Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offer the first scientific evidence that vinegar can be an effective weed killer. It is inexpensive and environmentally safe ( and perfect for organic farmers). In addition, USDA researchers confirmed that acetic acid effectively kills some common weed species, including Canada thistle, giant foxtail, lamb’s-quarters, velvetleaf, and smooth pigweed. But will vinegar kill crabgrass?
Vinegar has long been used to kill crabgrass. Spraying crabgrass with vinegar containing about 5 percent acetic acid will kill crabgrass and keep it away for up to 13 weeks, found Cornell University. They also concluded that the highest concentration of acetic acid (20%) gave better control than lower concentrations.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about crabgrass and vinegar as a natural weed killer, the pros and cons of using vinegar as a weed killer, and other effective and natural crabgrass killer recipes.
What is Crabgrass?
Crabgrass ( aka (Digitaria sanguinalis and Digitaria ischaemum)) is an invading weed with coarse leaves, and it is native to Europe or Eurasia and was introduced into the U.S. in 1849.
Crabgrass is an annual weed usually growing in the thin and bare spots on your lawn. Generally, crabgrass dies in the fall and germinates in the following spring, with one plant producing thousands of seeds.
In addition, crabgrass thrives in hot and dry conditions and grows low to the soil with stems that radiate out from the center of the grass cluster, similar to crab legs.
Understanding Crabgrass’s Life Cycle
Crabgrass is a warm-season annual that grows, lives, and dies all in the same year. However, problems with crabgrass don’t end with the growing season. Even though they short-live, each crabgrass plant produces about 150,000 seeds. And those seeds stay behind, ready to germinate the following spring and begin the cycle all over again. Seeds that don’t germinate right away can stay viable and stick around to germinate in the coming years.
The keys to successful crabgrass control in lawns are proper timing of the preemergence herbicide application and proper material application, according to Iowa State University.
How To Prevent Crabgrass?
Crabgrass is an annual weed that grows and proliferates in the summer months. It produces thousands of seeds, eventually sprouting into almost uncontrollable crabgrass seedlings. And the key to eliminating crabgrass is to do it as soon as you see an issue and implement the best preventative actions to keep them from returning every year. Here’s how you can prevent crabgrass:
- The presence of crabgrass can indicate underlying issues with the lawn, so getting a soil test is an excellent place to start. Adding appropriate nutrients, adjusting the soil pH, and fixing drainage issues can help you solve this issue.
- Proper irrigation and mowing can also be effective practices. Mowing your lawn to a height of three or more inches will improve the health and resiliency of the grass itself. In addition, taller grass shades and cools the soil, discouraging weed seeds from germinating.
- If you have a new lawn, try to seed it in late summer or early fall. Crabgrass germinates in the new seedbed and will be killed by frost, giving cool-season grasses a competitive advantage in the spring.
- Only fertilize your lawn in the spring and fall when cool-season grasses are actively growing. Fertilizing in the heat of the summer may benefit weeds more than the turf grasses that have entered dormancy.
Will Vinegar Kill Crabgrass?
Vinegar will kill crabgrass, found Cornell University. In addition, vinegar solutions are a great natural Crabgrass killer recipe that will not cause lasting soil damage.
Tips for Applying Vinegar to Kill Crabgrass:
- Spray the vinegar containing 5 percent acetic acid or more (the highest concentration of acetic acid (20%) provided better control than lower concentrations) on the weed until it is drenched.
- Repeat several times over a few days to a couple of weeks or until the crabgrass dies.
- Be particularly careful to apply only to the crabgrass.
- Spray your vinegar solution on a sunny, warm, windless day to maximize its effectiveness. Remember to watch the weather forecast and avoid spraying your vinegar solution when wind or rain or predicted within 24 hours after you spray. Before you spray, wait at least 24 hours after rain.
- After they wilt and die, pull crabgrass plants from their roots. If you leave the plants in place, crabgrass can re-root and continue to grow. And do not add the dead crabgrass to your compost; instead, try to dispose of dead plants in your community’s green waste recycling center.
