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Vinegar is a thoroughly natural remedy. With its fine acidity, it seasons our dishes and makes expensive chemical cleaners superfluous when cleaning the house. The news that it should also effectively destroy weeds should fill every environmentally conscious citizen with joy. But is this food in the bed really just as useful and harmless as in a prepared salad? If you check the facts carefully, you will hardly find anything that speaks for it as a weed killer.

Vinegar as a weed killer

Many hobby gardeners shy away from chemical weed killers and are looking for a natural alternative. The household types of vinegar or the more concentrated vinegar essence seem to be such an alternative, because they are a natural product without chemical additives. When it comes to a user-friendly application, this home remedy convinces in several ways:

  • the remedy is unbeatably cheap
  • the application is simple
  • is diluted if necessary and poured over the weeds
  • Acid pulls moisture from the leaves
  • the unwanted herb burns
  • this can then be easily plucked out of the ground
  • safe for children and pets

But what does nature say about this supposedly environmentally friendly product? The fact that vinegar for combating weeds on paved surfaces was long considered undesirable by legislators is a cause for concern.

acetic acid in the garden

There is no question that this household remedy can be used extremely effectively and in an environmentally friendly way when cleaning the house. However, if you critically question its use in the garden, you will come across a number of disadvantages, not all of which are harmless:

  • Vinegar effect does not last long
  • the application must be repeated frequently
  • Roots are not destroyed
  • Weeds will sprout again
  • Acid doesn't just damage weeds
  • other sprayed plants also die

If you only used small amounts of vinegar, the soil could take the acid and biodegrade. However, the frequent use of higher concentrations, as is the case with the use of vinegar against weeds, really messes up soil life. These soil areas are not suitable for the cultivation of desired plants for a long time.

tip: If you use salt as a weed killer instead of vinegar essence, it would be just as fatal. This also damages the soil, even more severely and longer lasting than vinegar.

Is vinegar prohibited on paved surfaces?

All types of vinegar and the highly concentrated vinegar essence were long considered pesticides, even when used in diluted form, provided they were used to destroy plants. This meant that their use on paved surfaces was considered forbidden.

The latest case law no longer classifies vinegar as a plant protection product and thus removes it from the ban. Although a court decision has allowed its use in the private sector, it still remains a fact that the acetic acid on it can only be biodegraded to a limited extent. In addition, rainwater cannot seep away well on paved surfaces and takes vinegar residues with it on its way to the sewage system. This is not what sewage treatment plants want.
Environmental protection agencies are therefore still sticking to the ban and see the use of vinegar against weeds on sidewalks and garage driveways as at least a violation of "good professional practice" in plant protection.

Application only in exceptional cases

Vinegar should be kept completely away from paved surfaces and it has no place in a vegetable patch anyway. In addition, each application should be checked carefully to determine whether its use is still justifiable. However, this home remedy should always remain an exception. The following should also be noted:

  • Spray directly onto the plants from a short distance
  • Vinegar can be applied even more precisely with a brush
  • best in spring and summer
  • on young plants before seeding
  • only use in small amounts
  • additionally remove the seeds by hand
  • this is how annual herbs disappear for sure
  • do not spray when it is windy
  • handle essences carefully
  • do not breathe fumes; Protect hands with gloves

tip: Add a few more squirts of dish soap to the vinegar solution. The surfactants it contains destroy the wax layer on the leaves, which would simply roll off the vinegar solution.

optimize effect

The acetic acid contained in household vinegar takes a few days to damage the leaves of the plants. So that the use of the not entirely environmentally friendly agent was not in vain, you should wait to combat weeds until the weather forecast announces a few dry days.

  • Acetic acid sticks better to the leaves
  • will not be washed away by the rain
  • Solar radiation intensifies the devastating effect

Large plants can be plucked out by hand beforehand or at least cut back to a minimum. A smaller amount of acetic acid is sufficient for the remaining residues.

tip: Boil the vinegar solution and spray it on the weed plants while it is still hot. The heat contributes to the destruction and makes the remedy even more effective.

Eco-friendly alternatives

If, on the one hand, you have a heart for the environment in your chest and, on the other hand, you simply cannot awaken a burning love for certain herbs, alternatives for eliminating them are in demand. Luckily, you don't have to look far for it. The following options are allowed:

  • Scalding with hot water
  • Infrared devices that develop heat up to 1,000 °C
  • Flaming devices destroy above-ground parts
  • Joint scrapers or wire brooms are ideal for paved areas
  • high-pressure cleaners also do a good job here
  • weed regularly by hand

Another harmless remedy: prevention

If weeds don't get a chance to take over the garden on a large scale, the use of weed killers becomes superfluous. Here's how to make it hard for weeds to show themselves:

  • with suitable ground cover
  • mulch around plants
  • Cover open areas with weed fleece
  • Mow lawns regularly
  • thus preventing inflorescences from unwelcome plants
  • first lay out foil, then pave

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