Weedy, The Aftermath

April 8th, 2011


Who knew that $10 worth of wacky weed killing could be controversial? LOOK at that, though. Just look. Weeds? Vanquished. Those are some results.


Remember my burgeoning meadow? This wasn’t even the worst of it, I was a little too embarrassed to show the madness happening behind the garage. Let’s just say there was a forest of weeds (about four feet high).

There are still a few areas that have a dusting of weeds, but these little jerks are checking into the hospice. Death throes and such.

Just to keep reminding folks, my gravel driveway is gigantor. For illustrations sake, our entire house is 1,300 sqft compared to the driveway’s 4,000.

I’m not buying that salt wise what we sprayed over 4,000 sqft of gravel is commensurate with agricultural runoff or road salting in cold climates. Also, it’s totally hard to decipher in my writing sometimes, but when I say “green” in quotes? Total sarcasm. We all can agree that “green” can be overused and inappropriately thrown onto questionable stuff to give everyone the warm fuzzies.

We try to be good around here, but come on, I’m not going to boil water and pour it over our entire driveway. For small areas, yes, but that process would be a nightmare on this large of a scale. We have put plastic coverings down and found it to be less than effective and a total pain to control with the high winds. The Round Up/glyphosate chemical route still freaks me out and is extremely expensive, plus I’m pretty sure Monsanto doesn’t always have my best interests at heart.

The vinegar/salt treatment was super effective and I’m looking forward to finding the super strength vinegar stuff that you guys recommended – I didn’t realize that vinegar could get more vinegary. I am surprised how well the normal household stuff worked, it killed everything in its path, but I’d be wary of spraying the crazy industrial stuff anywhere near plants that want stay alive.

I am terrified of using a blow torch. I just know that I’d light a fence on fire or something.

Of course I don’t recommend salting areas that you actually want to plant in. That’s dumb. Or spreading tons of salt all over the place – because yes – it’s terrible. We were looking for a cheap and effective way to sterilize the dirt that had gathered on top of the weed barrier and between the gravel as well as kill the current weed growth in an area we don’t want anything to grow in. Ever.

We used one of those cheap pump sprayers we had laying around. A good mixture to spray:

• 1 gallon of white vinegar
• 1 cup of table salt
• 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap (we totally forgot to add this)

I don’t mind mixing it up and spraying on any new weeds to keep things under control until the inevitable summer die off. This was a little experiment undertaken as we move into thinking more about fixing up the landscape. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out and love the low low cost.

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  1. Ryan on 04/08/2011:

    Wow that crap really worked. I was weary but Im gunna have to try that.

  2. LZ on 04/08/2011:

    Our cabin is located on a old riverbed so I have acres and acres of crappy gravel loaded with weeds. I’ve tried roundup (which sucks) and short of using sterilizer (which was my next step) I am going to bust out the salt/vinegar solution. Thanks x bazillion!

  3. bianca of terri planty on 04/08/2011:

    wow. talk about results. lady you are a weed killing machine. lucky for you nothing else is gonna grow there. i still have to pull out by hand. poop.

  4. Brismod on 04/08/2011:

    How good is that! That’s an excellent result. I am going to use your idea because we have weeds galore around here. xx

  5. Florian on 04/08/2011:

    No flame thrower. So sad, so sad.

    But look at that! You killed the little fuckers! Seriously, just one cup of salt. I bet this is the greenest solution there is. Solution, as in, something that really works.

    In Germany they sell something called Essigessenz – essence of vinegar – which is used for cleaning kettles and such, but properly diluted can be used for making flavoured vinegars and pickling gherkins. Undiluted the stuff will burn your skin or disolve an eggshell. The bottles are like half a pint, so not really the quantity needed for 4000 sq ft of gardening.

    Your mixture totally, bloody rocks. For ten bob! Why change horses on a winning team (… ?) or something.

  6. Nathan J on 04/08/2011:

    I’m not a scientist. I’m not even smart. I just deliver pizzas, but I’m still allowed an opinion and I will use it here. The amount of salt you would put down (like what, twice a year?) couldn’t be any worse on the planet then what my lawn mower does to the planet week after week. The link from the last post talked about road salt in the tons (TONS!), not cups. Little cups. More salt goes McDonald’s fries. Just sayin’.

