How to Kill Thistles Organically, Without Chemicals
by Alec McClennan, on August 16, 2019
You're heard the saying about a weed being any plant growing where it isn't wanted? I can tolerate a variety of "weeds" in a lawn, but Thistles are not one of them. Thistles are frustrating, especially if you're trying to have a kid friendly lawn. What kid wants to walk barefoot on a prickly thistle? Not mine. So, what options are there if I don't want to use potentially dangerous chemicals on the lawn?
Step 1: Purchase an Organic Weed Killer
CAPTAIN JACK'S LAWNWEED BREW
If you are trying to kill Thistle in your lawn, but want to avoid chemicals like 2,4-D, Captain Jack's Lawnweed Brew is a good choice. Just know that you'll need to make multiple applications during the Spring and Fall to have an effective result. Thistles have a deep root system, so the idea is to keep weakening the plant at the top, preventing it from thriving over time. You may never eliminate the Thistle organically, but you probably won't eliminate it with chemicals either. The key is to stay on top of it. Captain Jack's Lawnweed Brew is easy to apply as you just have to spray the leaves well.
ADIOS ORGANIC WEED KILLER
Another product you can try is Adios Organic Weed Killer, which has been shown to work particularly well on Thistles. This product has the ability to travel into the root system of the weed, giving it a much better chance to kill the entire plant, rather than just the top half.
One approach I've used over the years is injecting the product directly into the Thistle with a syringe. It's a little unorthodox, but if you're stuck between a Thistle and a chemical, it might just be worth a try for you. Fill the syringe with Adios by either sucking it directly out of the container or by pouring the Adios into a bowl and sucking it out of that. Insert the syringe needle into the stem of the Thistle as far as you can and slowly push in the plunger to release the Adios into the stem. If you pull the syringe out slightly as you press in the plunger, it will allow the Adios into the stem more easily. I usually do this to each weed twice. There are a variety of places online that sell syringes, such as this 10 mL syringe you can buy online. I've used the Adios Concentrate in my trials to date, but you might be able to get the same results with the ready to use version.
BURNOUT ORGANIC GRASS & WEED KILLER
While you will find a lot of other organic weed and grass killers out there, such as Burnout, which work great for killing the above ground portion of plants, they're not as effective at killing the roots. Burnout is perfect for spraying on weeds in your mulch beds, on sidewalks and in cracks, but it isn't ideal for spraying in the lawn.
Step 2: Use the Weed Out Lawn Tool for Thistles
Another method for dealing with Thistles is to just pull them out using our Weed Out Lawn Weeding Tool or Weed Out Pro Lawn Weeding Tool. They are both super easy to use and make pulling out weeds in your lawn fun! Two of the most obvious perks of this tool are that you never have to bend over to pull out the Thistle and you don't have to touch its prickly leaves.
Step 3: Mow the Lawn
Mowing should cut the top of the Thistle off, exposing the stem and weakening its ability to thrive. If your mower is not successful in removing the top of the weed, you can break the top off with your hand, heavy glove recommended. Just try to weed it without pulling out the entire root. Then apply your Organic Weed Control of choice. It will take some time to see progress. If the Thistles don't seem affected after a week, try a reapplication. None of these approaches are a magic bullet, but they can really be effective and help you achieve less Thistles without using chemicals.
More Information about How to Kill Thistles Without Chemicals
Thistles have a very invasive root system, which is one reason why they are so difficult to eliminate. The ideal time of year to treat Thistles is late Fall, when they are pulling all their energy into their roots to prepare for Winter. Taking advantage of this seasonal function will help facilitate the absorption of the Organic Weed Control products you use.
Good Luck! Have any other suggestions? Feel free to share!