Will Vinegar Get Rid of Tree Roots? Here’s What To Know

Seedlings on a tree stump.

Let’s be real here for a second, uprooted roots, stumps, and roots that are just the residue of a falling tree need to go. Oftentimes, they become an eyesore that feels impossible to remove. Well, say no more, to roots that is, because we have a way to actually get rid of them – and it’s by using vinegar! 

Vinegar is all-natural remedy that can help get rid of unwanted tree roots. Coating tree leaves that are growing from any roots or stumps with vinegar will get rid of any tree leaves and cut off air, water, and nutrients that are keeping the tree stump alive.

Vinegar is not only known as an ingredient to dress our salads with – but it is an effective and organic way to get rid of tree roots. 

Keep on reading to find out about vinegar and how to use it to get rid of tree stumps!

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Why Do You Need to Get Rid of Tree Roots?

First things first, if you stumbled across this article you either have roots that need to be gone as soon as possible or, you may be wondering – why would I need to get rid of tree roots in the first place? Well, there are a few reasons why you may need to! 

Tree Roots Can Be Destructive

Tree roots grow deep and wide underground, and if planted too close to a physical structure, tree roots can actually cause a lot of damage. 

Tree roots can break pavements, sidewalks, and foundations. They can puncture through underground pipes, and even grow in sewers – which can cause flooding. Tree roots can even puncture pools and crack underground septic tanks – yikes!

Tree Roots can also destroy lawns! If a tree is growing too close to a lawn, or the tree roots don’t grow as deep as they should – the tree roots can grow right under the surface of the lawn, making it hard for the lawn to absorb seed and water, and all those other nutrients it needs to grow.

Basically, the lawn and the tree roots will be in a constant competition for nutrients!

But tree roots aren’t always just destructive – sometimes they simply are just eyesores, and you want to get rid of them.

Tree Roots Can Keep Growing Uncontrollably

Whether a tree has fallen from a big storm, or you have leftover stumps that we’re once the base of a tree, or if you truly just have some uprooted tree roots – tree roots can be an eyesore and very hard to get rid of. 

When we have these left-over tree roots on our properties it can be very expensive to have someone remove them, and if the roots are still alive, they will keep growing until you stop them! 

If you have live tree roots, or are anticipating an expensive tree root removal, the best thing to do is to cut off the source that keeps the tree roots alive, and using vinegar, can be just the way to do it! 

You Don’t Have Enough Space For The Tree Roots 

Another reason you may want to remove the tree roots as soon as possible is because if they keep on growing, there is a good chance that they will cause damage. 

Sometimes we don’t realize how big a tree will actually get when we plant it. Trees do take some time to grow, but believe it or not, tree roots actually grow pretty fast, and typically very deep, because they are needed to support the rest of the tree and they directly impact the health of the tree.

When you realize that your space may be limited, it’s a good idea to act fast – because those tree roots will continue to grow, and they will create destruction if they do not have enough space!

You’re Adding a Structure Near a Tree Stump

Getting rid of tree roots may be necessary if you want to add a structure to your outdoor spaces. 

Whether the structure is something more temporary like a shed, or something more permanent like a pool, deck or patio – it’s important to get rid of any tree roots that may cause problems, before you move forward with your plans. 

Leaving roots, or building structure on top of, or next to tree roots underground, are only going to cause you a bigger headache in the future. If you notice tree roots nearby, it’s best to start getting rid of them as soon as you can or choose a different space to add the structure. 

So, the question you may be wondering about, how can I use vinegar to help solve my tree root problem? Well, we will get to that very question – but first, let’s talk vinegar.

Real quick – in order to prevent situations like these, you can read our guide to why you actually shouldn’t plant an oak tree here.

What Exactly is Vinegar? Can It Really Get Rid of Tree Roots?

Seedlings on a tree stump

So, super quick – just what exactly is the description of vinegar?

Vinegar, an acid, is a naturally occurring result of a fermentation process of alcohol and a sugary substance. There are many types of vinegar, all of which are determined based on the sugary substance or alcohol that is being fermented.

Natural kinds of vinegar are acidic, and typically contain 4 grams of acetic acid per 100 mL ​, which is a lot of acid! That’s why they always have a slight burn going down the hatch!

