How long does vinegar last in the soil?

Published Date: May 4, 2021

When you pour high-concentration vinegar directly into the soil, the effect of vinegar may last longer than a month in the soil. But some vinegar may fall onto the soil while spraying vinegar as an herbicide onto the plant leaves. But it would break down within a few days.

Vinegar often used as a weed killer in the garden. But if you don’t apply it properly in your garden, it can harm your plants. Besides, if it stays for too long in your soil, it can ruin the soil texture also.

So, I am here to tell you about the proper use of vinegar so that it doesn’t last long in your garden. Let’s dig in deeper.

Table of Contents
vinegar in soil

Why you will use vinegar in the soil?

The acid in vinegar can harm your soil as well as plants if you overuse them or don’t apply them properly. Then why you will use this in your garden, right?

1. You can kill the weeds with vinegar

Basically, many gardeners use vinegar widely as a herbicide in their gardens. Vinegar used as a herbicide may be slightly effective on small annual weeds. Regular kitchen vinegar controls broadleaf weeds more effectively than grass and grassy weeds.

If vinegar concentrates are added directly into the soil, they will kill the weeds by lowering the pH level of the soil to a level that a plant can’t sustain. Depending on the soil type and the weather, this acidifying effect can take from a few months to a year. 

It seems that research conducted by the USDA with solutions containing 5% vinegar like white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, has not been shown to be reliable for weed control. Higher concentrations of vinegar (10% to 20%) found in the commercial vinegar herbicides may retard the growth of some annual weeds and will indeed kill the foliage of perennial weeds such as Canada thistle, but without killing the roots, the weeds will grow again.

2. You can use vinegar to balance the pH level

Sometimes the pH level of the soil goes too high and you need to bring the pH level down. When the pH level goes higher –

 – Plants can’t absorb some nutrients like iron properly, and the plant will turn yellow

 – Soil builds up a toxic level of certain nutrients such as molybdenum can be raised to a high level due to a high pH level.

 – Microorganisms like earthworms can’t function properly and covert nitrogen.

That’s why it is necessary to maintain the pH level of the soil. So, when the pH level goes higher, use vinegar to bring it down.

Proper application of vinegar to avoid long-lasting time

Vinegar is basically used for reducing the pH level of the soil even when you want to kill weeds with vinegar, right? It is better to use natural alternatives than commercial weed killers. But you need to make the proper application of vinegar in your garden. So, let’s know about it.

Right time for applying vinegar

The best time to apply vinegar in the soil is up to 2 weeks after the weeds have germinated. Wait for a dry, warm when there is no possibility of having rain. Check the weather forecast as well as apply it after one or two days after rainfall when the soil feels dry. 

How to prepare the vinegar solution

  • At first, test the pH of the soil
  • Based on the pH of your soil, determine the need for vinegar. You can use plain vinegar like apple cider vinegar if you don’t need to lower the level that much. Or else, you can use Horticultural vinegar with a higher concentration (20% acetic acid) if you need a quick fix but be cautious while using horticultural vinegar. 
  • After that, add vinegar with water. Adding water will not alter vinegar’s acidity but water also has a pH, right? So it will better to test the water pH as it differs from region to region.
  • You can add 2 to 9 tbsp. of vinegar to a gallon of water and it is the ideal measurement. Stop adding water to vinegar when the vinegar solution’s pH reached to required pH level of the soil. Take note of how much vinegar and water you have added.
  • Finally, you can put the vinegar solution in the garden beds or ground. 

What you can use to put the solution in the soil

To lower the pH level of soil and make it more acidic, vinegar can be applied by hand hose or using an irrigation system. You can use an injector as an alternative for adding vinegar to irrigation lines, and thus the vinegar is evenly distributed.

Extra notes: 

  • You can add some household vinegarto your soil to fight hard water and lime as well as won’t stay for a long time.
  • A single application can’t improve the soil pH or kill the weeds. Continue watering with the solution at regular intervals. Test the soil pH frequently. Bacteria can reduce the strength of acetic acid over time.

So, if you don’t use it frequently, it will be only a temporary fix. Also, don’t overdo it as it will last for long days.

  • For basic treatments of vinegar, a cup of vinegarcan be mixed with a gallon of water and poured over the soil with a watering can. According to the Vinegar Institute, this is ideal for plants like azaleas and rhododendrons.

Use high-concentration acetic acid or vinegar added to the commercial product to kill the perennial weeds and grass with vinegar. But don’t use too much vinegar as you will have trouble removing them.

  • Many homemade weed killers consist of salts, vinegar, and liquid dishwashing soap. But it’s better not to use salts in the solution of vinegar and dish soap. Salts stay longer than vinegar in the soil and can cause many damages. So, you better not use table salt or Epsom salt in the solution.

Facts you need to be aware of!

 ✔ There are various kinds of vinegar but it is better not to use strong vinegar unless it is necessary.

 ✔ Check the amounts of vinegar you put in the soil, don’t add too much. It may take a long time to go out of your soil.

 ✔ While using vinegar for weeds, take care of other plants. Few drops of concentrated vinegar can damage plant cells, leaves even the roots of your favorite plant.

Few words for you

Vinegar will last for long days in the soil if you overdo it. It may take years to remove the vinegar from the soil when applying too much. But don’t worry, it is not that tough too. Just keep in mind that the vinegar solution contains acetic acid that can be harmful if it stays long in the soil.

That’s why you just need to be careful. That’s it! Happy Gardening!