Will Vinegar Kill Nutgrass?

Despite its cooling and anti-inflammatory properties, most would agree that nutgrass is little more than a gardening nuisance.

Nutgrass, of both the purple and yellow variety, is aggressive and notoriously so. Once this complex weed pops up in your garden, you can expect it to be exceedingly difficult to terminate.

However, it’s certainly worth giving it a shot and doing so as soon as you spot it rather than delaying the process. 

When it comes to killing nutgrass, there are more ways than one to go about it. 

But what about our household staple, vinegar? Is it capable of eradicating nutgrass? 

So, will vinegar kill nutgrass? Vinegar can kill nutgrass. However, unlike many other weeds and plants, nutgrass is persistent and invasive (with complex and often deep roots). In turn, vinegar is unlikely to be the most effective solution.

Vinegar is a tremendously versatile household product that works wonders against terminating many unwanted weeds, plants, and even pests. 

Added to the fact that it’s so darn accessible and cheap!

So it’s definitely worth a try.

Let’s now look at how you can do so most effectively. 

How To Make A Vinegar-Based Solution To Kill Nutgrass

Making a vinegar-based solution to tackle nutgrass is easy to do. 

In fact, the recipe of the solution is a classic amongst gardeners.

The solution’s primary benefit is its natural and non-toxic nature.

You can rest assured that it won’t pose a risk to your health or that of any children and pets residing in your household!

What You Will Need

The ingredient list is short and sweet. You’ll need: 

  • Vinegar.
  • Salt.
  • Dish soap.
  • A spray bottle with an adjustable nozzle. 

How To Make Your Vinegar Nutgrass Killer

Simply combine the vinegar, salt, and dish soap, in a spray bottle. 

The spray bottle will allow you to be as accurate as possible. Whilst vinegar is non-toxic to humans, the same can’t be said for plants, grass, and soil. 

It threatens to damage any plant life that it comes across, hence the emphasis on exercising precision.

In terms of proportions, every gallon of vinegar warrants a cup of salt. And no matter what quantity you opt for, you’ll only need a single squeeze of dish soap. 

How To Safely Use Vinegar To Kill Nutgrass

To apply, first set the nozzle of your spray bottle to an appropriate setting.

That is, rather than a mist, opt for a streamlined spray that you can easily control in a bid for accuracy. 

Next, begin to spray the nutgrass all over, being sure to leave no inch of it unsprayed.

Vinegar is innately acidic, and significantly so, so it can be relied on to dry the weed out. 

Just remember not to spray the vinegar solution onto any surrounding grass or plants that you would prefer not to damage in the process! 

How Long Does Vinegar Take To Kill Nutgrass?

It can take vinegar anywhere from 24-72 hours to kill nutgrass, depending on how invasive the nutgrass is and how deep-rooted it has become.

With most weeds, it takes up to 24 hours for the vinegar solution to work its magic. 

However, with nutgrass, which, as we know, is exceptionally resilient, you may need to respray over the next few days.

Slowly but surely, you will notice the nutgrass beginning to dry out and, ultimately, die. 

Is Vinegar the Best Way To Kill Nutgrass?

Whilst on the surface vinegar seems a sufficient enough solution, it’s exactly that.

On the surface.

Whilst applying vinegar to the weeds’ distinctly triangular stems, and in some cases, flowers, will effectively dry them out, the approach fails to address the weed’s root system.

Plus, it is worth noting that nutgrass seeds are able to lay dormant for up to ten years.

With these two key aspects unaddressed, whilst vinegar does admittedly have an immediate impact on nutgrass, it is generally viewed as falling short with regard to future-proofing the garden.

Other Ways To Kill Nutgrass

If you have determined that the vinegar way is not right for you and your garden, perhaps one of the below alternative approaches is a better bet.

Pre-emergent Interventions

Rather than contemplating the best way to get rid of those nutgrass weeds, why not work to prevent its growth altogether.

By mowing your lawn and applying a pre-emergent herbicide, you will decrease the likelihood of unwelcome nutgrass from popping up in your garden.

Such herbicides can be found in most garden stores. Just be sure to opt for a brand that your grass and soil will tolerate! 

In a similar manner, an additional preventative approach adopted by many is to increase the amount of shade across your lawn.

The reason being nutgrass thrives in areas of sunlight, so inhibiting the sun has the power to not only hinder but also to inhibit its growth altogether.

In adopting this approach, it is worth being mindful of the alternative life that exists in your garden, i.e., ensure that you’re not increasing the shaded area at the expense of plants that need direct sunlight to thrive. 


Many prefer to opt for sugar rather than vinegar to tackle their nutgrass.

Whilst the two are similar in that they affect the nutgrass on a surface level, the key advantage of sprinkling sugar over the affected area is that it doesn’t pose a threat to your surrounding soil.

Quite differently, sugar actually nourishes the soil microbes, much like a fertilizer.

A definite bonus!

By Hand

For many, removing nutgrass by hand is the preferred approach.

After all, there’s nothing quite like getting hands-on in order to gain a sense of reassurance that the desired job is well and truly done. 

This manual method is at its most effective when adopted in the early stages of the nutgrass growth, and given that their roots are capable of depths of up to 50cm, I recommend that you use a trowel or spade. 

How effective is vinegar at protecting your garden? Find out in my following guides: