One of the most infuriating things any gardener needs to content with is weed control. Even in the best gardens, gardeners face a continual battle.
While there are many chemical options for weed killing, there are more people who are into organic gardening, especially if there are vegetables close by.
With all this in mind, there are many gardeners who are turning to a natural weed killer solution rather than one of the more expensive store-bought varieties.
Here we will look at all you need to know about using homemade weed killers, and if it is a good idea to do so.
Types of Vinegar
When looking for an effective weed killer, and you decide on making one with vinegar. You can quickly find there are different vinegars available.
The stronger the vinegar, the more potent it will be as a vinegar weed spray, but you will need to take precautions. The higher the concentrations and it can burn skin.
- Apple cider vinegar – reduced to 5% acidity for table use
- Pickling Vinegar – 18% acidity
- Horticultural Vinegar – up to 20% acidity
Warning: Acetic acid above 11% concentration can burn skin and damage eyes. Over 20%, acidity and it can damage concrete, tin and iron. Protective clothing and goggles should be worn to prevent injury.
Recipes for Making Vinegar Weed Killers
While you can use plain household vinegar as a weed killer, you may not find this as effective as some of the various recipes you can find.
Here are some of the natural weed killer vinegar recipes:
1. Vinegar and Dish Soap
This is an easy to make natural weed killer with vinegar and dawn dishwashing soap.
- Mix 1 oz., of dishwashing soap to a gallon of full strength vinegar.
- 1 cup of salt
2. Vinegar and Essential Oils
Mix vinegar with one tablespoon of citrus oil, or any other essential oil. This increases the stickiness, so it becomes more effective.
How to Kill Weeds with Vinegar
Before looking at how you use these concoctions, it is good to see how each of them works on the weeds you are looking to kill.
- Vinegar – Vinegar will be around 5% acetic acid. This is a desiccant, which means it can draw moisture from the weeds. As you spray vinegar on the leaves, these dry out and thus die. Because it doesn’t kill the roots, there are many who ask does vinegar kill weeds?
Much of the killing ability comes from maturity of the weeds in question. If they are young, then repeated spraying can kill the roots. Older plants may keep growing after a couple of weeks.
- Salt – Salt is one of the strongest desiccants you can get. When you use vinegar and salt together, they are highly effective. Salt is a none-selective weed killer, so depending where you have a weed problem, you will need to protect your good plants because if this gets into the soil, it can change the structure to one where all plants will die.
- Soap – Dish soap cuts through any waxy coatings on leaves. This increases the absorption of the salt and vinegar. Aside from this, the soap can help the vinegar weed killer stick to the surface of the leaves.
Here is the full vinegar weed killer recipe and the usage instructions to rid those stubborn weeds.
- Add 1-gallon of white vinegar into a plastic bucket. 5% vinegar will suffice for this recipe, although it could take a few days for the sprayed weeds to die.
- Add 1 cup of table salt and stir until it has dissolved. Some gardeners use rock salt or Epsom salts as an alternative.
- Once dissolved, mix in 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap. This helps the solution stick to the leaves of the weeds
- Use a funnel to add to a plastic spray bottle.
- On a sunny day, spray the leaves, ensuring you fully drench them. Any plant that you spray will die over a few days. Be sure not to use in wet weather, this will just wash the mixture away, and it could affect the underlying soil.
- Any mixture you have remaining, you can keep out of sunlight in a capped container.
When you use vinegar as a weed killer, it will be effective when in use on its own. However, it is none-selective and will kill or harm anything it comes into contact with. For humans and pets, this doesn’t pose any problems.
The most significant downside being weeds will grow back. However, with the addition of the salt, you can use this mix on gravel paths or driveways to remove weeds for good. Vinegar for weed control with salt will need to be in selective areas.
Salt will change the chemical structure of the soil, and plants can’t grow in seawater. This is in effect what you are adding to that portion of your garden.
What are the Limits of Vinegar Weed Killers?
If you are looking for a weed killer that is organic, vinegar could fit the bill. While you may need to purchase the stronger forms of vinegar and take the necessary precautions, you can still find there are some limitations.
This can be a good offset once you know you are taking care of weeds organically, even if it does require a little extra work and more spraying.
When in use, you will need to be sure that the vinegar only hits the leaves and doesn’t come into contact with plants or grass.
If you need to kill lawn weeds, you can always dab this weed killer onto the leaves with a paintbrush rather than spraying.
Because of this, and the non-selective way it kills all that is around where you spray. Vinegar may be a better option for areas where you know there are no other plants which will be affected.
Walkways, patios or anywhere where weeds are growing through cracks can be quickly dealt with.
In use, you may find that perennial weeds require more than one application. Dandelions or crabgrass being prime examples.
However, even when you purchase commercial products, those to can struggle with these types of plants.
Disadvantages of Vinegar Weed Killers
- If over used, it can change the pH levels of soil
- Vinegar with low acidity may not work
- Should not be used on lawns
- May not be as effective as some commercial products
- May struggle to kill larger or deep-rooted weeds
When and How Often to Apply
If you know you will have a weed problem, you can tackle this before they seed. If you attack them as soon as you can, you can prevent them from growing in the first place.
Dandelions will take repeated applications, and every time you do this, the plant can die a little more.
Over time, you can find that you have finally won the war and the plant gives up and dies down to the roots.
If you have salt included, then this death can come much faster, yet nothing else in that area will grow until the concentrations of salt become much weaker.
The hotter the day, the better for these applications. If you will experience several days of warm weather, then this is all the better.
When you have a dry period, the moisture leaves the leaves at a faster rate than if it was damp weather.
Additionally, with a dry period of a few days, there is a long time the natural herbicide is in contact with the leaves. The soap helps here as it breaks down any coating that can repel liquid.
Does vinegar kill weeds? The answer can be a resounding yes, in some instances, it can be more effective than over the counter weed killers, yet you do need to take caution in use.
Once you know the areas where you wish to use the weed killer, you can adapt it as required.
On the other hand, with the addition of salt for stubborn weeds, you can use a stronger concentration of vinegar.
This does require some extra care, and rubber gloves and goggles are advised. However, you can find that your garden and yard can be free from weeds and all done much cheaper than the store-bought varieties.
You may have a constant struggle when using these homemade weed killers, yet you can control weeds around your garden without too much effort and without breaking the bank.
You will also find that the organic nature of the vinegar weed killers can help you do your part for the environment without using toxic chemicals that can leech into local waterways.