6 suggestions for using herbicides safely

For the earth-wise gardener, chemical control should be a last resort. However, if you do choose to use a chemical herbicide, always do so in accordance with the instructions on the label and follow these 6 safety tips.

6 suggestions for using herbicides safely

Safer use of herbicides

Herbicides are chemicals used to kill weeds. Some are selective, specially formulated to kill a particular weed, whereas others are broad-spectrum, designed to kill a wide range of plants. Whatever type you use, be sure to keep these safety tips in mind.

  1. Resist using herbicides anywhere near plants that are edible or that produce food.
  2. Choose the most appropriate herbicide for the job you need to do. Contact herbicides kill plants on contact; systemic herbicides get into the vascular system of plants, eventually killing the roots; and residual herbicides act on the soil rather than the foliage and may remain in the soil for about a year.
  3. When applying herbicides, carefully follow the instructions. Always wear gloves and don't spray on windy days as these chemicals can cause skin and eye irritation and may spread to other plants.
  4. If using broad-spectrum weedkillers such as glyphosate, which will kill most plants, target weeds carefully and use them in dry weather.
  5. The safest approach is to use a weed wand – or a soaked sponge or cloth – to "paint" the weeds with the chemical rather than spraying. This ensures that the substance hits its target and nothing else.
  6. Use a plant-specific weed killer strictly in accordance with the instructions on the label, applying it carefully to only the target plants and taking particular care near trees.

Remember: most herbicides are potent chemicals that can be harmful to humans, animals and the environment, so always use them with the utmost care!

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