Using Selective Weed Killers

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I just read a lengthy ThriftyFun article on homemade weed killers. Each submitted recipe was thought to be best. Well, I'm sorry to say, none are best. The best weed killer is NO weed killer.


If you are fortunate enough to have a dense, lush carpet of grass, the last thing you would want to do is apply these non selective weed killers to your lawn. If they do in fact kill weeds, they would also kill grass. Granted, they may be ideal for a few weeds sprouting up through cracks in the driveway.

The best commercially available weed killer is 2,4-D amine. It is selective in that it will kill most all lawn weeds without harming most established lawn grasses. If it is purchased with Dicamba added, it is very effective at killing clover, as well. It is a good product. I use it.

Now, hear this. There is another whole world down there. Terra Firma is teaming with life. We find some of these life forms very undesirable, such as the root knot nematode that killed my entire rose garden one year. Earthworms, on the other hand, are most beneficial to both the lawn and to us.

I am opposed to killing earthworms as well as the myriad of beneficial micro organisms dwelling in my lawn. Ample applications of both homemade weed killers and 2,4-D will do just that. The solution to this dilemma is the judicial and common sense approach to weed eradication.

Prevention is best. There are products on the market known as pre emergents. They are effective at weed and crabgrass control in that they prevent germination of their seeds. The impact of these pre emergents on the soil and environment is considerably less than 2,4-D and many of the home recipes.

So, why would I use 2,4-D? A good example would be a few weeds in my lawn. These weeds may have long tap roots. The autumn blooming clematis is a good example. To get the entire weed could mean digging a hole a foot or more deep and a foot wide. Selectively painting each weed with 2,4-D is my choice.

Another good example is wild onions. I have literally ruined my lawn by trying to dig up these deep rooted invaders. No matter how large a hole you dig, and no matter how careful you are to get them all, you will inevitably miss a few. That coupled with unseen seed, makes digging useless. My choice here is to use 2,4-D, being as careful as I can to restrict it's application to the onions, alone.

To my knowledge, 2,4-D is much more effective than any home recipe and has the advantage of not harming most grasses. It is a chemical and it is unnatural to the earth. Therefore, it should be used as sparingly as possible. And as with any chemical, household or otherwise, all label instructions should be followed to the letter.

At the beginning of this post, I stated that no weed killer is the best. I stand by this. Where practical, I pull as many weeds as I can, by hand. Some find this a drudgery. I enjoy it. Imagine...the cool of the evening, a slight breeze blowing, a house finch singing a lovely song to his mate and children laughing and playing in the distance.

I don my straw hat, grab a tall glass of sweetened iced tea laced with lemon, an old fork with one tine missing, and head for the front lawn. I can drink in all life has to offer while weeding the lawn just as well as I can sitting on the porch twiddling my thumbs and watching traffic go by.

I'm a dreamer. Wouldn't it be nice to live in a world where neighbors really cared about each other? In this world, people would keep their lawns mowed properly (another way to keep down weeds), so as not to allow weed seed dispersal to neighboring lawns. In this Utopia, neighbors get along well. They gather one Saturday afternoon at my home to engage in good conversation, and while conversing, help me rid my lawn of all weeds. The next Saturday, we're off to another neighbor's home to do the same.

Well, this is not Utopia and my lawn still has weeds. I will continue to pull them by hand. And on those deep rooted devils and dastardly onions, I will continue to use 2,4-D....and remembering my lowly friends, the earthworms; I will confine it's application as closely as I can to just the weeds.

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Bronze Tip Medal for All Time! 64 Tips
January 20, 20160 found this helpful

We are in the midst of a severe drought and the really eco-conscious are taking out their grass longs and putting in drought resistent,low water plants.

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 131 Feedbacks
January 13, 20190 found this helpful

The best weed killer is the weed killer that will not slowly kill the gardener nor his friends : birds, insects, toads, lizards...The best and safest weed killer is the gardener himself with his strenght to root out weeds once he has checked that they are not the kind of weeds that is attracting his little helpers (listed above). Before using your favorite 2,4-D weed killer you should check here :

just in case there is some thruth there. What can kill weeds which have managed to survive to natural attacks for millions years and are managing so far to resist human chemical inventions is necessarily a danger for a human being. There are plenty of simple ways to "tame" weeds without killing them and without endangering your own health but it does take a little bit of physical effort. It is also useful to remember that there is
nothing more unatural than a lawn. The english people, which are surely well ahead of any other people to keep their beautiful gardens natural, know this and they are specialists to make natural aborigenes plants participate to the beauty of their garden. Take a look at the gardening advices of the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) they are always good ones to follow.

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