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I remember the days of having two dogs and living in a condo. Having to get my coat and boots on in the evening when I’m warm and relaxed, to take the dogs out in the cold and rain and sometimes snow.
Now being a homeowner, I don’t miss those days. At all. I can take my dogs for a walk to do their business when I want, and when they want. When the weather is miserable, I can simply open the back door and let them do their business from the warmth of our house.
And I think the dogs appreciate it too. While they like their walks (what dog doesn’t!), neither of them are fond of the rain.
Having a yard for the dogs to use means that they can do their thing as quickly as they want and get back into the warm, dry house quickly. It’s a win-win.
Lawn Maintenance with Pets
There are downsides to having a home with a yard as well, and that is that they take work to maintain. Depending on the size of your yard and how immacualate you want to keep it, maintaining a yard can be a lot of work.
And having dogs in the yard definitely does not make yard maintenance any easier!
For one, you are likely well aware of how dog’s urine can leave dead spots in the grass. We’ll get into this in another article but dogs and dead grass seem to go together. It is a constant battle to keep your lawn looking it’s best when you favorite four legged friends have the run of the place.
Another issue about lawn maintenance with pets is safety and that’s what we are hear to talk about today.
What is Weed Killer?
Non-selective weed killer means that it will kill or harm everything it is applied to. Spraying or applying these types of weed killers to a weed will tend to kill everything around them – including grass.
DIY Home Remedies for Pet Friendly Weed Killer
Pet friendly weed killers can be made with simple items you have around your home. But like anything, there are pros and cons of each method.
Here we list our TOP FIVE dog friendly weed killers you can make in your home.
Vinegar can be an effective and natural pet friendly lawn weed killer when used properly.
Normal household vinegar contains 5% acetic acid, which is the active ingredient in vinegar that helps kill weeds. Using a vinegar that has a higher acetic acid like the one we list above will tend to be more effective in killing weeds. But you will want to make sure your pets are kept away from the vinegar until it is fully dried.
Vinegar works to kill weeds by drawing the moisture out of them. This is why you will see browning very quickly, often within an hour or so. The drawback is that vinegar does not attack the roots like chemical weeds killers will so often times you will need to spray the weeds a few times, one or two days apart.
Another drawback to using vinegar as an organic weed killer is that it is non-selective. In fact, all organic home remedies for dog-friendly weed killer are non selective.
Apply vinegar by spraying on vegetation, making sure the leaves are fully covered. Minimize spray on areas you don’t want to kill. Either use a vinegar that comes with a built in sprayer like our first example above, or use your own vinegar with a common garden sprayer.
Adjust nozzle to give a fine spray while minimizing overspray to other areas.
Pros and Cons of Vinegar Weed Killer
- Boiling Water
Using boiling water as an effective pet friendly weed killer might sound strange but it can be highly effective.
Killing weeds with boiling water is also the safest method for your pets since there is zero chemicals used and no worry about your pets stepping on the treated areas once it is cooled.
Clearly, care must be taken when applying the boiling water to the unwanted weeds or plants to avoid burning or scalding yourself. Keep your pets indoors while applying the hot water to have one less thing to worry about.
The water should cool quickly, so you should be able to let your pets out in the yard within a few minutes of application. Just check to make sure it’s cooled well enough first.
Obviously, boiling water is going to harm almost any vegetation it touches so this procedure isn’t recommended around lawn or other plants you don’t want to harm.
If you’re unsure how well hot water will work to keep unwanted vegetation at bay, take a look at this company’s website who specialize in this kind of weed control.
Apply boiling water by spraying directly on vegetation you want to kill. Try to apply in center of plant, to maximize effect on the root system. For safety, wear gloves and a long sleeved shirt to protect yourself against scalding.
Pros and Cons of Boiling Water Weed Killer
- Vinegar and Salt Weed Killer
A stronger, more effective DIY home weed killer can be made using vinegar and normal table salt. You can also skip the vinegar and just use a salt/water mix but for a stronger version, keep the vinegar in the mix.
