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Using Vinegar to Kill Weeds: All You Need to Know

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Using Vinegar to Kill Weeds: The Ultimate Guide

Used for almost everything under the sun, vinegar is also good for killing weeds. This is because it contains acetic acid as its active component [1].

Tests carried out at the North Dakota State University proved that vinegar was effective at getting rid of small annual weeds [2]. It is also cheap and non-toxic.

Here’s everything you should know before using it in your garden.

What Kind of Vinegar Should be Used?

There are many types on the market; however, the one that should be used for this purpose is regular white.

Apple cider vinegar can also be used, but it costs a great deal more than white vinegar.

Both contain 5-8% acetic acid, depending on the manufacturer. The label will tell you exactly how much.

Horticultural Grade Vs. Regular White

A horticultural grade vinegar should be used on mature weeds that are resistant to white. It has 20-30% acetic acid, depending on the manufacturer.

Soil Mender is also a stronger solution than regular white. It contains 10% acetic acid along with other natural ingredients which makes it highly effective as an organic contact weed killer.

How to Apply

Typically, a sprayer is used to apply the solution.

A pump sprayer with a long nozzle and hose is recommended for large areas while either a hand sprayer or paintbrush can be used for small areas.

Paintbrushes are ideal for single weeds surrounded by good grass since you just paint it on. This will keep you from killing the grass on accident.

You can also use hot vinegar in a sprayer if you want to kill the weeds permanently. 

How Often to Apply

This depends on how resistant they are to it. In the beginning, the solution is applied and then, it’s checked 8 hours later.

If a second application is needed, it’s done and checked 24 hours later.

It usually takes about 24 hours for good results. Resistant weeds will need multiple applications over the course of a few days before their roots die.

Afterward, apply every two weeks as recommended by the experts.

How Long Does Vinegar Last in the Soil?

It only stays in the soil until it either rains heavily, or there’s a saturation of irrigation water. These will dilute it and wash it out of the soil.

When to Use

For removing annuals like crabgrass, it should be done before the weed goes to seed to prevent it from propagating.

Success is also easier achieved with shoots and young plants rather than an older, mature one.

For perennials, removing the flower heads is a must to prevent seeding. They must also have the solution applied directly to their roots for fast results.

For both, the application should be made when it’s sunny and hot, around 70 degrees or higher and when there is no rain in the forecast for several days in a row.

How Safe is it?

Due to its acidic nature, vinegar should be treated as a chemical herbicide.

Yes, it’s a natural one, but it can still hurt, even injure, if not handled properly. It can hurt not just the plants you want to keep, it can also hurt people and animals in the following ways:

  • Eye irritation and burns
  • Skin irritation
  • Allergic reaction
  • Digestive tract reaction or damage
  • Respiratory irritation

Precautions 

To avoid any possible health issues related to using the vinegar weed control method, especially the horticultural grade, you should wear gloves.

This is especially necessary when mixing it with either Epsom salt and castile soap. Eye goggles are recommended as well.

Using a sprayer or paintbrush can result in back spray and splashes to the face.

How Effective is Vinegar as a Weed Killer?

As mentioned above, it takes about a day to start seeing dead weeds.

If it’s used properly, at the right time, in the right amount, and for the required amount of time, it’s incredibly effective at removing, and maintaining control.

Please note, it is non-selective — it will kill whatever plant life it touches. This can include your vegetables and flowers, so be mindful of the application.

Cost-Effectiveness 

Vinegar is cheap because it costs less than most synthetic herbicides and it doesn’t take a lot to cover a large area. In fact, it only takes one gallon to cover a large patch.

Even with Epsom salt or liquid soap added, it’s still cheaper than commercial alternatives. The only thing cheaper is hand-pulling it yourself. It’s even cheaper than paying someone to pull weeds for you.

By using the right amount at the right time, this product can be a very effective organic method of combating weeds in your vegetable garden. It also works great on the lawn, patios, pavers, walkways, and driveway.

Adding Epsom Salt and Soap to the Mix

If you feel undiluted white vinegar alone isn’t working fast enough, you can add Epsom salt and liquid soap.

  • Epsom salt helps the acid in the vinegar dry out the weeds.
  • Castile soap is a surfactant that removes oil. It is this feature that allows it to cut through the protective oils of weeds, allowing the acid to dry them out.

For the recipe, add 2 cups of Epsom salt and 2 teaspoons of organic liquid soap to one gallon of vinegar. Let the solution dissolve before adding it to a spraying container.

Takeaway

Vinegar is one very useful and natural weed killer. It adds yet another tool to the gardener’s arsenal.

Sasha Brown

Blogger and lover of all things natural.

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