  7. jennifer on 04/08/2011:

    had no idea your driveway was so immense. i only mentioned boiling water because it’s free-ish. looks like you have your weeds handled.

  8. Stoney on 04/08/2011:

    Whoa, people gave you shit for using natural products? I missed the comments on that one, thank god. Hey, I’m a Master Gardener, and vinegar is what we encourage people to use who want to go green.

    Honestly, the problem with the salt is going to be (potentially) altering the soil’s composition and harming the trees. Anything from the edge of the trees in should be kept as free from the salts as possible.

    I say invest in a small blow torch and walk around with your morning coffee and blast the weeds with it. I do, and it’s crazy effective and torturously fun.

    Yer yard/gravel looks bitchin’ now.

  9. Becky on 04/08/2011:

    Wow, that is amazing! What a huge difference. I think that people really like giving their opinion. It gives them a sense of importance. 🙂 You can’t argue with results, though. I mean, just look at that! I’m pretty sure no bunnies died in the process, too. So go you! You keep being boss and don’t listen to the haters.

  10. Jennifer on 04/08/2011:

    I don’t even HAVE a yard but that blowtorching weeds with your morning joe sounds like good times to me! wonder if my neighbors would freak if I eradicated theirs…

    they don’t call me Firestarter for nothing…

  11. jennifer on 04/08/2011:

    i don’t even HAVE a yard, but that blowtorching weeds with your morning joe sounds like good times to me! wonder if my neighbors would freak if i eradicated theirs….

    they don’t call me Firestarter for nothing…

  12. jennifer on 04/08/2011:

    anybody hear an echo?

  13. L on 04/08/2011:

    Thanks mucho for the recipe! Gonna try it on the *&*^!&@# grass that’s taking over my driveway. Your results = fabulous!

  14. erin@designcrisis on 04/08/2011:

    Did someone give you shit for using salt and vinegar??? I would have just poured gasoline all over those stupid weeds, so I commend you for your restraint.

  15. tracy on 04/08/2011:

    looks great. and it is all about balance, isn’t it? time. money. environmental impact. nice work.

  16. pianoarthur on 04/08/2011:

    Congratulations! Looks great, and I happen to know that any run of the mill power washer would make that back fence look just like its’ newer cousin!

  17. Whitney on 04/08/2011:

    Don’t have time to read all the comments… What you need to go buy is a torch. They sell them at the ranch supply stores. They have ones that hook up to a propane tank you run a bbq off of and then smaller ones that you use the small little coleman camp stove tanks with. They’re awesome. You’ll feel like a superhero. And they’re cheap. Go do it. You won’t regret it.

  18. katrina on 04/08/2011:

    Speaking of environmental stuff, this past weekend I was preparing to refurbish an Eames chair following your instructions, and was surprised that I couldn’t find Penetrol anywhere. The guy at Home Depot told me that it is an oil-based product and therefore illegal in CA. He called all local hardware stores and no one had it. I finally ordered some from Amazon, but do you know of an alternate product that works just as well?

    Also – the chair I’m refurbishing is black and after the wet sand process it’s looking much more grey. I’m trusting the Penetrol will help restore the color?

  19. THE BRICK HOUSE on 04/08/2011:

    Really? I feel like I just bought some penetrol. Penetrol works the best & yes, it will totally restore the color.

    Oh, also Apartment Therapy posted about me doing this and comments were also like AH NO! Horror! Environment! Salt! Ack! So, I’m clarifying.

  20. The Vintage Cabin on 04/08/2011:

    I just turned on the news and apparently millions of dead birds and fish (and a few contestants from The Price is Right) have washed up all along the shores of the Pacific Ocean! They think it may have be caused by some idiot in Hemet who used vinegar and salt on her driveway!!! OMFG!

  21. katrina on 04/08/2011:

    Totally. No penetrol anywhere.

    I’m in LA so I tried the local Anawalt first. No luck. I ended up at Home Depot where the guy said it was now illegal.

