Louise
Louise
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Asked on Apr 21, 2012

A friend sent a post from another site about killing weeds with vinegar. I'm posting the pix and part of the text from

SaraMimi HaywoodKelly S
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Answered

that. This result happened in only one day. I brushed Roundup on some liriope volunteers over two weeks ago and they're just now puny and can be easily pulled out of the ground, but none are truly DEAD like in this photo. Will this be safe, do you think, if I put it on liriope volunteers and other weeds in my front yard? The yard has tree mulch, no grass, but lots of hostas, some hellebores, ferns, azaleas and other things. Guess I'd need to spray directly onto the potential victims, or brush it on with a sponge brush?
q a friend sent a post from another site about killing weeds with vinegar i m posting, flowers, gardening
69 answers
  • Pat G
    on Apr 21, 2012

    will have to try this myself, since we are in the same planting zone. thanks for sharing.

  • Louise
    on Apr 21, 2012

    I sprayed a bunch of things late this afternoon, so will see if there's any "instant" success tomorrow and will post. Since some of it was liriope, I really don't hold out much hope that it will do much, if any, good.

  • 3po3
    on Apr 22, 2012

    Did you use regular white vinegar or a stronger solution? I have mad mixed success with this, and little long-term success (but then again nothing really works long-term except Roundup, which is kind of scary).

  • Melissa W
    on Apr 22, 2012

    You want to use 10% white vinegar made from grain alcohol. You can find it in stores as pickling vinegar. I have a been using this on my weeds in Texas for 5 years. I mix in a little orange oil and liquid soap. For best results you need to spray in the heat of the day. I spray it on weeds and a few hours later they are either mid-wilt or are turning brown. You can find more information on this at www.dirtdoctor.com . Click on his organic advice prompt. There is some great information there on starting an organic program.

  • Phil Bauman
    on Apr 22, 2012

    I would loved to hear more input from people that have used vinegar as a weed or brush killer. And in what concentrations. Thank you.

  • Nyomi R
    on Apr 22, 2012

    Are you sure it's Liriope? I just looked up that plant and it is certainly NOT a weed! I'm just asking about that for clarification purposes. My husband and I have used vinegar mixed with dish detergent before to kill Poison Ivy. (At least, I believe that's what it was. I know there was vinegar in it!) He is sleeping right now, but when he gets up, I can ask him more about it and the website where he found out about how to use it, why to use it, why it works, and if it is safe to use around other plants.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Apr 22, 2012

    I'd be very skeptical of a claim that something would kill that fast, and, if so, I wouldn't want to use it in my garden.

  • Melissa W
    on Apr 22, 2012

    The weeds do not die instantly. It still takes a few days, but the foliage does begin to turn brown within a few hours. For those of us that refuse to use a chemical based product on our gardens, it is a great solution. You do have to be careful and only spray directly on the weed and not spray on windy days. As with Roundup, it can kill whatever it is sprayed on. Regarding the strength to use, you use the vinegar at full strength. I have the best success on weeds like dandileons. Something tough like lirope, I think all you can do is dig and pull.

  • Dick C
    on Apr 22, 2012

    the reason weeds do not die instantly is that the vinegar or round up is absorbed thru the leaves and takes a while to get to the roots.

  • Louise
    on Apr 22, 2012

    Nyomi, yes, I'm sure what I'm trying to kill is liriope. And no, it's not a weed, but I figured the vinegar wouldn't know the difference. So far, however, I don't see any difference in what I sprayed yesterday, but I did spray late in the day. Liriope is so persistent that I don't really expect the vinegar to kill it, but no harm in trying. I'm sure pulling it up will be my ultimate solution.

  • Marilyn S
    on Apr 22, 2012

    I get a gallon of white vinegar from the grocery store, pour out 2 cups, so I have mixing room, add 1 Cup of table salt and 1 Tablespoon of dish soap, so it will stick. Pour this on weeds and they die. Works best in hot sun and faster. If it rains soon after, repeat. I've been using it for years, in Iowa and now, North Carolina. so much cheaper than Roundup and safer.

  • Carol
    on Apr 23, 2012

    Like Melissa I use horticultural vinegar - specifically Soil Mender's Enhanced Vinegar to kill weeds. Has always worked well for me.

