May 15, 2019

A DIY Weed Killer That Actually Works

Spring seems to have arrived overnight, and with it comes the explosion of green as everything wakes up from its winter nap. First up? Time to fend off the weeds. . . and please don’t reach for that toxic stuff. It’s nasty for you, your yard, and everything around it. Instead, try this safer and super effective recipe.   


A targeted weed killer is a great way to get a handle on those weed that popped up since you last looked. Seriously, they weren't there yesterday and now it's an overgrown jungle. This simple spray helps to wilt the plants, and makes them easy to pull out and remove. As a huge bonus, you don't have to worry about keeping pets or small kids away from the area until it's no longer a Round-Up hazmat zone. Wait for a good day of dry weather to be sure the mix can sit on the plant for a bit without getting rinsed off.

What You need:

Mix the ingredients together thoroughly and soak the leaves and body of the weeds with an even application. Let the spray sit on the weeds until they are good and dead, then pull them out and tune up the area with a bit of mulch. I've found about 6 hours to 1 day is good enough for most, but a second application might be needed for the stubborn ones.


Keep in mind, that this spray is not selective. It will kill anything green you apply it to so protect the plants you want to keep. This also means that a weed killer like this shouldn’t be used on your lawn. Go for some standard spring weed and feed mix to tackle the crabgrass and dandelions.


Now that you have that yard all tuned up, let’s build something to enjoy on it. Take a look at this project to make a great lawn game in an afternoon.







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Duncan on Aug 27, 2019:

Haven't tried this yet but will as soon as I get all the ingredients together. Had to make this comment, as soon as I pulled up this article a pop-up ad for Roundup appeared which I thought was a little ironic. Folks, do the research; Roundup is not safe! There are multiple lawsuits for people adversely affected by long term use of this toxic product.
As mentioned, the safe weed killer may need reapplication; that's one caveat, people are impatient and want quick & easy results.
One of my instructors in a Master Gardening class I attended told us he had, hands down, THE best & least toxic method for weed eradication, it was simple; bend over, butt in air, reach down, use hands to pull weed up by the roots.

Simon on Jul 17, 2019:

Obviously nobody has ever searched for epsom salt plants to see that epsom salt is actually good for plants and lawns! These DIY weed "killers" just don't work. I spent all of last year trying to kill weeds in my driveway the "natural" way. Sure, you may get the stuff to turn brown, but it won't kill the root and it WILL grow back.

Matt on Jul 11, 2019:

@Chris - I applied a second treatment to my stubborn Tx weeds and it worked like a charm. I'm also interested in trying the stronger horticulture-specific vinegar option (20-30% vs. the 5% white you get in groc stores) recommended in the comments to see if that helps avoid the multiple applications.

Chris on Jul 11, 2019:

Thanks for the recipe. I did try it with the exact ingredients listed and it had absolutely no affect on the weeds. I actually made two batches and really saturated 4-5 different types of weeds. New Mexico weeds must be strong also.

David on Jun 13, 2019:

Hi @Matt! Thanks for the feedback, I'd love to hear how it ends up going! Might be like that the weeds are as strong as the people in Texas and a bit harder to take out than other climates! Haven't been to the Lonestar state in a few years, but always had fun down there! Cheers and thanks for the feedback!

Matt N Texas on Jun 12, 2019:

This is my challenge with using safer, greener, more non-toxic options. Safety vs Efficacy tradeoff. I followed the recipe to the letter and the stuff I sprayed these on (unwanted grass in rock beds, weeds, etc) and they barely look any different. I’m going to reapply but I’m optimistically skeptical.
Love the site and hopeful that the 2nd attempt works better.

gregory anderson on Jun 09, 2019:

For those afraid of toxic chemical reactions/interactions, I would suggest pouring boiling hot water on the plants you wish to eradicate. This cooks it to the roots if enough is poured properly, and like the product in this article it is not specific in its killing. It may not kill a tree but... you know.

Thanks for the recipe!

David on May 19, 2019:

Hi @Jeff, thanks for the info. The study was very thorough and had some great points.

The conclusion "Both the homemade vinegar + salt mixture and Roundup are safe when used properly, they’re both relatively inexpensive, and both can provide effective weed control in the appropriate situation." Was a good summary. I agree even vinegar and salt can be toxic if orally consumed, the impacts to neighboring plants and dermal touch from animals and kids is the main concern for the alternative. As we said in a previous comment, knowing what's in the mixture instead of "96% other ingredients" is a benefit.
I fully agree that pulling them is free and we should always put a bit of work into that option first for sure!

Thanks for reading and the well thought-out comments!!


Jennifer on May 19, 2019:

We use a variation of this with 30% horticultural vinegar (Amazon) and rock salt. Works really well!

David on May 31, 2018:

@Bill, I understand what you're saying about everything being chemical, but keep in mind we're talking about a DIY alternative that is cheaper and much less toxic. The active ingredient in Roundup is Glyphpsate, isoproplamine salt (2%) and Pelargonic acid (2%). The other 96% is just called "other ingredients"... I agree that salt is the really effective ingredient, but at least with our simple three ingredients you know what "other ingredients" we're spraying all over your yard. My kids play out there. I like to know (and limit as much as possible) what they're being exposed to.

Bill on May 31, 2018:

Literally everything in this is a chemical. You are made of chemicals. We all are. The problem with this one is that it contains salt. Nothing will grow where you spray it. Google ‘Andrew Kniss salt vinegar soap’ and see what that weed scientist had to say. This idea is ridiculous.

JoelSelby on May 17, 2018:

I'm really trying to avoid chemicals of all kinds, since pretty much all of yard waste goes into my garden. Definitely going to do this! Thanks!