Use Vinegar or Baking Soda to Kill Weeds
Acetic Acid—Vinegar Kills Vegetation
It's hard to believe until you try it, but vinegar is the best grass killer and weed killer I've used. It is easy to get, inexpensive, safe to use in yards where children and pets play.
If you want to treat a swath of weeds, consider using vinegar. Weeds will disappear by spraying them with full-strength vinegar. Keep an eye on the weather; if it rains, you’ll need to give the weeds another spray of vinegar.
How Much Vinegar Should I Use?
According to the Agricultural Research Service, ARS,"The researchers found that 5- and 10% concentrations killed the weeds during their first two weeks of life. Older plants required higher concentrations of vinegar to kill them. At the higher concentrations, vinegar had an 85% to 100% kill rate on all growth stages. A bottle of household vinegar is about a 5-percent concentration."
Note: ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.
How Does Vinegar Kill Weeds?
The killing ingredient is the vinegar. It works best on small, fast growing weeds. I used it as a sidewalk grass killer with great success. The sidewalk grass was dead in one full sunny day.
The older weeds that grow back will be weaker, and many should die with a repeat application.
Stronger versions, the 20% acetic acid vinegar, will kill bigger more persistent weeds, but it is also true that this strong version will burn you and requires extreme caution. If you have plants that are resistant to a lower acid concentration, consider multiple applications of the grocery store variety.
The USDA issued a warning in their research report stating; “WARNING: Note that vinegar with acetic acid concentrations greater than 5% may be hazardous and should be handled with appropriate precautions.”
Which Vinegar Should I Use?
Commercially available products: The enforcement wizards at Bradfield offer Bradfield Horticultural Vinegar via mail order. Bradfield Natural Horticultural Vinegar Weed Killer, 1 gallon Price: $28.99.
Bradfield Natural Horticultural Vinegar: 20% acetic acid and an effective alternative to harsh chemical weed killers. Most effective on warm, sunny days. The heat of the midday sun will turn most plants totally brown 2 to 6 hours after application.
What's the Chemical Formula of Vinegar?
The vinegar chemical formula is C2H4O2.
Pierce holes in the vinegar bottle cap to create a handy way to dispense the weed killer.
The solution works best on small, fast growing weeds. Large weeds will need repeat application.
Weed or Grass Killer Recipe
Vinegar weed killer:
- 1 gallon of 5% or pickling vinegar
- 2 teaspoons of dish soap
- 1/2 cup of salt. Any kind of salt will do.
- Mix. Apply directly to weeds.
The combo of vinegar, salt and soap as a weed/grass killer is circulating around the internet and on a number of blogs. Regardless which variety you choose, they all work in varying degrees. Adding water only dilutes the potency of the vinegar.
Use pickling vinegar which is more acidic than regular grocery store vinegar. Vinegar is a natural product, Vinegar is made of grain, apples or grapes. It is distilled through a fermentation process. Look for vinegar labeled at 5% acidity.
Acetic acid is what makes vinegar a plant killer.
The acetic acid kills vegetation because it draws all the moisture out of the leaf. Vinegar is non selective it will kill any plant it touches. Spraying full strength vinegar on a plant in full sun will produce results within a few hours, tougher or larger plants may take until the following day.
Vinegar may or may not kill the root. It depends on the plant and it's age or maturity. Small weeds may not be strong enough to regenerate. Older weeds may come back weaker and not survive a second application. Vinegar will temporarily lower the pH of the soil in other words it makes the soil more acidic.
Add 2 teaspoons of soap per gallon of vinegar.
Soap helps the spray's absorption. Hairy weeds or waxy leaves will resist an application because the vinegar does not reach or saturate the plant. Ordinary dish soap will help break down the cuticle or waxy surface of a plant, allowing the active ingredient, the vinegar, to reach the plant with it's killing effect. Soap also acts as a sticker.
Salt will kill any plant.
One half cup of salt may be added to the vinegar recipes to kill the plants when vinegar alone doesn't work. Salt remains in the soil and it leaches into surrounding soil. Use it sparingly in any formula, because it does not go away. If building healthy soil is your goal, skip the salt.
Nonselective Weed Killer
Baking Soda Kills Grasses
Weeds in Cracks
Toss handfuls of baking soda over the tops of weeds growing in the cracks of driveways and sidewalks. Sweep any spilled baking soda on the driveway or sidewalk into the cracks. This method works well when the weeds are isolated from desired plants and grass.
If the weeds have not been completely eradicated, reapply the baking soda in four to six weeks. Weed killer recipes often contain a bit of soap. This is known as a “sticker”, helping the soda stick to the plant (like the water). Salt in these recipes is an extra boost to kill the bigger more established plants.
Spring and fall Application
Baking soda works best when the weeds are growing fast in the spring and fall. Get ahead of unruly weeds the early applications. Young plants are most affected by baking soda.
Baking soda does work during the summer, but not as fast. It can kill or damage landscape plants as well as weeds. Be careful where the baking soda lands.
How to Apply Baking Soda
Save yourself some work and watch the weather forecast. After a rain, while plants are wet, is the best time for application. Alternatively, water the weeds with 1/2 to 1 inch of water if it has not rained.
Patios, Walkways and Driveways
Sprinkle baking soda onto the concrete then, sweep it into the cracks where in weeds grow. If non-weed plants are hit with a baking soda they will also be damaged. The repeated sodium applications make the soil in the cracks hospitable to all plant life.
Baking soda acts as a desiccant, drawing the water out of plant cells in the foliage. This is the same process that causes plant damage from winter road salts. Those weakened plants along roadsides and sidewalks can die in harsh weather winters.
Repeat the process as necessary throughout the growing season. Baking soda works on plant parts above ground. Roots are not affected. Every application weakens the weeds and reduces the chance of them growing again.
Repeat treatments prevent weeds from recovering. Baking soda treatments work best when done early in the day, which is when plant activity is high and plant pores are open. Temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit help speed the treatments' results.
Simple boiling water works well to kill germinating seeds. For larger, deep rooted weeds. Sometimes I've had to re-apply. This keeps weeds from re-appearing for a long time.
In the height of canning season, this works like a charm. I have a big boiling water bath canner running all day at the peak of tomato season. At quittin' time, the enamelware pot multi-tasks as an ant killer and a dandelion eradicator.
I simply pour out the boiling canning water near the kitchen steps where the ants choose to come in the house during the drought.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.