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bareground weedBare Ground Management 

As always, the key to applying bare ground herbicides is in the volume of water. Soil sterilent herbicides are primarily seed growth inhibitors which prevent seed germination from occurring. Because of this you need to ensure that the bare weed killer herbicide you choose gets down to where the seeds are. If you do not use enough water to fully saturate the soil down about 8-12" deep then you will possibly not get full control as there may still be growth below the herbicide layer.

Bare ground weed control is a key part of any integrated vegetation management program. Whether you are running a large industrial plant where where you cannot have any weeds damaging your equipment or you are a homeowner who doesn't want to constantly have to spray weeds as they pop up in your driveway our professional bare ground herbicides are 100% guaranteed to eliminate plant growth for an entire year when applied properly.

When applying a bare ground herbicide it is very important to use a large volume of water or apply while the ground is saturated and you will get good penetration. Follow our 2 step program below and we guarantee 100% that you will only make one vegetation control application a year.

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2 Step Bare Ground Vegetation Management Program

Step 1: The first step to bare ground is killing all current vegetation. You will want to use a systemic postemergent herbicide that will kill the current vegetation down to the root. The most common one for leafy vegetation is glyphosate and we have had 100% success with the Glyphosate 4+ from Alligare. If you are dealing with larger vegetation such as bushes or trees you would want to utilize an ester like Triclopyr 4 which is 60% triclopyr and will eliminate anything with a bark.

Step 2:
The second step will be applying your soil sterilent product. These products inhibit seed germination and will ensure that nothing grows where they are applied for 1 year. We always recommend using a indicator dye so you know exactly where you spray and do not apply to areas where you do not want the chemical. The best product we have found for total vegetation control for a year is Bromacil 40/40. It is a mix of bromacil and diuron in a water dispersable granule form. It is the most economical product to use for large scale vegetation management. We sell thousands of pounds a year to applicators who use it to control vegetation around pipelines and production facilities.

Learn More About Bare Ground Management Weed springing up out of bare ground

Bare ground management is known by a variety of other names such as non-selective weed control in non-crop areas, industrial weed control, or even total vegetation control. No matter what you call it, it all refers to the process of keeping certain areas totally plant free during the course of the growing season.

There are several areas where keeping weeds and plants to a minimum or having no plant life growing at all is ideal (ie. having a “bare ground”). These include areas where railroad tracks are established, the shoulder area on a highway, and electrical substations, refineries, storage tank areas, pipelines, parking lots, tower bases, lumber yards, around signposts- any place where vegetation can potentially grow but isn’t wanted or it could become a risk or hazard if the vegetation is left unchecked. Operations and processes may go much more smoothly in such areas if vegetation were not present

Some examples of why bare ground management should be done in such areas include reduction of fire hazard, improved access and visibility, eliminate potential habitats for pests ease of maintenance, improved surface drainage, and general aesthetics.

The best way to accomplish keeping these industrial and non-crop areas vegetation free is by using what are call bare ground herbicides. The ideal goal of applying bare ground herbicide treatments is to have the herbicide powerful enough to hinder the growth of weeds and limiting them to areas where the products won’t affect non-target plants.

Things To Consider Before Using A Bare Ground Herbicide

While bare ground management may primarily be for industrial areas, homeowners have also turned such products on their residential lawns and landscapes as well for various reasons.

For instance, it is the dream of a landowner or gardener to not have to deal with weeds and going through the task of controlling them when they creep up. So when people see products that are “non-selective” or bare ground herbicides which claim sterilize the soil and kill all unwanted plants, they think they have finally found the answer to their weed woes.

However, it is important to realize that bare ground herbicides should only be used in special cases, that is why it’s best to understand how bare ground herbicides work before making a decision to use them.

Bare ground herbicides are otherwise known as non-selective herbicides meaning they deliver a “total kill” of all plants which the product comes in contact with, emphasis on ALL. There are bare ground herbicide products which can last in the soil for long periods, sometimes for 10 or more years, particularly in arid environments. These products have high potential to unintentionally cause significant damage to desirable plants.

Unlike pre-emergent herbicides, which only affect sprouting seeds, and post-emergent selective herbicides which target specific weeds which have germinated, bare ground herbicides are designed to kill any and all vegetation without discrimination.

bare ground weedsBeing Mindful of The Results of Using Bare Ground Herbicides

Keep in mind, while bare ground herbicide products may kill the weeds you’ve been dying to get rid of, they may also kill your turf grass, your garden or your favorite shade tree if the roots are currently growing in a spot where the herbicide has been applied.

As we’ve stressed earlier, bare ground herbicides are meant to be used in areas where vegetation is not wanted at all, such as the right-of-way for a railroad , industrial sites, parking lots and roadways, or where undesirable plants could cause damage, present fire hazards or get in the way of work crews. They are not meant for residential use around gardens and landscapes.

