Does Vinegar Kill Crabgrass?

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My lawn has been looking very thin and wan lately, and I found many patches of crabgrass in my normally thick, green grass. I found myself wondering if I could kill crabgrass using natural substances around my house, like vinegar.  

Vinegar kills crab grass by shrivelling the blades and making the soil too acidic to grow. Vinegar can also cause damage to the roots of the crabgrass and stop it from growing further.

Crab grass is one of the most pervasive weeds that can affect your lawn, and I got to thinking about how to stop crabgrass and other pests from damaging my lawn further.

What is crabgrass?

Crabgrass is a native European weed that grows in the thin and sparse patches of your lawn. Crabgrass usually dies in the fall and will germinate the following spring. Crabgrass also thrives in hot and dry conditions, making it difficult to kill during the summer months.

Crabgrass is dangerous for lawns and plants because it takes valuable nutrients and water, as well as taking valuable space needed for growth.

A single crabgrass plant can produce up to 150,000 seeds in a season; these seeds can remain viable for months or even years, and are difficult to spot and remove before they have germinated.

What kind of vinegar kills crabgrass?

The best vinegar for killing crabgrass is 5% gardening vinegar found in gardening or hardware retailers. Spray the affected area 2 to 3 times weekly, then remove the dead crabgrass with the roots and reseed the area with lawn seeds. Make sure to aerate and irrigate the soil thoroughly after the crabgrass is removed to promote new lawn growth.

For extra effect, add dishwashing detergent to your vinegar solution. This helps dissolve the waxy coating on the crabgrass leaves and lets the vinegar permeate the cell structure of the plant, killing it faster.

Vinegar has the added benefit of being non-toxic to humans and animals, and is a great way to control weeds on your lawn and in your garden.

Does vinegar kill plants?

Vinegar in high concentrations can damage plants in the same way that it kills crabgrass. To avoid this, avoid concentrating your vinegar application in one area.

Will salt kill crabgrass?

Salt kills crabgrass by dehydrating the roots and making water intake impossible. Apply salt to your weed by mixing 1 cup of salt to one gallon of warm water. Stir until dissolved, then pour into a spray bottle. Apply your salt solution to your crabgrass three-four times weekly. When the crabgrass is dead, remove the entire plant with the roots.

Is vinegar bad for soil?

Vinegar in high concentrations is bad for the soil because it makes the pH too acidic for growth. To use vinegar on your soil as a herbicide, dilute approximately 1 part 5% vinegar with 2 parts water and spray or pour over the weed. Be careful not to pour vinegar in concentrations too high, as this will damage your lawn and any other plants you are growing.

Will vinegar kill dandelions?

Vinegar damages and kills dandelions by shrivelling the leaves and stem and inhibiting water and nutrient uptake. Spray dandelions with 5% vinegar up to 4 times weekly to discourage new growth and germination.

How to prevent Crabgrass

Crabgrass can be prevented by stopping the germination of seeds. The best ways to stop crabgrass spreading in your lawn are:

Mow the grass high

Mowing your grass high regularly reduces the room that crabgrass has to grow. Mow your lawn by removing no more then one-third of blades in a single session. This blocks sunlight and oxygen from the short, shallow crabgrass blades and inhibits growth.

Pour boiling water on the weed

Pouring boiling water on the weed causes burns and damages root systems, inhibiting growth and spreading of seeds. Try pouring water on spots of crabgrass in a 3 foot radius to stop the spread through your lawn. Boiling water can also damage healthy grass and other plants around area, so be careful when applying to crabgrass and other weeds.


Overseeding stops crabgrass from spreading by providing less room for growth. This technique gives your lawn the best chance to grow thick and strong, and is a great technique during cooler seasons for maximum growth.


Crabgrass and other weeds thrive in compacted soil, which is not good for grass. Aerating the soil helps spread nutrients and bacteria through to your plants roots and smothers crabgrass roots, stopping the spread.

Use Corn Gluten

Corn gluten has the added bonus of being an effective fertilizer due to its high nitrogen content. It works by preventing the crabgrass from establishing strong roots after germination. Products containing corn gluten can be put down as an inhabitant during spring to stop the germination of crabgrass.

Water less often

Crabgrass has shallow roots. Waterly less often but more deeply helps to weed out crabgrass that can’t reach the deeper water table. This also helps your lawn with hydration and can boost nutrient profiles needed for healthy lawn growth.

Smother the crabgrass

Smothering crabgrass is a great spot-method to stop the spread and germination of this pervasive weed. Cover the affected area with a brick, plate or heavy object to block the weed from getting sunlight and oxygen. Wait 4-5 weeks for the crabgrass to die, then remove it with the root from the lawn. Aerate the surface with a rake or trowel and reseed with good quality lawn seeds to remove space for a resurgence.

Be proactive with weeds

Keep on top of your lawn situation by monitoring and adjusting. The best way to stop the spread of crabgrass is by pulling out the weeds in winter or spring before the grass is able to spread and germinate. Use a weeding tool to pull the crabgrass out with its root so that it can’t grow back.

Use Herbicidal Soap

Spray herbicidal soap onto the affected area until it is thoroughly drenched. Afterwards, remove the weed and root and reseed the area with quality lawn seeds. Be aware that herbicidal soap will also damage or kill any plants or lawn that it comes into contact with.

Will grass grow back after vinegar?

Grass on your lawn will grow back after vinegar application if the pH of the soil is restored. After vinegar has been applied, irrigate and aerate the soil effectively to promote fresh lawn and plant growth.

If vinegar has been applied too liberally, irrigation might not be enough to restore the pH levels. Remove and replace the damaged soil, then seed with lawn seeds.

What is the best herbicide for crabgrass?

5-10% horticultural acid herbicide is the best herbicide for crabgrass and other grassy weeds. This herbicide is best applied to young weeds within two weeks of germination. Larger, more established weeds require higher concentrations of herbicide and increased volume of application for more effective weed control.

Will crabgrass grow back after vinegar?

Regular kitchen vinegar is more effective on broadleaf weeds than crabgrass and other grassy weeds. The grass will die, but will likely recover quickly by germinating hidden seeds. If you want long-term control of crabgrass, continuously spray the area and remove all the room systems until the invasion is eradicated.

Vinegar is an excellent natural method of treating and eradicating crabgrass and other weeds from your lawn. If you aren’t sure about using vinegar to kill weeds, alternative like corn gluten and salt are other non-toxic solutions to manage your lawn. As long as you’re careful when applying, these natural solutions will kill weed infestations and give your lawn the space it deserves.