What Kind of Vinegar Kills Crabgrass?
Both typical grocery stores (or culinary vinegar) and horticultural vinegar are very effective in killing crabgrass. Culinary vinegar contains about 5 percent acetic acid, while horticultural vinegar is more acidic.
However, spraying crabgrass with only 5 percent acetic acid vinegar will kill crabgrass and keep it away for up to 13 weeks, found research from Cornell University.
The higher the acetic acid concentration, the more effective the vinegar will be in killing crabgrass and other weeds.
To effectively kill crabgrass, look for a horticultural vinegar containing about 10 to 30 percent acetic acid.
For your safety wear:
- Long pants
- Long-sleeved shirt
- Waterproof gloves
- And safety goggles or a face shield
Check out the video below to see how to use vinegar to kill crabgrass.
Does White Vinegar Kill Crabgrass?
White vinegar or apple cider combined with dish detergent can effectively kill crabgrass and many other weeds, including dandelions. This natural weed killer is non-toxic to people, animals, and most of the beneficial organisms in your soil, according to the City of Olympia.
Adding dish detergent will help the white vinegar stick to the leaves of the sprayed weeds, which will then dissolve the waxy coating on the leaves, causing crabgrass to lose all the water in its tissue and dry out. This natural crabgrass killer causes the plants’ foliage to die, and eventually, the root system will also die.
How To Apply White Vinegar to Kill Crabgrass?
- 2 cups household vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon dish detergent and ensure that the dish soap you use has the word “detergent” on the label and not “anti-bacterial.”
- Mix ingredients in the spray bottle.
- Then carefully spray onto the crabgrass foliage and do not affect the surrounding plants.
Will Grass Grow Back After Vinegar?
5-10% acetic acid herbicide products can give you viable control of tiny, young weeds with only 1-2 leaves (or within two weeks of germination). Larger weeds (with 3 to 4 leaves) are likely to survive treatment, but using higher (20%) concentrations of acetic acid and increasing the application volume can improve weed control, found the University of Maryland extension.
Regular kitchen vinegar controls broadleaf weeds more efficiently than grass and grassy weeds. The grass may initially die back; however, it often quickly recovers. If you want to kill grass with vinegar, you need to continuously respray the grass clump or grassy weed every time it regrows until you finally eradicate it.
Pros and Cons of Using Vinegar as a Weed Killer
Using Vinegar as a weed killer offers excellent benefits and a few disadvantages. Here is a snapshot of the pros and cons of using vinegar as a weed killer.
|– Excellent control when contacting very small annual broadleaf weeds|
– Rapid kill rate (Over 90% of treated plants should die within 24 hours).
– Most useful for managing weeds in gravel and on patios/sidewalks.
– Acetic acid products break down quickly in the environment
– Nonselective, but mainly kill broadleaf weeds. Burns back grasses temporarily.
– These contact herbicides fit into an integrated pest management program, although weeds require monitoring for best control timing.
|– Will damage or kill any plants the vinegar touches|
– Weeds must be small (timing is essential – within two weeks of germination)
– It doesn’t kill roots and requires repeated applications for perennial weeds and larger weeds.
– Great spray coverage is essential.
– Vinegar odor can be unpleasant.
– You must clean spray equipment after application, especially metal equipment. In addition, avoid using spray equipment with metal working parts such as metal spray lines or metal nozzles.
– Accidentally spraying desirable plants may damage them.
– Can not be applied more frequently but only every two weeks
– Treatments must be delayed 24-48 hours or more after rain.
– Severe eye burns, irritation, and possibly irreversible damage potential. For example, vinegar with acetic acid concentrations of 11% or greater can burn the skin and cause severe eye injury, including blindness.
– Repeated and prolonged or exposure may cause dermatitis, chronic bronchitis, and erosion of teeth.
What Kills Crabgrass Without Killing grass?
