The Use of Vinegar on Weeds Other Than on Dandelions

cats39(z5 Upstate NY)June 3, 2006

First thanks to those who responded to my "Overcoming the Dreaded Cucumber Beetle" post.

quitglo (Gloria) mentioned on the "To Late for Corn Gluten" thread that vinegar was a good use to kill off dandelions by writing, "Try zapping the current plants with vinegar on sunny days." My question to Gloria or others is; will vinegar work on other broad-weeds or weeds in general without killing off surrounding grass too?

In the pastI used Clorox for years to kill off dandelions with a quick burst in solid stream form by spraying to the center of the weed, without misting, in order not kill off the surrounding grass growth.

It worked fine. But to make sense of my question I no longer kill off dandelion. The reason? I found (I think) somewhere on this Organic Forum, that one of the best fertilizers that can be found is seaweed. What does seaweed have in common with not killing dandelions?

Well, it makes for good reasoning to me because I recall an older next-door neighbor where I use to live, who happened to be from Ireland, telling me how when he was a young man would go to the ocean-side and dive for Kelp to use on their farm for fertilizer. So reading about seaweed made really good sense.

Then one day I happened to be in a Garden Department and saw a small bottle of "liquid seaweed concentrate". It sold for as best as I can recall 8 or 9 dollars for I think a 7oz. bottle. Then to top that off while I was browsing one day last year to find good forms of fertilizer for the lawn I came across this:

It said, "The next best thing to seaweed for content of minerals was the DANDELION." There apparently is a large amount of iron absorbed by the deep root growth of the dandelion. So now I enjoy pulling dandelions for the compost pile and putting all of that energy back to the ground.

As it is, dandelion seems to be the first weed to mature in the spring. I have plenty of time to dig up without interfering with other yard-work. Unfortunately other broad leaf weeds follow that can't be kept up with so readily. So my question stands. Can vinegar be used in SPRAY form to kill weeds and not the surrounding grass.

Thanks in advance


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username_5(banned for no reason)

No, vinegar is non selective. It is the organic equivalent of RoundUp. There is no organic equivalent of a selective herbicide that I know of.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 12:07PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Roundup -- active ingredient glyphosate -- is systemic. Its main use is to apply to the top so that the material is moved to the roots which then die.

Vinegar is a contact material. It can kill only those parts -- top growth -- that it touches.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 11:34PM
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squeeze(z8 BC)

actually strong enough vinegar will kill the roots of weeds as well as the tops, but household vinegar isn't strong enough - it will however do better on shallow rooted weeds then it does on dandelions, and yes, it'll kill grass too, as will bleach - our city works people tried a commercial vinegar weed killer for the things that sprout along the curbs beside the asphalt [agricultural strength], and gave it up after 2 seasons - cheaper to use a weedeater, and they figured out what I coulda told them, vinegar eats concrete :)

Bill [who makes vinegar, too good to waste on weeds]

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 1:23AM
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I used it on lambsquarter and creeping ivy and it definately killed it. It takes a while, for me anyway, to get it to kill grass. It also killed off one of my day lilies when I accidentally got the vinegar on it.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 2:44AM
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how hard is it to pull up a weed...just as hard as spraying every single weed, i you end up killing other things, polluting your soil, and...apparently eating up concrete!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 10:48AM
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led_zep_rules(5 WI)

Hey there It Better Be Organic,

How hard is it to pull up a weed? If you have quack grass growing all around all your vegie gardens like I do, then I would estimate a couple lifetimes! I am smothering left and right, but have also been contemplating spraying vinegar to set it back a little bit. And when you have clay soil, you don't pull up weeds mostly, you DIG them up, and then try to get the dirt to let go of the roots. Takes a LONG time, and I always wind up with dirt in my eyes, hair, clothing, everywhere.

It is depressing how vigorous my weeds are. The quack grass is even growing where I put down cardboard and woodchips last year around the raised bed, and goes under the sides into the raised beds. The long on-the-level garden is really being attacked this year. I think quack grass is a manifestation of the devil! It is worse than creeping charlie, and that's saying something. My goal is to put down cardboard and wood chips around every bit of garden, but that will take some time, and lots of maintenance.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 2:11AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA


I agree Marcia. Some weed infestations would make you want to give up gardening. :-) We had that quack grass and I did give up on the veggie garden that it was invading. The more I dug it up the more it came back. Last year we finally tried smothering it with the cardboard mulch technique and this year there were only a few isolated areas where a few small pieces were still coming up and we already have those covered with cardboard/mulch. But really we had to leave the whole area mulched heavily all season and all winter before it worked. We also got lucky that last year, the whole months of July/Aug, we barely had 2 inches of rain, so on top of the mulch, we had dryness and heat.

We had to take out all the old veggie beds and just mulch over the whole area, and this year we just put in new beds and we are keeping our fingers crossed that nothing is going to come up through the new beds.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 9:50PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Acedic acid is pretty rapidly broken down, so its not really poluting your soil that much.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 12:50AM
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I have a wellfor my drinking water and cruddy landscaper who installed a weed lawn... I can't afford to redo the whole thing so I am searching for organic weed control. Another post on this forum suggested this USDA site about the use of Vinegar

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 8:57PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

The best weed control on a lawn is dense turf and controlled watering. By only watering once a week, the weed seeds never get a chance to sprout. And if you mow your grass at the mower's highest setting, you will shade the seeds so they don't germinate, and if they do, they don't get enough sunlight to grow into a sprout. Also, overseeding weak areas in the fall will help to make the turf more dense thus shading out the weed seeds. Almost all weed control is a cultural thing and does not come from a sprayer.

If you still have weeds after doing all the cultural things right, you can try vinegar or baking soda, but not together. Both seem to have a damaging affect on many plants to one degree or another. Test an area of your good plants to be sure you don't damage them in the process of killing the weeds.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 10:02PM
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Does it affect soil any way? Does it leave residue? It's not always easy to find acetic acid.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 4:38PM
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