Green gardening ideas

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I was reading a posting on Facebook yesterday, there was a company selling little “homes” for Hedgehogs that were not really suitable for them, they were catching their spines on the uneven surface area, some getting caught and dying.

So It made me do a little research as the actual concept for something we could all help the Hedgehogs with was lovely. I came across a DIY hedgehog house by GARDENERS WORLD.COM which doesn’t take a lot of effort, but does give them somewhere safe to sleep. A couple of years ago, a friend here in France came across a whole family of them, the babies were wondering around in her garden. A real pleasure to see.

We love the wildlife that we see in our garden here. We often have owls living in our outbuildings and often see deer munching outside our windows. This gives us the push not to use chemicals in our garden which could effect all our ” visitors”.


Probably the worst job in the garden for me. I hear people saying that they find it satisfying, unfortunately I am not in that group!

I guess we were the same as most people, you buy a bottle of weed killer, whatever is being advertised on the TV or online, spray it on the weeds and hope it works and quickly!

We had no idea what was in it , but life is busy, and and it was one of the last things on our mind, to question whatever was in the product was safe to use.
We have normally lived in houses, where the gardens were relatively small or manageable, in one house the whole back yard was paved, where our dogs happily ran around it and helped water it.

Then we moved to a house, with a ton of stone surrounding it , and boy do the weeds come up quickly.

I think we have eventually given up, trying to pick all the weeds out by hand, backache and dirty fingers later.
Of course, you just see that one weed, and before you realise it, you have been out there for hours!

And in our garden, I can’t say it looked much better for it.
I guess, that with all the realisation of what is in household products.

Then the scares on the internet, with certain brands of weed killer, which can apparently use an active ingredient called Glyphosate.

You really have to look closely,  to find the ingredients listed.

A friend of ours, was told the product she was buying, was plant based, and when I looked it up it also contained Glyphosate!

A good article here on BLOOMBERG .

LIVE LOVE FRUIT has an article on  Glyphosate  and the foods they now believe contain it.

This has links to the EWG , increasing the information on this report.

This was a worry too.
There is an interesting article here,in the Guardian newspaper, if you would like to look more in depth.

The Guardian Newspaper

Some of the things going through our minds was.

If we had sprayed the weed killer on the ground, how much was left, after it had rained?

Or had it soaked into the plants?

Was it washed away? Reading some of these article they now believe that these chemicals are staying around much longer.

Photo by Edson Silva on

I tried a little experiment yesterday, since the sun started coming out again, our weeds have had a hay day . They have been multiplying on a grand scale. I thought when we added the Geo tech fabric under the stone, that we would reduce the weeds. Oh No! They are still in force ,I can’t believe just how hard they are to pull up!”I lost the will” Yesterday and dumped a whole bottle of vinegar on one pile of weeds, amazingly it killed the lot, within a couple of hours with the aid of the sun.

Wow! I have been mixing up the salt, washing up liquid and vinegar recipe. I went on the hunt again yesterday, trying to find a solution to the problem. One brand called Green Gobbler, which I found on Amazon .com was only available in the USA , basically it is very strong vinegar, 20% . Quite hard to find here in France, without a hefty price, or if you are a professional, not quite sure why you need to be one of those to purchase it? But if the 8% vinegar that I used yesterday ,is anything to go by it must be amazing.So cost effective too. I am sure though you need to be careful where you apply it, as it could make growing anything there in the future more difficult.


We have also inherited two wells, which is great for watering the plants, but anything we use, ends up in the water table and eventually on any vegetables and fruit we grow.

We also have two dogs, who are constantly licking their paws after going outside, ingesting what ever they have walked in. ow we have a puppy to look out for too.
Our daughter also enjoys  laying on the grass, on what ever was used to kill the weeds.

I want to kill the weeds not us!

There seems to be quite a few different ways of dealing with this more naturally.
We have listed some recipes here, we haven’t as yet tried them .

