Pet Safe Weed & Feed

Written by reannan raine
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Pet Safe Weed & Feed
A dandelion in bloom. (dandelion image by Igor Negovelov from Fotolia.com)

Chemical herbicides and fertilisers can be just as harmful to pets as they are to people, if not more so. Pets have four unprotected paws on the ground, they lie on the ground and walk through the yard with their noses to the ground. Their potential level of exposure is great and a pet-safe weed and feed should be used in their yards.

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Facts

Corn gluten meal is created during the wet-milling process used to make food products like cornflour and corn syrup. It is commonly used in dog and cat food as well as livestock and poultry feed.

Function

Corn gluten meal is a natural, pet-safe herbicide and fertiliser. It is a pre-emergent herbicide, which means it kills the weeds before they grow. It will not kill already-established weeds or plants, which makes it safe to use around bedding plants. The corn gluten meal works by causing abnormal seedling root growth, making the weeds susceptible to dehydration.

Uses

Corn gluten meal kills dandelions, Bermuda grass, crabgrass, clover and a multitude of other weeds. It is effective for four to six weeks, depending the soil type and weather.

It is a slow-release fertiliser with a naturally occurring nitrogen level of about 10 per cent. This level of nitrogen provides a good food source for existing grass, flowers and bushes.

Types

Corn gluten meal is available in three forms. In unprocessed form it is a fine, powdery substance that looks similar to pollen after application. It should be applied before mulching around bedding plants as it will not penetrate the mulch effectively. Use a hand spreader for best results.

In granulated form it can be applied with a broadcast spreader. It can also be made into a paste by mixing it with water. The paste can then be applied to suppress weed growth in a small area.

The pellet form can be spread by hand. All three forms are equally effective and can be applied using a broadcast spreader.

Application

Corn gluten meal should be applied to the lawn and garden twice throughout the growing season. The first application should be in the early spring about two weeks prior to early spring flower bloom. The second application should be in late summer or early fall toward the end of the last dry hot spell.

Successful weed prevention with corn gluten meal relies on dry weather. Do not use it when rain is expected within a few days. Apply the corn gluten meal, water it in and allow it to dry for two to three days. Heavy soil conditions and extended periods of excessive rain or unusually hot weather could make monthly applications necessary.

Caution

Wait at least six weeks before applying corn gluten meal to freshly seeded lawns. It is a nonselective herbicide and will kill germinating grass seeds.

Corn gluten meal can cause an allergic reaction in people and pets with corn allergies.

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