Herbicides, and other chemicals and mechanical control equipment, are inherently dangerous. They should be used by trained experts and/or with much caution. If you choose to use herbicides or mechanical equipment, always read and follow the herbicide label and herbicide/equipment safety precautions. Seek professional assistance or training whenever possible.

Blue Ridge PRISM collaborated with the Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) to create an easy-to-use chart that includes DOF’s control recommendations using manual, mechanical, and chemical control techniques.

Select the image to view the chart:

Manual and Mechanical Control Resources

Using manual control to control invasive plants is a great option in many cases. 

How To Control Invasive Plants: Manual, Mechanical, and Biological Methods -Blue Ridge PRISM
Best Management Practices for Non-Chemical Weed Control – California Invasive Plant Council

This guide from the California Invasive Plant Council details 21 commonly used non-chemical invasive control techniques and biological control agents for 18 invasive species/species groups.

Foliar application of herbicide, Photo by William Hamersky

Chemical Control Resources

Blue Ridge PRISM supports the safe and proper use of herbicides only when they are necessary. If you choose to use herbicides to control invasive plants, be cautious when using them. Read and understand the herbicide label prior to use. Use the correct amount and the correct concentration at the correct time.


Understanding Herbicide Labels

What is the label?

A label is the written, printed, or graphic matter on, or attached to, the pesticide or device or any of its containers or wrappers. It contains all of the information you need to know to use the product correctly. Read the herbicide label carefully and in its entirety. The label on the herbicide product is a legal document and using the product inconsistent with label instructions is a violation of the law. Always follow label instructions.

What should I pay attention to when reading the label?

Read the label carefully and in its entirety paying particular attention to the product name, active ingredients, first aid, environmental hazards, signal words, directions for use, directions for mixing, storage and disposal instructions, and required personal protective equipment.

Learn more about reading a label from Penn State Extension, What You Need to Know about Reading a Pesticide Label

I need help finding a product label. Where can I look online?

CDMS Label Database -Search for an herbicide label by brand name or manufacturer OR often a quick online search of the brand name or manufacturer will generate the product label and SDS sheet.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The herbicide label will provide instruction on what PPE or personal protective equipment is required to be used while handling, mixing, and applying the herbicide. Follow those instructions carefully. Always wear long sleeves, long pants, socks and close-toed shoes, chemical resistant gloves, a hat, and eye protection.

Mixing and Applying Herbicides

Although ready-to-use or RTU herbicides can be purchased, if you are controlling a lot of invasive plants, you will save money by purchasing concentrated herbicides and diluting according to the label instructions. Use extreme caution when mixing herbicides. Before mixing any herbicide, READ THE LABEL.

Safety First
  • Use PPE as indicated by the herbicide label
  • Work in a well-ventilated place when mixing herbicides
  • Have on hand: heavy plastic garbage bags, a shovel, and chemical spill absorber (kitty litter)
  • On-site access to water for First Aid OR carry emergency eye wash and a dedicated container of clean water for hand washing
  • Wash hands before eating, drinking, or using the restroom (or using tobacco)
  • Use a dedicated measuring cup and funnel for mixing; label it to avoid confusion with equipment used for measuring food
  • Pour liquids carefully to minimize splashing
  • Label all mixed herbicide with the date, chemical name, and the % concentration
  • Wash all measuring equipment before storage (not in a kitchen or bathroom sink)
  • Launder contaminated clothing separately from other clothing

Mixing a Backpack Sprayer
  • When using adjuvants refer to the label – look for ‘Mixing Order’ or ‘Mixing Directions’
  • Some herbicides may require agitation as you mix
  • Defer to label instructions, but generally:
    1. fill the sprayer half-full of clean water; add surfactant if the product does not have one; then add a dye; then carefully measure and add the herbicide;
    2. rinse the measuring equipment three times and add the rinsate to the tank solution;
    3. top the backpack sprayer with water to the desired amount.

Mixing a Handheld Sprayer, Dauber or Drip Bottle
  • Mix larger amount in a separate container – following above tips for mixing a backpack sprayer
  • Use a funnel to carefully transfer mixed herbicide to the desired applicator
  • Individual bottles can be mixed for small jobs

More Herbicide Resources…

Do I Need to be Certified to Apply Pesticides in Virginia? – Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

What is an Adjuvant? – Invasive.org

Herbicide Names: Common Names and Other Trade Names – B. Tickes, University of Arizona

Forest Herbicide Characteristics – University of Florida | IFAS Extension