Driveway Vinaigrette

 

Drove my mother up to her summer house last week. The landscaper she hired to do a spring cleanup never showed and now come summer the yard was a mess. The one really ugly part was that the gravel driveway looked fuzzy with all of the weeds coming through.

The thought of trimming bushes and raking didn’t bother me, but that weedy driveway did. The house is over 100 feet from the road so that is too much bending over to pull all the weeds. It would have to be weedkiller. Roundup costs over $15 a gallon and there are lawsuits claiming it can cause cancer. I needed an effective but environmentally sound solution. My mother came through with a recipe she found on the internet (I still think she must have asked the grandkids for help working that “google-thing.”)

What we used was one gallon of distilled white vinegar, two cups of Epsom salt, and a couple squirts of Dawn dishwashing detergent. I mixed that up in our garden sprayer and sprayed on the weeds. The vinegar and salt both work to dehydrate the weeds (not sure what the soap does). It took three batches of this stuff to do the whole driveway. Considering vinegar costs less than $3.00 a gallon, and we already had an old bag of salt, this was much cheaper than Roundup. But did it work?

By the next morning, all of the weeds were brown and dead. Some that were in direct sunlight shriveled up in the first hour. In my experience, it worked better than the stuff I used to buy at the hardware store and for a fraction of the cost. So, it satisfied both my environmental side and my Scottish side.

Before applying I did weed whack everything. Long dead weeds are better than live ones, but it is best to have as little weed as possible, dead or alive. Also, vinegar smells like vinegar. Put down three gallons and it can have a strong odor for a day or two, maybe three.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the results. Years ago I remember listening to a guy on the radio who had a call-in show about gardening and lawn care. Every time someone explained their issue he would give them a quick homemade recipe with all sorts of odd ingredients. For instance, “OK, what you need is a can of beer, a cup of human urine, half cup of tobacco juice . . . “ I never tried any of his suggestions, but it was fun to listen to.

Anyway Ricochet, what homemade hacks do you have to replace expensive (and potentially toxic) store bought product?

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There are 31 comments.

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  1. Hang On Member

    Soaps are surfactants and will help solubilize the cell membranes and make the cells spill their guts.

    • #1
    • July 8, 2019, at 11:47 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  2. GrannyDude Member

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Soaps are surfactants and will help solubilize the cell membranes and make the cells spill their guts.

    Cool!

    • #2
    • July 8, 2019, at 11:59 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  3. OkieSailor Member

    Vance Richards: not sure what the soap does

    Soap is a surfactant: it breaks down the surface tension that forms droplets allowing other ingredients to mix with water molecules. It’s the water that carries the other things into the plant (or fabric) interiors where they can work their magic.

    • #3
    • July 8, 2019, at 11:59 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  4. Barfly Member

    C’mon, at least don’t buy the obvious lies. Roundup is not toxic to animals. Folklore is a poor substitute.

    • #4
    • July 8, 2019, at 12:01 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  5. GrannyDude Member

    I wonder if I can spray my entire backyard family state with vinegar and soap to get rid of the Brown Tail Moths and the rashes that they cause? For some reason, I don’t get the rash, but my poor husband is miserable.

    • #5
    • July 8, 2019, at 12:06 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards Post author

    Barfly (View Comment):

    C’mon, at least don’t buy the obvious lies. Roundup is not toxic to animals. Folklore is a poor substitute.

    Next to getting money from the 9/11 victims fund, Lymphoma from Roundup is the most frequent topic in the lawyer ads I see. Since the ads are put out by lawyers with a financial interest, I don’t put much stock in them. But the truth is, I had better results with vinegar then with the Roundup I have at home, and it’s way cheaper . . . and I’m a big fan of cheaper.

    • #6
    • July 8, 2019, at 12:10 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  7. MarciN Member

    Everyone probably already knows this, but for ant hills, I mix a cup of white sugar and two cups of Borax powdered soap. The ants take the sugar and Borax back home where they die off. 

