Vinegar can be an effective weed killer to kill pesky weeds in your lawn or garden. You will need a few tools and some acidic vinegar for it to be successful. There is also a right way and a wrong way to use vinegar to kill weeds, and it is important to know what to expect and how it works so that you don’t waste time applying vinegar to weeds that may come back eventually.
What is Vinegar?
Vinegar is a mixture of acid, sugar, salt, and water that is often food-grade and safe. Some horticultural kinds of vinegar have a higher acidity of 20% or more.
Food-grade vinegar is safe to consume. This type of vinegar typically consists of white vinegar and apple cider vinegar and can be found in most grocery stores and supermarkets.
Does vinegar kill weeds? – Yes, it does indeed.
Food-safe vinegar is less potent than horticultural vinegar because it has a lower level of acidity. Because of this, the acidity in food-grade vinegar will kill the weed that it comes in contact with without damaging the other plants around them. Just be careful not to use too much food-grade vinegar as even low levels of acid can change the pH levels in the soil.
Horticultural vinegar contains higher amounts of acid, typically making up around 20% of the vinegar. Horticultural vinegar is effective yet indiscriminate. This means that it will kill weeds and likely any other greenery it comes in contact with. This can be both good and bad, depending on the number of weeds you need to kill in an area.
For killing household weeds in the lawn or garden, we recommend using household white vinegar, as it will be acidic enough to kill the weeds without aimlessly killing the good grass and plants that are nearby.
How to Use Vinegar to Kill Weeds
To kill weeds using vinegar, you will need to mix the following ingredients in a 5-gallon bucket and then funnel the mixture into a spray bottle.
For the vinegar mixture:
Pour 1 gallon of household white vinegar into a 5-gallon bucket. Add 1 cup of white table salt and stir until the salt has completely dissolved. Next, you will add one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap and stir until it has completely combined in the solution.
Take a funnel and fill a spray bottle with the vinegar solution, storing the remainder in a sealed container with a lid.
On a sunny day, take your spray bottle of vinegar solution and begin spraying the weeds generously with the vinegar, drenching all of the weeds that you want to kill. Try to avoid spraying nearby plants or grass that you do not want the vinegar to kill, as any greenery that comes in contact with the vinegar will die.
How Long Will it Take?
Weeds that are sprayed with vinegar will die quickly, most within 24 hours. This makes using vinegar a practical solution for killing weeds, especially for those who want to see results immediately.
However, instant results do not mean permanent results. Don’t get comfortable just because you see that the weeds have started to die within the first 24 hours after treatment. This simply means that the vinegar solution has worked and is working, but it does not mean that the vinegar solution has killed the roots.
The roots of the weeds are where the weeds live. The roots are the heartbeat of the weeds. As long as there is a heartbeat, the roots will continue to live. Therefore, you will need to apply more than one treatment to ensure that the roots are killed entirely rather than superficially.
You should also apply the vinegar treatment to weeds on a sunny day. Sunshine will help activate the acid and cause a reaction quicker. This will prompt quicker results, killing weeds completely after just a few treatments over the course of just a few days.
Best Method to Use
Using vinegar to kill weeds is a safe and effective way to get rid of invasive weeds in your lawn or garden. By the time you spot weeds in your lawn or garden, it is likely too late to perform a preventative treatment. This means you may be killing the weeds with vinegar at any time of year, whereas using vinegar to prevent weeds will be done in the spring and summer. When using vinegar to kill weeds that have already seeded, you will need to apply more than one treatment so the vinegar can reach the root of the weed to kill it completely.
When preventing weeds from seeding, you should use the vinegar mixture on weeds in the spring and summer as soon as you spot the first weed. This will completely kill the weed and most likely will not require additional treatments, as it will not have a root that has formed a strong attachment to the soil.
Using vinegar to prevent weeds will also reduce the risk of damaging or killing other plants, flowers, and grass in your lawn or garden. By the time you have invasive weeds in your lawn or garden, you will need to use many treatments of vinegar to kill the weeds. This can be risky to those plants and flowers nearby that you don’t want to harm.
For this reason, you may want to superficially kill the weed using one treatment but stop using the vinegar solution so that you don’t kill other nearby plants, flowers, and grass. To do this, we recommend using vinegar to kill the weeds at the surface and then digging up the root to permanently get rid of the weeds.
Annual vs. Perennial Weeds
Oftentimes, we think of flowers as being annuals or perennials while overlooking that weeds are classified as one of these two as well.
Annual weeds are weeds that only germinate once a year. Some types of annual weeds are crabgrass, chickweed, and pigweed. Annual weeds are distributed by wind and animals, which is what gives many of the annual weeds their names. Even though annual weeds do not come back each year, they spread and lay many seeds while they are active, making it appear as though they a perennial and come back each year.
Perennial weeds are weeds that sprout year after year. Some types of perennial weeds include white clover, dandelions, and ivy. Perennial weeds come back each year because the root of the weed survives through winter and will sprout new weed growth the following spring. This makes killing or removing the roots of perennial weeds so important. Failing to kill or remove the perennial weed will allow it to sprout weeds the following year.
