naturally in foods and is used commercially as a food additive and consuming or inhaling small amounts poses no risk to human health. It also states “toxicity tests on non-target organisms, such as birds, fish, and honeybees, revealed little or no toxicity”.

There are two things I don’t like about this product:

Roundup Natural should not be used on hard surfaces such as patios or tarmac due to potential runoff. The Pelargonic acid needs to come into contact with the soil so it can degrade naturally.

It’s a mild skin irritant, so you’ll need to keep children and pets away from the area until it’s dried, but you should be doing that anyway.

Choose from the concentrated version, which is ideal for more extensive gardens or try the ready-to-use product, which is perfect for smaller areas.

3) Neudorff WeedFree Plus:

Pet friendly weed killer

Overview

Available as a ready-to-use product or in concentrate form, this pet-friendly weed killer from Neudorff contains both Pelargonic acid and Maleic Hydrazide.

Both chemicals are much safer than the toxic soup found in many other brands; they also break down easily and quickly in the soil; Maleic Hydrazide has been regulated and approved for use on potatoes as a sprout suppresser since the 1950s.

As with Roundup Natural, use this product on soil, grass (to kill the grass), gravel, and fences. Neudorff WeedFree will kill almost all plants, so keep it away from anything you want to keep.

Avoid using this excessively on hard surfaces where there’s potential for runoff. While it’s effective on all surfaces, the ingredients need to enter the soil so it can degrade; otherwise, it may persist.

Lab tests revealed that when fed to dogs in small quantities, no adverse effects were noted. When dosed at a very high rate of 500mg per kg of body weight each day for one year, adverse effects were reported.

In short, Maleic Hydrazide is far safer than most pesticides when used in the garden, and dogs are unlikely to suffer adverse effects from short term, low dose exposure. Just keep the bottle away from pets and allow the surface to fully dry after application.

Source.

4) The Best Pet-Friendly Lawn Feed and Moss Killer

Westland SafeLawn

Overview: A Good Lawn Maintenance Product

I know from experience that if you maintain a lawn properly and keep it healthy, weeds and mosses struggle to take hold as the thick grass suppresses them.

The opposite is true for poorly maintained lawns; bare patches soon attract seeds that germinate into weeds, and moss is always ready to spread onto damp, waterlogged lawns.

SafeLawn contains three key ingredients, all of which are child and pet safe:

  • A natural bacteria that eats away at moss and thatch.
  • Grass seeds that will germinate in bare patches of soil.
  • Low-dose iron is a fertiliser to boost grass growth.

This product is 100% natural, and it contains no pesticides.

The manufacturer even claims that LawnSafe is so pet-friendly that you can apply it frequently, up to a maximum of every three weeks.

A Few Issues I Have With This Product (Could be a Deal Breaker)

I’m always honest with our readers and here’s what I don’t like about this product:

  • It honks! No kidding, this product is smelly, and it needs watering in; otherwise, your whole garden will smell.
  • This is a maintenance product, which means it works great at suppressing weeds and keeping your lawn thick and healthy, assuming it’s already fairly healthy. However, if your lawn is covered with weeds and bare patches, this product won’t be effective; it’s what we refer to as a “maintenance” product, not a silver bullet.
  • It contains iron which may stain patios and other hard surfaces, so you’ll need to be careful when applying it in your garden.

5) 100% Natural Lawn Moss Killer:

MO Bacter pet-friendly lawn moss killer

Overview: Perfect For Mossy Lawns

MO Bacter is the best natural and organic product for killing lawn moss, it contains no harmful chemicals at all and is 100% safe to use around children, pets and all wildlife.

The ultimate pet-friendly moss killer for lawns, MO Bacter contains a natural bacteria that eats away at the moss until it breaks down into a feed for the lawn.

Just sprinkle MO Bacter onto the grass and as the moss breaks down, overlay any bare patches with new grass seed which will germinate in the decomposing moss

There are so many advantages to using this natural and pet-friendly product:

  • No staining of patios or stonework (unlike iron-based moss killers).
  • No raking required, just let the moss decompose naturally.
  • Pet-friendly as all animals and even children can use the lawn straight away.
  • No blackening of the lawn, unlike many other products.
  • Endorsed by the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society).

