Weeds are a very common frustration for lawn and garden homeowners. With weeds always creeping up and trying to take over, it’s hard to keep them at bay. It is estimated that over 50% of the population experiences some kind of weed problem in their yards, with many turning to chemical herbicides to control them.
Vinegar is a natural weed killer that can be made at home and used for many different purposes. It’s safe, easy, and inexpensive to make! In this blog post, we want to explore how vinegar can be used as an alternative weed killer. We will cover what vinegar does to weeds, if it works on all types of weeds, and how to use it effectively as an all-natural herbicide.
We hope our blog post helps you figure out whether or not using vinegar as a weed killer is right for your yard!
What is Vinegar?
Vinegar is a natural substance made from fermented ethanol and water. There are many different types of vinegar, but all vinegars have a common ingredient: Acetic Acid. This gives it its distinctive flavor and smell.
Vinegar has been used for centuries as an alternative medicine, cleaning agent, and food preservative. Its use can be traced back to the Babylonian Empire in the 3000s B.C.E. In the Roman Empire it was often produced by fermenting wine or grape juice with yeast in lead pots.
In modern times, most vinegars are created through fermentation of sugars derived from corn syrup or other sources such as fruit juices.
The final product typically contains 5-8% acetic acid. The other ingredients in the vinegar vary from type to type and can include water, corn or barley malt, and sugar.
Can Vinegar Kill Weeds?
The basic answer is yes, vinegar can kill weeds. However, this is not the end of the story. It is most effective on specific weeds called annual weeds.
An annual plant is one that completes its entire life cycle – from seed germination to growth to seed spreading to death – all in one growing season. Some of most common annual weeds that might be infesting your lawn or garden include Chickweed and Shepherd’s Purse.
On the other hand, vinegar will be less effective on perennial weeds, which are weeds that can grow for multiple years. Common perennial weeds include Dandelions, Bindweed, and Japanese Knotweed.
Therefore, if you have an annual weed that is taking over your garden, vinegar could be the best solution for you to use. However, if the weed you have identified in your backyard is a perennial, you may want to use a more intense, chemical herbicide.
Vinegar can be effective against perennial weeds, by eventually depleting the food reserves stored in the weeds’ roots. But, they will regrow after one treatment, so you would need to re-treat them frequently with vinegar and over multiple years, which can get time and labor intensive.
How Do You Use It?
White Vinegar works best for weed killing. If you have vinegar in your house, it will have an acetic acid concentration between 4% and 8%, so therefore you will not need to dilute the vinegar before you use it.
If you are using regular-strength vinegar, simply put it in a spray bottle and spray it on the leaves and stems of the weeds you have in your garden. However, at this concentration, the acetic acid will only kill young weeds, which are weeds that have only sprouted within the last two weeks.
If you want to rid your lawn of weeds that are more mature (i.e. you’ve seen them growing for more than two weeks), you need a stronger concentration of acetic acid. This requires you to purchase a 20% solution vinegar, which you can buy online or at a local home and garden center.
Again, put the 20% concentration vinegar in a spray bottle and spray the leaves and stems of the weeds – basically anything that grows out of the ground. They will start to yellow, wither, and die within a few hours to days.
How Does It Work?
Vinegar – and more specifically the acetic acid within the vinegar – works to kill weeds by affecting the weed’s ability to take in nutrients and water from the soil, which eventually causes it to die. You’ll notice that when applied directly onto plants, there will be yellowing leaves and wilting within days.
The vinegar down the plant’s cell walls with its acidic properties, so it gets inside the weed itself and into its vascular structure. This is why weeds with a thicker outer layer – such as plants in dry and warm climates – are less susceptible to vinegar herbicides.
Weeds with thinner cuticles are more susceptible to vinegar. This is also why it is best to use vinegar when the weed is growing, because when weeds are growing after sprouting, or shooting up after a rainfall, their outer cuticle layer is thinner to let more moisture in. This is the best time to spray.
Perennial weeds are less effected by vinegar solutions because the acetic acid is not absorbed into the weeds’ root systems. It only kills the top, overground growth. Thus, perennials that keep their nutrients underground in their roots could reshoot. However, with persistent enough vinegar spraying, even these weeds could eventually wither and die.
Herbicides with Vinegar
There are multiple all-natural herbicides on the market today that use vinegar as a base ingredient if you don’t want to worry about making your own vinegar-based weed killer.
Some of the best options include Doctor Kirchner Natural Weed & Grass Killer, which is only made from ocean water, vinegar, and soap, and also Green Gobbler 20% Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer, which is made straight from corn.
Can There Be Negative Effects?
If you’re worried about vinegar killing surrounding plants or flowers, don’t worry! At lower concentrations of acetic acid, there shouldn’t be any negative effects at all to other garden plants or lawn grass. If you have a concentration that is over 20% acetic acid, make sure you dilute it with water until it reaches that level before use.
Also, never use herbicide-grade vinegar for any culinary or cooking purposes! It is dangerous to consume, and should be kept out of reach of children and pets when not in use.
Do you have weeds in your lawn? You’re not alone. Lawns are full of pesky weed seeds that will grow and spread, making your lawn look unkempt and unattractive. But, there is a solution!
Vinegar is a safe and inexpensive way to get rid of weeds. It is a natural weed killer that can be used safely around children and pets, and it most likely just uses ingredients that you already have at home. It might just be worth trying out as an organic alternative to chemical herbicides. So, what do you think? Do you want to try using vinegar on your weeds in the garden this year?
Good luck and happy gardening!