Weed Killer and Safety


The most commonly used type of weed killer is herbicide. Herbicides often contain poisonous materials which can be dangerous when applied or when stored in the home. When applied improperly herbicides may hurt you, loved ones, or plants that are desirable in the garden, lawn or landscape. When used properly, herbicides are an important tool in the growth of a healthy garden.

Soil Applied Herbicides

Soil applied herbicides are dropped or sprayed for absorption into the soil. Root development of the plant is disrupted, causing the leaves and the stems of the plant to turn purple says the University of Illinois. Soil applied herbicides require regular phasing out to prevent an accumulation in the soil. Other soil applied herbicides inhibit photosynthesis, reduce shoot growth and destroy chlorophyll.

Foliar Applied Herbicides

Foliar applied herbicides are applied directly to the leaves of the plant through a spray. Foliar herbicides affect the growth of new stems and leaves by destroying the plants ability to synthesis protein. Enzyme inhibiting herbicides reduce plant metabolism. Lipid inhibitors reduce root growth and shoot development.

Volatilization and Drift

When herbicides are used improperly, such as during high winds, extreme heat or in rainy conditions, the herbicide may spread to other plants in the landscape. Drift, says the Purdue University, is when herbicide is blown by the wind onto other, desirable plants in the landscape. Volitization is when herbicides turn into a gas when applied at too high a heat, which causes the herbicide to drift as well.


For correct application of an herbicide and to prevent injury to yourself or desirable plants, the University of Missouri recommends reading and following the label instructions of the herbicide. Warning and danger symbols on the packaging will indicate the materials toxicity. Packaging will also indicate what to do if there is an accident. It is essential to wear long clothing, safety glasses, respirators and work gloves to minimize contact with the material.


Herbicides require proper storage to prevent leaking into ground water, and to prevent animals and children from coming into contact with it. Herbicides require storage in a non-corrosive container. The container requires storage in an area off limits to animals and children, such as a locked shed. The floor of the storage area should be concrete to prevent leaks into the soil.

Keywords: herbicide safety, herbicides, herbicide information

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on eHow.com, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.