How to Use Vinegar in the Garden

If you’re looking for natural products to use in your garden, look no further than a gallon jug of vinegar from the grocery store.  This household staple has several uses in the garden from adjusting soil pH to deterring pests to cleaning outdoor tools and furniture. 

Not only is vinegar natural and won’t leave a chemical residue on your garden vegetables, but is also extremely inexpensive and easy to find.  Almost every grocery store sells vinegar by the quart or by the gallon.

Although vinegar is natural and has several uses in your garden, you should still treat it with the respect it deserves.  It can harm your garden plants, It can also cause irritation if you get undiluted vinegar on your skin or in your eyes.  Treat it like you would any chemical used in your garden.


13 Ways To Use Vinegar In The garden

You can use vinegar undiluted for some garden uses, but others will require that you dilute the vinegar first.  You may want to pick up several spray bottles and label them accordingly so you use the right strength.

Adjust Soil pH

Vinegar can raise the acidity in your soil.  Before you plant, test the soil pH with a soil tester.  Then use vinegar as needed to get your soil to the right pH for your plants. You can add vinegar to the soil to adjust the pH.  Just be sure to test again before you plant.

Some flowers like hydrangeas, gardenias, and rhododendrons like acidic soil.  To use vinegar to increase acid in your soil,  combine 1 cup of vinegar with a gallon of water.  Use that to water plants that like higher acid soil. 

Seed Germination

If you are starting plants from seeds, vinegar can help germinate some types of seeds.  Some seeds like okra can be difficult to germinate.  Soak the seeds in a bowl of water with a few drops of vinegar overnight.  Then plant as usual.  This will help the seeds germinate faster.

Weed Killer

Vinegar makes an effective natural weed killer.  Since it’s natural, you don’t need to worry about it getting into the soil and harming your plants.  However, since it is a natural herbicide, it can also kill your actual plants.  Be careful to only use it on weeds and avoid getting it on the plants you want to keep.

For stubborn weeds, simply spray undiluted white vinegar on them.  It will take 2 to 3 days, but they will start to die.

You can also add a cup of salt and a few tablespoons of dish soap to a gallon of vinegar and spray weeds.  Again, it will take a few days to work.  You may need to spray daily until the weed starts to die.

Repel Ants

If ants are taking over your garden or your yard, use natural vinegar to deter them.  Dilute vinegar 1 to 1 with water and put it in a spray bottle.  Spray this directly on the ants.  You can also spray your sidewalks and the perimeter of the garden to deter ants from coming around.

Repel Fruit Flies

Fruit flies can quickly take over your garden area.  You can create a trap to get rid of them by placing apple cider vinegar in a jar or bowl.  Add a few drops of dish soap.  The fruit flies are attracted to the smell of vinegar, and the dish soap causes them to sink and then drown.

Slugs and Snails

Snails and slugs can take over your garden and cause damage.  Spray them with vinegar and water diluted 1 to 1 in a spray bottle.  Spray the slugs or snails directly to get rid of them.

Repel Animals

Rabbits and raccoons will turn your garden into dinner, and they will eat before your family can get a chance to harvest the food.  Rabbits, raccoons, dogs, and cats don’t like the pungent smell of vinegar, so place dishes of vinegar around the garden to repel these animals.

Fungal Remover

If your plants get fungus, white vinegar may kill the fungus.  Simply add 2 teaspoons of vinegar to a cup of cooled chamomile tea.  Then spray this solution on plants that are affected by fungus.

Clean Garden Tools

Your garden tools can harbor bacteria and fungus, which can contaminate your garden.  Some plants are more susceptible to microbes.  Moving a fungus from one part of your garden to another can kill some plants.

To clean your tools, spray them with undiluted vinegar.  You can also soak your tools in undiluted vinegar to kill germs.  This will also remove rust, but you will have to scrub your tools with a brush or cloth after soaking.

Cleaning Clay Pots

Many gardeners reuse clay or terracotta pots year after year.  However, these materials can absorb calcium and salt.  You can clean them with a vinegar solution.  Add 1 cup of white vinegar to 4 cups of water.  Let the pots soak for half an hour and then rinse well.

Clean Hands 

After gardening, your hands can get dirty and stained.  Berries especially will stain your skin, which is difficult to remove.  Just spray some white vinegar on your hands and rub your hands together.  The vinegar quickly removes the stains.  Then wash your hands with soap and rinse well.

Clean Vegetables

After you harvest your vegetables, use vinegar to clean them.  Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to a quart of water.  The vinegar helps to remove any bacteria that may be on the fruit.

Clean Garden Furniture

If your garden furniture, potting bench, or garden stool needs to be cleaned, use vinegar to get them looking new again.  Simply spray vinegar diluted 1 to 1 with water on outdoor furniture, scrub, and then rinse well.

These tips will help your garden from soil testing to germinating seeds to harvest.  Vinegar is a natural weed killer and repels many pests that can afflict your plants. 

Be sure to label your vinegar spray bottles with the dilution rate and their intended uses so you use the right concentration, and always be careful not to spray the plants that you want to keep.