In our garden and planting rows, weeds have never been much of problem utilizing heavy applications of mulch, cover crops in the off-season, and a simple 5 to 10 minute-a-day approach to weed maintenance during the growing season.  See: Growing Simple With Raised Rows

vinegar
The vinegar solution works well to control weeds in our stone paths – like the ones around our fire pit

However, when it comes to maintaining our driveway, stone walkways, paths, and brick patios around our property, a thick coat of mulch and a planting of cover crops doesn’t quite give us the look we are shooting for when it comes to beautification.

For us, the answer to keep these areas free of weeds has been a simple natural weed killer solution using vinegar as the main ingredient.  It has not only proven to be effective – but so much safer than ever having to use a single drop of a commercial herbicide like Roundup. Not to mention – we don’t have to worry about harsh chemicals killing our bees or other beneficial insects when used.

Although you can use standard off the shelf vinegar, we prefer to use a stronger solution known as horticultural vinegar, which has a much higher acidity content (20 to 30%) than the typical 5% found in regular store-purchased varieties.  We have recipes for both below – but with as much area as we cover, we have found the stronger variety to be more effective in the long run.

Horticultural vinegar works the best when it comes to weed control

Please know that both regular and horticultural vinegar weed killer solutions are non-specific — they will kill whatever they touch.  So this is not an effective solution for using on your lawn or in close-knit planting solutions. It is however excellent for taking care of weeds in sidewalk cracks, brick walkways, or gravel-covered areas.  In addition, when using the higher strength vinegar, you must take precautions to prevent burns to the skin and eyes (goggles, gloves, long sleeves) in case of accidental contact. Remember that vinegar is a natural acid – that is why it works so well in killing weeds.

When And How To Spray :

No matter which mixture you use below – spray when the sun is out and there is no forecast of rain. The hotter the temperature the better!  With the strong solution, in most cases you will see the leaves start to curl and brown within 4 to 6 hours. With the regular vinegar solution, it can take up to 12 to 24 hours to see results depending on the weather conditions.

For us, heavy mulch and cover crops are still the answer for weed control in the garden
For us, heavy mulch and cover crops are still the answer for weed control in the garden

This mixture really accelerates its effectiveness in the hot sun.  We use a standard garden sprayer to apply the solution to all of the leaves of the weeds. It makes quick work of maintaining the property and keeping the paths and driveway free of weeds.

One last note – you will need to re-apply every few weeks through the summer for maximum effectiveness.

The Recipes:

Although there are hundreds of recipes that can be found – we have found the following two solutions to be the most effective in the use of controlling weeds in our driveway and pathways.

We do not use this in our garden or flowerbeds, opting again to use heavy mulch to control weeds easily. There are a lot of mixed feelings about using the solution in the garden because it may or may not increase the soil acidity over time. But when it comes to the garden and flower-beds – it just simply can’t be stated enough that the more your ground is covered, the less weeds you will ever have to encounter – and there is no need for it.  See: How To Spend Less Time Watering and Weeding In The Garden

Traditional Vinegar Recipe

1 gallon of store-bought vinegar

1/4 cup of salt (Morton’s, etc)

1 teaspoon of dish soap (you can use an organic soap if you like – it just helps the solution adhere to the weed’s leaves.

Mix all ingredients and use within 7 days for maximum effectiveness

Horticultural Recipe

1 quart of horticultural vinegar (30% acidity)

1 gallon of hot water

1 teaspoon of dish soap (you can use an organic soap if you like – it just helps the solution adhere to the weed’s leaves.

1/4 cup of salt

1 oz.of gin

Mix all ingredients and use within 7 days for maximum effectiveness

***It is important to note that a 20% horticultural solution of vinegar is a pretty harsh natural acid.  It should be treated with care, and you should wear gloves and goggles when preparing.

Where to find it

You can find horticultural vinegar on-line or at some local feed and garden stores.  Make sure when purchasing that the solution is at a 20% acidic level.

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Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary!




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