The website The family Handyman also covers some natural ways to kill weeds, most are covered in these articles, but they do offer another insight. They give the 10 top natural weedkillers that actually work. These can be found in the States.

This video by Safer Brand


We have tried this method in the last couple of years, it seems for us to work much better, if you spray it in the morning on a sunny hot day.

We have then seen the weeds die by the afternoon.

But you are then left, with a dead weed and pulling it out I guess is the next thing.

This can be tough if it is summer, and the ground is solid.
I have heard, to be careful if using a strong solution, especially the salt as plants don’t like growing there afterwards. so careful where you spray.


Since I wrote this post, we have really tried this method out.

To keep the costs down ( we have a huge expanse of stone to keep clear)

We bought some really large bags of salt, meant for swimming pools, these come in 15 kg sacs.

We used a plastic bin, adding water to keep dissolving the salt, this is an ongoing process, as the salt mix is very dense.

Then into a plastic watering can, we added a little washing up liquid and some white vinegar, about a cup to five litres. ( last time we used a garden spray bottle , but it wasn’t soaking the weeds enough and the salt just bunged up the spray.)

I have to say this is a much better result than we had before ( see picture )

We chose to apply it, when we had a couple of hot days, and it has really worked.

I think we are just going to keep applying the mixture, to make sure the weeds don’t come back.


I am not sure if the vodka one wouldn’t cost a small fortune, all I have found is putting it neat into a spray bottle and using this on a sunny day, seems an expensive method to us .

HOUSE LOGIC.COM has a few methods including the Vodka one .

I don’t know if the dogs would find that mixture interesting though, knowing our Labrador, I wouldn’t be so sure!
I have to admit, I am pretty terrible, at knowing if I am looking at a weed or a flower.

I usually end up, pulling up the wrong thing!

We had a wonderful neighbour, who’s advice has stuck with me.

He said “if you like the look of them, then they are not a weed” great advice.


Photo by Pixabay on

This one by NASUM 

We have also bought a couple of weed flame guns, which I have to admit, is a bit of a boys toy.

A couple of our friends introduced us to this method, and they were actually excited to go and clear weeds.

When they first bought it, there was a rush to use it, I bet the novelty wore off!

I think there a several sizes that you can purchase.

Normal house size, and a more industrial one, which has a gas bottle on a stand I think.

I seem to go through a fair bit of gas, not sure for me it is cost effective.
I admit to not being too great at it , for me, trying not to singe my feet was a big hurdle.


Photo by on

This is another method, that is simple to use, it could be more difficult with larger areas.

Just pouring the boiling water over the weeds.

Good though, if you want to grow plants in that area again.


We have done this around the house, then adding the stone, it is good, but the weeds still turn up.

I have to say, they are not so hard to get out, as the roots are not as long.
You do have to be careful, not to puncture a hole in it .

We have to careful with the dogs, and any spiky garden furniture. A few examples listed on the link below.



Wood chips or  mulch to cover up areas between plants .

Black bags, tarpaulin or old paper, such as newspaper to inhibit the light getting to the weeds.

Our friend suggested, to putting heavy tarpaulin or black plastic over an area through the winter, helps to kill weeds on a vegetable patch ready for the spring.

EASY MULCH – A STRAW PELLET has some good reviews on keeping away slugs as well with no chemicals.


I have seen this, as a weed prevention , but also read it can attract vermin.

As we are in the countryside, that put us off this method .

The cost could be rather high on this one too.

HOME GUIDES SF GATE.COM  offer some advice on using this .

They also suggest using Baking Soda as another method.

THE READERS DIGEST have another 16 ways of killing weeds, some that I had not heard of.

FIX IT HOME IMPROVEMENT CHANNEL give advice on using Cornmeal and its benefits.


There is a great article on Gardening know how , on using other plants to help with keeping back the weeds or to enhance flavours, in such plants as tomatoes. They suggest growing Basil near tomatoes to enhance their flavour.

