Regular Vinegar as Weed Killer (With Pics)

Todd_In_Texas(Zone 8A Dallas)June 26, 2005

I've read a lot about using vinegar as an organic weed killer (herbicide) and since my daughter uses the back yard as her playground I was interested in using it there. It'd be nice to use an organic "Round-Up" that I can spot spray weeds and not worry about her running barefoot back there the same day.

I understand that regular vinegar in grocery stores is only 5% acetic acid and that concentrations of up to 25% or so are sold for horticultural use. However, I wanted to give the regular stuff a try.

I went to Wal-Mart and got the cheapest thing of regular old vinegar I could find. I got 1 gallon for $1.47. Here's a pic of the lable:

I found one clump of weeds in my bermudagrass and one other kind of weed in the cracks of our porch. The conditions when I sprayed it were:

Temp: 93F Degrees

Humidity: 34%

Partly-Mostly Cloudy

I sprayed them with the 5% vinegar and then took another picture about 3 hours later which I've posted below:



...and the weed on the porch...



Hey... for $1.47 a gallon that's a pretty good deal compared to Round Up. Just thought you all would like to see some before and after pics of my test. I'm sure the 5% stuff works best in warmer temperatures and when there's a lot of sun but it wouldn't hurt to give it a try.


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janet_w(TX 8)

Thanks Todd, It's worth a try. I have a gal in the pantry.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 2:04PM
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fireflyintexas(z8 TX)

Me too! My DH and I are going out now (since it's plenty hot and sunny) and try to nuke some mean ol' weeds in our confed. jasmine bed......thanks Todd!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 2:24PM
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Dang! Boy is that good to know.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 4:25PM
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janet_w(TX 8)

Here are some other uses for vinegar

I'm sure there are more just didn't have time to look them up.

Thanks again Todd

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 4:48PM
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unautre(8B San Antonio TX)

Anybody know whether a bit of vinegar in hard San Antonio tap water in birdbath fountains would slow/prevent the buildup of calcium deposit in the birdbath splash zones, without harming birds and other critters that drink from it?

Would the animals still drink it?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 4:59PM
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dogpatchlady(z9 s of Hou)

Been using it for a couple of years now. It does need some sunlight after application to be really effective. I think it lasts as long as RU does. Sure is cheaper!

Be careful of stronger concentrations tho, it is an acid. I'd be careful around birds, I just don't know what if anything it would do to them. I know it's ok for cats and dogs, mine will eat salad dressing on leftover salad.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 6:14PM
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While I'm waiting for the picture to download via my 24k bps dialup service, I wanted to add that Roundup is absorbed throughout the plant so there is a complete kill. Some chemicals only burn the top foliage down but the lower portions resprout. The comment that vinegar "lasts as long" as RU sounds hard to believe to me because I'd bet that the acetic acid just burns the top and is not systematic. Systematic products are not absorbed as readily when it's hotter because the plant's physiological processes are slowed in the heat. Chemicals on plants tend to burn faster and to a greated extent when it's hotter which is what I think you are seeing with the vinegar. Of course, regular applications would deplete the carbohydrate storage of the plant and eventually it would die if the foliage was burned off and it couldn't regenerate it's supplies.

Any evidence to the contrary??? If so, I'd LOVE to know because I'd switch tomorrow!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 8:27PM
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Todd_In_Texas(Zone 8A Dallas)

I agree with you Brad. I've used Round Up and one shot and it's dead... forever. It sounds right that the vinegar will only burn the top foliage but done after a couple applications hopefully it will choke off the plant and it will die. (Fingers crossed)

My main reason for trying it isn't really the price factor but more of the organic nature of it since my 2 year old daughter runs around back there. Noting against chemicals because I use them sparingly in the front but if I can keep the back yard a little safer for her I will.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 9:22AM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

One of my friends tested the vinegar vs. roundup on dollar weed. She sprayed them both on the same day, same time, etc. The vinegar worked much faster and better than roundup. And the dollar weed died back, but of course, dollar weed keeps coming back regardless of what you use. And yes, you have to use the vinegar on a regular basis, but I think it is worth it not to use chemicals like roundup on my lawn where my grandkids and dogs play.

Also buy the 9% vinegar, a/k/a pickling vinegar. It's just as cheap but is a little stronger and works better.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 12:39PM
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Todd_In_Texas(Zone 8A Dallas)

Hmm... "Pickling Vinegar" huh? Great idea... thanks for the tip. I'll have to look for some.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 12:49PM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

You can find it at any grocery store. I get mine at HEB right next to the 5% vinegar.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 1:16PM
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pickled dollar weed...sounds yummy!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 3:45PM
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Todd_In_Texas(Zone 8A Dallas)

You mean, "pickled anything sounds yummy." Well, minus pigs feet... those aren't yummy.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 3:49PM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

The Dirt Doctor a/k/a Howard Garrett suggests:

. . .weeds that grow through the gravel can be sprayed and killed with a mix of 10% pickling vinegar mixed with 2 ounces orange oil and 1 teaspoon liquid soap or you can use commercial organic herbicides. There are also commercial products now available. Vinegar sprays can also be used to kill weeds in the cracks in sidewalks and driveways.

