Understanding Natural, Chemical, and Organic Weed Killers

Understanding Natural, Chemical, and Organic Weed Killers

So You Want To Kill Some Weeds? Here are some things to understand before you head to Zamzows:

Organic Vs. Natural Vs. Chemical


Organic Weed Control

Organic weed controls must be produced from a list of allowed synthetic substances, or come from all-natural substances that are not prohibited. The National Organic Program (NOP) is administered by the USDA and includes a list of national organic standards, a list of allowed and prohibited substances, and a regulatory oversight structure. Generally, these products are clearly marked on the label as being certified organic.


Natural Weed Killers

Natural weed killers can be chemical, mineral, or biological, with the common denominator being that they come from nature. It is important to note that something that wasn’t man-made in a laboratory can still be considered dangerous and even toxic if not applied and used properly. These products come with warnings, directions, and important safety precautions that must be followed. That said, natural products are very effective if used properly and they generally have a low environmental impact when directions are followed.


Traditional (chemical) Weed Killers

Traditional (chemical) weed killers, or what we like to call “Big Guns”, are weed killers that use aggressive and sometimes toxic chemicals to kill weeds. These weed killers have a long history of success in killing weeds but also have a bad reputation for causing soil imbalances, neighboring plant weaknesses, and in some cases, environmental damage that affects a lot more than the weed it was intended to kill. While we at Zamzows tend to lean toward more natural weed killers as our first choice, there are times when a “Big Gun” is warranted and, if applied with caution, can be effective without unintended consequences. A good example is using glyphosate to kill goat heads in a gravel parking lot. If the person applying glyphosate is wearing the proper protective clothing and is impeccably following label instructions, this can be a very effective weed killer without personal and/or environmental damage. Just know that problems can arise quickly if it is not applied with caution.


Things to consider when you’re killing a weed:

  • READ THE LABEL: We can’t stress this enough! Regardless of which type of weed killer you are using, always read the label, wear the recommended protective clothing and follow instructions. This is true even for organic products.
  • Know the weed you are trying to eliminate so you choose a killer that works on that weed. For instance, if you spray a broadleaf weed killer on grass, it won’t work at all. To ensure you choose the right product for the right weed, pull one of the weeds you want to kill and bring it into a Zamzows store. We can identify the weed and suggest a product that will work.
  • Are you trying to kill several different kinds of weeds? Zamzows can help there, too. Oftentimes we can find one product that will work for all your weeds. Again, bring in samples so we can help identify them.
  • Are you killing an existing weed or trying to prevent it altogether? Some weeds can be controlled before the seeds germinate by applying a preemergent to the soil, while others must be killed after they have leaves.
  • Know the area where you are applying the weed killer. This is important because you don’t want to use certain weed killers in a vegetable garden where you might be poisoning your food.
  • If you’re applying to a large area, measure it first so you know exactly how many square feet you’re covering. This will spare you from running back and forth to the store.
  • What will the outside temperature be when you plan to apply the weed killer? Some weed killers won’t work if temperatures are too cold or too hot, so consider the outside temperatures for the time of year that you’re applying before selecting a weed killer. Remember this especially if you store your weed killers. Even if the product is not expired, something that worked last summer may not work this spring due to temperature differences.
  • While we’re on the subject, pay attention to the weather forecast. Some weed killers can be applied in all kinds of weather, while others have limitations.