Selective pesticides are some of the most valuable tools that turf and landscape managers have at their disposal. However, there are times when you need just the opposite-a product that completely eliminates vegetation for renovations, vegetation management or simple spot spraying. For these situations, you need a non-selective chemical.
Most non-selectives used in grounds care are herbicides. These fall into several categories. Some are soil-applied and enter plants through root uptake, providing immediate as well as residual control. Others are foliar applied and primarily used to eliminate existing vegetation. A few have both types of activity.
Systemic herbicides are more effective at killing woody and perennial plants than contact herbicides. By contrast, contacts tend to work very quickly, earning them the nickname of "burndown" herbicides. Foliar-applied products with little or no soil residual, whether systemic or contact, are by far the most widely used non-selectives in grounds care. These are the chemicals used for spot spraying or general "clean up" weed control.
Fumigants are valuable tools for treating soil prior to planting and may control nematodes, insects and diseases, in addition to weeds. Traditionally, methyl bromide has been the mainstay soil fumigant. However, as a result of the Montreal Protocol for reducing ozone-depleting chemicals, methyl bromide will soon (before 2005) be unavailable. Fortunately, at least two other chemicals are still available for pre-plant fumigation.
Use this Update for preliminary planning only. Remember that you must follow all label instructions any time you apply a pesticide. Non-selective pesticides are valuable tools, but must be used with great care. After all, their defining characteristic is their broad spectrum of activity, so misapplications carry potentially great risks. Their safe use depends on proper application. Properly used, however, non-selectives can be one of the most valuable tools that landscape professionals possess.
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