Steps for Killing Quackgrass With Vinegar

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Quackgrass is among the relatively common weeds you can find in your lawn. They can be easily recognized by their stalky, thick stems and wide blades. Being very common, this grass comes with a variety of names. Some call it the devil’s grass, others call it quick grass yet other people also call it knotgrass.

Although you can use some home remedies such as vinegar to kill the stubborn weed, the major downside of having quackgrass grow in your lawn is that it is very difficult to eliminate. As difficult as it may be, getting rid of it is not impossible. 

Does vinegar kill quackgrass weed?

Vinegar can get rid of crabgrass. A strong solution of vinegar, when mixed with orange oil, can kill weeds for good. However, this process has to be done in the correct manner lest the weeds sprout forth again.

Most vinegar solutions are not effective in killing weeds because they are not appropriately prepared. While most blogs will give tutorials on how to make a vinegar weed killer, most of the content is laced with faulty information that does not yield any desirable result.

This is because most of these tutorials only show vinegar with an acidity of 5% which does not help significantly.

How to get rid of quackgrass with vinegar

Household vinegar rarely kills weeds, though it may cause some of the weeds to shrivel and wilt a bit but not to die off completely. Noxious, hardcore weeds will need stronger agents for their complete eradication.

To ensure that you achieve better results with your vinegar solution, you need to get vinegar with an acidity of at least 10%.

You should, however, be careful when handling vinegar with more than 10 percent acidity because it is very potent and dangerously corrosive. It can burn your skin and cause very painful wounds.

To keep yourself safe, wear goggles, long sleeves, rubber gloves, and shoes when you are working with 10% to 20-% vinegar solutions. It is also important to apply vinegar mixed with orange oil.

While vinegar can solely destroy weeds without a problem, it is the orange oil component that greatly completes the entire process of weed control.

How to get rid of quackgrass using vinegar

The correct ratio for killing weeds with vinegar is 1 gallon of 10%-20% vinegar to one cup of orange oil. If you have more weeds to take care of, use a type of sprayer that will cover a wide area. Here are my recommended products:

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Here’s how to kill quackgrass using vinegar.

  1. Mix vinegar with orange oil well.
  2. Apply the mixture on quackgrass in your lawn at full strength of sunlight.
  3. Allow it to sit until it rains.
  4. Repeat the process if the weed does not dry and die after the first application.

This combination works best when applied at full strength in sunlight as the day gets heated up. To maintain its potency, you should not apply vinegar weed killer less than 24 hours after rains or when the forecast indicates an impending rain within the next 24 hours.

This means that if the rains fell yesterday, you won’t be doing much if you apply the weed killer today. The optimum working conditions and maximum efficacy for vinegar weed killer averages at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is it safe to apply vinegar on your lawn?

The major downside of this brew of vinegar and orange oil is that it is not discriminative. It kills anything in its path. Therefore, you should be really careful when applying it to your lawn lest the entire lawn dries up.

It kills plants, flowers, and grass just as effectively as it kills weeds. The best strategy to keep your flowers, plants, and grasses safe is by avoiding the use of vinegar weed killer on windy days. You can also use a paintbrush as an alternative for spray can to selectively eliminate quackgrass amidst other grasses in the lawn.

Natural alternatives to vinegar for killing weeds

Other than using vinegar laced with orange oil, there are certain alternatives that are also as effective. For instance:

1. Smother the quackgrass

Ideally, it is almost impossible to kill quackgrass without killing the neighboring plants and grasses as well. Smothering will be beneficial to you if you don’t mind losing but a small number of plant life around the quackgrass.

In this method, a dark plastic is placed over the quackgrass so that it fits entirely inside it. Rocks or pieces of wood are then used to anchor the edges of the plastic to prevent it from falling off.

The strategy is simple, the dark plastic bag blocks sunlight and water from reaching the quackgrass leading to its death.

This technique is effective and becomes effective after about 3 to 4 weeks.

2. Solarize the quackgrass

Sometimes you might decide to overheat the quackgrass and kill it with too much sun instead of removing sunlight from it such as in smothering. As summer sets in, you can place clear plastic bags over each patch of the weed.

After anchoring the plastic cover to stabilize it, let it stand for the sun rays to take effects. The plastic bag creates a miniature greenhouse effect and also solarize the soil in which the grass is growing.

Although this process takes weeks to complete, the weeds will be eventually eliminated.

3. Dig up the quackgrass

This technique comes with minor success but you can try it out nonetheless. Quackgrass grows with a root system called a rhizome which is deeply seated into the ground and is very hardy. With this kind of root system, it is almost impossible to completely dig out quackgrass.

Another major milestone is that you may break the roots as you dig out the weed and the grass will perpetually grow all over again. However, you can try digging the weed about 1 foot deep and wide. Pull out the roots that are visible and cover the hole with topsoil. You can then cover the dug area with plastic or some thick mulch to prevent the weed from sprouting again

4. Douse with sodium hydroxide

Salt has been used since ancient times especially during war to poison the fields of the enemy. Salt is very toxic to plants and can effectively kill weeds such as crabgrass and quackgrasses. The major problem is that it doesn’t discriminate. It will kill your good plants and grass as well.

Form a solution of sodium hydroxide, cover the nearby grass and plants that you don’t want to affect. Use a spray-can to spray the sodium hydroxide solution directly onto the leaves of the quackgrass to kill it.


Vinegar is very potent at managing quackgrass and other weeds growing in your lawn. While there are other alternatives to vinegar as a weed killer, it is far much better than most of the techniques that try to compete. You should only master how to formulate it correctly including how to make the right proportions to achieve a better result.


7 thoughts on “Steps for Killing Quackgrass With Vinegar”

  1. Will grass seed grow in the area where vinegar/orange oil or sodium hydroxide has been used to kill quackgrass?

  2. Sodium hydroxide is lye not salt (that would be sodium chloride). Very caustic like the 10%+ vinegar. My personal (and formerly professional) opinion: these mixtures are more dangerous to work with than glyphosate.

  3. I am really perplexed by the sudden quick emergence of a quackgrass covering almost my entire lawn. My front lawn is roughly 65 X 75 and I have tried roundup , and other stuff but am not able to get rid of it . My lawn looks terrible now . If I cannot kill it, will sodding over the entire lawn be successful so that the quackgrass will never emerge again ?Ben

    • Hi Ben, you may want to do a few rounds of Tenacity to get rid of the quackgrass. That should do it or at least start to give you some visible results. Then once it starts to die off you can see how much area needs to fill in with the type of grass you have. Then decide if you need to seed or over sod.

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