Sometimes, organic weed control methods simply don't work to eradicate some types of persistent weeds. Synthetic chemicals used as herbicides are nonselective, which means they damage or kill almost every type of plant they contact, or they are selective, which means they damage or kill only certain weeds. Triclopyr is a selective herbicide, targeting broadleaf and woody plants instead of grassy plants. It may also be used as one ingredient in a multichemical herbicidal mix that collectively works as a nonselective herbicidal combination.
The chemical triclopyr is an ingredient in more than 200 commercial weed killers, including Garlon, Pathfinder, Remedy, Tailspin and Vastlan.
What Is Triclopyr?
Triclopyr was registered for forestry. Currently, it's often used in agricultural applications, and it's also formulated for turfgrass and use around certain landscape plants. The primary reason it's used to treat weeds in turfgrass is because it targets broadleaf weeds, which means it typically doesn't harm grassy plants.
Triclopyr works through systemic action. In other words, it enters a plant through the plant's roots, foliage and stems before moving throughout the plant's system and damaging or killing it. It is slow-acting, and it doesn't immediately kill a plant. Typically, it takes weeks after applying triclopyr before a plant dies. It's available in different formulations, including water-soluble concentrates, oil-soluble concentrates and ready-to-use, oil-based concentrates.
Triclopyr is highly water-soluble, allowing it to move throughout the soil, where it may also linger. It's best for the environment to use only enough of this chemical to kill weeds and reduce its concentration in the soil.
Which Weed Killers Contain Triclopyr?
Triclopyr is the name of the chemical agent that kills weeds, but there are more than 200 products with different trade names that contain this ingredient. Common herbicides that have triclopyr as an active ingredient include Pathfinder, Vastlan, Remedy, Garlon and Tailspin.
Vastlan is an example of a product that contains triclopyr in a water-soluble concentrate. Used alone, Vastlan is applied to the foliage or on the cut stems of woody plants to kill them as a selective herbicide without harming grasses. However, when used in a mixed solution with glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, which is a nonselective herbicide, this combination kills most everything it touches, including turfgrass.
Pathfinder II is an example of a product that contains triclopyr in an oil-based, ready-to-use formulation that is used to kill tree stumps. Garlon 4 Ultra is an example of a product that contains triclopyr in an oil-soluble concentrate formula and is commonly applied to woody-stemmed plants to kill them.
What Are Triclopyr Safety Precautions?
Triclopyr should only be used according to the label directions for rate, time of application and types of target weeds you want to control. Although triclopyr transfers low toxicity to the skin on contact and low toxicity when inhaled, you should always wear gloves when handling, applying or disposing of this chemical. Different forms of triclopyr cause eye problems. Some only cause irritation, but other products may cause permanent eye damage, which is why it's very important to wear safety goggles when handling, applying or disposing of this chemical.
Triclopyr toxicity research primarily includes laboratory evaluation of rats, rabbits and dogs, and its precise effects on people, such as its potential for causing cancer, have not been fully evaluated. Follow all label safety recommendations to minimize exposure and reduce the risks of exposure to triclopyr. If you're exposed to triclopyr, the product label should contain first-aid instructions. You can also call the poison control center at 800-222-1222 for treatment advice.
Victoria Lee Blackstone is a horticulturist and a professional writer who has authored research-based scientific/technical papers, horticultural articles, and magazine and newspaper columns. Her writing expertise covers diverse industries, including horticulture, home maintenance and DIY projects, banking, finance, law and tax. Blackstone has written more than 2,000 published works for newspapers, magazines, online publications and individual clients.