Types of Vinegar

There are so many types of vinegar out there and you have probably heard of most of them.

Vinegar can be made from almost any fermentable carbohydrate source, including wine, molasses, dates, sorghum, apples, pears, grapes, berries, melons, coconut, honey, beer, maple syrup, potatoes, beets, malt, grains, and whey. 

Here’s a shortlist of the most common vinegars that are used every day in a lot of our diets, and where they are made from! Only one of these is truly effective in getting rid of tree roots.

White Vinegar

White vinegar is made from grain. With its sharp taste and sharper smell – white vinegar is one of the most commonly used types of vinegar.

Overall, White vinegar is the best for getting rid of tree roots. More on that in a bit!

Apple Cider Vinegar

You may have heard a thing or two about apple cider vinegar it has become widely popular throughout recent years, and we are here to tell you that truth – that yes, apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples!

A mix of bacteria and yeast, added to crushed apples, apple cider vinegar is the product of the fermentation that comes from the mixture. 

Due to it’s lower acidity, apple cider vinegar isn’t the best for getting rid of tree roots.

Malt Vinegar

Made from barley-based starches or cereals, malt vinegar is made by the fermentation of barley whose starch was converted by malt and requires no distillation.

Malt vinegars sometimes are used as a condiment – especially with fish and chips!

However, malt vinegar is not the best for getting rid of tree roots due to it’s lower acidity.

White Wine Vinegar

With its origins directly from white wine, White Wine Vinegar has a milder taste – but is a go-to staple in pickling vegetables!

White wine vinegar, different from white vinegar, is less acidic, making it not as effective in removing tree roots.

Red Wine Vinegar

With its origins from red wine, Red Wine Vinegar is often used in reductions and vinaigrettes.

Red wine vinegar isn’t as acidic as white vinegar, as thus is less effective at getting rid of tree roots.

White Vinegar is Effective in Getting Rid of Tree Roots

So, with all this vinegar talk, although there are a ton to choose from – white vinegar will damage tree roots. Undiluted white vinegar is the best option to get rid of those unwanted tree roots and is a natural way to do so without chemicals. 

Because of its high acidity, white vinegar in a pure form will act on contact and will actually burn the leaves that it is applied to and cause harm to the tree roots. 

I know, it doesn’t sound so nice, but it is way more environmentally friendly than using harsh chemicals and will help get rid of your tree root problem. 

How to Use White Vinegar to Get Rid of Tree Roots

Small tree grow from stump.

There are a few ways to go about using white vinegar to get rid of tree roots. Whether it’s one or the other, or all of them- all methods should be repeated as many times as needed, as although it will eventually destroy the tree – it is not a one and done method. 

If you are in need of a white vinegar to use to get rid of tree roots, check out Lucy’s Distilled Vinegar

Drill Multiple Holes Into The Tree Stump or Tree Roots 

The first method to try to get rid of tree roots is to drill holes into the tree stump or tree roots that you want to get rid of. Drill as many holes as possible, and then take the white vinegar and fill the holes entirely with it. Once the vinegar is in the holes, the tree will eventually suck it up, and it will cause damage to the tree roots, which will eventually destroy them. 

This method can take some time and you can usually expect to see results after a month. In this months’ time, keep checking to see if more vinegar needs to be applied. 

Spray White Vinegar On The Leaves of The Tree Roots 

If you have leaves growing out of your tree stumps and tree roots – than this method is for you! Leaves help bring air, water and nutrients to the tree and its roots – and once the supply is cut off – that is when the tree roots will die. 

Another method to try to get rid of tree roots is to spray white vinegar onto the leaves that are growing out of the stump or tree roots. If there are leaves growing directly from the tree roots that means the tree roots are still alive and will continue to grow! 

To do this, grab a clean spray bottle and fill it with undiluted white vinegar. Spray the leaves with the solution, and then spray some more. Thoroughly soaking the leaves in the white vinegar and any shoots that are coming out of the tree roots, will eventually be destroy the tree roots. 

When doing this method, make sure to keep checking back on your tree roots and add more vinegar as necessary, and if you see any more leaves popping up – add even more. 

Vinegar, in high amounts, will not only get rid of  tree roots – but can also get rid of any weeds, and other unwanted plants. 

