Turf & Rec

A look at the ‘green tool box’

February 11, 2009  By William Gathercole

we sceptical? You bet. The purpose of this short article is to focus
on the maintenance and safety issues that are influenced by the
policies encouraged by the environmental movement. As always, we
provide this information from an independent perspective. We ask the
following question. With existing and looming bans, what are the
so-called green alternatives to cosmetic weed control products?

of all, let's ask a basic question. What is a weed control product?
A weed control product, more precisely referred to as a herbicide, is
a chemical used to control, suppress, or inhibit plants that have
been deemed as undesirable weeds in turf.

is a cosmetic weed control product? Politicians and environmentalists
would say that it is any herbicide used to merely improve the
appearance of turf. Are weeds controlled purely for aesthetic
purposes? Not really. What are the true effects of weeds in turf?
Weeds actually interfere with the ability of turf to grow properly by
competing for carbon dioxide, nutrients, sunlight, and water. Weeds
can choke out turf.

are not to be classified as merely cosmetic, or not. Herbicides are
classified as either selective or non-selective. Selective
herbicides, such as 2,4-D, will destroy broad-leaved weeds, such as
dandelions, with little or no injury to desirable turfgrasses.

non-selective herbicides will destroy weeds, as well as all
surrounding vegetation to which they are applied. Two examples of
non-selective herbicides are acetic acid and herbicidal soap. These
so-called green alternatives are recommended by the environmental
movement. They are highly destructive because they are non-selective.
In other words, conventional and safe weed control products like
2,4-D may be replaced by green products that are harmful to turf. The
green alternatives may not provide much of an improvement. In fact,
their use may be a technical step backward.

are also classified as either pre-emergent or post-emergent.
Post-emergent herbicides, such as 2,4-D, are highly effective in
controlling weeds after they have emerged and developed. Conversely,
pre-emergent herbicides, such as corn gluten meal, must be applied to
create a chemical soil barrier before certain weeds emerge.

are soil-active products that prevent the germination of seeds or the
early growth of seedlings. The environmental movement has falsely
given the public the impression that pre-emergent green alternative
products like corn gluten meal are just as effective as 2,4-D. In
fact, there are absolutely no valid replacements for herbicides like

herbicides are classified as either foliar contact or systemic.
Contact herbicides may be non-selective, as well as fast-acting. They
may provide a quick burn of the foliage. However, contact herbicides
may only suppress perennial weeds, which are able to re-grow from
unaffected underground roots and stems.

weed control applications will need to be repeated often during the
growing season. Several of the green alternatives are contact and
non-selective, such as acetic acid and herbicidal soap. By contrast,
systemic herbicides, such as 2,4-D, are highly effective since they
destroy weeds by being translocated throughout the plant. They are
more capable of controlling perennial plants. They may be
slower-acting, but, ultimately, they are much more effective than
contact herbicides. There are no valid replacements for systemic
herbicides like 2,4-D.

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