Using weed killer seems inevitable, especially when good intentions alone or highly recommended organic options fail to get rid of weeds.
The common recourse is to grab a bottle of commercial weed spray, or a bag of Weed and Feed, when you notice it on display in most any store.That may work, to a certain extent.
But things can go wrong, especially for those who don’t read the label!
Do you prefer to know something about what you’re doing when you use chemicals around your family or pets?
Would you like to understand some basic truths about weed killers, the good, the bad, and the exceptions?
Information in this article is slanted toward the use of herbicide products specifically on lawns. However, most of it will prove useful for spraying weeds in other parts of your yard or garden.
Satisfaction with a product comes when you have reasonable expectations about the results.
It may seem like the best product SHOULD kill everything you want it to kill, in one application, with no negative results, and very little bother.
That is not realistic. Here is what you need to know:
Wondering what happened to the good old stuff that used to work for your Dad?
The chemical industry is continually introducing new garden products.
They regularly remove old products, often due to environmental regulations, sometimes because it is not profitable for them to incur the cost of maintaining registration on a label.
Trust the new ones, if you have been attentive with your choice.
It pays to look around at the options when you are in a garden department with an extensive selection.
Double-Duty weed killer products can be an effective way to tackle multiple problems.
For example, a basic herbicide is a broadleaf weed killer safe to use on most lawns, but it would not affect crabgrass. It is now possible to get the same broadleaf killer with a crabgrass killer added.
This may cost more than the original single formula, but not as much as getting two separate products, and you have less labor.
Be cautious, however, about trying Neighbor Ned's boast about mixing his own garden cocktails. Chemicals that are combined can increase phytotoxicity (plant sensitivity and reaction to chemicals).
A mixture might be harmful to a plant even if both chemicals alone would not be. This is another reason why you should not increase the dosage of chemical in your spray mix.
Broadleaf Weed Types.
This will kill most broad-leaf weeds without hurting grass. Different brands have 2 to 4 active ingredients geared toward different types of weeds, or with a different mode of action. Always verify that it will be safe on your type of grass.
A great choice among products in this category is SpeedZone from DoMyOwnPestControl.com
Grassy Weed Types.
These are NOT safe to use on your lawn.
If it kills a weed grass, it will kill your lawn. It is great for any grassy weeds in your flower bed or ground cover areas. Grassy weeds in your lawn must be hand-pulled, or prevent them next season by using a pre-emergent weed killer. (There are a few exceptions to this, depending on lawn variety. Read the other articles.)
Sedge or Nut-Grass Types.
This is a very specific killer. One called SedgeHammer, formerly Manage, should be safe to use on most grass lawns and is very effective.
Some older weed killer products claim to kill nutgrass, but the active ingredient is MSMA, which is more commonly used to kill crabgrass. It may work alright, but check carefully about the safety of your grass variety.
(Nut-sedge reproduces from corms, little bulbs, that grow on the roots. These are difficult to kill except with repeat sprayings; almost impossible to hand-pull without digging up and sifting through the soil.)
This sedge killer is not always found at retail garden departments. Grab it Sedgehammer at Amazon, or at Do Your Own Pest Control, linked previously.
The well-known Round-up is the best example of this. There are many generic versions that offer the same active ingredient, though not the same surfactant which helps absorption.
They may be useful to you if you plan to kill everything prior to replanting a lawn. Also, if the weed density is so heavy that the grass has been overtaken, you may decide to use this type, avoiding overspray as much as possible, and plan to reseed the bare area later.
Bermuda grass is a creeping grass that is used by some as a lawn grass. Other people consider it a weed when it invades their lawn of fescue, rye or bluegrass.
A particular weed killer developed to kill broadleaf weeds was found to be effective in controlling Bermuda grass in turf.
This product,Turflon Ester, is great for those who need to remove Bermuda. It will take numerous applications, 30 days apart, so start early in the growing season.
But it would otherwise be impossible to eliminate Bermuda in regular turf, so check this out (and read all limitations and warnings about some grass types).
A new series of articles addresses that last mentioned problem. Check out these articles for detailed information on the topic of killing bermuda in a cool-season grass lawn.
When selecting a weed killer, take the time to determine if it makes the necessary claim to be both effective and safe for your situation.
Grass endures constant stress, and keeps on growing. That is why we love it. No other plant can handle the abuse of constant pruning, being walked on, having the soil around its roots compacted, endure heat, cold, too much or not enough water, and still keep growing!Spraying chemicals is one more added stress, so reduce the impact as much as you can.
Remember, the earlier you attack the weeds in your lawn, the easier it is to get rid of them. If it is later in the season, just be persistent.
Make plans to prevent weeds next year with preemergent and building up healthy soil and grass.
Check out the rest of the Lawn Care site for help with doing that!
Go to Lawn Weeds general info page.
Go to Home-Made Weed Killer for an interesting diversion.
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