    • #7
    • July 8, 2019, at 12:20 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  8. Shauna Hunt Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Everyone probably already knows this, but for ant hills, I mix a cup of white sugar and two cups of Borax powdered soap. The ants take the sugar and Borax back home where they die off.

    I love Borax! It does a great job of cleaning my front load washer. It works lots better than any of the other products used to clean appliances. The best thing is that it’s cheap and it doesn’t have an overwhelming smell.

    • #8
    • July 8, 2019, at 12:56 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. JoelB Member

    I’m trying that vinegar, detergent, and epsom salt recipe. I don’t trust herbicides to only affect plants. I know of too many guys with problems from Agent Orange. I have an area where my dogs run (and kids used to run) that needs some work, but I don’t want to put down poison.

    • #9
    • July 8, 2019, at 1:09 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    Okay, I’m going to be the party pooper here.

    1) Jerry Baker is nuts. He is not an actual master gardener (which requires many hours of education and affiliation with a state extension office). His “solutions” are often more toxic than the commercial products they are meant to replace. They are also often actually more expensive, as well. Do you really want to waste beer on the garden? Do you really think that soap “softens” soil? The worst recommendation involved using tobacco. No, just no. Tobacco actually spreads disease on susceptible plants (which is why, if you smoke, you should always wash your hands before working in the garden or even harvesting vegetables).

    2) Vinegar is a contact herbicide, and household vinegar isn’t actually that effective. Sure, the weeds were withered the next morning, but many weeds re-sprout from roots or even pieces of root. Vinegar simply burns what it contacts, it has no systemic or physical effect on a weed’s root system. Many weeds will simply regrow. Use enough vinegar and you can end up with a rash or eye damage from spray drift. It is an acid, after all.

    3) Epsom salts put a lot of magnesium and sulfur in the soil. Run a soil test and it will look like you buried a flare. Magnesium persists in the soil for a long time. Read more from Minnesota Cooperative Extension.

    Roundup has been on the market since 1974. It works like a plant hormone, tricking the weed into thinking the season is over and it had better set seed right now. It has to be metabolized by the plant it contacts…only the actively growing green part of the plant–which is why when you spray it nothing happens for a few days as the plant metabolizes it. (You can waste Roundup using it when the plants are not actively growing, and it has no effect on plants parts, like tree trunks, that are not green and growing.) I have a gallon of concentrate that I have been using for the past seven years. I mix it in a two-gallon sprayer. It is the only thing to use to kill very invasive weeds such as Canada thistle. Buying a professional-sized concentrate is extremely cost-effective. At a 2oz./gal dilution you can get 160 gallons for about 68 cents per gallon mixed. Like I said, I’ve had a jug of this for 7 years and I haven’t come close to using even half of it.

    • #10
    • July 8, 2019, at 5:50 PM PDT
    • 21 likes
  11. tigerlily Member

    If the neighborhood dog(s) like to poop on your lawn, putting an open jar of vinegar somewhere nearby will discourage this activity.

    • #11
    • July 8, 2019, at 7:08 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. MarciN Member

    I’ve had great luck with using just Dawn and vinegar and water–no Epsom salts. It took a couple of days, but it worked. 

    • #12
    • July 8, 2019, at 7:19 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. She Thatcher
    She

    You might want to look into something like this: https://freedomweeder.com/ The primary component of their solution to get rid of weeds is 30% strength vinegar (household vinegar is usually 5%). Just don’t unscrew the lid of the bottle and take a deep sniff unless you want the hairs on the inside of your nose to shrivel up and fall out. They give you the recipe for the “concoction” but you have to buy the applicator to get it (although someone may have it on the Internet somewhere). It just doesn’t seem right to me to give it out, though.

    I went looking for something I remembered from my childhood called “killer kane” and this did the trick. I just have the “cane” portion, but you can also get a spray.

