If you’ve ever had a long, drawn-out conversation about gardening habits, surely the topic of weeds came up. And it’s unlikely you encounter someone arguing for a weed’s preservation. Of course not, weeds are an incredible nuisance, ruining the aesthetic of lawns nationwide.
But when the conversation turns to how to rid yards of weeds, there’s no consensus on a method. You’ll likely hear more than 20 different weed remedies, some natural, some chemical.
That’s another big part of the debate. With environmental concerns at an all-time high, and some troubling things learned about the chemicals used in weed control, the debate about whether to go all-natural or succumb to Big Chemical is a complicated one. There’s more than one panic-inducing documentary to inform you, and they aren’t pretty.
The chemicals work great, but how safe are they for you, your children, and pets?
This is one of the reasons many go with home remedies for their weed problems. Ammonia is one such remedy, but like any, there are certain precautions one must follow. Ammonia is commonly used for killing weeds and grass, but it’s still toxic and should be treated as such.
It’s also important to remember that ammonia is not just potentially harmful to you and yours, it’s also not a selective weed killer. So if you have plants you don’t want to be killed along with the weeds, ammonia may not be your best option.
Ammonia is effective, but excessive use will also cause damage to the soil, so one should be conservative with just how much they apply to their lawn.
Does Ammonia Kill Weeds Fast?
Ammonia gets to work fairly quickly, but not as fast as some other products. It kills them by seeping into the weed’s roots. Once it gets inside, it dehydrates the weed to death. So while it takes a little longer, it’s quite thorough.
Thorough, but only if you spray the entirety of the weed you want to kill. If you miss any, there’s a chance it can regrow next season.
What Weeds Will Ammonia Kill?
Ammonia is adept at killing most common weeds. It’s most effective against:
Crabgrass – This annual lawn weed will be wiped out with ammonia down to the root, meaning it won’t be able to regrow the following season.
Dandelions – You’ve likely seen this perennial everywhere in your neighborhood, particularly in the Spring. It’s usually found around patios and driveways and can be eliminated with ammonia.
Poison Sumac – Despite this shrub being rather thick, ammonia has no problem killing it.
Common Ragweed – Those that suffer severe allergies due to ragweed’s nuisance will be relieved to know ammonia gets rid of it permanently.
Ground Ivy – Ammonia is probably the most effective method to eliminate this common lawn weed.
How To Kill Weeds Using Ammonia
When using an ammonia solution, it’s vital you follow these steps to protect yourself and any greenery you don’t want to be eliminated. You’ll need a bucket, rubber gloves, a funnel, something to stir the mixture with, and a spray bottle.
- Put on rubber gloves. If you have a mask, it’s recommended to use it. Goggles for your eyes are also a good idea.
- Mix ammonia and water in a bucket (2/3 ammonia, 1/3 water)
- Stir well and use the funnel to transfer the solution into a spray bottle with an adjustable nozzle.
- Adjust the nozzle to a fine jet setting and spray directly on just a few weeds. Repeat until they die. This is known as performing a spot-test, and you should judge just how well the solution works before committing to it for the rest of the job.
- If you feel the ammonia is doing the job well enough, continue spraying on all weeds you want to kill.
- Remove your safety gear when you’re done. Get rid of the gloves and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Side Effects of Using Ammonia to Kill Weeds
You’ll likely be pleased with ammonia’s results, but we can’t stress the importance of the safety precautions enough. When it’s mixed with other weed-killing chemicals, the fumes it produces are toxic to humans, and pets stand even less of a chance. And as we mentioned before, improperly applying it on your lawn can result in you losing the plants you worked long to cultivate.
Inhaling ammonia causes immediate burning of the nose, throat, and chest. This can cause edema in the respiratory system, leading to airway destruction or even failure. Children are even more susceptible due to their greater lung surface area-to-body ratio.
Worse, there’s no antidote for ammonia poisoning. The effects can be treated, and most people recover, but prolonged exposure is a serious risk.
Should it have contact with your skin or eyes, the irritation is immediate and painful. Skin burns, permanent eye damage, and even blindness are possible.
Precautions When Using Ammonia
Fortunately, there are simple precautions that we’ve mostly discussed that will protect you and your loved ones, though we’d recommend keeping animals as far away from the product as possible. Wearing rubber gloves is always necessary. When it comes to using ammonia to kill weeds, any protective gear you opt to wear is going to be helpful, with the base necessity being a good pair of gloves.
Can I Mix Ammonia with Other Herbicides?
We mentioned how toxic it can be to mix ammonia with other herbicides, however, that shouldn’t necessarily dissuade you. In fact, mixing ammonium sulfate with herbicides containing glyphosate such as Roundup makes it more effective. The ammonium sulfate increases the herbicide’s absorbability, meaning it should take care of the more persistent weeds like clover.
There are plenty of factors you should take into consideration when using ammonia to kill weeds, but sometimes the best option is a little risky. And that risk is not an unmanageable one, so long as you wear the necessary protective gear and avoid spraying it near any plants you want to enjoy all season.