Selective and non-selective herbicides are the keys to an effective targeted weed control program. While they are both designed to kill weeds, there are some important differences. First, let’s define both terms:

What Are Selective Herbicides?

Selective herbicides are designed to only kill specific types of weeds and vegetation. These herbicides will not harm plants or vegetation that are not listed on the product label, making it a great choice for eliminating weeds and other nuisance plants that are near vegetation or on turf you want to preserve. Essentially, the chemicals will kill what you want gone, and leave everything else alone.

What Are Non-Selective Herbicides?

Non-selective herbicides, on the other hand, are designed to control a broader spectrum of vegetation than selective herbicides. As the name implies, these products do not differentiate from different types of plants and are typically used in areas where plants of any kind do not belong. For example, a non-selective herbicide should not be used to treat weeds on turfgrass (as it would also kill the turf) but would be the optimal choice for a parking lot or sidewalk, where there shouldn’t be any weeds or grass to begin with.

Recap: Impact of Selective and Non-Selective Herbicides on Surrounding Vegetation 

  • Selective herbicides are designed to kill specific types of plants while minimizing damage to turfgrass and/or ornamentals.
  • Non-selective herbicides are designed to kill all vegetation they contact.

Herbicide Safety Measures

It’s important to remember to protect yourself, others, and surrounding vegetation when using herbicides. Always read the label before using any product. Here are a few main pointers that will be applicable across the board:

  • Wear the protective equipment or “PPE” listed on the label. This may include a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks and shoes, waterproof gloves, and possibly eye protection.
  • Follow the instructions based on your application method—they may vary.
  • Do not allow children and pets near the product under any circumstances. Keep them away from treated areas until the label says it is safe to return.

Examples of Herbicides and Application Techniques

Roundup QuikPro SC Total Herbicide is a non-selective residual herbicide that kills myriad annual weeds, perennial weeds, shrubs, and trees. QuikPro should be applied at a rate of 16 fluid ounces plus one gallon of water per thousand square feet. If you plan to plant seeds in the area that is treated, you must wait 12 months before doing so.

ArmorTech Threesome is a selective broadleaf weed control product for turfgrass. From clover to wild onion, Threesome will kill all types of plants that threaten the health and aesthetics of your turfgrass. Depending on the method of application and the target plant(s), usage rates per thousand square feet vary between 0.67 and 1.5 fluid ounces.

The use of adjuvants can improve the performance of your herbicide application. They can make your spray application spread and coat the weeds better, reduce drift, and some can also buffer the water reducing herbicide degradation in the spray tank.

Herbicide Drift

Herbicide drift occurs when herbicide travels outside your target area through the air, either by itself (via vapor or droplet drip) or after “latching on” to soil particles (particulate drift). Herbicide drift can cause negative impacts not only to your own vegetation but to private and public property as well.

To avoid the potential environmental and legal ramifications of such an incident:

  • Do NOT apply herbicide when conditions are excessively windy. Some labels will state the maximum wind speed allowed.
  • Use low-pressure applications and operate equipment at a slow speed. High-pressure and/or high-speed applications increase the risk of drift.
  • Always abide by your specific product’s label.

Finding the Right Herbicide

Depending on the job at hand, the type of herbicide you choose is going to vary. Add in regional factors like temperature and soil differences and you may be stuck on what product to choose. Our representatives are here to help walk you through your options, give you tips and best practices, and choose the right herbicide for your needs. Connect with yours below.