    That’s a relief that it will restore the color. I panicked for a minute there thinking I had destroyed this beautiful chair. Thanks for all of the DIY advice!

  22. Tami on 04/09/2011:

    I feel your pain about the massive driveway. I curse mine all the time. Keep us posted on how long the vinegar treatment works.

    On a different note, is that an orange tree just off the parking area? It looks good n healthy – how cool to have that in your backyard!

  23. Heather on 04/09/2011:

    People sometimes get too sensitive over “green” issues. Salting an area that’s already being used as a driveway and that will probably be never used for planting anything isn’t such tragedy. And the results are great!

  24. Jackie on 04/09/2011:

    We also use salt water to kill weeds in a large interlock patio, works perfectly and doesn’t need much salt to do the job. Well done. I’m really enjoying your posts.

  25. B. on 04/09/2011:
  26. Paul on 04/10/2011:

    Mixing table salt and vinegar together produces a weak form of Hydrochloric Acid, maybe that’s why it was so effective on the weeds. I wonder if it’s more effective than just plain salt, I’ll have to check it out. This recipe is also an old fashioned way to clean brass and copper. I’m enjoying your blog. I hope you eventually start to inspire some of your neighbors.

  27. The brick house on 04/10/2011:


  28. ben smithson on 04/11/2011:

    We have some funky weeds growing around the perimeter of our house – pokin’ through gravel rocks kinda like yours. I’m definitely going to try this. It makes me giddy to save some dough and not pump as many harsh stuff in to my soil at the same time!

  29. Tricia on 04/11/2011:

    So, I was just looking through your house tour photos and have to ask where you got the purse in the den photos that is hung up by the dog leashes? I love it.

  30. naomi on 04/12/2011:

    another thing for next year is you can buy “corn gluten” at some hippie garden store. Its a pre-emergent weed killer so it doesn’t let any seeds germinate. Talk to some nurseries in your area to see when is the best time to spread the stuff. it is green and won’t hurt the soils or water.

  31. Lindsay on 04/13/2011:

    We’re torching this weekend and I’m kind of excited.

  32. t. on 04/14/2011:

    Just wondering to those who were giving you hell, why would a blow-torch be any “greener”? Hooked up to a (cough) propane tank? Mindboggling.

  33. BelindaGomez on 04/16/2011:

    You’re happy, I’m happy, but the green was nicer to look at. Now you have a desert.

  34. Renee on 04/16/2011:

    People need to get over themselves and let you do what you do, ’cause you’re awesome at it. You really could’ve just gone out and bought a barrel of round up and sprayed willy nilly. I say meh, let ’em freak out and go about your daily business, no explanation necessary!
    And, to stay on topic, the driveway is beautiful!

  35. Danielle {fresh quince} on 04/16/2011:

    In a daze I read the first part and thought hmmm she should use plain vinegar, water and salt, then duh I read the end! It’s magic…forget that other chemical crap!

  36. Sasha on 04/18/2011:

    With the salt treatment, I’m worried for your tree in the long run. I don’t know about the vinegar. I suppose there isn’t a ground cloth under the gravel?

  37. Sasha on 04/18/2011:

    With the salt treatment, I’m worried for your tree in the long run. I don’t know about the vinegar. I suppose there isn’t a ground cloth under the gravel? Blow torch? Yes. Dangerous? No.

  38. kate on 04/19/2011:

    At first I was flabbergasted that someone would comment on the salt use here, but then I read you comment that it was on AT, and I was like OHHHHHH! Because I have never seen commenters who were ruder and more ridiculous than them in my entire life. They posted an Ikea hack I did ages ago and I was shocked at all the horrid comments on how unoriginal I was and needed to get a life. WHAT? Recently I saw someone bitch about how many tulips someone had in a vase in a home tour. Oh lord oh lord.

  39. Lumiere on 05/12/2011:

    Pretty chic modern photos for a story to illustrate a series of weed-killing episodes. Could be hung next to any “art” in a modern gallery anywhere without a second thought. Oh, and like you, when I put art in quotation marks, I’m being sarcastic too.

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