Weeds running rampant? Looking to learn how to kill weeds with vinegar as an alternative to herbicides? Let’s take a look at the good, and bad, of using vinegar to kill weeds. For some, it may be the perfect option, but you need to know how best to use vinegar to kill weeds before you can decide.
How is vinegar made?
Vinegar is a distilled product, through a process of fermentation. It is usually produced from grapes grain or apples. So, a natural product – for many gardeners, especially organic ones, this makes it a go-to solution to weed problems.
Which vinegar do I use?
The ingredient in vinegar that kills the weeds is Acetic Acid. This, in household vinegar, sits around 5% – which will do the job if you follow the instructions below. For many gardeners, the 5% household vinegar gives a good result, but in seeking a better one they start to utilize horticultural vinegar, which runs at about 20% acetic acid. No longer is it quite so environmentally friendly.
How does vinegar kill weeds?
Quickly! The acetic acid works on contact with the plant by drawing the moisture from within the leaf. It does this with any plant, so be careful – it will kill off your Petunias as swiftly as your weed growth.
This process is remarkably swift, spraying onto the plant directly on a sunny day will mean a browning and dead plant by the end of that day if it is a soft-stemmed plant, certainly by the end of the following day if it is a more robust weed. Who doesn’t like a quick result in the garden?
How to apply store-bought vinegar as a weed killer
- White vinegar, straight from the store, is ideal. You can buy it in 1-gallon jugs, and it is very cheap to buy. Apple cider vinegar is slightly more expensive but will do the same job.
- 2 teaspoons of dish soap per gallon of vinegar will give a solution that will adhere to plants and give a better result with waxy or hairy plants. Stir to mix. You can just use neat vinegar
- Apply using a plastic sprayer. A pump sprayer will cover a larger area, but small hand-held sprayer will apply perfectly adequately, you could re-use a sprayer that a household cleaner was purchased in as long as you clean it out thoroughly.
- Apply by spraying directly onto the leaves of the plant on a sunny day.
- Spray all leaves thoroughly and leave for 24 hours before re-inspecting.
- Repeat if necessary.
Using the following mix from horticultural vinegar to kill weeds will not only kill the plant growth but prevent regrowth. Use only where you are keen to leave a barren patch such as patios, driveways and hardstanding areas.
Vinegar, particularly if you have chosen horticultural vinegar, carries warnings about handling – and necessary protective gear, don’t be complacent just because it says vinegar, be careful with it.
- Only use if the above hasn’t worked – and wear gloves and goggles, this is strong stuff!
- Add one teaspoon of dish soap per liter of vinegar, stir to mix.
- For extra oomph, you can always add salt – 2 cups of table salt to one gallon of vinegar (it’s fine to add this as well as the dish soap.)
- Spray over the area you wish to clear
The drawbacks of vinegar as a weedkiller;
Vinegar only kills the growing part of the plant – so although it will devastate the leaf growth that you are trying to get rid of, it won’t eradicate the root system, so you will need to make a repeat application.
Top Tip: If there are no other plants around then add salt to the vinegar and you will not get any regrowth at all – this makes it perfect on the driveway, not so good on the lawn.
Although it is an organic solution, vinegar is not so kind to use near amphibious animals or other small beasties that may be sheltering near your plants. It also increases the acidity of the soil, great if yours is too alkaline, not so good if you already have an acidic garden.
If you are looking at how you can kill weeds with vinegar the answer has to be very easy. It is cheap, readily available, and effective. Even with vinegar though you have some choices to make – the good news is that if you are killing weeds with vinegar you can afford to patch test an area and see how it goes. Domestic vinegar should kill your weeds just fine, but there is horticultural strength vinegar available.