Does This Natural Weed Killer Work?

7 Materials
1 Hour

Steph's backyard is basically nothing but pea gravel and pavers, with absolutely no grass. It was this way when she moved in. Because it is so shady back there, grass is really not an option. What does grow back there are weeds and lots of them!

It's been a particularly healthy growing season for weeds this summer. It would be impossible to pull all of them so we started to look for a chemical way to kill them.

We wanted to steer clear of treatments such as Round-Up, due to the potential danger to Mac, Steph's dog, should she eat one of the poisoned weeds. We investigated natural methods and came across a method using vinegar.

Caution: To be clear, we do not know if this method is safe for animals. We do know from research that using the vinegar and salt formula will leave the dirt on which it is used sterile. That is, nothing is going to grow there in the future. So, for example, you wouldn't use it to clear out weeds in a garden and then go back and plant vegetables and expect them to grow.

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Here's a small section of the backyard. Those are just a few of the weeds that have grown up into the pea gravel in Steph's backyard.

We are using a weed killer formula that uses vinegar. For our first try we are using household white vinegar that is 5% acidic. (The bottle on the left.)

The formula is one gallon of vinegar, one cup of table salt, and about a tablespoon of Dawn dishwashing liquid. We put this into a battery powered garden sprayer although you can use a hand pump one. Whatever you use, it is important to throughly clean it out once you are finished.

Be sure to work on a very sunny day with no chance of rain. We noticed some of the weeds started to wilt within an hour of application.

This is after spraying with the household vinegar formula. It did a good job on young, non-vine or creeping weeds. What is still green are the vines and creepers. It also did not work on grasses at all.

We then mixed up a batch of the weed killer using the 30% vinegar. We could not find this locally so we ordered from Amazon. Since it was stronger, we put it into a spray bottle so we could have better control of the overspray. It is important to keep this OFF the plants you want to keep. TIP: wear a mask, preferably a respiratory type one as well as eye protection as this stuff is strong! I also wore gloves.

This is the same spot as in the picture before. As you can see, the 30% took care of everything. We will monitor this to see if anything will grow here again.

Here is the after of the driveway where it meets the road.

We sprayed this patch of grass with the 30% vinegar formula and within an hour, it was starting to brown.

This is the same grass after using the DIY weed killer.

Once everything was wilted and brown, we pulled up all the dead weeds leaving the rocks visible again.

This method worked well in Steph's backyard. Since she doesn't want anything to grown in the rocks, it was perfect for her backyard. From what I've read, this vinegar/salt formula can damage the soil it touches so keep that in mind when deciding if this method is right for your yard.

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  • Violet Garman
    on Oct 31, 2019

    I use this recipe to do my drive. I would never use it around any plants because the vinegar and salt will wash down and spread and could hurt the roots of the plants you really want to keep healthy! Very good for sidewalks and driveways.

  • Gabrielle Falk
    on Nov 6, 2019

    All I use is cleaning vinegar, and a generous squirt of a fairly viscous dish-washing liquid. I put these 2 ingredients in an empty, squeezy dish-washing container. Then I just squirt. No overspray to worry about, as it is much easier to direct a squirt, rather than a spray, which can go which-ever way. Weeds are usually dead the next day. Salt can be detrimental to the soil.

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