How To Use Herbicides Safely

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.

  • 1. Resist using herbicides anywhere near food plants.
  • 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, not the foliage, and may remain in the soil for about a year.
  • 3. When applying herbicides, carefully follow the instructions. Always wear gloves and only spray on wind-free 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 in dry weather. The safest approach is to use a weed wand, or soaked sponge or cloth, to ‘paint’ the weeds with the chemical rather than spray. This ensures that the substance hits its target and nothing else.
  • 5. Use a plant-specific weedkiller strictly in accordance with the instructions on the label, applying it carefully to only the target plants, and taking particular care near trees. There are plant-specific weedkillers that target only bindii and clover, broad-leaved weeds or winter grass without harming other plants.

Getting Rid of Ivy

  • 1. Ivy is now generally regarded as a weed as it is so invasive. It is also linked to allergies such as asthma and severe lung conditions. Follow these steps to remove ivy from walls without leaving unsightly marks.
  • 2. Wear gloves and long sleeves to prevent the sap or dust from irritating your skin, and a dust mask so that you won’t inhale dust and ivy mites. Water the foliage before you start, to reduce dust and allergen problems.
  • 3. Cut the stems at the base and poison with a glyphosate-based product. Repeat applications may be necessary
  • 4. Wait for the top growth to die before trying to remove the foliage and stems from the wall. Remove the aerial roots using a stiff brush or paint scraper.