He is talking about weeds in sidewalks and driveways, but the same mixture can be used on weeds just about anywhere.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 9:07PM
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Lee3304(8, Texas)

I have heard about orange oil so often. Where do you get that in small towns? Some recipes call for it in a black spot rose solution, also.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 11:17PM
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sjv78736(austin texas)

i live in the oak hill-dripping springs area and i have a real problem with poison ivy patches here and there in my beds...anyone ever try vinegar on poison ivy? i have found nothing, including round-up, that will kill this pest. what to use when the poison ivy is growing between my caladiums????

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 8:15AM
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Todd_In_Texas(Zone 8A Dallas)

I doubt vinegar will have an effect on poison ivy. I tried the 5% vinegar stuff on some nutsedge (nutgrass) in my yard and I think it tickled it. Pretty tough stuff.

Poison ivy is very hard to kill with hand pulling when the soil is moist being the most effective way to get rid of it. Check out the link below. It has a great section on Control of Poison Ivy.

Here is a link that might be useful: Poison Ivy Identification and Control

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 8:56AM
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joanna_TX(z9 TX)


I got my Orange Oil at Lowes. It's in the organic section with the weed killers and pest control. It's kind of expensive, but you dilute it when you use it, so it goes pretty far. I have had some success with it on ant mounds, but haven't tried it on weeds...

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 12:23PM
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Will vinegar work on Wandering Jew aka Moses In A Boat?

I've got clumps of this that the previous owner planted around a tree. Hate the stuff!!! It's hard to dig it all out because of all the tree roots.

I didn't want to flood the area with RU since it's growing around an oak tree. I tried spraying RU on it but that only damaged the places the liquid actually touched...I ended up with holey leaves! :o) Dratted plants recuperated too quickly...and they keep multiplying! UGH!!!

Short of using a flame thrower on them...I'm running out of options.

Guess I'll try vinegar and see what happens.

~ Cat

    Bookmark   July 1, 2005 at 11:08PM
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Sagar(z5 NY)

Are you just supposed to spray the vinegar as it comes or dilute it anymore?


    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 9:17AM
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Todd_In_Texas(Zone 8A Dallas)

No.... you don't dilute the vinegar. I used 5% but I understand you can get 9% (Pickling vinegar) at the store too which would be better.

As a follow up, the first weed above that was sprayed once with vinegar came right back. The 2nd clover-like one did not.

At one application it doesn't look like 5% vinegar is too effective on broadleaf weeds. It'll burn and kill the top foliage but it will grow back.

On the other hand 5% vinegar killed the smaller leaf weeds like clover and other similar weeds.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 9:31AM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

I used 20% vinager in weeds growing up in the concrete walkway 3 weeks ago. They have not made a return visit.PJ

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 11:43AM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

I've got the 20% too, but it is so strong that I have read that it can be diluted with the 5% vinegar. There has even been some talk about taking the 20% off the market because of the high acid content. The 5% and 9% don't need to be diluted. Don't spray vinegar on a windy day or you might kill out some things you don't want to kill.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 12:28PM
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sjv78736(austin texas)

TY so much for the p.ivy link!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 6:24PM
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Wiesie(Katy, Texas)

I am trying to get rid of Trumpet Vine...have used Round-up...and the 20%'s still there..someone please help!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 10:39PM
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robyn_tx(8 Dallas)

I have been using vinegar for years ... it does kill the roots and works like a charm. Well, except on trumpet vine or wayward hackberry trees .... those need a nuclear blast....Robyn

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 10:12AM
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Thanks to this post I poured white vinegar between the bricks in my patio.It worked great!There was grass and wild violets.I've been afraid someone might trip.All the pulling by hand didn't work.The vinegar did the trick.Thanks so much. Gabriell

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 7:10PM
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bettydee(z7b westTX)

unnautre, a weak vinegar solution will not hurt birds. Some vets recommend apple cider vinegar in parrot's drinking water to help prevent feather plucking.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 11:56PM
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okcdan(7 OKC - Bermuda)

* Bump *

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 7:27PM
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hitexplanter(8 a)

