CO-Horts Blog

Monday, July 10, 2017

Another Way to Stick it to Weeds

Tony Koski, Extension Turf Specialist

Since it was first introduced in 1974, Roundup (glyphosate) has always been sprayed on weeds. Because it is largely non-selective (will kill or harm any plant that is sprayed) in what it controls, using Roundup and its generic counterparts near desirable plants has to be done carefully to avoid unintended injury. The introduction of Roundup Precision Gel Weed and Grass Killer potentially makes it easier to apply glyphosate to individual weeds – without the concern of overspray, wind drift, and other application errors that could harm desirable plants. But a question we have, as with all new technology, is: does it work?

The application process reminds one of using a gel deodorant stick. A button on the bottom of the stick is clicked until the gel (containing a 1% concentration of glyphosate) is extruded through holes on the top of the stick. You then apply the gel by wiping the leaves of the weed. Sounds easy, right? What I
found, however, was that – to get a decent application of herbicide to a weed’s leaf surface – you have to support the leaf with your other hand while applying the gel. Of course, a rubber glove should be worn to avoid wiping your hand with the gel in the process. (Gloves should ALWAYS be worn when using any pesticides, whether natural/organic or synthetic types).

Because glyphosate is a systemic herbicide, complete leaf coverage isn’t essential to get good weed control. With the gel, you get streaks of gel on the leaf surface – which should be sufficient to control the weed. I tried this on some plantain growing in a groundcover bed outside of my office. The series of photos

shows the progressive death of the plantain. While plantain is admittedly one of the easiest landscape weeds to kill, the Roundup Gel worked well on this weed. For those of you expecting “instant gratification” weed control, you will have to be patient with this product. In the case of this plantain, it took about 16 days from application to death. I will next test this on quackgrass growing in juniper beds and perennial beds, which could be an excellent use for this product.
Roundup Gel applied on 23 June
Injury appears the next day thanks to the pelargonic acid that is also in the
gel stick; complete leaf coverage (I did try!) would have burned the leaves
down more quickly.

Complete death is achieved after about 2 weeks


  1. Just pull the weed. Dumb product.

    1. Agree that, sometimes, it is easier and smarter to simply pull the weed - as with many annuals that are shallower-rooted. Perennials with deeper or more extensive roots, or those that produce rhizomes (quackgrass, bermudagrass, bindweed, thistle) are better candidates for a product like this. Those type of weeds would require multiple "pullings" because they will continue to grow back from growing points left behind in the soil.

  2. Some weeds are difficult to pull. This product would be helpful for certain applications. Wish they had made this with a dabber tip instead of a broad swath head.

    1. It is not the easiest product to use. The idea behind it is a good one, but using it in real life needs some refinement.

  3. Some weeds are difficult to pull. This product would be helpful for certain applications. Wish they had made this with a dabber tip instead of a broad swath head.

  4. Nice article, thanks for the information. You give me some idea's. I will bookmark for next reference.