Natural weed killer is the good solution for people who don’t like to use chemicals as weed killers. The the best choice for it now is vinegar.
There is hardly any lawn or garden in this world where there are no weeds growing up at all. While popping up of weeds via cracks or stones is natural, they seem to annoy everyone. This is why people like me make all possible efforts to find natural weed killer that works to remove them.
Until now, I was using toxic chemicals (pesticides) that proved to be harmful for my health, environment, and even for the surrounding plants. But, I was lucky enough to recognize the effects.
After this realization, it was obvious that I neither want to kill the beauty of my own small patio nor risk the health of mine and other plants. To overcome these major side effects, I started looking for natural weed killers online.
My Surprising Search for Natural Weed Killer DIY
I was pleasantly amazed to see come across a few effective recipes for removing weeds naturally. But believe me; most social media sites, blogs, and forums suggested using vinegar as the natural herbicide and quick weed killer recipe.
This was perhaps because vinegar is both cheaper and more effective than those harmful pesticides. This surely tempted me to try vinegar but I am not a haste buyer.
I always try to know the ‘what’ and ‘how’ part of a product and this is exactly what I did for vinegar too, before using it to remove all common weeds from the patio.
What is Vinegar and How Effective it is as a Natural Weed Killer?
Vinegar is attained from grains and fruits such as apples or grapes, and is purified through fermentation. For organic gardening, this obtained liquid is capable of functioning as a natural weed killer because of the acetic acid in it.
As a rule, the higher the percentage of acetic acid, the more lethal it is for weeds. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends a concentrate of 20% of acetic acid in vinegar for killing weeds quickly.
Such a higher concentration proves to be more effective for controlling weeds than the culinary vinegar having mostly 5% acidity content. It is also useful in retarding the growth of a few annual weeds and killing perennial weeds like Canada thistle.
Working of Vinegar
The acidity of vinegar works by dissolving the cell membranes, which leads to dehydration of tissues and consequently, plant’s death. It kills most foliage by drawing all moisture from the leaves.
With some aid from the sun, it will quickly burn the weeds leaving behind a brown, withered plant. While a few stubborn weeds might demand one more application to give result the next day, most weeds tend to ruin in a few hours.
Vinegar concentrates are applicable in two ways: Applying to the soil as a soil drench and spraying it directly as a contact herbicide. The direct spray method removes the foliage’s protective coating, rendering the foliage susceptible to dehydration (until its root).
The spray on soil method works by reducing the level of soil pH (temporarily) to a point at which the foliage becomes unable to survive. This effect lasts for long; say up to some weeks or even a year, according to the kind of weather and type of soil.
Once the pH level is reduced, taproots tend to starve. However, prior to dying, a final growth from the nutrients present in roots becomes evident.
After the death of weeds within six months in case of woody ones, you need to restore the soil pH up to its neutral level by applying lime and compost.
A vinegar spray is most effective on a warm and dry day during which the temperature is over 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a spray just prior to rain to watering plants makes it act as a fertilizer instead of a killer.
Another quality of vinegar for which I all need to be careful is that it has the power to slay down all foliage with whom it comes in contact with. This restricts the use of vinegar and enforces you to use it only on desirable areas.
In short, vinegar is preferable more than any other option because it is non-toxic, cheap, quickly reacting, and easy to use. Keeping these things in mind, I certainly researched about the different vinegar recipes.
New Variations to the Evergreen Grandma’s Formula!
Using vinegar is truly the most traditional way of killing weeds, as it has been in use for a long time. However, with the passage of time, a few variations have been introduced to this old vinegar recipe.
While I was looking on the Internet for a few natural, homemade recipes, I came across different formulas originating from the standard recipe. Here are those recipes!
This usually involves using a gallon of vinegar. Using
Vinegar and Liquid Dishwasher Soap
This involves mixing a gallon of vinegar with one oz of soap. This mix seems to act as a strong insecticide but this kills even the good plants. This means that one should be tactful enough to use it such that it does not contact any of those useful plants.
The inclusion of soap improves the absorption rate of mix. It works by breaking down the waxy surface as well as water’s surface tension on weeds to expose them to acetic acid as well as stick more effectively to the leaves. Soap also helps in proper tracking of the sprayed area.
Vinegar, Table Salt, Liquid Dishwasher Soap, and Water
This involves mixing these ingredients in a variety of proportions. Salt tends to kill plants and renders the land infertile for future growth.
When used in small amounts at the base of unwanted plants, it surely kills but dilutes the area to a risk-free one in a few upcoming rainfalls.
On the other hand, a larger scale use usually covers a gravel sidewalk or your former yard (these properties should be yours and not of others) to stagnant growth for months.
However, salt does not allow you to re-develop healthy soil. So, it is better to limit it to cracks on sideways and driveways.