Like the other pet safe weed killers we’ve listed above, this mixture is non-selective, meaning it will kill everything that it touches. Like zombies in an apocalypse.
This mixture can be highly effective in treating unwanted weed growth but there are some downfalls as well.
Salt will sterilize the soil, meaning nothing will grow there. For quite a while. Perhaps years. This might be great if you’re trying to completely rid areas of vegetation, but not the best idea for spot treatment on your lawn.
Also, both wet vinegar as well as salt can be irritants to your dogs paws. If you let the solution dry before letting your pets roam free, it shouldn’t be too bad but the salt could still be a minor irritant. Definitely not our first choice of concoctions for dog friendly weed killer.
If applying this mixture near concrete, it is possible for the salt to stain or discolor the concrete, at least temporarily.
A word of warning!
A lot of recipes we have found online mention mixing vinegar with epsom salts as a dog friendly weed killer. Epsom salts are made of magnesium sulfate which is actually a fertilizer. Talk about a conflict: the vinegar will want to kill the weeds and the epsom salts will want to help them grow. You might just end up with thoroughly confused weeds.
Mix vinegar, table salt and a few drops of dishwashing liquid in a garden pump sprayer. Mix thoroughly to dissolve salt in to liquid. If using a high concentrate vinegar like we link to above, you may want to water the solution down a bit. Apply carefully to the areas you want to kill. Gloves and eye protection are a good idea as the vinegar and salt mixture when airborne can cause discomfort to your eyes if a mist reaches them.
Pros and Cons of Vinegar and Salt Weed Killer
Mulch is not so much a weed killer as it is a way of preventing weeds from growing.
Mulch can not only make shrubbery or a flower bed look much nicer, it also has the added benefits of maintaining moisture in the ground as well as keeping weed growth to a minimum.
If you choose to use mulch in your flower beds, make sure you use a natural mulch that doesn’t contain any dyes or other preservatives. If the packaging doesn’t clearly label the ingredients, move on to the next brand.
One of the downsides with mulch is that if your dog is a digger (hint: he shouldn’t be!), it’s easy for them to fling mulch all over your yard. Another is that mulch needs to be renewed every year for best appearance and usefulness. It’s not a one and done kind of treatment.
Apply mulch liberally to flower beds, shrub beds, dog runs, etc. For best results, spread 2-4 inches deep. If using in a dog run, it is best to go a bit shallower but keep an extra supply on hand to patch up areas that get thin.
Pros and Cons of using Mulch for Weed Prevention
- Hand Pulling Weeds
Probably the most eco-friendly option of ridding your lawn and garden from weeds is by pulling them by hand. But this method is also the hardest and most time consuming as well.
If you attempt to pull weeds with just your bare hands, chances are you will leave some or all of the root intact, meaning the weeds will grow back very quickly. Some weeds like Morning Glory are shallow rooted and can easily be pulled by hand but other common weeds like dandelions will be much harder to kill by hand.
If hand pulling weeds is your choice, we suggest using one or both of the tools we list above. They will not only make the job easier on your and your back, but will also greatly increase the chance of you killing the weeds the first try.
I personally use a Worth Standup weed puller and love it. It is simple to use and requires very little effort. It almost always gets all or most of the root, meaning that the weed doesn’t come back.
The one downfall I find with these standup weed pullers is that they leave a fair size hole in the yard. To overcome this, I carefully shake the soil off the removed weed back into the hole and compact it with my foot. If the holes are really large, I keep a bag of lawn soil handy to finish filling the hole.
One problem with these types of weed pullers is they are difficult or impossible to use in tight spaces, such as in cracks in a sidewalk. In those situations you’ll need to go back to one of the spraying methods that we have listed here.
