With all the news lately of weed killer being found in breakfast cereal, I know that it isn’t something I want in my food. I also don’t want to use it around my own garden. Searching for alternatives, I came across a popular recipe that seems to be circulating all over the web. But does homemade weed killer really work? I decided to conduct some tests to find out. I’ve shared my results below.
While I would love to be able to pull up all the weeds that grow here, on our small farm that would be a full time job. But I do want to protect my family and the environment. So I started researching more natural weed killers. And this recipe seemed to be the most popular.
- 1 gallon white vinegar
- 2 cups Epsom salts
- 1/2 cup Dawn dishwashing liquid
How I conducted my experiments
I picked a relatively sunny day in August to try my experiments and started early in the morning. Since I didn’t want to waste a lot of ingredients, I mixed up a small batch of the homemade week killer. I sprayed the weed killer on various weeds, mainly dandelions and grass, and left it to do its work. I continued to check on the weeds throughout the day and photographed the areas I sprayed over the course of 2 weeks.
The results of my experiments were mixed. Small weeds seemed to be killed quickly, sometimes within a matter of hours. But larger, older weeds managed to hang on. Several showed signs of stress within a day or two of spraying, but most larger weeds were growing again in two weeks.
(Yes, I realize the irony that I am killing dandelions and my blog is named Dogwoods & Dandelions. Want to know why it’s called that? Read here.)
Pros and Cons of homemade weed killer
Here are some things to think about if you decide to use this weed killer around your own home. At the bottom of the post, I share the recipe I used and my thoughts on whether I will continue to use it.
- It worked quickly. Several hours later, the weeds were dry and brown.
- Seems to be effective on dandelions.
- Less toxic to the environment than most commercial weed killers.
- Is actually more expensive than store bought weed killer concentrate.
- May require multiple applications, especially on difficult weeds.
- It really needs sunlight to be most effective. I had some difficulty getting it to kill weeds in the shade.
- Doesn’t kill some weeds all the way to the root.
- It is non-discriminatory-It will kill whatever it is sprayed on.
- You have to thoroughly saturate all the leaves on the weeds
You can see in the pictures above that the weeds and grass looked pretty dead after just 4 hours. (The weeds on the left side of the concrete were purposely left as a control.) However, 2 weeks later, the driveway looked like this:
Yes, most of the weeds were gone, but some of the grass was starting to grow back. A second spraying seemed to take care of the grass just like before, but only time will tell if it comes back again.
A few warnings before using this recipe
I spoke with a horticulturist to ask about the safety of using this homemade weed killer. She said that using it in large quantities or over using it in one area can make the soil more acidic. This could make it difficult for good plants to grow. (If you’re wondering if your soil is acidic, this post tells you how to do a soil test.) For me personally, I have no problem if it makes my walkways acidic so nothing will grow. In my opinion, that is actually a benefit. But if you plan on using it in your garden or flower beds, be warned that using it too often can cause soil pH problems.
Homemade Weed Killer Recipe-2 ways
I’m sharing the recipe with you two ways. The large batch makes enough to fill a 1 gallon sprayer. If you want to experiment with a small amount first (like I did), the small batch will fit in a 24 oz. spray bottle.
Large batch (Fits in a 1 gallon sprayer.)
1 gallon white vinegar
2 cups Epsom salts
1/2 cup Dawn dishwashing liquid
Small batch (Fits in a 24 oz. sprayer bottle.)
16 oz. vinegar
1/3 cup Epsom salts
1 Tablespoon Dawn
Would I still use it?
After testing this homemade weed killer, I will definitely still be using it. We have a rock walkway leading to our front door, that seems to always grow weeds. (The pictures of the dandelion above were taken in that walkway.) I love that I can spray this on in the morning and by evening the weeds will be brown. I don’t have to wait a week for the weeds to die. This is especially helpful if we are having guests over soon.
However, I will be cautious where I use it and be careful not to spray it on anything I don’t want to kill.
Have you ever tried a homemade weed killer? Did you discover that it worked well or was it a total flop? I would love to hear about your experiences with it in the comments.