If you have a very mossy lawn, we recommend reading our detailed guide to removing and preventing lawn moss which contains excellent advice on how to stop lawn moss from returning.

The ONE Issue I have With This Type of Moss Killer

The bacteria in this moss killer and all others like it, takes time to act. We’re talking months here, not days. If you want a product to turn your mossy lawn black so you can sow grass seed and achieve a lush lawn in a few weeks, this product isn’t for you. Use lawn bacteria to slowly kill off and consume moss over time, you should also periodically sprinkle the lawn with grass seed to fill in bare patches and suppress weeds.

Alternative Natural and Pet-Friendly Ways to Kill Weeds:

In addition to the products suggested on this page, you can also try:

  • Boiling water is perfect for killing weeds on patios, concrete and other hard surfaces. You can’t use it on lawns, though, and there’s a risk of damage to plants if used in a dense flowerbed.
  • Salty water is a pet-friendly weed killer for use on hard surfaces. However, too much salt is bad for the ground as it persists and can stop plants from growing for several years. The issue with salt is it isn’t selective, and soil contamination will affect all plants. If you must use it, mix one part salt to five parts water and apply directly to the leaves of the weeds via a fine handheld sprayer without drenching the soil. It would be best if you didn’t use salt regularly, but it’s okay as a one-off (i.e. once a year) treatment of weeds on hard surfaces, provided you don’t allow excess salt to run off the leaves of the weeds.
  • Organic gardeners often use vinegar to suppress weeds, but in reality, it will only scorch the weeds and never kills the roots. Almost all of the organic gurus I’ve seen suggest that vinegar and salt together is the best solution, but too much salt can ruin your flowerbeds and kill off plants.
  • Don’t forget that there are also several tools for lifting deep-rooted weeds from lawns and flowerbeds. Used in conjunction with the pet-safe weedkillers recommended on this page, we feel you have a good chance of getting rid of weeds without the need for harsh chemicals or excessive amounts of salt.

 Lawn Weeder

You don’t always need to use chemicals to remove lawn weeds and this tool is lightweight, easy to use and pulls up deep roots too. Check out the thousands of positive reviews on Amazon: 

Lawn weed removal tool

 Patio Weeder

This is the perfect tool for removing weeds between patio slabs or in other narrow channels. You’ll need to buy the pole separately but the manufacturer is currently offering a guarantee.

Patio weed removal tool

 Hand Tool Weeder

Got a small garden and looking for a hand tool to remove weeds from narrow channels? There’s no need to buy the pole version, this hand tool is ideal for small patios and block paved areas.

Hand weeder tool

 Delicate Weeder

If you need a weeding tool for more delicate areas of the garden, perhaps near fruit and vegetables or in a packed flower border, put the hoe away and try this simple yet ingenious product instead.

Delicate weeding tool

FAQs:

Where can pet-friendly weed burners be used?

You can use pet-friendly weed burners on any surface that won’t be damaged by heat. Patios, concrete, driveways and gravel are places you can safely use a weed burner.

Do pet-friendly weed killers work?

Yes, weed burners are effective but need to be used periodically to keep weeds at bay. The chemical weed killers listed here are safe provided the manufacturer’s instructions are followed. The moss eating bacteria is 100% safe to pets.

Does vinegar kill weeds?

Vinegar isn’t very effective and most grasses and perennials will soon grow back. Food grade vinegar found in most shops is very weak, although horticultural vinegar is stronger and effective on some broad leaves during hot weather.

Does boiling water kill weeds?

Boiling water is very effective at treating weeds and can permanently kill many of them. The seeds are often killed off by the hot water too. Hot water will kill lawn grass and many plants though so careful handling and application are required.

More From Daniel Woodley:

I really hope you found my guide to safer weedkillers helpful. I’ve reduced my reliance on harmful products significantly in recent years, and I hope you can too.

Any product can be harmful to pets and children if it’s not used properly so, please take care and always read the label

You can find out more about me and discover more of my content via my profile page:

More About Daniel Woodley

Danny Woodley

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This guide to the best pet-friendly weed killers was created by the team here at DIY Gardening

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