  • Southern Trillium LLC
    on Apr 23, 2012

    One thing to be clear here is that it is actually against Federal Law to take household vinegar and use it to apply to weeds or anything else in your yard and garden. As absurd as that sounds, it is true. Unless the product is registered with the EPA as an herbicide, you would be violating federal law by using any product in any other manner. The active ingredient in vinegar, acetic acid, is what does the killing. The concentration in household vinegar is simply not enough for great effectiveness. There are herbicides that you can buy that are labeled for herbicide use and are, for lack of a better term, high strength vinegar. If you really want to read more about all of this, check out this study. It was a research project studying effectiveness of household vinegar versus the other vinegar herbicides, also comparing it to Round-up. Check it all out here http://www.ccerensselaer.org/horticulture-program/Turfgrass-Research/Vinegar-Herbicide.aspx

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Apr 23, 2012

    Very interesting article, ST.

  • Melissa W
    on Apr 23, 2012

    I don't know about using vinegar on its own, but used in conjunction with an organic lawn/garden program has proved very effective for me over the last 5 years. The organic products make the soil healthier thus producing a thicker turf and fewer weeds. The vinegar then kills whatever weeds do shoot up. It really depends on your goal. I am looking for a green, healthy garden that is achieved in the most environmentally friendly way. It is kid and pet friend, plus, the healthier soil allows me to use much less water. This is particularly important in areas facing water shortages and restrictions like Texas.

  • Southern Trillium LLC
    on Apr 23, 2012

    This discussion also brings to light that many people do not understand exactly what Round-up (Glyphosate) is and how it works. Whereas Vinegar is a very acidic product and applying it to a weed is burning it and killing it. Round-up interrupts part of the growth cycle of a plant by inhibiting a key enzyme, and without that enzyme, the plant starves and dies. Round-up is virtually non-toxic to mammals, birds, fish and insects. It only affects already living plants, and does not persist in the soil. Therefore it does not affect what you plan to grow in the near future. When applied, it does not seep out and leach into surrounding areas. That being said, it seems pretty obvious that although Round-Up is a synthetic product, it is very safe, and poses little to no threat to anything else around it. Now, let's assume that based on the study I linked to above, that it may take 3 applications of vinegar for effective control of some weeds. Does anyone know if the vinegar can easily spread and move after applied? Does the acidic level of the vinegar persist in the soil and possibly change the pH of your soil? Does vinegar pose any threat to other wildlife, birds, insects, or microbial life in your soil? When a product is tested and approved for certain uses by the EPA, when following the instructions, you should be safe in using it as the label says. Even a household product, used incorrectly, could possibly do more harm than imagined. I do not know if vinegar could do any collateral damage, but just assuming that it seems organic does not mean that it cannot do harm. For proof, have you ever heard of an insecticide called Pyrethrum? It is made from the dried flower heads. Just imagine, if you can take a flower head that is made to attract insects, dry it, turn it into a powder, you can then kill insects. Thus, we all have to be careful when testing and using anything differently from its original intentions.

  • Melissa W
    on Apr 23, 2012

    I think it depends on what studies you are reading. Dr Ron Huber, Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology at Perdue University and one of nation's senior soil scientists is very outspoken in his disagreement to what you have said above. Round Up becomes systemic throughout the plant and cannot be washed off. It stays in our soil for years and is now being found in our food supply, primarily in wheat. It kills off the beneficial bacteria in our soil that is needed to keep pathogens in check. It is toxic to wild life and there are serious health problems being linked to its use. Just read the label on the RoundUp bottle. You won't see that on the bottle of Horticultural Vinegar.

  • Southern Trillium LLC
    on Apr 23, 2012

    Melissa, you sparked my interest. I did some quick reading, but I will do some more research on this later. A couple quick points. Round-up is a systemic herbicide applied on the foliage. This also means that you can apply it to a single plant in the middle of a group, and it will only affect that single plant. It does not move into the soil and then, once in the soil, taken in by the roots of the other plants. From what I could find quickly, I did find this statement online from Dr. Huber himself, "Professor Huber says it isn't clear yet whether it is the GM crops or the use of the pesticide glyphosate that causes the pathogen. " It seems that the research he is discussing and pushing is a combination of the genetically modified crops that are Round-Up ready which also means that Round-Up is sprayed on them. Without knowing for sure which it is, it is unfair to say that it is the Round-up that causes the problems. I will be doing some more reading on this matter. Thanks,

  • Margy M
    on Apr 26, 2012

    I tried this twice aleady this spring, using full strength white and cider vinegar. I even mixed in some salt and dish detergent as one post said. Turned my weeds yellow but they did not die! They came back with a vengeance! Did not work for my weeds! Back to Round Up for me.

