Comparing pet friendly weed killers with standard UK weed killers for safety and effective ability to kill weeds

Dealing with weeds is a part of every gardener’s life. If left to grow out of control, they can prevent your plants, flowers, and crops from getting all the nutrients they need to grow to their full potential.

Although some people believe that all weeds are inherently bad, they actually have quite a few benefits for your garden and nature in general, however, when you are specifically trying to grow something, and weeds keep popping up in that area, you have no choice but to deal with them.

Weeds can also be an eyesore, such as when they pop up between your block paving, or in patches on your lawn, and you know if you don’t deal with the problem quickly, it will only get worse.

In this article we will look at the different ways you can get rid of weeds in your garden, and also compare pet-friendly weed killers to standard UK weed killers to see how they match up for effectiveness and safety.

if only weeds in real life were like this huh?

Ways of getting rid of weeds

Here we will delve a little deeper into your options when it comes to dealing with weeds. As you will see, although weed killer is a very effective method, it is not the only one to choose from.

Weed membranes

These products can work wonders if you set them up correctly, keeping weeds from popping up out of your gravel driveways, beds, and anywhere else you desire. There are two main types of these products, a weed membrane, which is usually woven polypropylene plastic, or a weed membrane fabric which feels more like a piece of cloth than plastic. Out of the two, I would say the fabric is better for stopping weeds in their tracks.

With these products, you should first thoroughly weed the area first, either by hand or by using some kind of weed killer. Once the weeds are dead, you can lay the membrane down, and then cover it with soil, gravel, etc. and it will stop weeds from growing through.

Use a lot of mulch

laying down a good layer of mulch around the base of your plants can stop weeds in more ways than one. For a start, it deprives them of light, stunting their growth, but you have to be careful not to make the mulch too deep or it will also starve your soil of oxygen. Some mulches will also attract weed-eating insects that will fight on the front lines for you against those unwanted weed seeds.

here’s a good picture of some nicely laid down mulch-

Pulling out those weeds by hand

Although the most labour-intensive method of getting rid of weeds, it can actually be very satisfying to do it the old-fashioned way. I often drift away in my mind while weeding beds, almost working on autopilot, and plan my next gardening project, or just sing songs in my head. I find it all very relaxing using a weed grubber.

If you want to have a go at this method, I would suggest using a good set of gardening gloves, a weeding tool, or just something like a small trowel, and a bucket to throw the weeds in, or maybe a wheelbarrow if you have a lot of weeds. You also might want to get a garden kneeler to make yourself comfortable.

The best time to weed by hand is after a spell of rain, as they should just pull out of the soil easily and smoothly. If you are going to weed in hot, dry, weather, you are better off using a tool to cut the weeds off beneath the surface, and let the hot temperatures finish the job for you.

Weed burner

Weed burners are basically mini flame throwers that you use to put those pesky weeds to a fiery death. Traditionally, weed burners run off butane canisters, but there are electric weed burners on the market these days. Be prepared to pay a little more for these, though as you don’t have to keep buying butane canisters, they might actually work out cheaper in the long run. In our article on how to weed block paving, we talk about using a weed burner, so have a look if you’re interested.

Weed burners are popular with people who don’t like to use chemicals in their garden, although the weeding process is more time-consuming for sure. Still, it is quite fun wielding a mini flame thrower, especially for anyone who grew up watching action movies in the 70s and 80s.

Here’s a weed burner in action for those of you who’ve never seen one-

Comparing UK weed killers– what are your options

You only need to type in the words weed killer in the search bar on Google or Amazon to see that there are a ridiculous number of products to choose from. Depending on your living situation, and your gardening needs, some weed killers will be better suited to you than others, and here we will compare your usual weed killers with pet-friendly ones.

Standard weed killers

Although some people out there say there are organic weed killers that can match products like the original Roundup, I have to say that from my own experience, I am yet to see it. Sure, there are maybe one or two organic products that I’ve tried that have been quite effective at killing weeds, but these haven’t been cheap to buy, and even then, they still weren’t up to the weed-killing performance of chemical weed killers, and wouldn’t; stand a chance against something like Japanese knotweed. Then again, you can always use goats 😂

The main ingredient in all of the most effective weed killers is glyphosate, and is a chemical that has been the focus of a lot of controversies since its first uses by Monsanto back in the day. Glyphosate is incredibly effective at killing weeds, but it will also kill any plants that it comes into contact with. It is also quite toxic and can cause serious health problems to people and animals who come into contact with it, and so it has to be handled with care.

If you do decide to use a standard weedkiller containing glyphosate, you need to keep pets and children away from the area for at least a few days, maybe even longer. In my opinion, if you have pets and small children and you want them to use the garden, use an organic weed killer or a pet-friendly one, or simply dig the weeds out by hand. If it’s the lawn you could always use a lawn weed and feed.

Here’s an informative video on how safe glyphosate really is-

Pet friendly weed killers

The first thing to understand about pet-friendly weed killers is that you should not just take the product at face value. Some weed killers might profess to be pet-friendly, but after checking the ingredients you might find that they still include ingredients and chemicals that can cause irritation and harm to your pets.

Even some organic weed killers can contain things that aren’t 100% pet friendly, so you do really need to be careful and research the effects of any ingredients that you are unsure about. Generally speaking, though, large quantities of acetic acid or vinegar in a weed killer are a good sign that it is safe for pets, and chemicals like chloroform and glyphosate are ones to avoid.

If you have problems with moss or lichens, you might be better off finding a product that is designed specifically for eradicating those plants, as they can be very hard to get rid of with organic weed killers.

I’ve had mixed results with pet-friendly and organic weed killers, and I have to say that none of them have been as effective as using a glyphosate-based product. However, there are some out there that work efficiently, only thing is about those products is that they are only pet-friendly after they have been left for a few days, at minimum, and if there is any doubt about a product harming your pets, its best to steer very clear. I mean, who would want to risk hurting these little guys-

As you can see, weed killers are not your only option when dealing with those green garden invaders we all love to hate, and perhaps one of the alternatives methods would suit you better?

If you do decide to go with a weed killer, and you have small children and pets, avoid anything that has glyphosate, chloroform, sethoxydim, etc. and instead get a vinegar-based one or one that has a lot of acetic acid as the main ingredient, as these are the safer options.

If you have younger children, getting them to help you with pulling the weeds out can be a good introduction to gardening for them, so don’t overlook that opportunity, you never know where it may lead.


About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from gardentoolbox.co.uk, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message: info@gardentoolbox.co.uk

View all posts by Terry Smith

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.