Killing Weeds with Salt

By Ellen Brown

Q:I saw some of your member's advice about killing weeds and grass. I had a question about using salt. I have an area that is 8' x 24' and filled with pea gravel. I have a problem with weeds and grass growing in the area. I was wondering if anyone knows if I use the salt to kill it, will the salt effect a cedar elm and a Lady Banks rose I have growing on each end of the area. The weeds and grass grow in the middle area. The area slopes and the cedar elm grows at the top of the slope and the lady banks grows at the bottom of the slope.

Please help,

Martha from Texas

A: Dear Martha,

I would advise against using salt to control weeds or grasses for two reasons. The first is due to the fact that over time, a build up of salt in the soil can harm your plants-actually stunt their growth. If your rose is down slope from the area you apply salt, you certainly risk eventual damage due to runoff. Secondly, salt is not effective in controlling many weeds anyway, especially grasses. I suggest you try boiling water or spot spraying with vinegar. These are both low-cost natural methods that have proven to be effective. Pouring boiling water over the grass and weeds will kill them, as well as any seeds near the surface. Because your area is 8' x 24', however, you might try spot spraying a 10% acidic vinegar solution for adult weeds or a 5% vinegar solution for young weeds. If you have trouble locating a source for 10% vinegar, you can increase the acidity of 5% vinegar (the kind found at grocery stores) by boiling it down to half its original volume.


About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at


Killing Weeds with Salt

I would suggest using a contact weed killer, like Roundup. Just dip a small paintbrush into the container, you may want to use protective gloves, or put your hand into a breadbag, to avoid getting the chemical on yourself, then brush the weed killer onto the grass and leaves of the weeds, it works by contact, and won't kill anything that it does not touch. Salt will leach into the soil, and may affect the roots of nearby plants. (08/17/2005)


By muskie nut

Killing Weeds with Salt

You use 1 part salt and 3 parts water. It hasn't killed any of my plants yet. You pour just enough on it so it doesn't run down hill. I would never use Round-up it is not too good to breathe it. (08/17/2005)

By Joyce

Killing Weeds with Salt

Run-off could very well damage the other plants, and once the soil becomes toxic it will be hard to clear. You can pour boiling water on the weeds themselves and it will kill them. Not as permanent a fix, but much safer and pretty easy. (08/17/2005)

Killing Weeds with Salt

Salt will destroy your paved driveway and surrounding streets. (08/18/2005)


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