Bare Ground Herbicide Properties

Just by browsing our store selection of weed control and lawn care products, you will see that there are many different types of herbicides, and these herbicides can affect plants in different ways, so it’s important to have an understanding of which herbicide does what.

For example, a selective herbicide kills specific types of plants, such as grassy weeds or broadleaf weeds like clover and crabgrass. Non-selective herbicides kill nearly all plants which they come into contact with whether it is a weed or a desirable plant. Pre-emergent herbicides work to prevent sprouted weed seeds from growing, but don’t kill weed which have already germinated and sprung out from the soil. Post-emergent herbicides are effective in controlling emerged and growing weeds. With all of these clarifications laid out, a bare ground herbicide is non-selective and both pre- and post- emergent plant killing product.

Aside from their trait of lasting effectiveness wherever they are applied, most bare ground herbicides are also very water-soluble. With the help of rainfall or irrigation water, the chemicals in bare ground herbicides can travel downward and can basically run off from soil to the roots of desirable trees, shrubs and other plants, especially when applied on an incline or slope.

Since tree roots may extend horizontally three to four times the width of a tree or plant canopy, it be difficult to determine where the roots are going.

This can mean that if there is a tree nearby where bare ground herbicide treatment has occurred, the chemical could get to the tree roots and lead to death or serious injury to a tree or other desirable plants even though they are not near the area where the product was placed down.

There have been countless reports of bare ground chemical applications killing the trees of a next door neighbor or detrimentally affecting adjacent shrubs and turf. Desirable plants can even be at risk of severe damage or death by simply rinsing a sprayer or washing off equipment which housed bare ground herbicide product near desirable plants.

Due to bare ground herbicide chemicals being able to remain in the soil for so many years after initial application, they can continue to spread with water movement, as the years go by. Runoff containing bare ground herbicide chemicals can contaminate surface water supplies.

When a bare ground herbicide moves through the soil, there is also the possibility that it can contaminate groundwater. Often the directions on the label clearly state that these products should not be used in places where there are drinking water reservoirs or active wells.

Bare ground herbicides which contain the active ingredients atrazine, bromacil, diuron, prometon, simazine and tebuthiuron have all been reportedly found in low levels as water contaminants in various locations across the country. How much leaching of bare ground herbicides depends on the kind of soil present and how much rain or irrigation. Sandy soils are usually the soil type that bare ground chemical achieve the most movement.

Issues can also arise if treated soil is moved or transported by wind from the application site to another part of the yard, where it can damage plants or hinders plant growth in the new location.

Long-term use of bare ground herbicides can result in bare ground that is prone to erosion, may eliminate healthy insect diversity and can increase the incidence of wildlife pests such as ground squirrels. The plants that are able to grow in these sites are often invasive weeds which can become herbicide-resistant, making controlling these plants a frustrating task to tackle.


spraying bare ground herbicides

Read The Label Before Using Bare Ground Herbicides

Before you use bare ground herbicides (or any herbicide for that matter), it is vital that you read through and understand the label directions. Labels come with information about sites where the bare ground herbicide product can be used, special cautions or restrictions relating to environmental hazards, and the species of plants which can be successfully controlled by the product.

An example of a bare ground herbicide label directions may include something similar to this: To be used on ramps, fence rows, railroad sidings, in storage yards, parking lots, around buildings, industrial plant sites, lumberyards, utility and pipelinks, schools highway authorities, vacant lots.

This granular weed killer is a non-selective herbicide for controlling a wide range of annual and perennial weeds and grasses. It is recommended only for non-cropland areas such as railroads rights-of-way and industrial areas (underscore added by authors)...Do not apply on or near valuable woody or herbaceous plants or on areas where their roots may extend because of possible injury to such plants...Do not use on any land to be used for subsequent cropping. Keep animals off treated areas (Source: University of Nevada Cooperative Extension).

Remember that the label is the law. It is a violation of law to apply a product in an area that is not explicitly stated on the label. Note that the label in the example says nothing about using this product on residential areas.

It is your responsibility as the customer and product user to take appropriate measures to ensure the product does not damage adjacent plants, leach into bodies of water or contaminate areas that were not intended to be treat with the product.


While it may be tempting for the average homeowner or lawn care DIYer to turn to a bare ground herbicide when they are frustrated with weeds or just want to start from scratch with their plants and vegetation, it is not a good idea to use on any residential area or you will be risking some serious and costly damage to not only your plants but the plants that you don’t even own, such as your neighbor.

Further, it can be a terribly expensive ordeal to clean up contaminated drinking water, rivers, streams or lakes caused by using bare ground herbicides where they weren’t meant to be used. Leave bare ground herbicides to be used by those on industrial sites or else you may cause some serious trouble that will make you regret using bare ground herbicides.

Bare Ground Fact Sheet By Dow Chemical Co


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