Posts Tagged ‘Herbicide’

Non-Selective Herbicides in the Yard and Garden

Icon Written by Geoff on August 1, 1999 – 6:11 pm

We spend a large amount of time and effort removing plants that are simply not where we want them. Those plants that we admire growing in the wild as wild flowers become Weeds when found in our lawns and gardens. Why then should we weed? We weed because: 

  • Weeds grow very fast and compete with desirable plants for moisture and nutrients.
  • Weeds steal sunlight from less competitive plants.
  • Such plants as poison ivy and stinging nettles cause physical discomfort.
  • Some weeds have thorns and prickers.
  • Native plants cannot compete with foreign invaders such as Purple Loosestrife.
  • Weeds can host diseases and pests that can damage desirable plants.

We can remove unwanted plants by mechanical, cultural, or with a chemical herbicide. While we prefer the first two methods whenever practical, we recognize the value of herbicides as an alternate garden tool. This is particularly true in non-selective herbicides composed of isopropylamine salt of glyphosate. These herbicides, when used as directed, pose little or no threat to our health or to the environment as they react only on the amino acids found in the plant world. Glyphosates immediately breakdown on contact with the soil into harmless elements. They are also safe to use around wildlife. The glyphosate herbicide Roundup is the weed killer most zoos use in sensitive animal areas While we would not want to bathe or drink with this herbicide it is an extremely safe gardening tool. 

The most common glyphosate herbicide available to the home gardener is Roundup manufactured by the Solaris Group of the Monsanto Company. We will use Roundup’s name generically throughout Yard Talk while recognizing there are many other excellent glyphosate herbicides on the market. Roundup is a non-selective, systemic herbicide used to kill all types of weeds and grasses. When you spray Roundup on a weed, it’s absorbed throughout the plant, where it prevents the plant from making its own food. Once in the soil, Roundup breaks down into natural materials and will not move in the ground to affect nearby, untreated plants. Children and pets may enter the treated areas after Roundup has dried. Roundup can be applied as often as necessary. 

Roundup makes it easy to create new gardens, particularly in grassy areas. Simply mark out the desired garden contours, spray the area with Roundup, mulch with your favorite medium, wait 24 hours, and plant your flowers, shrubs, or trees. The dead sod will decompose adding nutrients to the soil. This is much easier than mechanical cultivation and raking up the debris. 

Home lawns can become thin and unsightly because of insects, diseases, severe summer stress, or old age. Sometimes, cultural practices such as, mowing, fertilizing, watering, aerating, and weed control just are not enough to give the lawns that needed look. This can be particularly true in older lawns that have not been seeded in years. Lawns can be upgraded by simply spraying the old turf with a non-selective herbicide and seeding over the dead grass with a newer grass variety or blends. 

Lawn mowers and string trimmers can damage trees by injuring the bark. This damage can provide an opening for insect and disease entry. Also, the damage may interfere with the plants’ ability to take on water and nutrients, this can stunt and sometimes kill the tree. You can protect your trees and shrubs by spraying a non-selective herbicide around the tree and then apply a mulch. 

A non-selective herbicide, such as Roundup, is then merely another tool for the gardener to use. Like the chainsaw, hoe, and hand trowel, it must be used safely and responsibly. When mechanical and cultural methods prove ineffective or inefficient, a non-selective herbicide may be the answer. It is a key element in no till gardening. Read the manufacturer’s directions carefully and follow them, as in most cases, more is not necessarily better. We would encourage you to also read the manufacturer’s MSDS sheets. If in doubt, seek the advice of a lawn and garden professional.

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