Vinegar to Kill Weeds Naturally

by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener

Household vinegar can function as a natural weed killer. The acetic acid in vinegar gives it the power to burn weeds back to the ground; the higher the percentage of acid in the vinegar, the deadlier it is. The type used for culinary purposes is relatively low (five percent) in acetic acid.  If you are serious, you’ll need stronger stuff. Recommendations follow.

Vinegar Limitations – If you’re battling weeds in the lawn, take care to apply vinegar directly on the weed themselves, not letting it come in contact with your grass. The fact that vinegar is a “natural” product does not mean it can’t be harmful if misused. Vinegar is non-selective and harms your grass as well as the weeds.Vinegar can kill grass this time of year.

To avoid damage to grass, consider “painting” vinegar directly onto weeds with a brush. If you prefer to spray with vinegar, for precise targeting don’t pull the trigger until right above the weed.

Because of this limitation, vinegar is more challenging to use in grass lawn areas, but ideal for rock lawns. It makes more sense to use vinegar in areas where landscape plants are not threatened, such as patios and paved walkways where weeds push through the cracks.

When and How Often to Apply Vinegar, – Target annual weeds, like foxtails and goat heads before they set seed.  This prevents them from spawning a new generation to cause garden grief.

Perennial weeds, like dandelions and ragweed may need to be sprayed repeatedly to finally kill the entire taproot.  Each time you spray these perennial pests they die a little more until their ultimate demise.

Dandelions can take over the winter landscape.  The seed heads look innocent and fun to blow into the wind, but each of these seeds sprouts a new weed in the garden.  Through winter this is one weed you don’t want to ignore.

How to Apply – Look for a few continuous days of sunshine. At the beginning of this period, spray or paint your vinegar directly onto weeds you want dead. The real damage to a sprayed weed begins the day after the application when the sun hits the leaves.  Rain will wash off some of this weed killer, so at least two days of continual sun is needed for complete effectiveness.

Surefire Death of Weeds – I add ‘Spreader Sticker’ to every anti-weed application.  Many mountain weeds have waxy or fuzzy leaves that prevent vinegar from fully saturating the plants.  ‘Spreader Sticker’ forces the killer to penetrate deep into your weeds’ tissue for a complete application.  A little bit goes a long way, yet keeps your weed killing natural, safe, and organic.

Burnout is Stronger Stuff ‘Burnout’ is the most potent vinegar-based product offered over the counter.  With 24% acetic acid blended with 8% clove oil, this product is 100% organic and effective. This vinegar is deadly to landscape weeds but can sting the skin so should be used with care. We sell it here at Watters for less than Amazon online, but here’s the link if you want it shipped directly, using your Prime account.

Christmas Trees, wreaths, poinsettias, and all the other Christmas plants Watters is known to stock will have arrived by next weekend.  Let the holidays begin!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers ~

Until next week, I’ll be helping local gardeners kill weeds in their gardens naturally.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at or .