    • #13
    • July 8, 2019, at 7:56 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Ansonia Member

    I’m very allergic to poison ivy and have it growing at the base of a few trees in my yard. It’s growing up the tree. I’ve thought about spraying Round-up on it at the roots, but have been afraid the stuff will sink into the earth and damage also the roots of the tree.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for what I might safely do to kill the poison ivy without harming the trees?

    • #14
    • July 8, 2019, at 8:30 PM PDT
    • Like
  15. Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Coolidge

    Ansonia (View Comment):
    Does anyone have any suggestions for what I might safely do to kill the poison ivy without harming the trees?

    Roundup will not kill your tree when spraying weeds in its vicinity. You would have to spray the tree’s leaves with a ton of the stuff in order to kill it.

    As far as killing any weed without harming surrounding plants, do the following:

    After donning rubber gloves, spray herbicide on a sponge and then sponge the leaves of the weed(s). By adopting this practice, surrounding plants remain herbicide free.

    • #15
    • July 8, 2019, at 8:40 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  16. Clavius Thatcher

    I put Roundup on the driveway this weekend. It is slower acting than your solution (pun intended) but has been effective in the past.

    • #16
    • July 8, 2019, at 8:47 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Locke On Member

    Since no one mentioned it above: The chemical name for Roundup is glyphosate. Look for that on the label, and you’re getting the same stuff without paying for Monsanto’s marketing. As @9thdistrictneighbor says, get a gallon or two of the concentrated stuff from the local feed & fuel for cheap, and it’ll last you a long time (unless you’re trying to kill off your whole lawn and start over or something of the sort).

    • #17
    • July 8, 2019, at 9:37 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  18. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    9thDistrictNeighbor (View Comment):

    Okay, I’m going to be the party pooper here.

    1) Jerry Baker is nuts. He is not an actual master gardener (which requires many hours of education and affiliation with a state extension office). His “solutions” are often more toxic than the commercial products they are meant to replace. They are also often actually more expensive, as well. Do you really want to waste beer on the garden? Do you really think that soap “softens” soil? The worst recommendation involved using tobacco. No, just no. Tobacco actually spreads disease on susceptible plants (which is why, if you smoke, you should always wash your hands before working in the garden or even harvesting vegetables).

    2) Vinegar is a contact herbicide, and household vinegar isn’t actually that effective. Sure, the weeds were withered the next morning, but many weeds re-sprout from roots or even pieces of root. Vinegar simply burns what it contacts, it has no systemic or physical effect on a weed’s root system. Many weeds will simply regrow. Use enough vinegar and you can end up with a rash or eye damage from spray drift. It is an acid, after all.

    3) Epsom salts put a lot of magnesium and sulfur in the soil. Run a soil test and it will look like you buried a flare. Magnesium persists in the soil for a long time. Read more from Minnesota Cooperative Extension.

    Roundup has been on the market since 1974. It works like a plant hormone, tricking the weed into thinking the season is over and it had better set seed right now. It has to be metabolized by the plant it contacts…only the actively growing green part of the plant–which is why when you spray it nothing happens for a few days as the plant metabolizes it. (You can waste Roundup using it when the plants are not actively growing, and it has no effect on plants parts, like tree trunks, that are not green and growing.) I have a gallon of concentrate that I have been using for the past seven years. I mix it in a two-gallon sprayer. It is the only thing to use to kill very invasive weeds such as Canada thistle. Buying a professional-sized concentrate is extremely cost-effective. At a 2oz./gal dilution you can get 160 gallons for about 68 cents per gallon mixed. Like I said, I’ve had a jug of this for 7 years and I haven’t come close to using even half of it.

