Thursday, May 23, 2013

Homemade Weed Killer: The Experiment and the Results


I've read in numerous places about using vinegar as a weed killer. Oh, vinegar. Is there anything you can't do?  {sigh}

Okay, so there are a lot of things vinegar can't do, including killing weeds -- at least, by itself.  I've tried before. I was going to post the results on here. I poured a bunch of vinegar onto the weeds in my driveway. Nothing. So I gave up on at least that use of vinegar.


But I have this weed problem along the strip of cement that is adjacent to our driveway and alongside the side of our house, along the fence we share with our neighbors on the east. Our previous neighbor (she has since moved away) let the weeds go kind of wild on that part of her yard so they crept under the fence and went wild on our side, too.

In years past, I've either pulled all the weeds by hand or I've hit it with some Round-Up. This year, I decided to skip the chemicals. I won't go into all the reasons, but some of the main reasons are that I'm not a fan of having poisons around the kids (especially with the latest findings about health issues with Round-Up), don't want to support Monsanto, and I'm too cheap to buy the stuff.

So I tried a different approach to killing my weeds with vinegar -- I added a couple more ingredients to the mix.


To make this homemade weed killer, mix:

  • 1 quart vinegar (I used white vinegar but I've heard that apple cider vinegar works -- it has a slightly higher acidity level, so it probably will work even better)
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 tsp. dish soap (I used the Dawn soap I use for my homemade laundry detergent, but any kind will work)
The vinegar's acetic acid is what kills the plant. The salt assists by pulling the moisture out of the weeds.  The dish soap helps the weed killer stay on the plant once you spray it. Word to the wise: this weed killer will kill any plant it comes into contact with; it's not selective at all. 


Once you've mixed up your weed killer, pour it in a spray bottle. It's best to wait for a day that is going to be dry, hot and sunny.

I sprayed all of those weeds along the fence on a Saturday morning, enjoying myself maybe a little more than I should have ("Ha ha! How do you like that?" Kind of how I was when I was trapping snails with beer).

Here's one of the before pictures again:


The next day, after letting the chickens out and feeding them, I decided to check on the weeds.




As you can see, they're not entirely dead and completely withered, but they're on their way. One or two more applications and those weeds will be history. {insert maniacal laugh}

Note: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have disclosed.

{This post is linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, Little House Friday, Farmgirl Friday, From the Farm Blog Hop, Creative HomeAcre Hopand Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.}  

12 comments:

Kirsten Madaus said...

Thank you so much for this very timely post!
I was just hosting my mother-in-law for a visit this past week, and don't think I effectively got across my reasons for not wanting to spray RoundUp onto the lush vegetation springing up from between the patio bricks. The kids can only dig up so much, and I think spraying first and digging after will be the way to go. I really appreciate seeing the results of your homemade mix in action!

Smidgen Nuggets said...

Thanks for the new recipe. I have so far had success with killing weeds/grass with just vinegar. I recently wrote about it on my blog, and my research led me to a key point -- it's most effective if you apply the vinegar on a hot, "summery" day. I live in Wisconsin which has had even more unusual weather patterns this spring, but on one of our sparse 80-degree days (sandwiched between freezing nights and rainy, 40-degree days), I applied straight-up vinegar to ornamental grass and some grass poking through my cement's concrete. I also saw some info on Pinterest about Dawn's versatility, and coupled with your suggestions, I'm intrigued to try these two "miracle" ingredients together! Thanks!

Lisa said...

If you want it to work faster, you might try heating the mixture before applying it to the weeds.

Heather said...

I have heard that plain boiling water is a good weed killer, so I imagine heating this concoction up would be even more lethal to those pesky weeds.

Lisa Lynn said...

Love it! Found your post on Farmgirl Friday and I would love to have you share it on The Creative HomeAcre Hop today!
http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/05/thecreativehomeacrehom17.html

Sandy said...

I made this last week and sprayed several weeds. In less than an hour one type of weed was shriveling and turning brown! I had also sprayed some English Ivy. After an hour all I saw was dried salt sitting on the leaves. After that, I forgot about it! I just checked on it a few mins ago as I was spraying more weeds... to my surprise, the ivy leaves are browning! I sprayed them again... I have a TON of ivy on my property. Gonna need several gallons of this stuff! ha! (I'd be happy to share before/after pics of my ivy if you would like to post them!)

Sheena Urquhart said...

As someone who works in horticulture, I've been able to use a particularly strong vinegar often referred to as horticultural vinegar. It contains 25% acetic acid, where regular vinegar has 5-10%.. It works very well if it is applied on a warm day and isn't washed off by rain or sprinklers for a few days. Where I live, though, the only downside is that you must have a pesticide applicator's certificate to buy it. I'd look in to trying that!

Billy Quaid said...

What type of vinegar did you use? The typical vinegar used for cooking has a low level of acetic acid, around 5%, which is not enough to kill weeds. I agree with you, though, that adding salt will increase the effectiveness. Isn’t it amazing how such simple household things can be so versatile?

Billy Quaid

Heather said...

I did use the typical 5% vinegar, which you're totally right, is not enough to kill them when used straight. The salt is what gave it the extra power to kill those darn weeds!

Meredith said...

Although I appreciate home made products, using salt as a weed killer is not good for the environment or yourself (salt was used in wars to keep enemies from being able to grow crops). Runoff could very easily move that salt from where you used it to another part of your or your neighbors yards where you might actually want to grow something...

Heather said...

I appreciate your comment and your concern, but I'm not worried about the salt at all for a few reasons.

1. the salt is quite diluted (it's diluted in a quart of vinegar.) The main killer of the weeds is the vinegar; the salt just gives it an extra kick. If I were using straight salt, then that might be a concern
2. the salt-vinegar-soap solution is sprayed directly on the plants and not in a wide area; run-off is minimal
3. most of the weeds I used my solution to kill are located in my sidewalk, driveway, and along a fence where neither I or my neighbors are growing anything.
4. Even with any negative side-effect a mixture that includes salt could possibly present, I'd much rather use that than the highly toxic and dangerous chemicals found in products like Round-Up. Using salt and vinegar seems much more environmentally responsible, to me.

Terra said...

Thanks for this tip; I came over from your link on my Facebook post, about how to stop English ivy from growing back.

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