CO-Horts Blog

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hort Peeves: When you have to pray after you spray

Posted by: Alison O'Connor, Larimer County Extension

Though she will yell at me for posting this, I'm going to use my mom as an example of this hort peeve. Sorry mom...

When talking to mom a few weeks ago, she asked me, "Hey Al. I want to kill some weeds in my lawn. What do I use?" I advised her that a lawn weed control product is best (after talking about why the weeds were in the lawn). There was a pause and then she said, "Shoot. I used the wrong thing." When pressed, she admitted she used glyphosate (Roundup). And then with a bit of panic in her voice, "Did I kill the lawn?"

One thing that should be noted is that she asked me after she sprayed and not before. Mom!
No, this is not my mom's lawn. This was in Broomfield, Colo.
But I would hazard a guess that most of us have been in this situation before, thus praying after spraying. I have.

Here's your advice for the day: Read the label first. Then think about the product and what the label says. And then read the label again if you have questions. And if you're still unsure, contact the company that makes the product or call your local Extension office. It's very hard to un-do chemical damage. Fellow hortie, Curtis Utley, recently blogged about types of herbicides and their damage.

For some reason, once I started looking for chemical damage in landscapes...especially "Oops I used Roundup", it wasn't hard to find. Lawns are probably the easiest thing to spot.
As seen in Loveland; likely glyphosate damage.
Whatever your opinion is on Roundup, it is commonly used (and misused) in landscapes by professionals and homeowners. So what can you do if you accidentally use the wrong product in the wrong place? Well, it depends on the chemical. If it's just glyphosate and you just sprayed it, try to wash it off. If the product has dried on leaf tissue, like the lawn, you can mow the lawn to about an inch to remove the foliage. BUT not all Roundup is the same (refer to Tony Koski's blog on this). If you used one of the extended control products that contains imazapic or imazapyr, watering can make things worse.

Mistakes can be made and sometimes the damage is significant and costly. So be smart, read the label and can save you a lot of angst. And prayer.

As seen in Wellington, Colo.; a misapplication of a broadleaf herbicide at a park.


  1. Alison Stoven O'Connor! You PROMISED me you would not use me as an example. Darn you. I guess I should have known ... When I asked Alison what she does to "wake up" an audience during a long seminar, she stated she shares a story (joke) about me. WHAT!? Do all mothers endure what I must? Mom Stoven

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  4. I have a question - when you spray a volatile herbicide labeled for lawns, for how long is it volatile? If you spray in the evening when it is cooler, but it gets hot the next day, can it still volatilize? TIA

  5. Hi Loni,
    Yes, it can volatilize the next day. In general, if it's a chemical that has the tendency to volatilize, make sure there are two to three cooler days in the forecast before you spray. And ALWAYS read the label for more information.

  6. Sorry Mom you!