​​PPDL Picture of the Week

June 27, 2016

Read the Label!

John Orick, Purdue Master Gardener State Coordinator, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture​
At this time of year, homeowners are scouting their lawns for weeds. A visit to the local garden center looking for the appropriate herbicide can be an overwhelming decision, especially if the home gardener has not identified the weed, know the appropriate control recommendations, or read the herbicide product label. This picture of the week shows a home lawn with several spots of dead turf caused by the misapplication of a non-selective herbicide sprayed to control broadleaf weeds in turf. Non-selective herbicides contain active ingredients that control many types of plant species including grasses. Glyphosate (found in Round-up and other generic forms of this product) is an example of a non-selective herbicide.  Application of products containing this non-selective active ingredient will likely kill or damage most actively growing plant species. So, the home gardener should always read the product label to understand the recommendations regarding weed species controlled by the product as well as which plants are legal for applications of the herbicide (see photos of example labels). Selective herbicides control specific species or groups of plant species types. For example, broadleaf weeds in lawns (dandelion, broadleaf plantain, ground ivy, etc.) are controlled by herbicides that target broadleaf weed species growing in turf. The labels for these products will give information regarding weed species controlled, rates of application, plants that the product can be applied to, and important instructions regarding application safety. The pesticide label is a legal document and all home gardeners should always read the label! 

In summary, here are some steps home gardeners can take for safe and effective applications of herbicides to home lawns:

  • Identify the weed species
  • Be informed about effective control recommendations for the targeted weed species.
  • If a chemical control is warranted, read the product label to be sure the correct herbicide is selected for control and to understand safe and effective application instructions.

Related Articles, Publications, and Websites
What Gardeners Should Know About Pesticides, PPP-109

Control of Broadleaf Weeds in Home Lawns, AY-9-W

Weed of the Month Articles, Purdue Turfgrass Science 

Weed Control for the Garden and Landscape, HO-217-W

​​Click image to enlarge

Home lawn with damaged turf caused by misapplication of a non-selective herbicide. (Photo by John Orick)

Example of a selective herbicide labelled for broadleaf weeds in lawns. (Photo by Aaron Patton)
Example of a label for non-selective, organic weed control. (Photo by Aaron Patton)​

A close-up view of the “active ingredients” portion of the pesticide label. (Photo by Aaron Patton)