When it comes to controlling weeds on patios, driveways and walkways, nothing is more simple, easy and effective than making homemade weed killer with vinegar. And best of all, it is 100 percent organic!
One thing is for sure, controlling weeds safely is a top priority for us on the farm. We are proud to keep our little 3 acre mini-farm organic. It is safer for us, our chickens and all wildlife that passes through.
Although we use mulch and no-till efforts in our garden and flowerbeds to do the job, it would be a bit strange to have mulch on our driveway, patio and walkways to keep the weeds in check.
But with a 400 foot long driveway and hundreds of feet of gravel paths, there is a lot of space for weeds to grow. And that is exactly where vinegar has come to the rescue. But as you will see below, not just any vinegar.
For years now we have used horticultural vinegar to keep our hardscapes free of weeds. It has not only proven to be effective at weed control, but keeps us worry free about using any harsh commercial herbicides.
Here is a look at how we make our homemade vinegar weed killer, and how we apply and use it to keep weeds at bay.
Homemade Natural Vinegar Weed Killer
For our homemade vinegar weed killer, we use a more potent solution referred to as horticultural vinegar. Although standard vinegar (the kind found in the grocery stores) can be used, it is simply not strong enough to really knock weeds out.
Regular off-the-shelf vinegar has an acidity rate of around 5%. At that strength, it does kill off small weeds, and will even stunt some large ones too. But unfortunately, it simply isn’t strong enough to effectively kill the roots of the weeds.
If you are simply killing tiny weeds on a patio or driveway surface, the lower acidity versions will work. However you will need to use it at full strength to have any effect at all.
In the end though, at 5%, it usually results in weeds that die back, but still come back from the roots. Of course, that means a lot more spraying, and a lot more work.
Horticultural vinegar, on the other hand, can be purchased at a much higher acidity rate. And it can either be diluted to take care of smaller weed problems, or used at full strength to kill more problematic and stubborn weeds.
Mixing Homemade Vinegar Weed Killer
You can purchase horticultural vinegar on line, or at many home and garden centers as well. Depending on the product chosen, the acidity levels will range from 20% to 40% in strength.
We use an organic approved brand called Energen Carolina. Not only is it approved for organic use, it is also pet safe which is a big added plus. And, at 30% full strength, it certainly has plenty of power to kill weeds. Enough so that we can even dilute it for most of our spraying. (Product Link : Energen Carolina)
Diluting Horticultural Vinegar
When weeds are at their peak in spring and early summer, we mix our vinegar weed killer in a ratio of 1 part horticultural vinegar to 1/2 part water.
This keeps the strength in the 20 to 23% range, which is strong enough to control the majority of weeds. If there are especially stubborn weeds, we do use it at full strength to take care of the problem.
To apply, we use a backpack sprayer for ease of use over long stretches. But you can also use a hand held pump sprayer, or even a spray bottle for small jobs.
Once summer comes and weeds slow down, we switch to a mix of 1 part horticultural vinegar with 1 part water. We have found for general regular weed spraying in our driveways and paths, a 15% acidity rate does the job quite well. It also makes the spray even more economical.
So how fast does it work? In general, with the strong solution, you usually see leaves curl and brown within 8 to 12 hours. With the 15% and less version, it can be 24 hours or more to see results. But it is important to note, when you spray can have a big impact on effectiveness.
The Best Time To Spray
When using a solution of vinegar weed killer, the sun and heat are your best friends. Just like flowers and vegetable plants, weeds are most stressed when the sun is shining hot.
For best control, spray weeds in mid to late afternoon on sunny days. The hotter, the better! This is when plants are most vulnerable, and the vinegar absorbs and kills at a much better rate.
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It is important to note that both regular and horticultural vinegar weed killer solutions are non-specific. That means they will kill whatever they come in contact with. Although it is wonderful for taking care of weeds in sidewalks, walkways, and gravel areas, it is not a good solution for using on the lawn or in compact planting areas.
We have used it a few times in the garden walkways for stubborn weeds, but are careful to make sure the spray never comes near our vegetable plants or growing rows.
Finally, although vinegar is natural and organic, you do need to be careful when spraying. Vinegar is a natural acid, so it is important to take precautions to prevent burns to the skin and eyes.
Always use goggles and gloves to prevent burns to the eyes or skin. And keep children and pets away while spraying. Allow the solution a bit of time to dry in the sun to be safe from contact.
One thing is for sure, we will certainly take spraying a natural substance any day over using man-made chemicals to control weeds at our farm!
Here is to controlling the weeds around your home with vinegar! Happy safe gardening – Jim and Mary.
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