How to Kill a Tall Brush Without Herbicide

Rhonda Abrons

Unwanted brush and weeds are effectively killed without herbicides by using common acetic acid products like vinegar and lemon juice. According to USDA agriculture researchers, during the first two weeks of growth, 5 to 10 percent vinegar concentrations can kill weeds.

Tougher brush and more established weeds required an industrial strength concentration of 20 percent vinegar. Household vinegar is only 5 percent acetic acid concentration, so repeated applications may be needed.

  1. Mix 4 oz of the lemon juice concentrate with 1 qt white or cider vinegar in a spray bottle or fertilizer sprayer.

  2. Spray the solution on the brush or weeds. Do your best to only spot spray the vegetation that you want eliminated. Acetic acid does not discriminate between brush and wanted plants, so be very careful in the application. Any leaves you spray will begin to wilt in minutes. If you choose to use the 20 percent vinegar concentrate on more established brush, the whole plant can be killed in two hours. The acetic acid works by temporarily decreasing the soil’s pH, but it does not accumulate in the location and easily breaks down in water.

  3. Dig out any roots of that can rejuvenate certain vegetation. Keep in mind that this lemon juice/vinegar mixture will only kill the leaves of a plant, but not the roots. You may need to repeat the process several times or resort to other natural means to eliminate certain root systems.

  4. Tip

    Spray the brush or weeds during the hottest part of the day for the best successful results. You can find higher concentrated vinegar products in many garden stores.


    The USDA warns that vinegar with acetic acid concentrations of more than 5 percent should be handled as hazardous material just like any herbicide. Follow the label’s safety directions.