Similarly, boiling water also clears out vegetation on a sidewalk and driveway, by killing any plant coming into its contact, including the underground roots of surrounding plants. The various options are as follows:
- 1 gallon of vinegar with 1 cup of salt and 1 tbsp of liquid dishwashing soap.
- 1 gallon of vinegar with 1 cup of salt, 1 shot of liquid soap, and warm water.
- 1 gallon of vinegar with 1 lb of salt and 1 tbsp of soap.
- 4 cups of vinegar with ¼ cup of salt and 2 tsp of salt.
- 1 cup of vinegar with ½ cup of soap and 2/3 quart of water.
- Vinegar, soap, and water in the ratio 2:1:2.
- 1 tbsp vinegar with 1 tsp of soap and 1 galloon of hot water.
Vinegar and Lemon Juice
Even a lemon has good acidity content due to which it improves the effectiveness of weed killing vinegar. However, roots shall not be killed at all. A common recipe is to mix vinegar and lemon juice in ratio 1:1.
Vinegar and Citrus Oil
Citrus items such as oranges also have good acidic content. Many gardeners believe that such essential oil aids the mix to stick to the plants such that the overall effectiveness increases significantly.
However, an essential oil is a bit costly option. Usually, 1 gallon of vinegar is mixed with 1 tbsp of soap and 1 tbsp orange oil.
Vinegar, Gin, Dish Soap, and Water
This is another homemade weed killer formula. Unlike the lemon juice, the presence of gin not only kills the above-ground matter but also the roots. This is what the University of Washington Botanic Gardens endorses.
The formula is prepared by mixing 1 tbsp of distilled vinegar, 1 tbsp of gin, 1 quart of water, and 1 tsp of dish soap.
Such in-depth was my research. The differences in quantities for each of these items really made me ponder for hours! So, did I try them all? Or, I took some specific ones?
Experimenting with Vinegar Weed Killer Recipes
Well, I selected just three recipes by considering both the method of working and cautions mentioned above. These recipes are:
- Only vinegar with 20% acidic content.
- Vinegar with soap.
- Vinegar with lemon juice.
I was not that much bothered about over spraying that can kill wanted plants, as the area I was targeting was full of only weeds; there were no good plants.
Results that I Got with these Natural Weed Killers:
Concentrated Vinegar (20% Acidity Content)
This one worked but the vinegar did not stay well on the weed leaves. Everything on which I sprayed it was fully dead and discolored within 24 hours of application. The crabgrass weeds I had were younger with an annual life cycle.
Vinegar is quite more effective on annual weeds than the perennial ones, such as dandelion on which a second time application is inevitable. However, not all weeds died, which were swifter to grow again.
I could verify that vinegar works most effectively when the weeds are dry and sunlight is full. Thus, it is recommended applying vinegar on a warm, sunny, and calm day instead of on a windy, wet, cool, or cloudy day.
Note: The above criterion about weather is applicable to any vinegar recipe.
Vinegar and Dishwasher Liquid Soap with 1 oz per Gallon
This recipe was found to be more effective than the only vinegar solution. This is because of the soap that ensured better clinging of the mixture to the foliage. Even the procedure of slaying down of weeds was faster than the above one.
After application of this spray, the weeds that were in full sun for many hours died more quickly than those in shade. This is a testimony to the fact that plants need more moisture when the sunlight is full.
It took not even 24 hours for all weeds over a large area to die. Even the newly grown small dandelions died but the younger crabgrass ones died more easily. The recovery of these weeds was, however, slower than the only vinegar recipe.
Vinegar with Lemon Juice
I mixed 1 quart of distilled vinegar (10% acidity content) with 4 ounces of concentrated juice of lemon, which was quite easy to make at home. This formula killed the leaves, flowers, and stems of weeds but did not do anything to the roots.
It took two days for the above-surface matter to turn into brown, desiccated (dried up) stuff before dying within two days. Depending upon the weed type, one may have to apply it twice or thrice but in my case, just
I had used a 2-quart sized sprayer to cover a small area in a more effective way. It formed a smaller pattern of sprinkle on the desired area.
Points to Remember about Vinegar Weed Killer
The trial of the aforementioned methods made me to conclude that each recipe is effective on some or all weeds, considering the situation in terms of weather is just favorable. However, some points must be kept in mind before trying out any of the above shared recipes.
- Vinegar-based killers having 10% or above acidity are highly effective for killing weeds. However, at the same time, they are CORROSIVE to eyes and hands. Therefore, avoid applying them directly without protecting your eyes as well as hands.
- Vinegar is non-selective, meaning it can kill anything other plant it touches. It does not discriminate in what it tends to slay down. Therefore, ensure that you do not even accidentally spray on nearby plants that you want to grow.
