Every gardener knows the struggle of trying to keep gardens weed-free. There are so many chemical weed killers and toxic-smelling concoctions that you can use to pour over your garden, or weeding tools you can use after you’ve got weeds, but is there a better way?
If you want to avoid putting harmful chemicals on your garden you may have searched for natural methods and discovered vinegar. But does vinegar kill weeds? There is evidence to say that vinegar does kill weeds permanently and can be really effective at keeping your flowers and displays weed-free.
From thistle to horsetail, you can use malt, distilled, white vinegar, and even apple cider to stop the spread of weeds in your garden. Read on to find out why this solution works and how you can use it to kill weeds in your flower beds.
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What Is Vinegar?
While you may be used to covering your chips in vinegar or using posher versions drizzled in some oil, vinegar actually has thousands of uses apart from just flavouring your food.
It is sour tasting due to its high acidity and the malt version (which is brown in color) is the one most of us will be familiar with. It is often used as a condiment and seen on most cafe tables. The white variety is sometimes used in natural cleaning products and it can also be used to kill weeds.
It is a 100% natural product and is made through fermentation – usually apples, grapes, or grains. Using apple you will get cider which can also be used to kill weeds. The process of making this clear solution involves no man-made chemicals and happens when yeast reacts with natural sugars to the acidic vinegar. Vinegar also contains vitamins and other compounds which give it a distinct taste and flavor.
How Long Does Vinegar Take to Kill Weeds?
You might want to ask how long does vinegar take to kill weeds? And does vinegar kill the roots of weeds, too? And as your garden might become overrun with problem plants, speed is key in nipping any weed growth in the bud.
But I think many people would be surprised to hear just how fast it works. Spray a solution onto weeds in the heat of the day and in full sunlight for example and you can see the plant starting to shrivel and die within one hour. If you’ve got a particularly strong crop of weeds, or a hardy species of plant, then the effect may take a little longer and you might not see any changes until the next day.
However, compared to chemical-based commercial weed killers it performs really well. Most shop-bought weed killers are expensive and state you should wait for 24 hours before you see results
There is some great time-lapse footage of a person who uses dish soap mixed with 5% vinegar and uses a sprayer to treat weeds in their garden. Over the course of seven hours, the weeds are monitored and you can actually watch them shrivel and turn brown. The one gallon of vinegar-based weed killer only costs less than two dollars.
Best Way to Use Vinegar to Kill Weeds
There are many different YouTube videos showing people’s home recipes for vinegar-based weed killers that they use in flower beds and to kill thistle and horsetail weed.
Look for a vinegar with a high acidity content (explained above) and then get yourself a spray bottle or applicator to make the job easier. You can mix the vinegar with ordinary dish soap to make it more effective. The dish soap makes the mixture break down oils on the leaves of the weed and helps the vinegar do its job of removing moisture.
Some people also advocate adding salt to the mixture itself as that prevents regrowth and makes the effects of the weed killer last longer. This should be used carefully though as adding salt to soil means that nothing will ever be able to grow there again. So while you won’t want to put this on a lawn or in flowerbeds, you can add salt to an area you want to permanently stop any plant growth such as a pathway or patio.
A rough guideline for the amount of ingredients you should use is a gallon of vinegar, a cup of salt, and a tablespoon of dish soap. You may have to experiment with the different levels of ingredients and concentrations to get your mix right if you have particularly stubborn weeds.
A good tip is to try your mixture on a small weed or area of weeds in a tucked-away corner of the garden. By watching its effects on a small clump of weeds you will be able to tell how effective it will be without dousing your entire garden.
And, as with any gardening advice, please use your judgment and decide whether this will work as a weed killer in your garden. In addition, you should always use a good pair of gardening gloves when handling any sort of material, chemical-free or not.
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Your Weed Problems Sorted
So, does vinegar kill weeds permanently? Yes! And sometimes it works even more effectively than over-the-counter products. Mix a white, malt or apple cider in a sprayer like this one and then add dish soap and salt (if needed). Use the sprayer to target weeds in problem areas.
It can be unpredictable so it is a good idea to test an area first and make sure you have the concentration right.
Once you have applied it, just sit back and watch your weeds die and your garden flourish! If this worked for you, comment and share your experience below.