As people have become aware of the dangers of conventional herbicides, many have tried alternatives. Vinegar is a popular alternative to try. Will vinegar kill grass? Read on to find out.
Does Vinegar Kill Grass?
Household vinegar will not kill established grass. It may burn the blades, but it will not kill the roots. The grass just grows more blades without a problem. Seedlings less than two weeks old will die, however. This is especially true of broadleaf seedlings such as St. Augustine.
What Is Vinegar?
Vinegar is made of water, acetic acid (CH3COOH), and small amounts of other chemicals, including flavoring. Household vinegars are usually 5% acetic acid. Industrial vinegars are usually 10%-20% acetic acid, with 20% being the most common. Acetic acid this strong is very dangerous. It will burn eyes, mucus membranes, and skin. It can blind you if it gets into your eyes. Breathing the fumes is hazardous, as well.
Apple Cider Vinegar Versus White Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is made from apples. The juice goes through a two-step fermentation process: sugar is turned into alcohol, then alcohol is turned into vinegar. It is then filtered and pasteurized. White vinegar is made from corn mixed with water. The distilled grain alcohol is fermented and filtered after distillation.
Related Article: What Kills Grass: A Comprehensive Guide
What Does Vinegar Do To Grass?
Vinegar ruptures the cell membranes. As the fluid in the cells is released, it evaporates. The part of the plant touched by the vinegar rapidly dehydrates and dies. Parts of the plant that are not touched by the vinegar do not die.
Does Vinegar Kill Grass Roots?
No. It only kills the part of the grass it touches. It becomes inert when it touches the soil.
Will Grass Grow Back After Vinegar?
Yes, unless the grass seedlings are under two weeks old. In that case, the roots are not developed enough to grow new blades. Broadleaf grasses are more likely to die back to the soil, but the roots will grow new leaf blades anyway.
Does Vinegar Kill Grass Permanently?
No, it only kills the blades. The roots are not affected.
How Fast Does Vinegar Kill Grass?
Plants treated with vinegar wilt within about 24 hours.
Does Vinegar Kill Grass Seed?
No, the coating on the seed protects it. Grass seed that is in the soil will germinate normally.
Why Doesn’t Vinegar Kill Your Grass?
Vinegar is not taken into the grass’s roots. Since the roots are healthy, they simply send new growth out to become new grass blades. Vinegar becomes inert, or harmless, when it touches soil, so it does not damage the roots under the soil.
What to Use Instead Of Vinegar to Kill Your Grass
Because household vinegar is not labeled with the EPA as a herbicide, it is actually illegal to use it to try and kill grass. Horticultural vinegar is labeled as a herbicide, but you must have a pesticide license to use it because it is so dangerous. Even with horticultural vinegar, the roots of the grass are not damaged.
Instead of vinegar, use 2,4, D to kill broadleaf grasses such as St. Augustine. Use caution, as it will also kill flowers, which are broadleaf plants, too. To kill all types of grass, use a herbicide containing glyphosate. This herbicide is taken up by the leaf blades and transported to the roots, where it interferes with an enzyme required for growth. Glyphosate kills all types of plants, so don’t get it on anything you want to keep.
Does Vinegar Kill The Soil Microbes?
Household vinegar does not damage the soil microbes it doesn’t spill on. The soil makes the vinegar harmless, so it does not hurt the soil microbes beneath the surface of the soil.
How Do I Treat Vinegar Spills On Grass?
If you spill vinegar on mature grass, it may burn the grass blades and leave an unsightly bald patch. Immediately wash the vinegar off with water. The faster you do this the more chance you have of preventing injury to the grass. The more you dilute the vinegar, the less chance it has to burn the grass blades. If the grass blades do burn, or wilt, do not worry. The grass blades will grow back in seven to ten days.
In conclusion, household vinegar does not kill grass unless it is less than two weeks old. If the roots are established, the grass blades may burn and wilt away. However, the roots will not be injured and will simply put out new grass blades. To rescue grass from vinegar spills, dilute the vinegar by running water over the area of the spill. Even if you lose the grass blades from a spill, new grass blades will soon grow to replace them.