Chemical weed killers are available in concentrated forms to help fight difficult garden pests that could otherwise require backbreaking labor to remove. Some of these concentrates can selectively target specific weeds without harming the rest of the lawn and garden. Gardeners should be careful when using herbicides, since these formulas can be highly toxic to humans and pets.
Grass and Weed Herbicides
Herbicides are available as pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides. Pre-emergence products focus on preventing seeds from germinating while post-emergence products attack unwanted plants that have broken the ground surface. These products are available as selective herbicides that attack only unwanted weeds, and non-selective weeds that kill any plants they contact.
Misusing herbicides can cause substantial problems in the garden, including the possible accidental poisoning of your prized plants. Gardeners must take the time to determine which types of weeds are attacking their garden before purchasing herbicides: offenders may be broadleaf weeds, vines or grass weeds. Selective herbicides target only the weeds specified on the label. Concentrated herbicides work either by destroying plant cells on the outside surface or from within, blocking nutrients and water from reaching the plant through its roots.
Concentrated herbicides are designed to save you time and money in applications against weeds. Gardeners can use less of these products, diluting with water and applying them directly to their garden. They work exactly the same as traditional herbicides, and should be treated as such. To prevent misuse that could damage your garden with long-term consequences, be certain to follow all manufacturer instructions found on the label. Check with local law enforcement and your county Cooperative Extension office about which varieties should be avoided in your area.
At the beginning of spring, pre-emergence herbicides are at their most effective, since the majority of weed seeds have yet to sprout. Seasonal weeds such as crabgrass and many clovers are the most susceptible to these products, since their germination periods are relatively short. Once weeds begin to show, pre-emergence herbicides are no longer effective, although they can still be used by gardeners looking to prevent future weed outbreaks.
Post-emergence herbicides are the most commonly used type in gardens and lawns, since they are effective against the clusters of weeds that give gardeners the most problems. Spot treatments are effective in small areas, where desired plants are present, and can be brushed directly onto weed plants. Sprayers are better at dealing with large areas where weeds and grasses must be controlled.
Natural products are available in most greenhouses, nurseries and gardening stores and are notably less dangerous to the environment. They too can be purchased in concentrated forms that require dilution before use. These products are mostly post-emergent, and mixes are better used as sprays for large areas than for spots treatments.
Gardeners may also choose to use household products such as liquid dishwashing detergent or white vinegar against weeds and grasses. They are less expensive than many chemical products and can be safer to use around children or pets. Unfortunately these products are nonselective and kill the majority of plants, whether desired or not.