#24- The Basics of Weed Control

This is a beginners guide to weed control. We start with the most basic overview of what they are, how they work, and which one to choose. This episode is not for the advanced lawn experts, or those with a lot of experience in the field. 


Hey, Hey, what is up everyone? This is Ete with another episode of Ecolawn Science . Hope you're having a wonderful day. Today is going to be one that's a little more basic for those of you who have a lot of experience in the lawn care industry or have just been around the products for years. So I apologize, but I wanted to speak to it because I've noticed as I've mentioned in previous episodes, it seems to be one of the biggest contributors in my opinion. In my opinion–I don't have research to back it up, only just the last 20 years of experience in the industry working with homeowners–is that on a very basic level, weed controls or herbicides are not fully understood. And so I really just wanted to do a very basic overview of, of weed controls for those of you who may have burned a hole in your lawn, may have messed up, or are just unsure.

So I apologize for any of you experts, this will be basic. You may just want to skip this episode. So when we talk about weed controls, the most common ones, you're going to find, and depending on where you are, in the North, the South, what part of America or wherever you are in the world. It's gonna depend on what you're looking for. But basically the concept of a weed control or an herbicide is a product that can go through and kill it's targeted weeds. One important thing is you have to understand the weed you're targeting before you just go ahead and buy something and spray it. If you've ever been to a Home Depot or if you go online and type in on Amazon, "weed control" or "herbicides," the list is endless in the United States, the amount of, the list of weed controls that are registered with the EPA. I bet you it's hundreds, but I actually don't know. We could look it up. But anyway, my point is it can be very overwhelming and it's easy to do the wrong thing. It's easy to grab the wrong product. 

So I would say first identify the weed that you have. So if you have a lawn, a bluegrass lawn and it's April or it's May and you see the yellow flowers, you say, "I know what that is." You know, you get online or you ask someone. Yeah, that's a dandelion. Okay. That's a start. Once you identify the weed, I know it sounds simple, but trust me, it doesn't happen a lot. Once you identify the weed that you're treating, from there, you can go to the store. Read the labels. Every label is going to list the plants or the weeds that it targets, so you're going to find one that's labeled, so you're going to get the label and the labels can be three pages.They could be 12 pages of different application rates, different, a wide variety of weeds that this one product can control, but in this situation you're going to find one that controls dandelions. In the label, also, you're going to find the application rate. It's going to tell you how many ounces per gallon or per thousand square feet that you need to apply this weed control to be effective. It will also talk about application equipment. It might be a backpack sprayer, might be a large tank, a one gallon hand sprayer, it could be something smaller. So these are all the factors you have to know before picking the weed control. On a very basic level, there's a non-selective weed control and then a selective, weed control. The main difference there is the selective, it selects what it kills. So that's how I remember which is which. So if you spray dandelions in a lawn, you want to use a selective because it's selecting to kill the dandelions and not to kill the grass.

If you use a non-selective that stuff doesn't care what it kills. It's going to kill your bushes, your plants, your fruit, whatever you got growing. So if you spot treated a lawn with a non-selective, which would be more like a Roundup or glyphosate, an organic Finalsan, if you spot treat those dandelions, it's going to leach out a few inches and it's going to have big dead patches. I see it all the time. Every summer I drive through and I see one and I'm like, wow, that's, that looks hilarious. Anyway, so I know there's a problem. So first of all, figure out what do you need. Is it a non-selective, is it selective? And then you want to find the right product with the least amount of toxicity to target your desired weed. So again, on the label it's going to talk about toxicity, it's going to talk about lethal dosage. It's going to talk about PPE, which is the required clothing you need to wear to apply this product. It will also have a warning, caution, a signal word. It could be "warning", it could be "caution", it could be "dangerous." All those things are going to help you to know how toxic is this product. The PPE could say, hey, I need you to wear overalls and full face shield and all those things. Some PPE say, hey, I need you to make sure you have boots on. So you can look at these factors and get an idea of how powerful and how toxic this product could be. 

With most weed controls, they're going to hit a variety of weeds. So the most common one you're going to see is for broadleaf weeds, weeds that leaf out and are broad. For example, dandelions, thistle, creeping charlie, button weed, morning glory, dyer's woad, all these weeds you can hit with what is called a broadleaf herbicide. It kills most broad-leafed weedy type plants. It will not kill things like crab grass or grasses. It will not kill things like sedges, nutsedges, yellow sedges, but it will select and target the weeds in a specific area. 

