Selective vs Non Selective Herbicide

Date: June 24, 2022
Category: 

Are your lawn and garden being overrun by weeds? Are you having difficulty trying to keep up with your yard work? If hand pulling weeds isn’t working, you may want to try an herbicide to help remove weeds from your landscape without damaging your turf grass or landscape plants. Choosing an herbicide can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for.


If you have ever visited a lawn and garden center, home improvement store, or a big box retailer, you have probably noticed there are two different types of herbicides on the market – selective herbicides and non selective herbicides. Each of these has a different purpose and must be used accordingly.


Simply put, selective herbicides are targeted herbicides that only kill certain weeds like broadleaf or grassy weeds while not harming other plants. Conversely, a non selective herbicide will kill every plant that it touches.

How Does A Selective Herbicide Work?

A selective herbicide targets specific metabolic processes in plants. These processes are necessary to maintain plant life. Different types of plants have different metabolic processes. A selective herbicide is used to eliminate specific types of weeds while leaving other types of plants alone. For example, a selective herbicide designed to kill broadleaf weeds will not harm grasses but will kill broadleaf weeds like dandelion, clover, chickweed, and broadleaf plantain.

How Does a Non Selective Herbicide Work?

A non selective herbicide like glyphosate kills any living plant that it comes in contact with. Because of this, it is imperative that non selective herbicides are applied very carefully. Non selective herbicides are best used around patios, pathways, and areas of bare soil where you want all plant life eliminated.

What Benefits Do Selective Herbicides Offer?

Selective herbicides offer several benefits.


Location – Because of the high specificity of selective herbicides, you can safely use them in your lawn and landscaped areas.


Flexibility – The timing of selective herbicide applications is flexible and can be chosen based on weed growth, stage, or weather condition.


Year Round Prevention – Selective herbicides can be used anytime, providing you with year round weed control.

What Considerations Should You Have Concerning Selective Herbicides?

There are several things that must be considered when using a selective herbicide.


Weeds Specific – A selective herbicide does not have the ability to control all weeds. You will need to determine the type of weed you are fighting to ensure that you have chosen the appropriate herbicide for your problem areas.


Risk of Lawn Damage – If your lawn is stressed by a drought, excessive heat, or frost, selective herbicides can damage your lawn. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the selective herbicide may be reduced.


Moisture Needed – In order to be effective, you must use a wetting agent for optimal weed control.

What Benefits Do Non Selective Herbicides Offer?

A non selective herbicide offers a number of benefits, including:


Kills All Plant Life – Unlike selective herbicides that only kills specific types of weeds, a non selective herbicide will kill every type of plant that it comes in contact with.


Affordable – Non selective herbicides are quite affordable.


New Turf – Non selective herbicides can destroy your old grass so you can lay new turf.

What Considerations Should You Have Concerning Non Selective Herbicides?

There are a few considerations that should be taken if you will be using non selective herbicides.


Damages All Plant Life – Non selective herbicides are designed to kill every weed and plant that they come in contact with.


Do Not Use on Windy Days – Spraying a non selective herbicide on a windy day can cause a spry drift that can harm plants you do not want to be damaged.


Avoid Using Near Bodies of Water – If a non selective herbicide is used near a body of water, it can damage plants as well as fish and wildlife that depend on the vegetation in and around the body of water.

Which Herbicide Is Best for You?

Weed control can be extremely difficult. There are different types of herbicides that can be used to treat different types of weeds. Once you determine the type of weed you are trying to kill, you can purchase the correct type of herbicide.


If you are trying to get rid of weeds on your lawn, you will want to use the appropriate selective weed killer. If, on the other hand, you are trying to totally clear an area, you will need to use a non selective weed killer.

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Selective vs Non Selective Herbicide
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