Does Vinegar Kill Weeds?

Vinegar Weedkiller

If you’re trying to avoid using toxic chemicals and pesticides in your garden then consider using vinegar.

I’m not talking about using expensive balsamic glaze or apple cider vinegar, just your run of the mill basic household white vinegar. Yes, vinegar has been hailed as a natural alternative on gardening forums worldwide but the question is, does it really work?

In this article we’ll reveal the best way of using vinegar on weeds and we’ll also discuss the upsides and the downsides of using this condiment in the garden.

How does vinegar work as a weed killer?

Vinegar contains acetic acid which dries plants out causing them to wither and die. Household vinegar has a lower acidity of around 5% compared with the horticulture vinegar you find in garden centres. Horticulture vinegar can be as strong as 20% acidity and should be handled with care.

Methods for using vinegar to kill weeds.

You can apply straight up vinegar to weeds and in most cases they will eventually die away. Household vinegar alone will need to be applied over and over again to be effective compared with the stronger horticultural vinegar. In some cases it’s also a good idea to add some salt and dishwashing liquid.

So why do we do this? Well, salt naturally absorbs liquid which means it will cause the weeds to dry out much quicker than they would with vinegar alone.  It’s important to note that while salt kills weeds it can also change the chemical make-up of your soil so once you add salt to the soil nothing else will grow in that area again.

To avoid ruining a perfectly good flower bed it’s important to limit your use of salt to concreated areas by spraying the hardy little weeds that are growing through the cracks.

Add a little dishwashing liquid to the mix to make it more effective. The dishwashing liquid acts as a subtle adhesive which will cause the vinegar solution to stick to the leaves so the acid has more time to sink in and do its job.

Wait for a warm sunny day to enhance the effects of the vinegar. The ultimate goal is to deprive the leaves and roots of moisture which sunlight does naturally plus who doesn’t love a bit of gardening on a warm, sunny day!

Recipe for vinegar weed killing solution

1.      Get 1 gallon of household white vinegar

2.      Add one cup of table salt

3.      ¼ cup of dishwashing liquid

4.      Add extras if desired such as gin or citrus oil. Both of these will help suck moisture from the weeds.

Use a spray bottle to apply the solution to weeds. Once finished store in a bottle with the lid on, in a dark, dry, cool place.

Pros and Cons of Using Vinegar in your Garden

Vinegar is an affordable natural alternative to chemical based weed killers that can be harmful to plants, animals and humans. This makes vinegar an environmentally friendly alternative compared to other, more toxic products.

Vinegar isn’t perfect though. It’s still acidic and when salt is added it can ruin your soil. Vinegar also only kills the leaves above soil which means the roots still remain in the ground and the leaves will eventually re-grow. To make matters worse while those roots are in the ground the weeds will be sucking up much needed nutrients that might otherwise have been be nourishing the plants you actually want to grow.

Dangers involved with using vinegar

It’s important to remember that vinegar is acidic and while your household vinegar’s don’t pose too much of a threat it’s important to wear protective clothing if you’re using horticultural vinegar. People with sensitive skin should be extra cautious and wear googles and gloves. When storing homemade solutions remember to label the bottle so that you don’t forget what’s in there.

Alternatives to vinegar for killing weeds

Of course you can revert back to chemical based weed killers if vinegar doesn’t work for you but there are many other environmentally friendly ways of keeping the garden weed free. Mulching will keep moisture in the soil and protect it from the sun as well as preventing weeds from popping up out of the soil in the first place. Alternatively you can go back the basics and pull the weeds out by han

Written by Jenny Harland

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