The other weed pulling tool we’ve listed in this segment is not really for lawns but better used in flower beds or around shrubs. The curved blade lets you get good leverage on the weed root with little effort and the ergonomic rubber handle is comfortable to grip and allows you to use the tool for long periods of time without hand strain.
If you have weeds growing in both your lawn and flower beds, picking up both of these tools is highly recommended.
Pros and Cons of Hand Pulling Weeds
Pet Safe Weed Killers
Don’t want to mess with home made recipes and just try a weed killer straight out of the bottle? Can’t say I blame you. I have better things to do with my time than do yard work let alone making and testing home remedies.
Here is our list of our top three animal friendly weed killers.
- Ecosmart Weed and Grass Killer
Ecosmart is a ready to use non-toxic, completely organic weed killer.
Like all the pet safe herbicides listed here, this one is non-selective meaning it will kill everything it touches.
Main Ingredients of EcoSmart Weed Killer
Ecosmart is a decent eco friendly herbicide but like many products in this category, it may take multiple applications to fully kill the target weeds. For best results, apply when weeds are actively growing and rain is not forecast for several days.
Ecosmart weed killer is not reported to stain concrete or other parts of your home, but it is always best to do a test in an inconspicuous before doing a full treatment.
Shield plants, shrubs, flowers, etc. that you don’t want to be harmed.
If you only have small areas to spray with weed killer, EcoSmart might be a good choice as it’s ready to use right out of the bottle. But if you have multiple areas to control weeds in it might be a better option to pick our next choice as it is much cheaper per ounce than EcoSmart.
Pros and Cons of Ecosmart Weed and Grass Killer
- Just for Pets Weed Killer
Just for Pets Weed Killer might be the perfect choice for Dog Friendly Weed Killing products.
Just for Pets can be purchased in a one gallon size with a hose and trigger that fits right in the bottle included. If you are purchasing a second time and already have the hose/trigger, you can save a couple of bucks and just get a refill bottle.
Ounce per ounce, Just for Pets weed killer is about half the price of EcoSmart but of course comes in a much bigger container. If you know you’re going to use it, this is a great deal.
Main Ingredients of Just for Pets Weed Killer
You probably get tired of hearing it, and we get tired of saying it, but Just for Pets Weed Killer is non-selective so care must be taken when using.
We have had no reports of Just for Pets staining concrete, siding, etc. But of course do your own testing to be sure.
An added bonus is that Just for Pets says they donate a portion of each sale to animal shelters. How much and where is unknown, but it’s nice to know they are helping out. We all know how much help animal shelters need, so any help is appreciated.
Just for Pets also offers a No Questions Asked guarantee which is great if you are on the fence about whether this product will work for you.
Pros and Cons of Just for Pets Weed Killer
- Volcano Weed Burner
This may just be the most perfect redneck weed killer ever invented.
Hook the Mr. Volcano Weed Burner up to your propane tank and you are ready to kill those weeds with the power of 580,000 btu’s of flames.
The kit comes with a 12 foot hose so you can easily move a fair distance without having to move the propane tank. You can also work a safe distance from the tank, ensuring your safety.
Included as well is a flame starter so you don’t need to risk using a lighter to get the flame started on this burner.
Clearly, this weed burner is not for everyone and is completely non-selective. I wouldn’t suggest using it on your lawn unless you really hate mowing the grass! But Mr. Volcano might be the perfect choice if you have a stone walkway where you want to kill the weeds creeping up between the cracks.
Pros and Cons of Mr. Volcano Weed Burner
Hopefully we have given you enough information to find the best animal safe weed killer for your needs. Caring for your lawn and garden safely when you have pets may be more difficult than the older methods of using harmful chemicals but it’s not impossible and shouldn’t be that much harder if you are armed with the knowledge.
These pet friendly lawn maintenance tips are also much better for the environment than using chemicals so you are not only helping your pets, you are helping our earth.
If you have any comments or have other tried and tested methods of pet safe weed control, we would love to hear from you in the comment section below.