  • Dawn K
    on Apr 26, 2012

    simple boiling water will also do the trick on just about anything for most of the season.

  • Liz B
    on Apr 26, 2012

    They do use vinegar as a weed killer--but it's usually in a much higher concentration than traditional home-bought stuff. When it's a higher concentration it's actually pretty nasty/toxic--in the lab we would glove up and use the hood. The study that Southern Trillium LLC listed is pretty good.

  • Brenda M
    on Apr 26, 2012

    I too have liriope. It is not a weed, however, it is quite invasive. I'm going to try the vinegar to see if it works. Maybe will try it on spiderwort "babies" too.

  • Sherrie S
    on Apr 26, 2012

    This may surprise you about vinegar. I had two spray bottles one with water, one with vinegar. In error I was spraying the orchids with vinegar instead of water. The hint was the smell. Orchids had no problems after vinegar spray.

  • Cynthia J
    on Apr 26, 2012

    I think I will try this because of my chickens room in the yard.

  • Bernice H
    on Apr 26, 2012

    What a great post!!!

  • Laura S
    on Apr 26, 2012

    I have to agree with Dawn -- boiling water works very well, with none of the other issues. Just a pain having to go back and forth with the electric kettle

  • Cathy T
    on Apr 26, 2012

    Try a flame weeder. If you use vinegar, it needs to be a special type high-strength vinegar, sprayed at the hottest height of a hot and sunny day when it hasn't rained for awhile and is not predicted to rain within the next few days. Avoid Roundup at all costs; go organic to protect your health and the environment. The flame weeder is safe for the environment, except for the weeds you're aiming at. The vinegar needs to be treated with the same care that other herbicides are.

  • Louise
    on Apr 26, 2012

    What's a flame weeder? BTW, nothing that I sprayed last week with white household vinegar has shown any sign of dying.

  • Karen E
    on Apr 26, 2012

    I'm with Louise, I sprayed my weeds with white vinegar 3 weeks ago and they are still alive. I did kill some in the driveway cracks by POURING on a large amount of vinegar, but that would take a lot of vinegar to kill the weeds in my garden.

  • Ramona D
    on Apr 27, 2012

    i have been using vinegar for years because it works ...and works faster than any round up or killex. i use straight vinegar nothing added to it

  • Nyomi R
    on Apr 27, 2012

    I guess it all depends on what kind of weeds you are killing when it comes to using vinegar (from reading this post). Some people have great success and others don't. As I mentioned before, When my husband and I mixed Household Vinegar with Dish Detergent and a pinch of Salt and sprayed it on Poison Ivy, it totally eliminated it. It was gone over night. I also think that zoning might play a part in some of this too. It seems like certain people in different "Garden Zones" have better luck with Vinegar than others.

  • Melissa W
    on Apr 27, 2012

    Household white distilled vinegar is only a 5% concentration. The vinegar you need is 10% or 20%(horticultural vinegar). Here in Texas, Lowes sells it in the garden section. All of our garden centers carry either the 10 or 20%as part of their organic program. It is also available from many sources on line. Some have also used pickling vinegar (not sure where to get that) and it has worked.

  • Margy M
    on Apr 27, 2012

    I must have tough weeds, they bounced right back!

  • Walter Reeves
    on Apr 27, 2012

    Laura's comment about the electric kettle intrigued me. Wouldn't a steam cleaner like these work fine for spot treatment of weeds? http://www.bing.com/shopping/search?q=steam+cleaners&qpvt=steam+cleaners&FORM=Z7FD#x0y0

  • Karen E
    on Apr 27, 2012

    Interesting what Melissa W says about the horticultural vinegar. I may look for that and try it. As long as it is much cheaper than Roundup.

  • Sharon A
    on Apr 27, 2012

    I have heard pros and cons on the vinegar...and am willing to try it on the weeds in the cracks in the driveway and sidewalks. As to Round Up you have to be sooo careful when using it...will kill anything it comes into contact with (plant wise) and you can't plant anything in that area for a while as it will die off also...I've also heard of the Boiling water idea also and am willing to try that also...maybe do a comparison thing with it against the vinegar...I saw on tv another product (can't remember the name off hand) that had a spraying wand, and was good for killing the dandelions as a direct shot, and wouldn't kill the grass...am thinking of trying that...I've tried the granulated stuff that you use a spreader on your lawn to get rid of them, however, I watched as the dandelion heads shriveled and twisted looking deformed...however it didn't kill the plant...

