Sally Drury examines where and how to use this key weapon in the never-ending battle against weeds.

Q: Do we still need herbicides?

A: Weeds are plants growing where they are not required. In some situations they may not look nice, but they can be even more of a nuisance.

In urban areas, weeds can lift pavements and damage other hard surfaces, causing trip hazards that might result in compensation claims. Weeds trap dirt and litter, which can attract vermin and present a fire hazard. Weeds lower an area's tone and arguably lead to vandalism, graffiti and antisocial behaviour.

In sports turf — be it football pitch or golf course — weeds can alter the way that balls bounce and roll. In these situations, the experience of the sport does not meet the expectations of the players — so they find other venues.

Within crops and plantings, weeds compete for nutrients and water. While companion planting can play an important part in biological control, weeds can provide shelter overwinter for pests and diseases that strike later at amenity plantings and production units.

Hand weeding is time consuming and expensive. Wire brushes and steaming can be used in some situations but never on turf. Herbicides, used in correct parameters, can provide a cost-effective solution to weed removal.

Q: Which herbicide should I use?

A: First, ensure that you need a herbicide. Consider the extent and implications of the problem. Study other options first and, if spraying is necessary, consider contractors where equipment and certified operatives are unavailable. If you have used herbicides in the past, consult records to determine the effects of previous treatments.

It is important to recognise the status of the situation — amenity, industrial, edible crop or ornamental. Only use products that are approved for the problem and situation.

Q: What are the other considerations?

A: It is mandatory to follow instructions on product labels. Don't forget that the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1994 require a sufficient health risk assessment before work commences.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Sargent's solutions - how to attract the best staff for your business

Sargent's solutions - how to attract the best staff for your business

There are ways to find quality candidates for horticultural jobs if you widen your search parameters, Alan Sargent suggests.

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

An effective strategy to retain staff is the best way for any business to avoid a potential recruitment crisis, Neville Stein advises.

IoG Saltex 2017 - Kit showcase

IoG Saltex 2017 - Kit showcase

Mowers, turf care, battery equipment, seeds, arboriculture kit and weed control will all see a wide range of new releases at Saltex, Sally Drury reports.

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

IOG Saltex

Get set for IoG Saltex 2017 with our comprehensive show guide and exhibitor info.

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Industry Data

An exclusive report for HW subscribers revealing the key development trends, clients and locations for 2017.

Products & Kit Resources

BALI National Landscape Awards 2016

Read all about the winning projects in the awards, run in association with Horticulture Week.

Noel Farrer

Founding partner of Farrer Huxley Associates Noel Farrer on landscape and green space

Read Noel Farrer