I was reading over here that salt can be used to control weeds in paved areas?

  1. Is salt an effective way to kill all (or most) plant types?
  2. Is it a permanent solution?
  3. Will using salt affect ground water (I have a bore) and nearby gardens?
  • Yes, it's effective. No, it's not permanent because water dissolves it and leaches it into the drainage, some of which ends up in your water table. And it really plays hell on concrete, causing spalling and crumbling. Commented May 24, 2013 at 0:50
  • I concur with Bamboo's answer. You might consider trying boiling water to kill seeds and weeds as an alternative. (Although it's not a permanent solution, either, but it may be easy and cost-effective.) Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 22:56

4 Answers 4


Yes, salt will kill plants. In theory, if you use enough of it in the soil, it will kill a tree.

Regarding whether its permanent, no, its not. If you saturate open ground with salt, everything dies, and, by and large, nothing grows for some months, even years. In your case, you want to know whether it works permanently when its been applied to paving. No, is the answer, it will wash through eventually, so you will need to re apply.

Yes, using lots of salt to kill weeds will affect ground water, although how much its affected depends entirely on how much you use and how often. A small amount occasionally is unlikely to cause much harm.

But there is one other factor to consider - salt damages concrete and other paving materials. Damage occurs from the use of salt/grit mixes on concrete or paved surfaces as a de-icing solution - it's more likely to occur when used neat on paving, even if you're trying to only get it in the cracks. It is toxic to plants and other forms of life within the soil, and the risk of run off onto planted areas when it rains should also be considered.

Personally, I would not recommend it. The use of salt as a weedkiller because it's believed to be 'organic' and less toxic than a commercially available tailored-for-purpose path weedkiller is erroneous - salt, used frequently, is much more toxic in comparison to one or two applications of path herbicide a year, assuming the herbicide is intended for amateur garden use rather than professional agriculture.

  • 12
    Salt can damage cements and the concrete itself, but it is a real killer when it comes to reinforced concrete as it greatly accelerates the rebar corrosion. Iron expands as it rusts causing the concrete to crack - hence the cracks in old road bridges. "Concrete Cancer" is a name sometimes given to the effect.
    – winwaed
    Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 13:34
  • I'm thinking of using it on a bricked area and have zero experience using salt to de-ice. How will it damage the bricks?
    – Coomie
    Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 3:48
  • Salt will pit the surface, eventually causing spalling to occur.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 12:33
  • 1
    Agree with winwaed, particularly if you want to be a natural, organic gardener. Salt's worse than pesticide.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 13:48
  • 2
    The groundskeepers at my university use a huge amount of salt to prevent ice during the winters. There is never a problem of slipping, but there is never much of anything growing about two feet from any sidewalk either...
    – Throsby
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 0:55

I have been using salt to control my neighbor's bamboo for 5 years now. He planted a 200 foot line of bamboo with no intention of controlling it. I had to trench my own yard for 200+ feet and lay in a barrier 3 feet off the property line. (After I removed over 100 feet of roots destroying my yard). Then to keep the plants from filling in from the barrier to the property line I place 800-1000 pounds of salt once to twice a year along the area. Any bamboo that crosses the property line not only stops but it kills the offending plants. Thankfully after 5 years of doing this, the bamboo is more intent to grow towards his pool and house instead of filling up my yard.

The reason I went with salt is because other toxins are too expensive, dangerous to kids and I cannot legally spray any of his plants. This leaves me with constant vigilance for new plants which takes much of my time and doesn't cure the problem or creating the "no plants land" 3 feet wide by 200 feet long and salting it. Any offending plant ends up committing suicide and I never touch his property or plants.

  • 4
    You can sue for the bamboo, or legally have them pay for any fees to remove it. It's an invasive crop and does qualify as trespassing and in some cases vandalism.
    – user15668
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 18:56

I used to have a lot of weeds in my brick driveway and the graveled border around my house. I used to spend a fortune every year treating this with general high street brands.

I then discovered using cooking salt as a weed killer.

I spread it around neat 3 times a year (spring, summer,and autumn) which is much quicker than using a spray bottle amazingly this year I have had no weeds at all.

It's the best and cheapest weed killer I have used and hopefully it has killed them permanently.

  • I have a brick paved area with flower gardens close by. Did you notice a kill radius? Also how much did you use? Rock salt or table?
    – Coomie
    Commented Jul 6, 2014 at 3:58
  • Borax can also be used to great effect: google.com/… Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 14:41
  • Rock salt and table/sea salt are different animals. You can get away with table salt if you like, and it kinda "organic," but Rock Salt can have many more impurities. Rock Salt can contain metals and chemicals you typically don't want in your yard, especially near any vegetable, fruit, or herbs. Since Rock Salt is a natural product from a mine it doesn't have to be tested or meet any criteria, but it can contain things that are not good for you.
    – CloneZero
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 18:39

I do not know if I help, but here, many companies are applying commercial vinegar as an alternative to conventional herbicides...

  • Where is "here"?
    – Coomie
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 1:28
  • Sorry, sorry, Lisbon, Portugal.
    – Maria
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 9:40
  • we are trying to ban the herbicides in the public spaces and consequently we are looking for alternatives. Vinage and hot water have been used with good results. The use of salt does not.
    – Maria
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 9:41

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.