Diesel is a popular choice of weed killer. In the United States, more than 80 percent of farmers use this type of herbicide. So do professional landscapers and gardeners in cities like San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, London, Paris and Amsterdam. But are you sure that using diesel will not harm your lawn?
The short answer is yes – but there’s also some nuance here too. There are several reasons why people choose to use diesel as their preferred method for killing weeds, including its low price and effectiveness at killing tough-to-kill perennials such as dandelions and clovers. (It can even be used on turf.) One downside though – when applied directly onto soil or topsoil, which most people tend to do, diesel kills off other plants nearby by suffocating them from the fumes. It may also have an indirect effect because of how much time passes between application and when the plant dies.
So what exactly happens during the process of diesel being absorbed into the soil or surface around where you apply it? And how long do those effects last? Here’s everything you need to know about whether diesel kills grass…
How to kill weeds with diesel fuel?
When you spray something onto a leafy green, don’t you want it gone ASAP? Well, you might think so…but actually, no. If you’re spraying pesticides or insecticides, the chemical should get right through to whatever pests or bugs you’re trying to eliminate. That said, if you’ve got a problem with invasive species, then you’ll probably want to go after those first before anything else. However, if you just want to keep your yard nice-looking or eradicate unsightly weeds without harming any plants or flowers, then let’s talk about how to make this happen quickly.
First things first: You shouldn’t expect fast results when applying regular old gasoline, kerosene or alcohol-based products. They simply aren’t effective enough against many types of weeds. Instead, look toward commercial-grade fuels, namely methyl chloride, diatomaceous earth, glyphosate or pyrethrum. These products usually come in liquid form, meaning they can easily be sprayed on hard-to-reach areas, edges, and borders. Then, depending upon personal preference, wait anywhere from 15 minutes up to 4 hours for the product to dry completely. Some experts recommend waiting 72 hours!
If you live in a warm climate, you may notice that these solutions evaporate fairly rapidly. This means that you won’t be able to see the result immediately — it could take days. Don’t worry, however. Even though the active ingredient has dissipated, the chemicals still remain lethal. Just remember that since they were originally designed to destroy insects, animals or fungi, they should only affect weeds.
As we mentioned earlier, you should always follow instructions carefully when using any pesticide or herbicide. Also note that certain states ban the use of specific substances, such as chlorine gas, sulfur dioxide, sodium sulfide and ammonia compounds. Before purchasing any kind of herbicidal solution, check out state regulations regarding usage.
You should never inhale or ingest diesel sprays or vapors, nor allow others who walk barefoot over treated surfaces to do so either. Children under 6 years old and adults over 60 should avoid exposure altogether. Wear protective clothing and equipment while working with the substance. Remember to thoroughly rinse all tools and containers after treatment. Finally, pay attention to weather conditions and wind speed. Strong winds increase evaporation rates, making your job harder.
How long does diesel kill grass?
While the actual amount of time varies greatly depending on the individual plant life, it generally takes 24 to 48 hours for all grasses to die following treatment with any one of these common methods. For example, consider the case of glyphosate, commonly known as RoundUp. Glyphosate works well on both annuals and grasses by inhibiting production of essential amino acids within plant cells. When the enzyme responsible for creating the necessary amino acids isn’t present, the cell dies. Grass becomes weak, brittle and eventually dies. Once again, you must read labels carefully before buying any particular brand of product.
But what about dandelions and clover? Will diesel kill them? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. While these plants may seem unaffected by direct applications of diesel, the same cannot be said for neighboring plants. As noted above, it typically takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours for the diesel vapor to become fully dispersed throughout the surrounding environment. Since these weeds grow very close to each other, they absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, water and nutrients. Their roots also intertwine tightly together, allowing for easy access to moisture and food sources. As a result, the immediate area near a target weed is often saturated with toxins.
This makes it difficult to determine how long it would take another plant to recover once exposed. A single dandelion may have up to 50 root systems growing underneath it, along with thousands of leaves. Each cluster of roots may extend 100 feet underground. With that in mind, it would be impossible to say definitively how long these plants would take to recover. Most likely, however, it would take weeks or months.
Another factor worth considering is that once the weed dies, its decaying remains release various gases. Depending on the season and local weather patterns, these gasses may linger for days or even weeks. On average, a healthy tree releases 20 tons of oxygen per year. What about trees that haven’t been harmed yet? Can they smell the dead stuff coming from below? No way. Trees don’t “smell” anything unless they actively detect odor molecules via specialized sensors.
What about neighbors’ yards? Are they safe to mow next week? Again, the answer is maybe…it depends on the situation. First off, you should try to find out if anyone living nearby uses a similar product. If so, ask permission to treat the surrounding property yourself. Otherwise, someone else may decide to step in and ruin your beautiful lawn. Next, consider the distance between the target weed and your neighbor’s house. Is it less than 25 feet? Not likely. Try moving further away. Ideally, you’d want to stay at least 500 feet away.
Finally, remember that this doesn’t mean that every yard affected by diesel needs to be left alone until springtime. Many professionals believe that keeping a lawn in good health can help reduce pollution caused by cars. Therefore, it’s important to clear debris and brush piles from the vicinity. Additionally, remove fallen branches and leaves from the ground. This reduces erosion and allows sunlight to reach new growth.
Does roundup work better with diesel?
Roundup Ready seeds were introduced in 1996 as part of Monsanto Company’s genetically modified Bt corn seed technology package. Bt refers to a naturally occurring protein found in bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bti). Bt crystals produced by crops act as natural pesticides on targeted pest populations. The idea was to create a variety of different strains of Bt corn resistant to numerous insect threats. At the same time, researchers began developing ways to minimize damage done by these pests. Eventually, scientists realized that Bt did indeed cause significant problems for non-targeted organisms, especially birds. Rather than altering the genes in corn itself, scientists inserted a gene coding specifically for Bti instead.
In 2007, Roundup Ready soybean fields accounted for nearly half of US soybean acreage planted. Soybeans produce oil, which is used to manufacture polymers, solvents, pharmaceuticals, paints, adhesives, explosives and biodiesel. Because of this, Roundup Ready soybean varieties account for roughly 70% of total soybean exports worldwide.
The introduction of Roundup Ready corn allowed growers to control broadleaf weeds and caterpillar pests with two separate herbicides. Farmers could now use Roundup herbicide to kill weeds, and glyphosphate to kill other unwanted foliage. Although this combination seems ideal, it didn’t sit well with everyone. Critics believed the practice hurt biodiversity and led to increased instances of superweeds that resisted glyphosate. Others claimed that the presence of phosphates encouraged algae blooms.
Since 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency and Congress have considered introducing legislation restricting the use of phosphate fertilizers nationwide. Now, the EPA has finally made a decision about how to proceed. According to data collected by the agency, runoff containing phosphorus fertilizer contributes significantly to eutrophication — i.e., algal blooming events — in lakes and rivers. Phosphorus feeds microscopic algae, leading to excessive nutrient levels in waterways. Other environmental concerns include soil acidification due to high concentrations of nitrates, loss of habitat for wildlife, and contamination of groundwater aquifers. To address these issues, the EPA hopes to limit the use of nitrogen and phosphorus-based fertilizers.
In 2008, the federal government issued a voluntary moratorium on the use of glyophosphate herbicides after reports emerged linking it to cancer. Despite this warning, manufacturers continue to market the compound, claiming it’s safer than alternatives. Growers concerned about potential crop losses can opt to purchase alternative brands like Cobra, Basta!, Spectracide, etc.