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Weed, Vine & Grass ControlProjects Made Easy

Herbicides, also commonly known as weedkillers, are chemicals used to control unwanted plants, especially weeds, or reduce the damage a plant may cause. Herbicides work by causing a buildup of toxic substances within a plant. Naturally derived or synthetic, herbicides may be liquids, powders or granules and may be concentrated or ready-to-use.  Marvin's has a variety of products and a knowledgable staff ready to help you choose the right one for your needs!

Herbicide Terms

Nature is about balance. If garden pests are present, predators lurk. More gardeners are turning to this army of natural-born killers: beneficial insects that live to eat what’s bugging plants. These good guys include ladybugs, praying mantis, beneficial nematodes and even parasitic wasps. But—there’s always a “but”—making your yard hospitable to beneficial bugs means allowing their food sources, like aphids, worms and grubs, to live.

Selective vs. Non-Selective

Spraying Lawn WeedsThis denotes what a herbicide kills. Selective herbicides kill specific weeds or weed categories. Non-selective herbicides kill everything, and are also called broadspectrum herbicides. A selective herbicide kills certain plants but not others. Herbicides labeled for control of weeds in lawns, for example, will kill broadleaf weeds like dandelions and thistles, but will not kill grasses. Other herbicides are specifically formulated to kill grassy weeds and so would not be appropriate to use in a lawn area. Non-selective herbicides kill or damage all plants. These products can be useful for killing weeds growing along fences, sidewalk cracks and in driveways. They can be hard to use in areas where weeds and desirable plants are growing side by side. Care must be taken to treat only the weed and to not allow any of the product to get onto desirable plants.

Weed Types

Contact vs. Systemic

Herbicides kill a plant either on contact or systemically. Contact herbicides are usually sprays. Systemic herbicides may be powders, granules or liquid. Contact herbicides kill only the part of the plant that was treated. The root system is not killed and the weed may grow back from the roots. Systemic herbicides are absorbed by the plants and taken into the root system, so the whole plant can be killed.
Spraying Lawn Weeds Tip

Pre-Emergent vs. Post-Emergent

These words indicate when, in a plant’s life cycle, the herbicide is effective—before or after they break ground. Pre-emergent herbicides are used in the soil to kill plants before their seeds begin growing. They’re u sually applied in the spring. Post-emergent herbicides kill plants after they’ve begun to grow. They can be applied anytime spring through fall, as long as a plant’s leaves are growing.

Choosing The Right Product

• Know what plants you want to eliminate
• Specific plants are listed on herbicide product labels, indicating that you can use the herbicide on that plant
• Always read product labels for use & safety

Marvin's Tip: Minimize RiskSpraying Weeds

Take precautions, as herbicides can be harmful to people and animals.
• Read the first aid instructions on the label before using any product.
• Make sure kids and pets are out of the area before mixing and applying herbicides.
• Mix only the amount you will need to use at that time.


Herbicides are “household hazardous waste” and must be properly disposed of.
• Don’t store more than you need for a season.
• Follow all disposal instructions on the herbicide label.
• Many areas have household hazardous waste drop offs.
• Check with your local environmental, health or solid waste agency for options in your area or call 1-800-CLEANUP.

Supplies & Equipment

• Pump Sprayer
• Chemical-Resistant Gloves
• Eye, Nose & Mouth Protection

As always, Safety First!  Marvin's has you covered on everything you need to keep your yard and garden happy!  Check out some of our other Projects Made Easy tips and tricks.