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How to use citric acid to kill weeds

Updated July 19, 2017

Ridding your garden or lawn of weeds requires either hand-pulling each weed or spraying the plant with an organic or synthetic herbicide. Homeowners who want to maintain an organic yard and garden will opt for hand weeding or weed-killing solutions that are derived from natural substances. One natural product that is proven to kill weeds, as well as other plants, is citric acid, the acid found in citrus fruit. Citric acid appears as an ingredient in some commercial organic herbicides. You can also make your own herbicidal citric acid solution with lemon juice.

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  1. Pour 118ml of lemon juice concentrate and 1 quart of white or cider vinegar in a 2-quart spray bottle. Put the sprayer cap on the bottle and shake it to mix the two liquids.

  2. Spray the solution directly on the leaves and flowers of weeds on a sunny day when the temperature is above 70 degrees. Apply the weed killer on a day with little wind so that desirable plants are not affected.

  3. Monitor the plants for the next week to determine if the solution is killing the weeds. If the weeds are still alive after one week, apply the solution again.

  4. Purchase a commercial weed killer with citric acid listed as a hazardous ingredient. Two brands that use citric acid to kill weeds are AllDown and BurnOut. Each of these weed killers is available in a concentrate and a ready-to-use formula.

  5. Follow the manufacturer's directions on the product's label to mix and apply the weed killer. Combine the concentrated formula with the correct amount of water in a spray bottle or pump sprayer. The ready-to-use formula comes already mixed in a spray bottle or large spray jug.

  6. Spray the citric acid commercial herbicide on weeds on a sunny, hot day. Apply a second application in a week if the plant has an extensive root system or has woody stems.

  7. Warning

    Citric acid is a non-selective herbicide, so it will kill any plant with which it comes in contact. Do not use it to kill weeds in lawns with established grass.

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Things You'll Need

  • 2-quart spray bottle
  • 4 ounces lemon juice concentrate
  • 1 quart white or cider vinegar
  • Commercial organic herbicide with citric acid

About the Author

Judith Zwolak has worked in publishing for more than 20 years and has written for articles for construction trade associations, newspapers, and publications in aviation and higher education. She is a graduate of Cornell University.

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