- Unlike other chemical-based sprays, vinegar does not penetrate into the treated plants. This means that only the surfacing or visible growth is killed; there is no effect on the roots. That said; it is easy to conclude that perennial weeds will surely re-grow. So, consider using vinegar on young, small, annual weeds.
- Vinegar does not kill roots, which a few chemical sprays do. However, depending upon the type and age of weed, the root might anyway die. If the weeds are young, they lack enough reserves essential for new growth. On the other hand, the older weeds growing back can be fragile due to which repeated application of vinegar formula should make them die.
- Vinegar, if applied to the soil directly, in full strength can kill the root. However, this is not worth doing, as roots of good plants nearby can get damaged. Further, its impact on soil microorganisms is not clinically proven, although they may run away, become temporarily inactive, or might die.
- Vinegar is also a commonly used disinfectant for killing germs, mold, and bacteria. This is good if you wish to remove them from your home but certainly not from the environment. In fact, the soil in environment has several beneficial bacteria that you would always like to retain. Rich compost and humus is also full of these beneficial bacteria. Thus, avoid spraying any vinegar-based formulas on soil where plantations need to be retained. Otherwise, soil will be sterilized or saturated almost up to two years.
- Vinegar does not have the power to alter the soil’s pH balance drastically. Thus, using it allows planting more looked-for plants in the targeted area. However, it will reduce the pH balance, leaving the soil in a more acidic state. This is preferable if the soil is alkaline but not if it is acidic. Still, it is rare for a small amount to cause significant variation.
- Vinegar is also biodegradable, which makes it a good choice if you're growing an organic garden.
- It is essential to select the right type of liquid soap for adding to vinegar. Those that come with chemicals inside are associated with a few risks. Most common chemicals are phenols, phosphates, bleaching agents, and sodium hypochlorite. While phosphates can ruin the environment, sodium hypochlorite and phenols are toxic in nature. Thus, it is wise to go with a chemical-free liquid soap. Additionally, avoid using any anti-bacterial household cleaners, as they shall kill even the beneficial bacteria.
- Avoid adding soap to vinegar for plants that are not so vulnerable to vinegar. A fuzzy or waxy surface of the weed usually acts as a hindrance to vinegar’s absorption. Such weeks would suffer more due to soap in the formula.
- Avoid using vinegar solution for weeding out a big area where plantations are essential. This is because it is highly caustic to make your soil infertile. For such areas, consider turning the oil with a shovel before plantation as well as pulling weeds by hands. However, the solution is ideal for bigger areas solely giving up more stubborn weeds.
The outcome of using any vinegar weed killer formula is not always predictable. Thus, it is recommended trying a sample prior to using the formula on a wide area.
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Best And Most Effective Vinegars as Natural Weed Killers You Can Get
Last year I had a huge problem with weed and various grasses around my home. Due to the fact I have pets and I don’t like grass too near to my home, I decided to remove it. Luckily, I found several products that looked effective. After using two of them, I solved my problem. Sadly, the grass and weed came back this year, so I had the same problem. Once again, I was looking for products and solutions that can help me solve this problem. After a long research, I found these vinegar weed killers:
Although, all products are similar (20% acidity), there are some minor differences between them. The main thing is that all of them are more than helpful when it comes to grass and weed control. Even better, they help you in a safe way, so you cannot get hurt or ruin something. You can buy vinegar with 10% acidity if you want a safer choice but I recommend ones with 20% acidity for more effective.
On the other side, my opinion is that the Nature’s Wisdom 20% Vinegar is the best, simply because it is tested and approved by the EPA, so using it is a bit safer. In addition, this product is the cheapest, so if you want to save money, buying it is a great deal.
Maestro-Gro Organic Vinegar is equally good and affordable as well, but it is a bit more expensive than the previous product. I used it two times in order to eliminate the grass and it was successful. Later I checked that this is the most common choice, of most people, so there has to be some explanation. I realized that it is cheap, but effective, so it is a great investment.
4 Gallon Vinegar (Maestro-Gro Organic Vinegar) is the best offer if you need a lot of vinegar. If you have a lot of grass to destroy, this offer is more than needed to you. On the other side, this product is safe to use and it is organic. I ordered this product two times, due to the fact I needed a lot of grass to destroy. It is effective and it doesn’t leave stains, and it is safe to use.
Home & Garden Pure Vinegar is the easiest to get, simply because it is available in most shops. On the other side, it has the same equalities as other products, but the smell is a bit different.
But the product which you must try is the 4 Gallon Vinegar (Maestro-Gro Organic Vinegar) and it is highly recommended to be the best natural weed killer, simply due to the fact it comes in a great package and it is cheaper, if you take into account the amount of it. It is effective and it can help you kill the grass around your home in a matter of hours. So go for it.
Header Image Credit to: Mike Mozart
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