As far as a type of broadleaf weed control there are so many brands, there are so many manufacturers. You've got Trimec, Trimec 1000, you've got Triad, you've got 3 Way, you've got Weed and Feed. I mean the list goes on. I generally like, well me personally, I like the ones that are going to steer more towards environmentally friendly and safe. So I like some of these newer ones, these iron based like a Fiesta. But even if you're using some traditional ones, you want to find one that you don't need to apply a lot to it. So something that's kind of a low application rate that's effective. So maybe it'd be, maybe it'll say mixing one ounce of this product per gallon. So you're using a very little amount and you really want to target that weed. So let's say you have a lawn, a nice front lawn, it's about 4,000 square foot and there's eight dandelions in there. Do you need to spray the entire lawn? No, you do not. That would just be putting product or impact on areas that don't need it. You're going to what they call, you're going to spot treat. You're going to spot treat the eight weeds, so you're going to put them in your pump spray or your backpack. You're going to get the pressure right. You're going to get that mixed application right, whatever one or two ounces per gallon, whatever it may be, you're going to walk up to it. You're literally going to put your nozzle just maybe five, six inches ahead and you're just going to spray that area and now you don't need to kill it or murder it. You just need to spray it. It depends on the label. Some products you spray to the point of runoff, that means you don't want it dripping and dousing off, but maybe once you start seeing it to drop off or a little bit of runoff, you stop. Some you merely have to spritz it, just get it on the plant and it will do its work. From there it'll grab the, it'll, the weed control will go in, the plant will eat it, it will translocate it to the roots and kill it off or however it kills. Every weed control has different methods of killing the weed that's going to be on the label, but it's a very, it's a simple process. A blanket we control application is where you put in a tank and you cover the entire lawn. A lot of times you don't need to do this.

Here's an example. You show up. If I get a client, it's a new new customer. They haven't treated the lawn in ten years and it is a dandelion farm. Thousands of dandelions. I'm going to, I'm going to have to weigh everything out. Say, okay, this could take me five hours to spot treat, but the truth is 85% of your lawn is covered with dandelions. So maybe for that treatment, maybe that one time you would come in and blanket it just to get it under control because the weeds are literally covering the majority of the lawn. So I mean it, it, it's the same. I mean, if you were to spot spray, you're gonna use the same amount of product because it's so bad. So maybe at that point I blanket it and then as soon as those go down, I'd follow up with a spot treatment. So just little, little hits here and there, wherever they show up. You really want to use it sparingly because you have to consider the amount of product you're putting down and you don't really want to put it on areas that don't have the weeds. 

So you want to be very mindful and cautious with how you use the weed control. I think the biggest thing that I've learned that people who, who don't use these products professionally, the mistake they make is they think more is better. Please don't do that. Follow the label. If you're trying to kill a patch of weeds, but you're just angry and emotional and you're going, I'm going to dump it on there. Don't do that. I'm going to spray the crap...I want to spray. I'm going to spray these things until they're melting. Don't do that. Follow the label. If the label says two ounces per gallon and you spray just to run off or before runoff, just do that. More is not better. It doesn't need more. It's not going to be any more effective or efficient to do it that way. If you follow the labels and use just the right amount, you will, you will get the result, you'll kill the weed, but you'll have the least amount of damage done to the microbiology in the soil, the least amount of product and impact on your yard. 

So the bottom line is everything's in the labels. Please read the labels. Please don't just go online and Google a forum, "How much of this should I put down?" Just read the labels. It will take you maybe a half an hour, but this is a product, if you're a homeowner doing your own lawn and you're going to use it regularly, it's worth investing the time to get it right, to understand the product, and to do the, and to efficiently understand how it works and what you're targeting.

I really believe that education changes the environmental impact. I believe the biggest problem we're having today is not as much the products, but it's the lack of education. It's the lack of understanding a product before you use it. So if there's one thing I could, I could say and ask anyone out there who's using something they're not familiar with, please stop, take an hour, go deep, understand the label, reach out to me at rob@ecolawnutah.com if you have any questions. I will happily and freely give you any advice that I can if it means we're going to clean up the environment just a little bit. Hope you guys have a great day and I will see you on the next episode.

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