    One additional comment about using RoundUp – it ain’t gonna work on a windy day. You will be throwing the entire lot of chems into the air, that is: 41% glyposate, the 15% polyoxethalenamine (POEA) , the additional aldehyde that is used inside it so it can be sprayed, and the rest of it = water, those will all be going up like so much smoke. So use it properly so it works

    • #18
    • July 8, 2019, at 10:50 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Ansonia (View Comment):

    I’m very allergic to poison ivy and have it growing at the base of a few trees in my yard. It’s growing up the tree. I’ve thought about spraying Round-up on it at the roots, but have been afraid the stuff will sink into the earth and damage also the roots of the tree.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for what I might safely do to kill the poison ivy without harming the trees?

    Scientists who are independent of Monsanto do find it harms trees. But poison ivy might harm you. Can you afford to hire someone to come in and take out the ivy? Some landscape and gardener folks have no reaction to poison ivy and that is how they make their living.

    • #19
    • July 8, 2019, at 10:54 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. Pony Convertible Member

    I have a 500 foot gravel driveway, I just mow it.

    • #20
    • July 9, 2019, at 5:22 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  21. The Reticulator Member

    Pony Convertible (View Comment):

    I have a 500 foot gravel driveway, I just mow it.

    A proper gravel driveway has grass growing down the center, between the wheel tracks. What’s the point of living in the country without having a driveway like that? Of course, we have enough traffic going in and out to keep the wheel tracks free of grass. There were times when we almost didn’t, but it now helps that people at our house are ordering enough stuff to keep the UPS, FedEx and USPS trucks going up and down the driveway.

    • #21
    • July 9, 2019, at 5:47 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  22. Steve C. Member

    Howard Garrett, aka The Dirt Doctor (of Texas radio fame), has been recommending the vinegar mix for years. 

    • #22
    • July 9, 2019, at 6:23 AM PDT
    • Like
  23. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards Post author

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):

    Ansonia (View Comment):

    I’m very allergic to poison ivy and have it growing at the base of a few trees in my yard. It’s growing up the tree. I’ve thought about spraying Round-up on it at the roots, but have been afraid the stuff will sink into the earth and damage also the roots of the tree.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for what I might safely do to kill the poison ivy without harming the trees?

    Scientists who are independent of Monsanto do find it harms trees. But poison ivy might harm you. Can you afford to hire someone to come in and take out the ivy? Some landscape and gardener folks have no reaction to poison ivy and that is how they make their living.

    Yeah, even dead leaves can give you a rash. I know someone who had a bad reaction from the smoke while burning poison ivy. Best to have it removed.

    My summer job in high school was working maintenance for the school system. One summer they had us remove the poison ivy from all of the fences at all of the town’s schools. All the gave us was some clippers and work gloves. We threw everything into the back of a dump truck to take to the dump. However, it was one truck and five or six people so the summer help got to ride in the back with the poison ivy. I was the only one who never got a rash. Not sure if I was somewhat immune or more careful, but that was probably a dumb risk for $5 an hour.

    • #23
    • July 9, 2019, at 7:06 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  24. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards Post author

    Deer treat my yard like a salad bar. My wife bought some spray that works great but the main active ingredient is putrefied eggs. You can imagine the smell. I see other products that use mint. Can anyone recommend a deer repellent that is effective but doesn’t smell terrible?

    • #24
    • July 9, 2019, at 7:15 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. Pat E Member

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Deer treat my yard like a salad bar. My wife bought some spray that works great but the main active ingredient is putrefied eggs. You can imagine the smell. I see other products that use mint. Can anyone recommend a deer repellent that is effective but doesn’t smell terrible?

    My gardener wife uses “Repels-All” which I found at Costco. I have also seen it at Home Depot. Very easy to use and lasts about 2 months. 

    • #25
    • July 9, 2019, at 8:11 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. MarciN Member

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Deer treat my yard like a salad bar. My wife bought some spray that works great but the main active ingredient is putrefied eggs. You can imagine the smell. I see other products that use mint. Can anyone recommend a deer repellent that is effective but doesn’t smell terrible?

