While it’s always better to look for natural ways to control weeds, sometimes you just can’t avoid a chemical weed killer…

Weed invasions sometimes have to be handled with an effective herbicide. Here’s everything you need to do so safely and effectively, with results you’ll love

Know your type

Pre-emergent weed killers need to be used before the weed seed erupts. They’re typically an annual application for lawns.

Most of us will use post-emergent weed killers to control weeds on paving or as an emergency in the garden if a weed seed invasion sprouts. These work best on smaller plants, so if the infestation is very bad (like clearing an overgrown yard) you may wish to use a weed whacker to shorten the mess to about 20 cm off the ground, and then allow new growth to sprout before killing off the roots.

Check the weather

Ideally, you want to time your spray so that there is a period of dry weather after application. Smaller weeds will absorb the poison within an hour or so, but larger plants will need several days to absorb and disperse it through the system.

Choose a windless day, so the poison can’t accidentally spread to wanted plants. Ideally, pick a weed killer with no soil action, so the toxicity doesn’t linger and affect wanted plants you place there.

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Spray early

Try to spray before early afternoon, to ensure the unwanted weeds take up the poison well. Allow the weed killer to dry completely before allowing children or pets in the area, and mix only according to the instructions on the bottle – don’t assume, rather read!

Sensible use reduces your overall need for the product, so it’s always worth planning your weed spraying carefully to minimise negative effects on your garden or family.