Most common commercial herbicides are safe for use in vegetable and flower gardens. The key is avoiding contact with the surrounding plants and vegetation, as well as allowing the treated areas to dry prior to rain, watering or contact by people or pets.
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Reading the Labels
Glyphosate herbicides are commonly used in gardens for grass and weed control, with one of the most popular variations being RoundUp. The active ingredient in RoundUp is glyphosate isopropylamine salt, and the label describes its mechanism of action as halting the function of specific enzymes in the grass and weeds. By spraying the herbicide directly onto the leaves of the intended offenders and allowing them to dry, surrounding flowers and vegetable plants will remain unharmed.
Drying time is relatively fast, with most within the 10 to 30 minute range. Once dry, the herbicide is rainproof and less likely to be spread unto unintended areas. Carefully review grass and weed killer labels to choose the one most appropriate for individual needs.
Selecting the Best Herbicide
Not all herbicides are created equally and none should be used for purposes they are not labelled for. While they all work very fast, some have different active ingredients for different types of weed control. Extended control versions are on the market as well as heavy brush varieties that are intended for tougher offenders like poison ivy and poison oak. Choose the best product for best results, and keep in mind there may be more than one type needed to maximise results.
According to the National Gardening Association, there are several different organic weed control options. Soap-based herbicides work by dehydrating the leaves and oil based weed control, clove oil for example, is an effective alternative. Citric acid and vinegar, or acetic acid, can also be considered.
Just like their chemical counterparts, though, care must be taken to allow treatments to dry, and avoid exposure to flowers and vegetables. Warmer temperatures are recommended, above 21.1 degrees C, with no rain forecast, to help ensure drying. One setback to organic options is they're most effective on younger grasses and weeds.
Preventive weed control for use in gardens and flower beds can be used early in the season and prevent weeds from germinating for several months. Later in the growing season, these can be applied after weeds have been pulled, to maintain a weed-free garden or landscape until fall.
Garden centres carry many varieties of herbicide, which come in granules for sprinkling on treated areas, to mulches where the weed control has already been added. Another common weed control item is a type of mat or liner that can be cut to fit in desired areas. Weeds cannot penetrate the material, and most are water-permeable, as well as easy to cut and store.
Do Your Research
Identifying persistent weeds and grasses might become necessary if nothing else seems to work. Bring a few samples to a nursery or garden centre to help find the best remedy and solution, follow instructions and be prepared to try a few different options. Persistence will pay off in the form of a weed-free flower garden.
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