Spray Vinegar on the Soil Around the Tree Roots

This method is like the icing on the cake, so to speak – and will be a great addition to one of other methods above. 

Drenching the surrounding soil around your unwanted tree roots or tree stump, will eventually be soaked up by the soil, soaked up by the underground roots, and will eventually, get rid of it.

This method should not be done if you have any surrounding plants, grass, or other agriculture components that you want to keep alive, as it will kill these plants that surround the unwanted tree roots. 

How Does Vinegar Get Rid of Tree Roots?

Big roots on the old brick with white background.

Vinegar works in getting rid of tree roots because its high acidity will burn through leaves and tree roots. 

Vinegar also works well since it’s in a liquid form. The tree roots will drink the vinegar, just like they drink water. Once the vinegar gets into the tree through its veins and the tree roots, it will kill the tree. 

There are also preferred weather conditions that are ideal when using vinegar to get rid of tree roots. 

Use Vinegar in Warmer Temperatures to Get Rid of Tree Roots 

Whatever method you choose whether it’s to drill holes in the stump or tree roots or to apply the white vinegar to the leaves, or surrounding areas – all methods will work the best if applied during a warm, sunny day. 

The warm temperatures, the hotter the better, and the sun will react directly with the white vinegar, which will help speed up the process and make it much easier for the vinegar to burn the tree roots or leaves.

Drier temperatures are also ideal, as when there is too much moisture in the air, the vinegar may not burn the tree roots and leaves quickly, and will, in turn, slow down the process and affect the results. 

Whenever you decide to use the white vinegar to get rid of your tree roots, that any temperatures will suffice – however, warm and sunny conditions are ideal, but no matter what the temperature is, it’s important to know that you may need a few applications to get your desired result. 

Other Ways to Use Vinegar in Agriculture

Along with acting as an all-natural herbicide and helping you get rid of tree roots, vinegar is also used in a bunch of other ways in agriculture, for all different reasons, and most of them don’t involve getting rid of anything!

Vinegar Can Preserve Freshly Cut Flowers 

It’s funny because this is quite the opposite of what we have been talking about the whole time – but the difference here is that these flowers have no roots!

Placing fresh flowers in a vase and filling it with one-quart water, two tablespoons of sugar, and two tablespoons of white vinegar is an amazing way to help your fresh flowers live longer! 

Vinegar Can Germinate Tough Seeds 

There are some seeds that are just so hard to germinate, and believe it or not, soaking seeds overnight in a water anwhite vinegar solution – can actually help them germinate! 

To do this, fill a bowl with water, and add a few droplets of white vinegar. Let your seeds rest in the water overnight, and plant them the next day! 

Vinegar Ads Acidity To Soil 

Again, quite the opposite of what we were saying earlier – especially when we suggest drenching the soil surrounding the tree roots in vinegar to help get rid of them, the general idea here is that vinegar adds acidity to the soil and if we’re talking about flowers like rhododendrons, hydrangeas, and gardenias, acidity is necessary!

If our rhododendrons, hydrangeas, and gardenias are not doing so well, it may be time to add some white vinegar. To do this, next time you water the flowers, add one cup of white vinegar to a gallon of water, and feed it to these flowers! 

Fun fact – To check how acidic your soil is – take a look at your hydrangeas! Hydrangeas will change color based on the soil they are growing in! The more acidic soils will turn hydrangeas blue, and the more neutral to alkaline soils will turn hydrangeas pink and purple!

However, note that most flowers do not take to acidic soil, and if you have a combination of flowers in your garden of different soil needs, this may not be the best idea!

Wrapping it Up!

Vinegar has a lot of great uses in agriculture, and in large amounts, will definitely help you get rid of those unwanted tree roots. With a few different methods to try, and with some repetition over time, vinegar is an all-natural way to get rid of tree roots and it may help you save a ton of money!

References

“CPG Sec. 525.825 Vinegar, Definitions – Adulteration with Vinegar Eels.” FDA, CPG Sec. 525.825 Vinegar, Definitions – Adulteration with Vinegar Eels. 

Johnston, Carol S, and Cindy A Gaas. “Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect.” MedGenMed : Medscape General Medicine, Medscape, 30 May 2006, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1785201/.

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