If you are like many gardeners, herbicides can make you a little bit nervous. After all, we like to grow plants not kill them. That said, we also don’t like weeds messing up our patios, paths and beds. And herbicides are useful tools to help solve weed problems. Herbicides come in many forms and you can learn about them here. It also helps to know a little about what products are sold on nursery shelves, both traditional and nontraditional. Here we focus on herbicides used mostly in hardscape areas like patios, paths, driveways and alike. Learn about the 8 Troublesome Weed Zones. For information on herbicides you can use to control weeds in lawns, go to Control Lawn Diseases and Weeds With One Spray.
Traditional Synthetic Herbicides
Although there are several common synthetic herbicides used alone or combined with other active ingredients, one synthetic herbicide dominates nursery shelves; glyphosate.
What is Glyphosate?
Glyphosate is a broad spectrum, synthetic herbicide or weed killer. It is applied to the leaves of plants to kill both broadleaf plants and grasses.
Glyphosate was first registered for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1974. It is one of the most widely used herbicides. Glyphosate is used in agriculture and forestry, on lawns and gardens, and for weeds in industrial areas. Some products containing glyphosate are also labeled for control of aquatic plants.
What are some products that contain glyphosate?
Glyphosate comes in many forms. There are over 750 products containing glyphosate for sale in the United States. For home gardeners it is often combined with other herbicides or materials to improve effectiveness.
How does glyphosate work?
Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, meaning it will kill most plants it comes in contact with. It prevents the plants from making certain proteins that are needed for healthy growth. Glyphosate must be used very carefully (always read and follow label instructions). Since it can kill or damage any plant it contacts, you should be very careful to avoid spray drift when using glyphosate. Roses, among other plants are very susceptible to damage from glyphosate drift. For more information on protecting nearby plants when using herbicides, go to How to Kill Weeds Without Harming Plants Nearby.
Many gardeners are looking for alternative herbicides and other weed control techniques as alternatives to glyphosate. For some natural weed control solutions, including cultural techniques like mulching and hand-pulling, go to Natural Solutions for Weed Control.
There are an increasing number of nontraditional herbicides on nursery and garden center shelves, some labeled as organic or natural. They include ingredients such as plant oils like cinnamon or mint oil, soaps and acids like acetic acid (vinegar) and citric acid. These are contact herbicides which burn down the foliage of weeds. Unfortunately, they only kill the top of the weed. The roots often remain alive and the weed quickly comes back.
There is another factor you should be aware of when using some of these nontraditional herbicides, which can be confusing if you are looking for an alternative. All EPA registered pesticides, including herbicides, are required to have one of three signal words on their label; Caution, Warning or Danger. Signal words describe the short-term toxicity of the product. Products with the signal word Danger on them are most toxic and products with the word Caution are the least toxic. But all herbicides must be used very carefully according to their label instructions.
The NATRIA® Alternative
At NATRIA®, we have an excellent new, environmentally friendly herbicide that we are very proud of: NATRIA® Grass & Weed Control With Root Kill. We believe it is an exceptional alternative. It contains ammoniated soap of fatty acids for quick knockdown, and maleic hydrazide, a plant growth regulator applied to some food crops to prevent sprouting after harvest. When used as an herbicide, maleic hydrazide kills listed weeds top to bottom, roots and all. NATRIA® Grass & Weed Control With Root Kill includes the signal word Caution, the least toxic designation. Learn more at Control Pests Organically or Naturally.
NATRIA® Grass & Weed Control With Root Kill provides non-selective control of listed grasses, weeds and moss and can be used on patios, driveways, sidewalks, and in flower beds. It works fast! You’ll see results within minutes. Always read and follow label directions.