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Vinegar: A Natural Weed Killer

by Marcia Passos Duffy, All About Lawns Columnist

If you are searching for an inexpensive, organic weed killer, look no further than an ordinary ingredient found in the kitchen.

Vinegar, or acetic acid, is an effective organic herbicide according to research done by Cornell University.

Vinegar found on a supermarket shelf, at 5 percent acetic acid concentration, provides short-term control of many perennial weeds--but the study found that just one application is not strong enough to kill the more vigorous crabgrass and plaintain varieties of weeds.

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Higher concentrations of acetic acid (20 percent), which are found in commercial acetic acid herbicide formulas, were better at controlling weeds than the lower homemade concentrations. You may prefer to buy a bottle of the commercial formula rather than mixing up your own because of its potency.

How to Apply Acetic Acid as a Weed Killer

Acetic acid kills weeds by interfering with plant's cell membrane and causing its contents to leak out. You can see a "burning" of the leaves which results in the death of the plant. But beware that acetic acid does not discriminate weeds from your ornamental plants, so do not apply to grass or flower beds.

Use a brush to apply acetic acid formula directly onto the weeds' leaves. This can be time-consuming, so it is easiest to use acetic acid when trying to control weeds in patios, walkways, or other areas where the weeds are pushing up through the hardscape.

When to Apply

Make sure you apply acetic acid weed killer early in the season to annual weeds (such as crabgrass) before they grow too large or set seeds. Perennial weeds (such as dandelion) are best attacked with acetic acid in the early fall, when the weed killer is absorbed by the leaves and transferred down to the roots. Remember, you may need to repeat the application two or three times before killing the plant.

About the Author
Marcia Passos Duffy is a freelance writer and a member of the Garden Writers Association. She is a frequent contributor to Turf Magazine and Growing Magazine. Visit her site at www.backporchpublishing.com

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