Thought I would chime in with a thought or two on RU versus vinegar. First both are most effective when the target 'weed' is younger and is growing fast. I use both depending on the situation and target 'weed'. I do use a few drops of sticker spreader aka any dish soap in both products. Over 90 degrees seems to be most effective for vinegar. A few days after a good rain is my favorite time to attack weed problems. Active growth is key to both. Young makes for better odds of complete kill. Water the target area if need be. Plants with a waxy look to them don't absorb either product very well and so is not generally very effective. On unwanted shrubs and or woody materials I cut the plant down to close to the ground and then scar up around the sides to expose more of the cambial tissue. ( a one cell layer located between the heartwood and bark layer). Cambial tissue is what allows a plant to heal a cut and goes from root to top of most woody type plant. Then I use full strength 25 to 41 percent glyphosphate (the active ingredient in RU) with a foam brush and brush all these exposed areas with it. It is also good to use a squirt of dish soap in this solution. Be careful to only touch the areas you want killed and don't slather it on. Just a light brushing over the exposed cut and scrapped area. I have found this to take out many shrub, tree and vine like materials without affecting the surrounding plants to any noticable degree. I didn't want to be long winded but wanted to very clear about the technique. Any futher questions about this email me and I will try to clarify further.
David a garden center manager at Canyon Lake

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 9:01AM
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I keep a spray bottle of 20% vinegar (with emulsifier) for spraying on the grass and weeds thats come up in the cement cracks. I tried it on poison ivy. I sprayed it three days in a row with little effect. It drooped a bit but that is all. Digging up the poison ivy (while well protected) is the only thing that works 100%.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 10:21AM
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kateyes(z9 Baytown)

Only thing I've ever found that works on poison ivy is "Brush Be Gone". Be careful - it's strong! Don't use on a windy day. Now the few vines that pop up here and there I just dig up with a sharpshooter...extra careful not to touch any part of the plant!

Afterwards, I go inside and heavily moisten cotton pads with alcohol and rub any exposed areas of my body that may have accidentally contacted the ivy (legs, arms, hands). This "removes" the toxic oil. If you just go and take a shower without the alcohol pre-treatment, the soap and water will "spread" the oil around on your skin!

I have always used vinegar (5%) on weeds; repeated applications necessary on some! And in the heat works best of course, plus adding a touch of Lemon Joy to the spray to help it "stick". In places I want to really kill everything, I've added boiling salt water to the mixture.

I'm going to try the 9% solution; sounds good. Maybe I won't have to repeat the applications!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 5:28PM
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fliptx(Houston 9)

On particularly tough weeds, I heat up a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar on the stove (carefully, as the vinegar fumes can be potent!) or microwave, then pour at the base of the weeds. It works really well, but not permanently. After a couple of rains come and wash the soil clean, new weeds start growing there again.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 5:53PM
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dallasbill(z8a - Dallas, TX)

I have used 10% vinegar -- 1 gallon -- plus 1 ounce of orange oil and an ounce of liquid molasses as a surfactant (might as well feed the soil critters at the same time!) for years now. It works on 90% of weeds. It does not work on vines. I keep it in a gallon spray bottle ready to go. Just make sure you give it a shake every once in a while as the oil will separate when left standing. You can use it to kill lawn weeds as long as you concentrate the spray at the weed/grassy weed itself. If you mist some surrounding grass, it's only a surface burn, and it will bounce right back, esp. St. Augustine. I have killed poa annua in St. Aug like this each spring, when the St. Aug is still greening up and the poa is easy to spot.

Orange oil can also be found in grocery stores in the furniture polish area, as it's used on wood. It's exactly the same stuff, and often cheaper there than at Lowes.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 12:28PM
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Will it work on Zoysia Grass, and how and when would you recommend using it? My lawn is blue grass with Zoysia brown spots now. Should I wait til August hot an dry conditions here? Roundup is too expensive to do the complete lawn that was once all Zoysia, but seeding in the fall heavy with Blue grass has been keeping the Zoysia at bay.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 12:29PM
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denisew(z8 TX)

Copper - Not sure exactly where you are at in zone 5, but here in most parts of Texas we get an annual blue grass that starts growing in January and February and dies off when it gets really hot in the summer. There are people here who have Zoysia as lawn grass - not me, I have Bermuda in the back and now St. Augustine in the front. Anyway, I would think when it warms up to over 80 degrees, the vinegar should work on your zoysia. I say this with not ever having zoysia in my lawn, but I would think it would work. Maybe digging out the patches would help too? Is there a lot of zoysia you want to get rid of or just a few spots?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 8:53PM
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LaurelLily(9a Houston, TX)

Can anybody tell me about vinegar and ants?

I used vinegar on weeds last year and we seemed to have more ants than usual, and I thought the vinegar was attracting them.

But this year, I haven't used vinegar, and--lots of ants again! So I'm not sure whether there is a connection.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 10:36AM
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