  • Sherrie S
    on Apr 27, 2012

    Walter R, I like your idea about steam cleaner. I can put vinegar in my little hand held steam cleaner and see how that works.

  • Southern Trillium LLC
    on Apr 27, 2012

    Sharon, I will disagree with you in regards to how soon you can plant after spraying Round-Up. Round-Up is a contact based systemic herbicide and based on our years of use, there is no residual effect on new plantings. We use Round-Up to spray out yards before we begin the installation work. We normally spray about one week before we begin work. We try for one week, so that it is possible to swing by and see if any places were missed an do some spot spraying. There are other times that we have sprayed entire areas just 2 days before we come back in and plant all new trees, shrubs, perennials, sod, etc. We have never had a problem with residual killing from Round-Up.

  • Cathy T
    on Apr 28, 2012

    You can easily do an internet search for flame weeders, and even watch a YouTube video. I don't own one, but Mike McGrath recommends them. One I saw from my search looks like a walking cane. It uses a gas canister to shoot out a flame from the bottom that makes the weed leaves shrivel and die. Or you can strap a larger canister on your back that attaches to a wand. No poisons for you or your garden to deal with, and it's more effective than using a hoe to kill weeds with long tap roots. Spraying Roundup on your lawn or especially on your driveway and sidewalks means those chemicals will be washed away with storm water runoff, go down storm drains, and go directly into streams and rivers. That's where storm water goes.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Apr 28, 2012

    I hate to wade into this hornet's nest, but I have to agree with Southern Trillium. There may be many reasons why someone opts not to use Roundup, but a residual effect in the soil should not be one of them. There is absolutely no evidence to support that claim.

  • Mike L
    on Apr 28, 2012

    I have used full strength (5%) white vinegar with some success on young, emerging, herbaceous weeds. Once you get into mid summer when leaves are mature and start to develop a waxy outer protective layer, it fizzles. Also if you add a couple of drops (and I mean just a couple per quart) of dish detergent (like Dawn or Palmolive) it acts as a surfactant allowing the vinegar to work more effectively.

  • Walter Reeves
    on Apr 28, 2012

    If you use a flame weeder, do it after a rain, so you don't set unintended fires.

  • Ellen H
    on Apr 28, 2012

    I have used vinegar and table salt and it works well for me. usually a week before its gone. 1 gal vinegar to 1/2 cup salt mixed in a sprayer.

  • Mike L
    on Apr 29, 2012

    One more point on vinegar. It is a contact herbicide in this case. While effective on annual weeds, plants like Canada thistle will regenerate.

  • Joyce S
    on May 10, 2012

    i have vines growing on the side of my house from a neighbors plant so definately will try this non-chemical form of removal! thank you

  • Irene A
    on May 17, 2012

    After reading a blog, I sprayed full strength household vinegar on a patch of grass that I wanted to get rid of for a veggie garden. It really didn't do much. Looks like Ive got lots of back breaking work ahead of me.

  • Ellen H
    on May 18, 2012

    you will need to add salt to your 1 gallon of vinegar for it to be effective. also about 1 tsp of dish soap to help the mix stick to the plant. It may take a couple of applications before you get the desired results.

  • Vivian S
    on Jun 8, 2012

    Irene, you might kill the grass easier by putting black plastic over the area you want to kill and weighing it down to hold the plastic. The plants will die and you can lift it more easily.

  • JULIE C
    on Jun 25, 2012

    I had a friend tell me about this also. I have a vine that has taken over my yard and I tried vingar and to my happy surprise I am getting my yard under control

  • Wen S
    on Jun 29, 2012

    love this site

  • Vivian S
    on Jun 29, 2012

    Julie, are you trying plain 5% vinegar or using the horticultural vinegar that is stronger?

  • Robin M
    on Jun 29, 2012

    That's amazing!

  • Vivian S
    on Jun 29, 2012

    Ok. I am going to try the vinegar and salt and dish soap mix to kill some weeds growing through pavers and cracks in sidewalk. I'll let you know what happens at my place.

  • Jeanette S
    on Jun 29, 2012

    I agree with Vivian S because vinegar can kill other plants. It will leave a residue. In an area such as that shown here, the plastic is the best way. Leave it about 10 days and check it. With vinegar you may have to wait to plant.

