How to Spray for Weeds

Filed under Plants, Misc by Lauren Cook on .


You got your yard all cleaned up and looking good this spring, but now it's summer and you have little time to spend tending the garden. Soon your landscape could be overtaken by weeds and you are back to where you started earlier this year. Many people turn to the use of chemical sprays to keep the weeds at bay and to save time and their backs.

Possibly the most popular herbicide on the market today is Round-up. Round-up or like herbicides contain mostly the chemical glysophate. It will kill broad-leaved weeds and grasses down to the root. Some persistent weeds will require more than one spraying, like clover and Bermuda grass.

It is also possible to use a chemical commonly called 2,4 D, or 2,4 dinitrophenol, to kill weeds quickly. This is usually recommended for difficult weeds, like poison ivy and brush-type growth. 2,4 D works a lot like glysophate, killing broad-leaved and grassy weeds from the root up.

2,4 D and glysophate target broad-leaved weeds and grassy weeds, but what happens when you come across a common weed called yellow nut sedge? Yellow nut sedge is a sedge and not a broad-leaved weed nor a grass, therefore 2,4 D and glysophate will do little to stop the spread of yellow nut sedge. Sedge-specific sprays such as Manage and Sedgehammer work well to prevent spreading of the nut sedge and slow it's growth. For improved results, weedeat the nut sedge before you spray, then spray directly on the wounds of the plant. Or add a “stick” to your nut sedge spray mix. A “stick” helps the herbicide stick to the leaf of the plant. Sometimes, a couple drops of dish soap will help the spray “stick” to the leaves of the plant.


While glysophate and 2,4 D begin working immediately, it may take a while for the weed to turn brown. Death will occur more rapidly on sunny, hot days when compared to cloudy, cool weather. If you wish to see immediate death and browning of foliage, consider using a product called Scythe. Results will be seen within minutes, but may require more than one application because Scythe will not always kill the entire plant. Scythe can be mixed with 2,4 D or glysophate in order to see immediate results and kill the entire plant in one spray.


Spraying Weeds Within a Mature Landscape:


When spraying weeds, it can be difficult to keep the herbicide off of your desirable plants, especially within a mature landscape. Luckily, you have a few options. One option is called Over-The Top, a grass specific herbicide by Hi-Yield. Over-The-Top is safe to spray over your established plantings and only targets grassy weeds. As with use with all chemicals, make sure to read the entire label prior to spraying. Some of your established plantings may or may not be affected by this spray.

Check out this product below by Rittenhouse to help you rid your garden of weeds chemically, while safely keeping harmful herbicide off of your desired plant. Simply fill the tube with your herbicide of choice and roll directly on top of the plants you wish to kill much like a paint roller. This tool allows you to have more control over your herbicide.

This next method is called the “Glove of Death” and is handy to use when trying to eliminate weeds that are growing amongst your garden plants. This method is especially useful when trying to rid your groundcover areas of weeds. Simply put on a pair of rubber gloves. Then put on a pair of cloth gloves directly over the rubber gloves. Now you may dip your hand in the herbicide and every weed you touch will die.

There are always precautions to take when using any type of chemical. Make sure not to let any of the chemicals come into contact with your skin, eyes or mouth. If this happens, make sure to wash immediately. If you prefer not to use chemical sprays, you could try using white distilled vinegar. A distilled vinegar mixture, slightly diluted with some water and a drop or two of dish soap added sprayed on a hot sunny day will kill the tops of plants almost immediately. Repeated spraying will definitely be needed as the vinegar only kills the tops of plants.

When chemical spraying just doesn't seem to work, sometimes it comes down to manually removing the weed, root and all. Speak to your landscape contractor about signing up for a monthly landscape care program. Once a weed situation is under control, less time, money and effort will be spent on weeds given that the landscape is routinely maintained.