Dandelions are starting to show their bright, yellow faces this spring and like it or not, they’re going to make their annual appearance in our lawns. Whether you can tolerate their short-lived bloom or endure watching their wispy seed pods spread their seeds into the wind — from your neighbours lawn onto yours — we Ontarians have little treatment options available to us for any sort of weed control in our own back and front yards.
With the introduction of the Ontario Pesticide ban in 2009, our government has left us with limited options for killing the dreaded dandelions and invasive weeds in our turf. There are non-selective (kills everything) products on the market that work well on decks, patios, walkways, etc., in the place of ‘Round-Up’ and ‘WipeOut‘ products that have been banned for domestic use.
These non-selective weed control products pictured above are formulated with acetic acid (vinegar), sodium chloride (salt) or fatty acids. They will do a decent job of killing weeds but they cannot be applied directly on your lawns as grasses will be killed as well as the weeds. These products have a fast burn-down effect and tend to be rather distastefully aromatic.
There is really only one other available option that consumers can buy to kill weeds in the lawn that is available in Ontario. Well-know manufacturer, Scotts, is marketing an iron-based weed control product called ‘EcoSense‘ Weed-B-Gon.
Wright’s Feeds ‘N Needs stocks this Scotts product, which is an effective weed killer spray that kills weeds — not lawns.
It controls and suppresses a wide range of weeds including Dandelion, English Daisy, False Dandelion, White Clover, Black Medic, Bull Thistle, Canada Thistle, Common Chickweed, Creeping Buttercup, Slender Speedwell, Narrow-leaved and Broad-leaved Plantain, Dove’s-Foot Geranium, Lawn Burweed, Moss and Algae.
This product is available in varying sizes of the ‘Ready-To-Use’ formula as well as in a concentrate to mix with water in your own sprayer.
When applied, this iron-based weed control product absorbs through the leaves and roots causing the leaves to essentially ‘rust’, through iron oxidation, at the cellular level. This causes the weed to dry up, turn black, shrivel and die. The results of this treatment are visible within hours of application.
The only negative effect is the slight darkening of the surrounding grass area where treatment was applied. The darkened lawn will return to normal green colour within days, when used as directed and these results are dependent on the weather conditions as well.
DO’S AND DON’TS
— Apply Weed-B-Gon to individual weeds in your lawn and preferably not as a blanket-coverage spray to reduce the extent of the darkening damage to the grasses.
— Use on well-established grass lawns consisting of one or more of Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and fescue.
— Do not apply to drought-stressed grass or when daytime temperatures exceed 30C.
— Do not apply to bentgrass or to newly-seeded areas or seeded lawns less than one year old.
— Do not apply if rain is expected within three hours.
HOW TO APPLY
First of all, if you have more than a few feet of clover or a high concentration of weeds to kill, you’ll find it much easier to use an herbicide sprayer. They are available in 1-gallon, 2-gallon and 3-gallon sizes here at Wright’s Feeds ‘N Needs. A sprayer with a wand is preferable, not one where the spray head is attached to the container. Secondly, you’ll get better results if you thoroughly water the area to be treated before you do any spraying. Dry leaves don’t absorb liquids as well, so wet the area you plan to treat and then allow it to dry up a bit so there is no pooled water on the leaves.
The next tip is to use an insecticidal soap to also spray down the areas to be treated, especially if you are targeting clover or other waxy-leaved weeds. If no soap is used, the product tends to bead up and run off the leaves resulting in unsuccessful coverage and thus a non-effective kill. The soap acts as a surfactant which reduces the surface tension on the weeds to allow the herbicide to stick better to the leaves. The product will remain on the weeds longer for a better knockdown result and the soap will not harm the grass. Again, wait for the soap to soak into the leaves and/or disperse before continuing — things should be moist but not wet when you continue. Usually the time it takes to empty and rinse your sprayer and load up the Weed-B-Gon is enough.
Lastly, load up your Weed-B-Gon solution into your sprayer. If you’re using a Ready-To-Use (RTU) formula, make sure to dump the entire contents into the sprayer so you can shake it up before and during application. If you’re using the concentrate formula (mixing it at the ratio of one part concentrate to 24 parts water) make sure, again, that you shake the mixture very well in the sprayer before and during application.
When treating your lawn, make certain to soak the weeds thoroughly and don’t be stingy with your application. If money is an issue, it might be more cost-effective to dig the weeds out by hand. Otherwise, if you’ve spent the money and are investing your time, you may as well follow the directions correctly to get the best results. Sometimes, with a heavy or concentrated infestation of weeds, a second application may be necessary in a few weeks time.
Overall, the feedback we’ve heard for this product is very favourable. However, the Ready-To-Use bottle sprayers are not the most ideal method to deliver the product onto the weeds but they are the most cost-effective for spot treating small areas. It’s not the manufacturer’s fault as they want to provide a cheap option for homeowners with smaller properties. Some consumers have found that coverage was much more even, complete and much easier with a proper pump sprayer using a wand, especially when treating large, country properties — not to mention after you pump it up you aren’t squeezing a trigger a thousand times or constantly bending down to get each little weed.
Consider giving Scotts ‘EcoSense’ Weed-B-Gon a try on the weeds in your lawn this year and if you have any questions or if you’re looking for information on calculating coverage, please contact Melanie at firstname.lastname@example.org .