What you need to know before trying to use vinegar as a natural weed killer

If you're new to the gardening world, you may have heard rumors about using vinegar to kill weeds. There is a certain appeal to this method. It's cheap, not as toxic as some of the store-bought chemicals on the shelf, and it's effective. 
One of the top reasons for choosing vinegar is because it is natural, according to Garden Counselor. High levels of acetic acid help remove weeds by drying them out, and it can kill weeds quickly in the sun, without adding unknown ingredients to the environment. 
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But.... 
Vinegar isn't a magic solution. Before you start hosing down your garden with the acid, you should note that the same acetic acid that kills weeds quickly, is deadly to plants too. In fact, the vinegar sucks the moisture from the plants, leaving them withered and dry. If you do choose to use vinegar, you need to be careful so you don't ruin your garden.
Additionally, vinegar generally affects the surface area of the weeds only.  While some of the roots may wither and die, you'll have to remove other roots or risk a new batch of weeds in just a week or so. 
As an added risk. using vinegar could change the chemical balance in your soil, which could cause problems with growth if you use it too often. Vinegar dehydrates. Using stronger concentrations could be even riskier than regular vinegar, so proceed with caution. 
Sprucing up the recipe
If you choose to use vinegar as a weed killer, you may want to stick to areas of the yard where you don't have other vegetation, to reduce the risk of killing your favorite flowers or vegetables. 
Garden Counselor recommends adding 1 ounce of dish soap to every gallon of vinegar. The soap helps the vinegar stay on the weeds long enough to kill them. Other variations include 2 parts vinegar with 2 parts water; 1 gallon of vinegar with 1 cup of salt and 1 tablespoon of water; and 2 parts vinegar, 1 part soap, 2 parts water. 
Before you commit to vinegar as a weed treatment, test it on a small area of your yard and check back in a few hours to see how it works. 
Other Options
If you want to kill weeds organically, there are a few other options besides vinegar. Smothering, as recommended by DIY Everywhere,  uses newspaper (or cardboard) t kill weeds by denying them light and moisture. No Dig Vegetable Garden recommends pouring boiling water over sprouting weeds. Alternatively, you could use a steam machine to help kill weeds as well. 
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What are some ways you get rid of weeds in your garden? Share your tips in the comments below. 
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