Depending on the type of weed you are killing (annual or perennial) will determine the vinegar method you will need to use to kill the weed.
For perennials, we recommend that you treat the weed with multiple applications to ensure the root of the weed is killed. If the vinegar does not kill the root, you can dig the root up out of the ground using a small hand trowel. Killing the weed on the surface and then removing the root completely from the ground will ensure that the weed does not come back the following year.
For annuals, we recommend treating the weeds with the vinegar solution for a few treatments. This will kill the weed and the areas surrounding the weed, preventing any seed that has fallen from the weed to germinate and grow next year.
What’s more, the ground surrounding the weed will likely become uninhabitable from the vinegar that it will not accommodate growing new weeds the following year.
Annual weeds are also easier to kill with vinegar because one application of vinegar in spring or summer at the first sight of the weed is usually enough to do the trick, unlike perennial weeds that have already established a solid rooting system and are here to stay.
To kill perennial weeds with vinegar, you will need to apply vinegar for multiple treatments before the root system of the weed finally dies.
Some Helpful Tips in Applying Vinegar to Kill Weeds
Just because vinegar is natural and safe for human consumption doesn’t mean that it isn’t harmful to plants. Vinegar doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t pick and choose which greenery to kill and which to let live. If vinegar comes in contact with a plant, it will begin to weaken it and break it down. This is good for the weeds that we want to get rid of but bad for plants, flowers, and other grass that we want to preserve.
While the spray bottle method is the quickest and easiest for applying vinegar to weeds, it can be a little hard to control. We suggest purchasing a spray bottle with an adjustable nozzle that can spray a steady stream instead of a fine mist. Holding the nozzle of the spray bottle between the base and the midsection of the weed will be most effective for killing the weeds without spraying surrounding greenery, like flowers, plants, and other areas of the lawn.
Spray bottles are most recommended with weeds that are not positioned near other plants and flowers. This way, you can spray the weeds without worrying about any of the vinegar solution landing on nearby plants or flowers that you are trying to protect.
Weeds that are positioned in between flower beds, vegetation, or other healthy greenery may need to be treated with vinegar by using a paintbrush. Using a paintbrush to apply vinegar will give you the most control for where the vinegar solution goes.
You will simply paint the vinegar onto the leaves of the weed, making sure to thoroughly coat the stem of the weed between the base and the midsection. This will ensure the weed gets a thorough treatment of vinegar that will travel to the rooting system and kill the roots, especially if it is a perennial weed.
Always apply vinegar to weeds on a sunny day. The sun will help the weeds dehydrate and wilt, which will kill the weeds on the surface. Continue to treat the weeds with vinegar so that the rooting system of the weeds is killed completely. This will ensure that the weeds are not able to come back next year.
The sunnier days, the better, as the vinegar will react best with full sunshine. If it rains soon after applying vinegar to the weeds, give the weeds another treatment of vinegar. Ultimately, the only downside to drowning weeds with vinegar is if the soil surrounding the vinegar needs to maintain its pH level and if there are no other plants around the weeds that will suffer from many treatments of vinegar.
Rain will wash off the vinegar that was on the leaves and stem of the weeds. This can keep the weed from drying out and dehydrating, which can affect the result of using vinegar to kill weeds. If it rains soon after the vinegar was applied to the weeds, apply another treatment of vinegar as soon as possible. If there are no sunny days in the forecast, wait until there are at least three consecutive forecasted days of sunshine. This will give the vinegar the best conditions for wilting, dehydrating, and drying out the weeds.
Using vinegar to kill weeds is a natural and effective way to get rid of weeds from your lawn or garden. With a few household items and a little bit of time, you can create a vinegar solution that will kill both perennial and annual weeds.
When treating weeds with vinegar, it is important to remember that vinegar is nonselective. It can’t pick and choose which plant to kill and which plant to let live. This means that you will need to apply vinegar directly to the weed in which you want to kill. Vinegar that comes in contact with plants, flowers, and other grass will kill it as well, so it is important to apply the vinegar solution to the weed you want to kill and nowhere else.
Vinegar can be easily applied using a spray bottle, which is the most recommended method of applying. Spraying vinegar is quick, easy, and effective. The downside to using a spray bottle of vinegar to treat weeds is the lack of control.
If there are weeds located throughout a flower or vegetable garden, we recommend applying the vinegar with a paintbrush so that you can control exactly where the vinegar solution is applied. This way, the vinegar does not land on fruits, vegetables, or flowers that need to be protected and healthy.
Weeds that have been treated with vinegar will start to die in the first 24 hours. You can continue to treat the weeds with vinegar for the next few days to make sure the weed has completely died. It is best to apply vinegar to weeds on sunny days so that the vinegar can cause a reaction on the weeds to dry it out and dehydrate it. The combination of sun and acidic vinegar is what makes using vinegar to kill weeds so effective.