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What to do this week
By Mark Govan, Host “Florida Gardening” on 970WFLA
How to apply pesticides and herbicides properly
It would be hard for me to count the number of times I have recommended the application of products intended to control pests, weeds, or diseases. In most of these instances, the person inquiring of which product to use is merely interested in the elimination of the problem, but rarely asks about the most important aspect of this process. What is the proper mixing method and how do I make the physical application? Every problem you encounter in the landscape is unique, and there are certain guidelines, which must be followed in order to achieve control over the situation. In this article, I will explain a few of the challenges you as homeowners will need to embrace in order to achieve the best performance of the products you are about to apply. Let’s get started.
Homeowners deciding to treat their own property must first invest in the proper application equipment needed to apply the recommended products. I suggest two separate pump style sprayers. Your first choice should be to buy a three-gallon backpack type sprayer to cover the lawn, the ornamental plants, and the exterior areas of the home. You will also need a one-gallon pump-up sprayer that can be used exclusively for weed control. Please note that you should never use a herbicide or weed killer in a sprayer that is intended to be used for the lawn or ornamental work. Trying to utilize a single sprayer could result in damage to ornamental plants or turf grass when a herbicide residual is left in your sprayer from a previous application. As a professional, I would never use the same sprayer for both of these products. In fact, we even use separate sprayers when using products like round-up.
A good quality “Solo Brand” three-gallon backpack sprayer will cost about a hundred dollars, but this investment will pay you with dividends in ease of application, and less time needed to refill smaller containers. Also, backpack sprayers are known for their consistent pressure, easy pump action, and a brass adjustable cone spray nozzle. Solo backpack sprayers are available in most box stores or online at Northern Equipment Company. Look for the twenty percent off coupon codes on the internet for Northern Equipment Company. The one-gallon sprayer you will need for weed control should also have a brass spray tip, which is far superior to plastic spray tips. Plastic spray tips are easily damaged making applications uneven and in many instances only partially effective. When you start with quality equipment, your application will be easier and more productive.
I have not mentioned the use of a fertilizer spreader yet, but you will need a rotary spreader to deliver fertilizer appropriately to your lawns and ornamental plants. Rotary spreaders come in several price ranges from thirty dollars up to seven hundred dollars for the professional applicator. I suggest you pick out one that suits your budget, is made of sturdy enough materials to last a number of years, and is adjustable to apply materials at different settings. This adjustment will allow you to apply granule based insecticides, fungicides, and fertilizers in the event you would rather use a granule instead of a liquid product. I prefer to use liquid products for all applications except fertilization.
Now that you have the equipment necessary to make a proper application you must understand how to apply the products you have been told will control the problem. Read the label and mix the required amount of product necessary to control the problem. Always start with the sprayer filled one-third with water. Use rubber gloves and eye protection while mixing and during the application process. One key ingredient I always add to my sprayer is a non-ionic surfactant for enhanced control purposes. Surfactants help the products you are applying to penetrate the surface of the plant, ensure thorough coverage, and help with the overall effectiveness of the control product you are applying. Every garden center offers a non-ionic surfactants in small bottles. For herbicides, you will need to add one to two teaspoons per gallon of spray. For insecticides and fungicides, add one-half a teaspoon per gallon. After all products have been added to the sprayer, finish filling the container with water. You will need to agitate your sprayer before and during the application sequence to mix the solution. Test your sprayer on concrete to see the pattern your sprayer puts out and then try to replicate this pattern over the treatment area to ensure proper coverage.
When spraying for weeds, please coat the entire weed surface. The surfactant you added will help kill those hard to wet weeds like clovers and dollar weeds. The more surface area of the weed you spray, the faster the control. Do not walk through the freshly sprayed material. Unlike granule applications, liquid applications let you spot treat just the areas where weeds are present. Please allow the products applied to the lawn to dry. Do not treat in the rain and refrain from treating lawns that are under stress from drought. If possible, hold off on cutting the grass for several days following your spray. Use all of the material you have mixed. Rinse out the spray container and the spray hose when you are finished with your treatment.
If you are spraying lawns or shrubs, then note that for each gallon of product you have mixed, you can cover approximately one thousand square feet. Even though you are applying the cure to your problem, you need to prepare for the fact that whatever is dead or dying in your lawn will look worse before it gets better. This is especially true for fungal problems. You may need to repeat your application in about two weeks if you have a major infestation. When treating plants, you will need to make sure you cover the entire leaf surface to the point of runoff. It is very important to spray the underside of the leaves. I like to spray the trunks of all of my plants, including tree trunks to kill any ants that might be moving insects from plant to plant or those that might also be infesting homes.
Sometimes, even though you have treated the problem areas, you may not control the problem. Do not be discouraged, some fungal diseases look like insect problems. If this happens to you, then seek out professional advice. Keep records of your applications and perform them routinely. Use quality equipment to get the best results with minimum efforts and use surfactants to help the products work better. Use granular fertilizer spreaders to apply your dry materials. Always read the label and use proper safety equipment. Clean out your equipment sprayers after each application. Try to enjoy your landscape and remember, without plants, we would not be here!