Vinegar in the garden

Source: Own work

Did you know that vinegar can be used for many chores in and around the garden?

Vinegar is an acidic liquid which consists of a mixture of water and acetic acid. Plain white vinegar or kitchen vinegar contains 4-15% acetic acid.

Vinegar is environmentally friendly: it degrades quickly and does not contaminate the soil, groundwater or surface water.

It is an ecological and very cheap product.


Vinegar is a very good ecological herbicide. Spray weeds with vinegar in a spray bottle to kill the weeds.

For larger areas use a mixture of 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar in a large watering can.

This is particularly useful for weeds on a patio, driveway and other places where you normally do not want plants to grow.

Be careful not to spray the plants you want to keep, it will kill them also.

Note that this only helps with small annual herbs. Larger weeds such as nettles or thistles can not be completely eradicated with vinegar, you will need to dig or pull them out by hand.


You can control many insects with diluted vinegar or a mixture of water, vinegar and soap.

This seems good in theory but some plants may die from diluted vinegar, so it is not recommended.

There are other ecological, and I think better ways, to combat aphids, mealybugs or ants.

Snails & slugs:

I read on the internet that you can fight snails and slugs with vinegar. Simply spray them, that will kill them.

It seems like a good idea on paper but I’m wondering how many people spend 24/7 in their garden, armed with a spray bottle, chasing after slugs…

It’s probably better to install a slug trap: a cup filled with beer, burrowed into the soil. This attracts slugs and they drown. It does not need your presence, you just need to regularly remove the dead slugs, put fresh beer in the jar and bury the cup again.

Keep cats out of the sandbox:

Cats do not like the smell of vinegar. Pour vinegar all around the sandbox, that will keep them out.

Pour fresh vinegar weekly and after each rainfall.

Keep other animals out of the garden:

Rabbits, rats, moles, deer… do not like vinegar smell either. You can keep them out by placing vinegar-soaked rags in strategic places in the garden, especially around a vegetable patch.

Soak the rags weekly and after each rainfall.

Cleaning gardening equipment:

Gardening equipment (spade, pruning shears, rakes…) may be cleaned with pure or diluted vinegar.

Vinegar has an antibacterial and antifungal effect.

This way you sterilize your gardening equipment and reduce the spreading of bacteria and fungi from plant to plant.

If there are rust spots on your gardening equipment, you may let is soak 1 or more nights in a solution of:

  • 1/2 water
  • 1/2 vinegar

Cleaning of garden furniture:

You can clean your garden furniture with a mixture of:

  • 1/3 vinegar
  • 2/3 water

Not only is it easier to clean your garden table and chairs, it also disinfects your table.

Cleaning of flowerpots and containers:

Vinegar dissolves mineral deposit, disinfects and has a fungicidal effect.

Soak clay or plastic pots an hour or longer in a mixture of:

  • 1/2 water
  • 1/2 vinegar

Plastic pots can be cleaned, rinsed and immediately reused.

Clay pots need to be soaked in fresh water overnight before being reused. Otherwise, you can let them dry because vinegar breaks down quickly.

Keep cut flowers fresh longer:

Cut flowers stay fresh longer if you add 2 tablespoons vinegar and 1 teaspoon of sugar per liter of water.

Watering plants with tap water:

Many plants do not like hard water: orchids, carnivorous plants, bog plants…

To irrigate these plants, it is possible to remove the lime from tap water by adding 1 ml of vinegar per liter of water. That is 1 teaspoon per 5 liters of water.

Temporarily acidify the soil:

Plants such as rhododendron and azaleas like acidic soils.

You can water them with a mixture of 1 cup of vinegar per 5 liters of water.

This gives the plants a boost but has only a temporary effect because vinegar breaks down quickly.

You may repeat this weekly.

Remove green mold:

Walls or furniture covered in green mold can be cleaned by spraying them with a mixture of 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 water or pure vinegar.

This kills the fungi. Let it soak a while, then wipe off.

Control fungi on plants:

You can protect plants from fungi or prevent fungi from spreading by squirting them with a mixture of 2 teaspoons of vinegar per liter chamomile tea.

Promote seed germination:

This is an old trick my grandfather used for parsley.

Dormancy of some seeds can be broken by letting them soak overnight in a mixture of:

  • 0.5 liters of water
  • 125 ml of vinegar
  • a dash of dish-washing product

This works especially well for seeds with a moderately hard seed coat.

For harder seeds, sulfuric acid can be used, but sulfuric acid is a dangerous product that you better leave to experts.

This process is called scarification: it damages the seed coat so that water gets to the embryo. This starts the germination process.


Do you know any other tricks with vinegar for the garden? Please let us know.