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If you’re looking to be the envy of your neighborhood with a show-stopping golf course lawn, look no further. Weeds (and pests) are the arch-nemesis of a healthy lawn — particularly when you’re trying to kill them without killing your grass. Weed control can be a hassle, especially when it becomes a full-time job.
The most effective long-term solution for controlling weeds is to have a healthy lawn in the first place. Using fertilizers, biostimulants, and soil moisture managers can help keep your lawn in fighting form. Mowing your lawn regularly at the recommended height for your grass type is a natural way of controlling weeds. If the turf is healthy and flourishing, weeds have a hard time competing with grass for nutrients and resources.
Despite your best efforts, weeds can be pretty stubborn. The surefire way to get rid of weeds without killing grass is to pull them up manually. But, to initially target weeds quickly and effectively, certain herbicides can help kill weeds without damaging your lawn.
You can choose from two categories of chemical weed control: liquid or granular. Both types have their disadvantages and their advantages. For example, liquid weed control products have the advantage of killing weeds quickly. In most cases, results are seen within a few days. The downside is that strong and fast-acting chemicals like glyphosate are more likely to destroy your grass.
Powerful herbicides containing glyphosate, which is the active ingredient commonly found in Roundup, will damage any grass near where the weeds are being sprayed. These herbicides are best used on ornamental beds or on your sidewalk or terrace where weeds have accumulated.
Granular products, such as Spectracide, work slower than liquid types but are much safer for your lawn. The goal of weed control is to use as little as possible to target weeds and not other plants. The granular variants of Spectracide contain pre-emergents like Dithiopyr which prevents new weeds from growing back again.
Remember, the objective with weed killers is to buy time to grow a healthy lawn.
But which weed killers can you use that won’t kill grass?
We’ve made the job easy for you by rounding up the best four products that will kill weeds in your lawn and not the turf. Certain plants favor certain conditions, and weeds are no exception. We’ve separated the best weed killer products into two categories: warm season and cool season herbicides.
Some weeds prefer the warmer weather, germinating in the spring or early summer and dying back in the fall as the weather gets colder. For instance, broadleaf weeds thrive in the warmer months. Using a herbicide specially formulated for seasonal weeds will increase the effectiveness of application without killing your grass.
Celsius WG Herbicide is one of the best broadleaf and grassy weed killers that controls over 150 varieties of weeds. It’s a post-emergent herbicide (for application after the weeds have grown) that comes in the form of wettable granules. Combined with water, this creates a liquid spray particularly potent to weeds like dandelions. Celsius is a broad-spectrum weed killer that doesn't kill your grass. Unlike most other herbicides, it has the distinct advantage of being safe for use as temperatures get higher. This makes it perfect for warm-season grasses like Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Centipede.
For the ultimate warm-season grass herbicide partnership, combine Celsius with Certainty Turf Herbicide. This extends the range of weeds targeted by application to control sedges, Poa Annua, and much more.
Apply using a battery sprayer or pump sprayer according to instructions. To increase product effectiveness, combine with a non-ionic surfactant which helps increase herbicides' absorption, sticking and translocation.
TOP TIP: Resist the urge to mow your lawn immediately after applying this product or before the spray has dried. Avoid transferring grass clippings to healthy turf areas when you mow your lawn.
Certainty herbicide boasts easy application for killing weeds in your lawn. A measuring spoon is included with the product to ensure accuracy and results. This herbicide targets weeds with certainty from Poa Annua, dandelions, and nutsedge. The clue is in the name!
Much like Celsius, one of the most significant benefits of using Certainty is that you can apply it over a broad range of temperatures without compromising efficacy. Eliminate weeds in the spring, summer and fall and use Certainty with Celsius WG Herbicide for the ultimate weed control.
Again, the best way to apply this product is with a battery or pump sprayer. For 1000 ft of turf, use three to five small scoops or one to two large scoops per gallon of water. Don’t water this product into your turf after application.
Weeds, like most plants, love a bit of warm weather. Others thrive in cooler conditions, like Rescuegrass, Clover and Poa Annua. Luckily, weed killers are available that kill cool-season weeds without damaging your grass. Golf Course Lawn Store has got your back!
Tenacity herbicide is an industry favorite for killing weeds in your lawn without killing your grass. Optimized for cool-season turf, Tenacity can be used as a pre and post-emergent herbicide control for over 46 broadleaf weed and grass species.
Tenacity’s active ingredients include Mesotrione (40%), a photosynthesis suppressant in receptive weeds as it becomes absorbed through roots, leaves and shoots. With proven efficacy rates against weed invasion, Tenacity can kill hardy weeds like dandelions before and during turf seeding.
You can use Tenacity herbicide at any point during the seeding or overseeding of established grasses. Post-application, weeds usually die within three weeks of application, turning white from chlorophyll loss. Tenacity comes with an integrated measuring cup to dilute your mixture. Use a backpack sprayer with this TeeJet foliar spray tip for the best results. One eight-ounce bottle will cover one to two acres of your lawn, and you’ll only need to water this in if you’re using it as a pre-emergent while seeding.
TOP TIP: If you see your turfgrass turning white, don’t panic. This is common but temporary. Typically, this occurs between five to seven days post-application and can sometimes last several weeks. Tenacity herbicide can be used on most cool-season grasses and some warm-season grasses (Centipede, Buffalograss) but do not apply to these grass types, as it will damage or kill them:
❌ Kikuyu Grass
❌ Seashore Paspalum
SedgeHammer® herbicide contains a highly-concentrated chemical: Halosulfuron-methyl (75%,) which inhibits cell division in particular weeds, especially sedges. This weed killer comes as a “Water Dispersible Granule” (WDG), so it needs to be mixed with water for application. As this weed killer doesn’t kill grass, it can work a little slower, showing results in up to 21 days — just remain patient!
SedgeHammer® comes in a 1.33 oz bottle with a measuring scoop provided. You can add one level scoop to one gallon of water, covering 1,000 sq. ft. The entire bottle can cover approximately 43,500 sq ft.
Use a battery sprayer or pump sprayer to apply this professional formulation. You can also add SedgeHammer® to Tenacity herbicide if you want an extra weed-killing boost for specific sedge problems.
We’ve recently released a complete cool-season herbicide kit that includes SedgeHammer®, Tenacity, High-Yield non-ionic surfactant, and a marker dye.
Other products will give you a headstart in achieving your golf course lawn alongside using herbicides. Surfactants like Hi-Yield Spreader Sticker increase the absorption, sticking, and translocation of insecticides, liquid fertilizers, and herbicides. Surfactants help improve the performance of herbicides and yield faster and better results.
Marker dyes can also lend a helping hand in your war against weeds. Use Turf Mark Blue Spray Indicator dye to see where you’ve sprayed herbicide, insecticide, or fungicide. This means you won’t be applying excess product in places that you have already sprayed. The dye disappears within 24-48 hours, so you don’t need to worry about turning your lawn blue permanently.
With these products, you can reclaim ownership of your lawn from a weed invasion — without killing your grass. But, after basking in your golf course lawn glory, it’s essential to keep maintaining a healthy lawn.