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DIY Weed Killer

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Not sure how to make DIY weed killer? With only 3 ingredients, this natural weed killer recipe has no long list of unrecognizable ingredients (I’m looking at you, store-bought brands). Making your own DIY weed killer has never been easier.

How to Make DIY weed killer

3-Ingredient Homemade Weed Killer

Weeds, even the name sounds like a nuisance. Every yard, flower bed, and lawn has them. And to be honest, they’re not all bad! My opinion of weeds, particularly dandelions, has changed since I saw them for sale at The Fresh Market a few months ago. Who knew I could have been harvesting fresh dandelion greens from my own yard?

Weeds are simply plants that we don’t want growing in a certain spot, and some, if left to their own devices, can quickly take over a space. In our yard and walkways, we struggle to control crabgrass and some form of Bermuda grass that loves our garden paths. I don’t worry too much about these things in the lawn itself. If it’s green and mows like grass, we pretty much let it live. But in other places, such as walkways, the driveway, and flower beds, I like to control what could potentially take over. affiliate link policy

Natural Weed killers and Gardens

The main reason I sought how to make DIY weed killer is because of my love of backyard gardening. I’m hesitant to spray or put something on the ground that has a list of ingredients I cannot pronounce. This is the same rule of thumb for what seems good to eat. The classic blue and white bottled weed killer at the hardware store is adding who knows what to my property, and if it gets on me during application, I’m a little freaked out.

Several years ago, I tested a DIY weed killer recipe my dad gave me as well as plain boiling water. Both methods worked well, and you can see my full results here. If you’ve seen the article, then you know that boiling water did an amazing job of killing weeds.

However, carrying the kettle in and out of the house and waiting for it to boil in between wasn’t the most time effective method. By tweaking the DIY weed killer recipe, I was able to make up a large batch, and hit all of the weeds in one session. Win!

As a note, I do not use this DIY weed killer, or any other, in my raised garden beds. If there’s a weed in the garden, I pull it by hand. I do use this on my garden paths, and I have had no ill effects from using it there.

How to Make a Natural Weed Killer that Works

For this recipe, I used a lot of the common ingredients for natural weed killers: vinegar of some kind, salt, and soap. The soap helps to cut through any oils the plant’s leaves may have as protection, and the salt and vinegar do their jobs of drying out the plants and killing them. There are variations and substitutions that can be made, and I’ll list those below.

DIY Weed Killer Recipe

For the recipe, you’ll need:

1 gallon white vinegar (You could use another type of vinegar, but white is the cheapest and easiest to buy in large quantities)

2 cups Epsom salt (I like the garden variety found in local garden centers, but I have a friend who used iodized salt… I’m not sure about the long term effects of this since science shows regular salt will keep anything from growing for quite a while afterwards.)

1/4 cup Dish soap (Dr. Bronner’s castile soap can also be used for a more natural option.)

To make the DIY weed killer, combine the ingredients in the order listed in a large garden sprayer.

how to make DIY weed killer

Replace the lid on the sprayer, and gently swirl around the ingredients. You don’t want to shake it so vigorously that the soap foams too much.

Pump up your sprayer, and wet the weeds with your DIY weed killer solution. You should be able to see a difference within 8 hours of spraying the DIY weed killer.

how to make DIY weed killer

how to make DIY weed killer

Weather Conditions for Applying Homemade Weed Killer

Ideally, a sunny day (or at least a dry one) is perfect for applying DIY weed killer. This will ensure that your solution can soak down and do it’s job. So if rain is in the forecast for later in the day, I would wait to apply your DIY weed killer until the weather has cleared up and the ground has dried.

Check out my video below of exactly how to make DIY weed killer and see how effective it is at killing weeds on our driveway!

 

DIY Weed Killer

DIY weed killer

This DIY weed killer is simple to make with what you may already have at home. And this homemade weed killer recipe won't put hazardous chemicals into your yard!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Materials

  • White Vinegar
  • Dish Soap
  • Epsom Salt

Tools

  • Garden Sprayer

Instructions

  1. Begin by gathering materials for your Natural weed killer.
  2. Pour vinegar into garden sprayer container. Add epsom salt followed by dish soap.
  3. Screw on lid and gently swish around to combine ingredients.
  4. Pump sprayer and thoroughly wet weeds with the weed killer.
  5. Wait several hours and see weeds die!

Other Natural Weed Killer Options:

  1. Boiling Water– Taking a kettle of boiling water outside and pouring it on offending plants will effectively kill them. I like this method closer to my garden, so I’m not concerned  at all about any leeching into the soil. It’s also great for cracks in driveways and sidewalks.
  2. Corn Meal– This old-school technique works as a weed preventative, but it will not kill weeds that are already growing. Apply this in late winter to get a jump on spring weeds. 
  3. Straight Vinegar– Though I haven’t used this method myself, I have read about using pure white vinegar from the jug. If going this route, I recommend using the more diluted white vinegar from the grocery store, not horticultural white vinegar which has a higher acidity. If you have used this method with success, let us know below in the comments!
  4. Heavier Plantings- While adding more plants won’t kill existing weeds, having less space for weeds to grow is an effective way to prevent them. Use ground cover plants, like those I mention in my Best Trailing Plants post. These plants spread out below shrubs and taller plants and keep weeds at bay. 

So may the force be with you in the battle against weeds, and as my fellow master gardener told us, “a weed is just a plant out of place.” Have a great week and happy gardening!

 

 

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I'd love to hear from you

Charles

Wednesday 30th of September 2020

If you don't empty and flush your sprayer after using the water in the mix will evaporate in the hose, valve, and nozzle and you'll have a very clogged sprayer. I know, as I have done so. Now I don't use this in a garden sprayer unless I'm doing a lot of area then I empty the sprayer and flush it out well with plain water, spraying through the nozzle until I'm sure that I will have a usable sprayer the next time I want it.

Courtney

Monday 5th of October 2020

Yes! You're exactly right; thanks for the tip!

Scott Hanson

Thursday 10th of September 2020

Will this work for thistles? I knocked them down about a month ago, then I mowed it close to the ground and then tilled the whole garden. The thistles were orginally before cutting them down around 5ft tall. Also will this mix hurt my raspberries?

Courtney

Friday 11th of September 2020

Depending on how thick the thistle area is, you may need to reapply. Hope this helps!

Joe Filipiak

Friday 12th of June 2020

Is this safe for pets?

Courtney

Friday 12th of June 2020

Hi Joe! Yes, we have a dog and have never had any issues with her having adverse effects from it. She does like to eat grass, which I spray if it's growing in beds and in cracks, and I think the vinegar smell deters her.

Jeff Reich

Tuesday 9th of June 2020

I cannot get the table salt to dissolve in the vinegar. Consequently, the salt clogs the sprayer. Any suggestions

Courtney

Tuesday 9th of June 2020

Hi Jeff, I actually use Epsom Salt instead of table salt, but you could always add the salt to a cup of warm vinegar first, stir until dissolved, and add it into your sprayer with the rest of the ingredients. I hope this helps!

Royce L Lader

Friday 29th of May 2020

I have used salt on my asparagus for years. It is supposed to help their growth. Not only has it not killed my asparagus, it has not hurt the weeds and grass growing in the bed. I have actually poured the ice and salt water from the ice cream freezer on the asparagus with no harm done.

Courtney

Saturday 30th of May 2020

Hi Royce! That's very interesting, as salt (not epsom salt) has usually been known as a weed killer. In my recipe, the vinegar is what really does the work of weed killing. Thanks for stopping by, and thank you for the tip on using salt on asparagus!

I'd love to hear from you

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