Weed management tips

By Bill Kleiman, Nachusa Grasslands Project Director, TNC

The photo below shows a nail pouch that clips to my belt.  Those are king devil flower heads in there.  I pluck the heads and spray the basal rosettes.  This is easy and I call it fun.

Year round I have a quart sprayer of some herbicide in my vehicle sitting in a five gallon pail.  In winter it is a basal bark herbicide solution since it won’t freeze.  In summer I also carry a bottle of  water based broadleaf herbicide.  Lately it has been a solution of 2% Garlon 3A with a bit of blue dye.  It is very pleasant to hop out of the truck, grab a squirt bottle, and treat an autumn olive or a birdsfoot trefoil, without having to put my backpack on.

Below is a jug of broadleaf herbicide.  It is marked  RTU which stands for Ready To Use, meaning it is not concentrate but diluted, with a surfactant and colorant added.  I carry about a gallon in the jug as it is easier to fill the bottles that way.  I have a funnel with me.  Or you can fill the squirt bottles from your backpack sprayer.

Below are five squirt bottle brands.   Some of these bottles cost very little and you get five minutes of frustrating air spray or sometimes a few months of good herbicide spray from the same cheap bottle.

My favorite sprayer of late is this one which came as a Chlorox cleaning solution.  I peeled off the label.  On the other side I used a label maker to mark it as “Broadleaf herbicide”.  This model will spray every drop as that pickup tube comes from the very bottom front, so you don’t pump air when the bottle is tilted down.  They spray a moderate cone of mist.  So far these are awesome.

The nozzle has that short red tube.  It has a quarter turn connect.  I don’t see these for sale on line.  You can buy some more cleaning solution!

Below you are looking down at one big invasive birdsfoot trefoil with the yellow flowers.  Carrying a hand sprayer means it is easy to bend down and gather up that sprawling plant as I did here and then squirt the middle of the “braid” with a dose.  The prairie dock should survive.

Below is a repurposed class A foam container to hold water for a simple hand washing station.  I drilled a hole in the edge.  Just lay it over and it trickles out water.  Sometimes I carry soap but just the water is very nice to have around.  Don’t fill it all the way, a gallon or two last a few days.

Below is a plastic hinged box to hold items useful in weed work.  Disposable rubber gloves, blue tree marking paint, sun screen, ear plugs, paper towels, safety glasses, a little bottle of eye saline, MSDS sheets.

Of course a backpack is a common item to carry in my truck.  This is a new model for us we are trying.  I like its folding handle.  The clip seems to hold the nozzle wand.  The wand is metal.  It has a padded shoulder straps and back pad.  The fill lid is deep and wide which means less splashing on fill up.  We bought a few of these and the pressure seems poor and the shut off of the spray is not crisp, but drips a bit.  I don’t know if we are doing something wrong with them.

I encourage our crew to just put in a 1.5 gallons of mix to keep the weight low.  This pack full would feel like you were backpacking the AT.   Hopefully we walk more than we spray.  Carry a 2 gallon jug of RTU mix in the truck.

Last tip:

If you visit an invasive weed occurrence once a year to treat it the weed will likely increase.

If you visit the occurrence twice you will break even and maybe gain.

If you visit three or more times you likely make great progress.

Weed work is a marathon.

Carry the tools you need and be happy.










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3 Responses to Weed management tips

  1. Susan Kleiman says:

    Excellent attitude. Great summary at the end!

  2. Paul Brewer says:

    Some great tips here Bill! When I worked with private landowners as a private lands biologist, I often found landowners would make themselves miserable thinking about “all the work” they needed to do – – on land they bought as a place for enjoyment and relaxation!! The saw or tractor

    Getting the work done with the slow and steady pace and making it as fun as possible are great tips. I need to do more of that myself!

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