How to Kill Plants With Salt & Vinegar

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Using salt and vinegar to kill unwanted plants can damage other plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Vinegar

  • Garden spade

  • Spray bottle

  • Salt

  • Salt shaker

Unwanted plants leach nutrients and moisture from the soil, depriving other plants and detracting from the attractiveness of a lawn or garden. You can remove weeds from driveways and sidewalks by using salt and vinegar, which act in different ways to kill plants. It is not recommended to mix the two together into a single solution. Use vinegar and salt separately in a two-pronged approach for difficult-to-kill plants, while controlling damage to the soil and desirable plants.

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Vinegar

Step 1: Protect Desirable Plants

Cover plants you wish to keep with a moisture-proof plastic tarp or garbage bag. Cover the ground around the plant with plastic so the vinegar does not contaminate it and kill beneficial microorganisms.

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Step 2: Spray Weeds With Vinegar

Spray full strength white or cider vinegar liberally with a spray bottle onto the plant you wish to kill. Vinegar is a desiccant, leaching water from the plant and causing the top part of the plant to die. Not all plants are vulnerable to vinegar and may require several applications. The roots may not die, depending on the type of plant and how far along it is in its growth. Young plants die more quickly than mature plants.

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Step 3: Cover the Plant

Cover the treated plant with a moisture-proof plastic tarp and do not water the area around it for two to three days until it is evident the plant is dead.

Step 4: Treat Weeds Individually

Spot-treat weeds in driveways, patios and sidewalks by spraying vinegar full strength onto the weeds. Take care that excess vinegar does not drain onto lawns or into gardens.

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Salt

Step 1: Treat Plants With Salt

Use salt to kill weeds only located in an area without vegetation you want to keep. Salt is a desiccant but stays in the soil for a long time, not allowing other vegetation to grow.

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Step 2: Salt the Weed's Roots

Treat a plant you wish to kill by digging a small hole around its base. Use a salt shaker to sprinkle salt sparingly into the hole for a small plant, using more salt for larger plants. This process may require several applications as you determine how much salt is necessary to kill the plant without doing damage to the soil around it.

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Step 3: Cover the Salt

Fill the hole with dirt to cover the salt. A small amount of salt will dissipate after several rainfalls. Large amounts of salt can damage the soil for months or even years.

Vinegar and Salt

While not even close to being the first choice, environmentally speaking, if you're not satisfied with the result of using vinegar and salt separately, try combining the two. This solution will burn plant tissues on contact.

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Step 1: Pour Vinegar and Salt Into a Bucket

Pour 1 gallon of vinegar into a large plastic bucket. Stir in 1 cup of salt.

Step 2: Add the Dish Soap

Add a tablespoon of dish soap. Stir slowly to combine the solution thoroughly without creating soap suds.

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Step 3: Kill the Weeds

Pour the homemade weed killer into a plastic spray bottle. Apply to unwanted plant material. Take great care to not expose desirable plants or the soil to the salt and vinegar weed killer.

Tip

Start by using vinegar and salt in areas where damage is not likely to spread. This way you can gain experience in how much to apply to achieve your desired results.

Warning

Salt acts best to kill the plant root when sprinkled directly onto and around the base of the plant, while vinegar is a defoliant that kills the top of the plant. Mixing salt and vinegar into a solution may be appropriate for parking lots or gravel driveways, but the combination of the two is difficult to control during application and can damage surrounding plants and soil.

It's best to use material other than salt for killing weeds. Salt doesn't stay put – it spreads through the soil, killing or severely damaging any other plants it comes into contact with. Further, it moves readily through the soil via rainfall and ends up in freshwater lakes and rivers, wreaking even more detrimental havoc.

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