    I use Bobbex. That is the only thing that has always worked reliably for me. It has a longer-lasting protection effect than the other products I’ve tried. The company has different products for all of the kinds of animals that are pests in a yard. I get the rabbit formula or the deer-and-rabbit formula.

    I’m getting my second shipment today. They ship really quickly–72 hours for delivery. We have had some sort of bunny population explosion this year on Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard (it has to be related to the weather somehow). They are adorable, but they are eating everything in sight. And they attract predators of all sorts. It has been a very strange month for gardeners here. It seems to be quieting down now, of course. (I definitely do not want to know what’s going on out there. Welcome to the jungle.)

    I live near a marsh, golf course, and the local gun club conservation area. I am really in the woods. I don’t plant too many things I know the deer and rabbits eat, but when I really want to do so, I fence the plants in. That said, if the garden area I’m working in is too big to fence, and I must have plants that I know rabbits and dear like to eat, :-), I use Bobbex. It is somewhat expensive, but I spray it only once every few weeks. It seems to last even through rain storms.

    I’d watch the video on their website if you get it. It contains a lot of information.

    The past few years, we’ve had squirrels complete strip the fruit off two peach and two apple trees. My husband is really frustrated. I think we’ll try to apply Bobbex next year on those before they produce fruit. Apparently, if you spray under the leaves, the spray lasts, won’t hurt the fruit, and it might work.

    That said, in my experience, once the animals identify something in the yard that they get used to eating–usually it’s a place in the yard as much as it is a particular plant, it’s really hard to deter them. I think it has something to do with light–what they can see in the dusk and dark. I watched a video the other day of a deer eating a particular kind of hosta that I have. The deer ate some of the plants but not others. It’s a combination of factors.

    • #26
    • July 9, 2019, at 9:10 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  27. Pony Convertible Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Pony Convertible (View Comment):

    I have a 500 foot gravel driveway, I just mow it.

    A proper gravel driveway has grass growing down the center, between the wheel tracks. What’s the point of living in the country without having a driveway like that? 

    Exactly. That is what I have. Love it. It has functionality and charm.

    • #27
    • July 9, 2019, at 12:24 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    For deer, you really need to rotate your repellents. Half our yard is a deer path, so I have a lot of experience. Deer damage usually happens for us early in the spring, when fawns will taste everything, and late in the season when the bucks rub their antlers on the trees. Bobbex and Repels-All go with the smelly egg concoction. There is another one (from Bonide I think) that has a mint scent which is more tolerable. The best, most long-lasting repellant I have used is Plantskydd. There is only one garden center in our area that carries it, or I go mail order. The high-end garden center near us used to carry it but customers complained. You see, Plantskydd is made from dried blood. (Ooohh how icky, how cruel, they cry as they eat their bacon burger….) It will leave a dark tinge on your plants for a while, but it is extremely long lasting. They also make a granular formulation. I guarantee it works on anything, and you give your plants a little nitrogen boost as well.

    Roundup is sometimes not that effective in poison ivy. Poison ivy leaves are a bit like violet leaves, they have a sort of waxy coating that repels some herbicides. Read your labels and choose one specifically for poison ivy, often a mix that includes glyphosate, triclopyr, or a 3-way herbicide that contains 2,4-D amine, dicamba, and mecoprop. You can sometimes find a gadget that has a sponge applicator for herbicides for targeted applications…Sideswipe and Weed Wand are two.

    • #28
    • July 9, 2019, at 1:20 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  29. Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Coolidge

    Where feasible, a relatively inexpensive, clear monofilament physical barrier for deer deterrence is another option.

    • #29
    • July 9, 2019, at 6:23 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  30. Western Chauvinist Member

    The label on Roundup says you can replant in three days. Three days! I refuse to worry about using it, but my lefty greenie neighbors probably watch me in horror! Bonus.

    • #30
    • July 9, 2019, at 8:43 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
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