    • Cherie
      on May 20, 2015

      @Jeanette S Test your soil before and after applying vinegar. I bet you find VERY little difference! The vinegar dissipates quickly! It may have taken a bit more time for your grass to return but I bet it would have.

  • Vivian S
    on Jun 29, 2012

    I reduced the amount in proportions: 1 cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt, a squirt of dish soap and sprayed on well.

  • Vivian S
    on Jul 2, 2012

    I tried the formula. It worked on some weeds but not on others. Of course the salt and vinegar combined with 100 degree temps would probably kill nearly anything...but it didn't kill all the weeds I tried it on.

  • Phil Bauman
    on Jul 4, 2012

    Boiling water will kill all

  • Kelly S
    on Jul 18, 2012

    I put straight white vinegar in my sprayer and it worked. Some of the dandilions and fireweed took 2 applications. It will kill the grass also so be careful how you spray. I have a flame thrower/weed burner that attaches to a 5 gal propane tank. It worked for moss and clover but not on dandilions. You have to have a firewatcher armed with a charged garden hose just in case.

  • Kelly S
    on Jul 18, 2012

    The vinegar is not a seed killer or pre-emergent so the dandilions did come back, albeit in different spots, in my sidewalk areas. Roundup didn't kill them either that's why I went to vinegar; it's much less expensive even with repeat applications.

  • Jeanette S
    on Jul 19, 2012

    Vinegar is great but does kill whatever it touches. And you need to put out some lime on your lawn to restore balance. I had put out some V on moss and that part of my zoysia looked scraggy! I thought it was because it was in shade and we have had drought. My yard service told me to put out some lime in that area...I did and it is now lush! Be careful with anything you use! I would never use salt.

  • Dawn K
    on Sep 12, 2012

    i sprayed my driveway multiple times. Not a single thing died... full strength! Love my round-up. Yes, if you want to carry boiling pots of water around your yard, they will work too...

  • Sherrie S
    on Sep 13, 2012

    Dawn K, I agree with you so when I really want to kill weeds I use Roundup. I love the natural stuff but in really bad weedy areas - round up the bad weeds.

  • Wen S
    on Sep 13, 2012

    roundup is not the awnser. Yes it is easy but it is very harmful to evryones health.

  • Cathy T
    on Sep 14, 2012

    I agree that Roundup is NOT the answer. We need to be mindful of the harm we're doing to both the environment and to people, ourselves and our families.

    • Pdh9790366
      on Aug 9, 2016

      A little round up on the driveway is not much more harmful than the vehicles we all drive up and down those driveways everyday!

  • Phil Bauman
    on Sep 15, 2012

    I am just pleased to see more and more people, talk about natural solutions over chemical ones.

    • Diamondvalleygirl
      on May 18, 2015

      I agree! I can't breath around the chemicals and certainly don't want to store that stuff in my shed, as it out gasses. That stuff is cancer causing!

  • Renrut.ge
    on Apr 8, 2013

    natural is always better for everything...

    q a friend sent a post from another site about killing weeds with vinegar i m posting, flowers, gardening
  • Kelly S
    on Apr 9, 2013

    I tested boiling water vs vinegar on the weeds between our flagstone pavers along the driveway by pouring boiling water on the weeds on one side and vinegar on the other. Vinegar produced a quicker and longer lasting result; however with all our rain, record setting for the month of April, both sides are making a try at a comeback. I will have to wait for a forcast with at least 7 days of no rain for any hope of getting rid of the buggers. That probably means the end of May but I am determined to get rid of them. Round up and Weed be gone didn't work either. The flame thrower type weed burner could cause the stones to explode so that option is out as well. Next week I'll add the dish soap and salt to the vinegar to see if that helps.

  • Mimi Haywood
    on May 20, 2015

    Using Round-Up is never Safe in any situation, for the health of the earth and the entire population of humans, beneficial insects and all animals it should be banned from use.

    • Cherie
      on May 20, 2015

      @Mimi Haywood I agree!! I believe there was a petition going around to stop production of it because it NEVER goes away - it just goes into the ground water where everyone can be poisoned from it!!! We only have 1 planet!!!

  • Sara
    on Aug 17, 2015

    Despues de probar con diferentes productos, al final me decidi probar con sal vinagre y jabón de platos, ¡¡al fin!!! murieron las malezas y no han vuelto a salir,desde esto ya hace 2 meses, aún esperaré un poco mas hasta primavera, por si reaparecen, pero creo que esta mezcla es buena.

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