Bird safe weed killer?

Hello! I was wondering if anyone could suggest any weed killers that are safe for ground birds? We have paving slabs and the rather wide strips between them have been inundated with weeds and errant bird seeds that have germinated. Can anyone recommend bird-safe weed killers? I’ve tried:

  • Weed burners (butane)
  • Pouring boiling water over them
  • Pulling them up by hand
  • Weed scraper (looks like a hand scythe)

The last two work but I can’t keep up with it, they sprout faster than I can pull them up. I sweep up the stray seeds nightly but theres only so much prevention I can do. We have so many birds (wood pigeons, collared doves, jackdaws, blackbirds, pheasants, magpies, and many more) pecking between the stones and even pulling up worms so I want to make sure whatever I use is safe for them. Are the weed killers that are supposedly pet safe once dried alright to use?

We are renting, so we can’t do anything major like pull up the stones and install ground covers to completely prevent growth between the stones.  

This picture is from a couple weeks ago and there’s much more growth by now (sorry for the poor pic, was a screenshot from a video taken from my cell phone). Our yard isn’t the prettiest but I find so much joy in seeing all the birds (and hedgehog, voles, and field mice) that come by!

Any help would be appreciated

  • Hello HappyCorgi,
    I've heard (quite recently in fact) that the burners do, in fact, work, but that you need to stick at it.

    Here, we're just about to try vinegar (so, ph shock).

    I'll let you know, but we'll probably need a few weeks to see how it works.

    By the way, your paving's looking pretty damned tidy compared to our cobbled areas...

    All the best -
    Dave (in CH)
  • In reply to Dave - CH:

    Nice to see you lurking about again Dave....hope all is well ;-)

    (Pardon the Scottish Accent)

  • In reply to Linda257:

    Thanks Linda.

    It's a season of lonnnng lists (and much stone squatting and nest watching). Hence the extended absence.

    But vinegar is on those lists too. Looking forward to seeing if it does the job.

    All the best to you -
  • Some info from another member

    (Pardon the Scottish Accent)

  • In reply to Dave - CH:

    Hi Dave, thanks for the reply! I’ll get some more butane and give it another go. It didn’t seem like it killed the weeds and seeds down to the root, so I wasn’t sure how successful it would be in the long term.

    I’ve also read about vinegar and was hoping someone could tell me their experience of it. When you try it, could you please let me know how it worked out for you? Are you getting 5%, and will you use it with salt and dish soap, or just neat?

    The picture isn’t very clear, I assure you it’s quite unkempt! It looks like the paving stones are on top of a Chia Pet

  • Big pet HappyCorgi.

    The guy at the droguerie (we're in Switzerland) told us that burning 'em works.

    You're right: it's not systemic; the aim is to simply grind them down until they give up. Burn. Wait. Burn. Repeat. A little like hoeing. 

    Personally we'd heard that it actually strengthened the roots.

    Vinegar: acetic acid at 20 per cent. Dilute 1-to-1 for general use; use neat for big-rooted varieties, like dandelions. This is the advice we received.

    The vinegar is, we've been told, systemic. So you need 48 hours of dry weather.

    We'll be testing over the weekend probably (weather permitting). I'll come back (in this thread) with a report; and then again on and off through the summer (pointless knowing if the first treatment "works", but doesn't actually kill the plant).

    All the best -


  • In reply to Linda257:

    Thank you for linking me to this post, Linda! It looks like Pathclear is a Weedol product with glyphosate and diflufenican, which is good news as these are two commonly used herbicides. I think I may even have some in the shed; will try it out on a dry day!
  • I use a patio scraper like this one:

    It takes a little time but its very effective and pesticide free.

    I will be very interested to see results from burners and vinegar as I have not tried either yet, but have been investigating both.

    I tend to opt with a little growth on my patio as I have dog violets and they are too pretty to weed out.
  • I personally wouldn't use this product in my garden... Glyphosate and Diflufenican are both toxic (to some degree) and will harm wildlife.
    Bayer and Monsanto might disagree.
    It's worth persevering with other methods and knowing that the food chain is still intact.
  • I use the AMTECH 2000W electric garden weed burner.

    After seeing a neighbour use one, I had to get one, and boy am I impressed.

    As someone who has used powertools for many years, AMTECH are a reasonable budget brand, and this has been no lesser at durability. No chemicals, direct heat to the weeds, doesn't scorch patios and reasonable gentle with wooden panels, but be warned, wood will burn.

    Apart from a wobbly handle, which I managed to sort with some gaffer tape to take the slack up, its been the ideal weed remover and has had some abuse from me as to weed clearing sessions being quite prolonged.

    There are two caveats

    1. Beware the power lead can be scorched and burned,
      1. so ensure you plug in to an RCB 
    2. You will gain the odour of garden fire smoke

    Todate, no damaged cables, but there's always a first time, and I usually make it the last job of the day, so the next call is a nice shower.

    Would I buy another?

    Most definitely YES, and the same brand again.


    Flickr Peak Rambler