You can sow seeds in as little as a week or even sooner after spraying glyphosate, a systemic, nonselective weed killer. Glyphosate moves from the leaves to the roots of plants, destroying the entire plant, but leaving no residue in the soil. The chemical affects many types of plants, including weeds, grasses and desirable plants, but after the liquid is absorbed into the plant, it doesn’t pose any further threat. You can safely sow ornamental flower seeds a day after spraying with glyphosate and grass and vegetable seeds, three days after, even though the herbicide takes up to seven days to destroy weeds. If you remove the dying weeds too soon, live roots could remain in the soil, ready to regrow. Another systemic weed killer that doesn’t affect seeds is pelargonic acid.
It makes sense to be cautious about sowing seed after using weed killer. Certain herbicides can harm sprouting seeds and young plants. However, while you must wait several months to sow seed after applying some weed killers, you only need to wait a few days after applying others. The reason for this difference lies in the effect of the active chemicals in the individual products. Read the label carefully and follow all the directions when applying a weed killer.
Pre-Emergence Weed Killers and Sowing Seed
Pre-emergence weed killers prevent seeds from sprouting. They create a chemical barrier on the soil surface that suppresses seed development. What this means is, if you sow your own seed after applying a pre-emergence weed killer, the seed isn’t likely to grow. However, some pre-emergence products only affect grassy weeds, so you can safely sow most vegetable and flower seeds after applying these herbicides. The same doesn’t apply to reseeding or overseeding your lawn. Grass seed won’t sprout until a pre-emergence weed killer has decayed and become ineffective. For example, it isn’t safe to sow lawn seed until four months after applying a crabgrass preventer.
Sowing seed after applying a pre-emergence weed killer disturbs the chemical barrier on the soil surface, which means that weed seeds may germinate too.
Many selective weed killers leave little or no trace in the soil, and they target certain plants while leaving others unharmed. Generally, these types of herbicides destroy either grassy weeds or broadleaf weeds. You can safely sow most seeds in your vegetable or flower patch a day after applying selective herbicides, such as sethoxydim, clethodim and bentazon, for grassy weeds. These herbicides only affect your desired plants if the plants belong to the grass family. For lawns, herbicides that destroy broadleaf weeds are effective, but it isn’t safe to reseed until a month after applying these products, unless the label states differently.
Weeds have one of two types of growing habits — annual and perennial.
Spot application uses an applicator, like a pressurized sprayer, to apply the herbicide directly to the weed in the effort to affect no other plants.
3 Classes of Weeds: Broadleaf, Grassy, Sedge
Herbicides that include a fertilizer are called “weed-and-feed.” This product catches a lot of grief from some gardeners and environmentalists since its application is hard to get right and easy to abuse. The best time to apply fertilizers is often the wrong time to apply weed killer and vice versa. People often get it wrong, Ferguson notes.
Annual weeds live for just one season, which makes them easier to control.
The Maryland guide notes that homeowners have been using herbicides for weed killing since the 1950s, “but the potential risks to people, animals and the environment should cause people to reconsider their use as part of routine lawn care.” Many gardeners and lawn care professionals have switched away from chemical herbicides and prefer to practice organic lawn care, which does not use them.