Local landscapers will boil your weeds

Rock Works Landscapes uses steam to kill weeds as a friendly alterntative to herbicides

Dallas Husar gets hungry when she’s weeding. That’s because she douses weeds with boiling water, making them smell like spinach or other dinnertime greens as they give up the ghost.

Ms. Husar may be a mercenary of sorts – for-hire murderer of weeds – but she said her conscience isn’t phased by the withered remains she leaves behind because she’s not using pesticides or herbicides or any harmful chemicals.

“It literally was just water,” she said. “(The machine takes) the water above boiling temperature so that when it hits air temperature it’s actually still boiling… It’s still in a liquid form.”

Unlike with herbicides, which you can’t spray in the wind, in the rain or near a body of water, boiling water can be used anywhere and anytime. And once the steamy stream has stopped, kids and pets can frolic on the lawn without risk of harm.

In comparison, lawsuits in the United States have awarded over $2 billion to those alleging that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide – which contains glyphosate – caused or contributed to the cancer they developed. According to the World Health Organization, glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

How safe is the boiled-water treatment? Ms. Husar, a professional gardener with a certificate in horticulture, is planning to let a stream loose in her garden where her mint has gone rogue.

“I can spray right next to the other food I’m eating because it’s boiling water. It’s not going to hurt anything that we’re about to eat,” she said.

Alex Grandmaison – her partner at Rock Works Landscape, and in life, who studied building and maintaining golf courses – said the treatment either kills or weakens the weeds.

“Plants are composed mainly of water so when it hits it, the water between the cells of the plant explodes, hence killing the plant,” he said.

Some plants, like alfalfa, die right away, while pernicious weeds like dandelions may need to be boiled a few times to kill the roots.

“It’s an eco-friendly alternative. To some people it’s super sexy, and they’re like: ‘I want you guys at my place every day and boil as many weeds as you can off my property,’” Mr. Grandmaison said. “It would be a very similar comparison to somebody who would say: ‘I’d rather use more natural remedies than like a quick pill or something like that’ – if it was an effective natural remedy.”

To reassure anyone who might mistake their cloud of steam for chemicals and worry about their lack of protective gear, they ordered a sign that says: “Breathe easy, it’s just steam.”

Ms. Husar and Mr. Grandmaison have been running Rock Works Landscape after taking over the company in 2008 “when everything was going sideways (with the economy),” Mr. Grandmaison said. But like a weed that becomes resistant to pesticides while its peers in the yard next door are boiled away, their business continued to grow.

“We wouldn’t be in the business of landscaping if we weren’t people that really enjoy the environment that we’re in,” Mr. Grandmaison said.

“We both loved working outside, and it was a great opportunity,” Ms. Husar agreed.

To find out more or to have your weeds boiled up like a pot of spinach, visit www.rockworkslandscape.com.

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