Here’s a list of natural crabgrass Killer recipe that kills crabgrass without damaging your grass ( scroll down to learn more about each in detail)
- Using vinegar to kill crabgrass naturally
- Using salt to kill crabgrass naturally
- Using boiling water
- Pulling out the crabgrass (With your hands or using a tool)
- Applying corn gluten to kill crabgrass naturally
Other Effective And Natural Crabgrass Killer Recipes
If you don’t want to use pesticides and preserve your lawn, there are natural ways to get rid of crabgrass. Here are the best natural crabgrass killer recipes.
1- Using Salt To Naturally Kill Crabgrass
Salt mainly contains sodium chloride, which kills crabgrass. However, salt can also damage concrete and may kill other plants, so be careful when applying the salt solution to kill crabgrass.
Also, keep in mind that a salt solution may also prevent other plants from growing in the treated area for a few years. Moreover, rain or irrigation may also spread the salts to beneficial plantings and damage them.
Tips For Applying Salt to Kill Crabgrass
- Add 1 cup salt to 1 gallon of hot water.
- Stir until the salt is dissolved.
- Pour your natural crabgrass killer recipe into a plastic spray bottle
- Spray it to kill crabgrass on your lawn.
- Reapply five days later.
- And then complete the treatment with a third application five days after that.
2- Using Boiling Water
Using boiling water will cook crabgrass and anything around it that gets touched by the water or shares roots with the crabgrass. However, this natural method of killing crabgrass presents several problems.
Tips for Better results
- Don’t automatically pour the boiling water over vegetation.
- Ensure that all roots are saturated to prevent the crabgrass from returning.
- When pouring the boiling water, be careful to avoid your lawn and plants.
- Make sure you don’t burn yourself by wearing protection such as gardening gloves.
3- Pulling Out The Crabgrass (With your hands or using a tool)
Even though this method may seem to be the least desirable because it requires you to do manual labor, pulling or digging crabgrass by hand is a highly effective method of controlling crabgrass.
And remember that the best way to eliminate crabgrass is to tackle it when it is young before its seeds are set since crabgrass primarily reproduces through seed. Also, keep in mind that it reproduces by rooting at the nodes; therefore, when you dig or pull large weeds, ensure that you remove all plant parts.
Pros Tips For Pulling out crabgrass
- Water the areas with crabgrass for approximately 30 minutes to soften the soil.
- Use a claw weeder or a pitchfork to uproot crabgrass. You can also use your hands.
- Reseed the empty spot in your lawn with fresh grass seed to regrow grass.
The best time to pull out the crabgrass is early in the spring, when crabgrass shoots are still short, unlike in the summer when the weeds are extensively grown, according to Iowa State University.
4- Applying Corn Gluten to Kill Crabgrass Naturally
Corn gluten is one of the suggested organic crabgrass preventers. The best part is that corn gluten also works as a lawn fertilizer because of its high nitrogen content (approximately 10 percent nitrogen). It works by preventing crabgrass seeds from forming roots after germination.
Products containing corn gluten meals can be applied to lawns in spring to stop or prevent the germination of crabgrass seeds.
You can put down corn gluten meal as a pre-emergent to prevent crabgrass and other weeds from germinating in spring, according to the Iowa State University findings.
However, the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension found the effectiveness of corn gluten in killing crabgrass inconclusive.
Research data reveal mixed results, and some studies have observed that corn gluten does not work especially well against crabgrass. It only controls it by feeding lawn grass with sufficient nitrogen. In turn, the lawn grass ends up growing faster, choking out crabgrass.
Overall, vinegar is an excellent way to Kill crabgrass without damaging it (when applied correctly). Before applying vinegar to eliminate crabgrass from your property, ensure you are familiar with the pros and cons of using vinegar as a weed killer.
And if you are reluctant to using vinegar, try the other ways to get rid of crabgrass naturally. And all these methods of naturally killing crabgrass without damaging your lawn require study, preparation, and proper application.