Gardening know how also has some great tips on growing a dense base of flowers and plants to stop the weeds coming through, great if you have flower beds. We do have issues here, as we have quite a few evening and nocturnal visitors in the form of Deer and Boar who just love to munch on anything planted.


Photo by Karol D on

A beautiful green lawn is beautiful, it makes you feel that you can linger in the garden. How many of us have sat making daisy chain crowns for our children? Little memories of gentle times.

PLANET NATURAL.COM  an American site gives ideas on making that happen without the use of toxic chemicals.

GARDEN ORGANIC.ORG also has some trouble shooting tips on what to look for .


HORSE MANURE 60 L  , I couldn’t believe you could get a bag of this delivered by Amazon!

I hope it is well sealed. Certainly natural though.

HOME GROWN FUN.COM have 10 different natural ways to fertilise your garden.

We have used a few of these ourselves. I always pop the banana skins on the roses, this helps with adding potassium.

We have always used the coffee grounds on our pots, and also in a

de -com poster.It was fascinating to see how many worms that used to bring around the top of the container.

We have used egg shells to stop slugs from eating our plants, though not always successfully.

Though reading the article they also give calcium to the plant.

I don’t know why that hadn’t registered before with me, as we wash, dry in the oven then ground these down to a fine dust for an additive for our dogs. PETMD for more information on this.

DIATOMACEOUS EARTH  this video explains how this product can be used on trees.


I wanted to add a little personal story here, I am usually out hunting for out bargains, we used to have a shop in Wales that sold all sorts of items, usually ones that had been an end of range, or that the shop had bought up a job lot. My husband asked me to pick up a rake for the garden. As I was looking for one, I came across a very heavy rake made out of cast iron! In my mind was how long this would last for, no wood to break!

My husband couldn’t stop laughing when he saw it. Apparently I had bought an Ash felt rake! One that is used on building sites.

I have never heard the end of it! So much fun being made of my purchase. I have to say, said rake has now been used for raking in the stone we had delivered for the house, in the garden, reaching dog balls in the long grass and a multitude of uses, and still it looks the same after more than 8 years of use! Though I have to admit I find it rather heavy to use! My husband thinks that even if we were hit by a metier it would still survive! What a bargain!



I have to admit not being a great enthusiastic gardener.

I love to see flowers and a nice lawn, being able to sit outside with a nice meal or a glass of wine is great.

I hate weeding, and when we tried to grow some purple sprouting broccoli one year, the caterpillars laid so many eggs .

I spent weeks, trying to remove them all. I just ended up with loads of butterfly’s! and no broccoli!


Gives 10 different natural bug removers.

TREEHUGGER  has some other methods for growing vegetables.


Photo by Kaboompics .com on

I have seen a few articles on starting off your seeds in half an egg shell, which can be planted with the seed , totally environmental.


On planting in egg shells. How to prepare the shells. You could also use the carton in the same way.


It is not easy trying to find a safe paint or stain product for painting fencing in your garden. SAFE GARDENING give some tips.

I found a website offering a non toxic solution on FRUIT HILL FARM suggesting the use also on stables. I hadn’t given that aspect a thought before.

A company based in Germany called LIVOS offering natural paints -(info from site)

Natural paints, oils, varnishes, products for maintenance and cleaners – for wood inside and outside, for inside walls. Health-friendly, eco-friendly, made from natural and renewable raw materials. Good for you, good for the environment, good for the climate.

LIVOS on Amazon too


Have you ever sat in the garden? and the smell of someone painting their fence with CREOSOTE wafts over your fence? Yuk!

I hate that toxic smell.

My dad used to use this stuff, He and I were talking recently and he mentioned the cancerous properties of this product.

I wanted to add a little information on using Creosote.

ATSDR who are an agency for Toxic Substances have a fact sheet with a huge amount of information.

Using one of the non toxic stains and paints , examples above, seem a much safer option.