MSMA Alternatives for Residential Lawn Maintenance

MSMA Alternatives for Residential Lawn Maintenance

Most Effective Products

Barricade Granular Pre-emergent Herbicide
As low as $28.99
Emulsifiable Concentrate (EC)
As low as $13.95
Keith's Pro Tips

"What you choose for weed control when you can't use MSMA largely depends on the weed type you are targeting. The recommendations on this page are offered because they have a wide label of grassy and broadleaf weeds they can control."

MSMA Alternatives for Residential Lawn Maintenance

Spraying MSMA

Monosodium methanearsonate, known in short as MSMA, is a commonly used herbicide in warm-season climates that has been effective in managing various common commercial and residential weeds since the 1960s. This popular product had long been used to manage infestations of invasive weeds like crabgrass, goosegrass, dallisgrass, bermuda grass and other common grasses on warm-season turf. 

MSMA is an organic arsenical herbicide and contains an organic form of the element arsenic. In its organic form, arsenic is largely nontoxic. However, in an inorganic state, the arsenic element can be highly toxic.

The EPA responded by enacting a phase-out of all herbicides which contain arsenic from being used on agricultural and residential properties and imposed restrictions on their use to only be conducted on commercial properties that grow cotton and for limited use on golf courses, sod farms and highway rights of way.

Currently, Solutions Pest and Lawn carries MSMA Target 6 Plus Herbicide which can only be used on Cotton, Golf courses, Sod Farms, and highway rights of way for weed control in a very limited fashion. Here are the limitations:

  • Golf courses:
    • One broadcast application allowed on newly constructed courses.
    • Application on existing courses limited to spot treatment (100 sq ft per spot), not to exceed 25% of the total course in one year.Sod farms:
  • Sod Farms
    • Two broadcast applications allowed per crop.
    • 25 foot buffer strip required for fields bordering permanent water bodies.
    • Not allowed in Florida
  • Highway Rights of Way:
    • Two broadcast applications allowed per season.
    • 100-foot buffer strip will be required when spraying near permanent water bodies.
    • Not allowed in Florida

For residential use, lawn owners are out of luck using MSMA which was helpful in managing weeds that were often difficult to control using conventional herbicides. Fortunately, there are solid alternatives that provide good weed control and Solutions holds a number of those options that can make up for MSMA’s absence. Our experts recommend the following things to consider regarding those persistent and difficult to control weeds as a workaround to MSMA no longer being available.

Smart Lawn Maintenance Practices

mowing lawn

The best defense against any invasive weed is a healthy, nutrient-rich, turf that can withstand and combat invaders. Weeds often grow on lawns that are either over- or under-watered, not adequately fertilized, improperly mowed, or where excessive foot traffic compacts the soil. 

Implementing standard recommended cultural practices like aeration, fertilizing, mowing, etc. can be a great way of preventing weeds from growing by improving soil conditions. 

Lawns that have been affected by lawn diseases or turf insects are also vulnerable to weed invasions because there is likely bare spots available for a weed to establish. If you have identified a disease on your lawn or a turf pest, you should consider applying a fungicide or lawn insecticide to eliminate the threat.

Use an effective Pre-emergent

spreading fert

Losing the ability to use an economical postemergence herbicide like MSMA makes it all the more important to use pre-emergent to fight off weeds. Pre-emergent herbicides work by preventing weed seeds that are established in the soil from sprouting.

When applied correctly, pre-emergent herbicides containing active ingredients such as Prodiamine (Nitrophos Barricade) can provide fantastic control of annual grassy weeds like crabgrass and goosegrass for extended periods of time.

Simply load the appropriate amount of Barricade into a broadcast spreader and then spread over your entire lawn uniformly. It is important to apply pre-emergent herbicides prior to the growth of the weed seed and water in the product after treatment.

Use a post-emergent herbicide alternative

selective spraying

Solutions Pest & Lawn offers a variety of post-emergent herbicides that can control a multitude of specific weeds. Whether it’s crabgrass, nutsedge or broadleaf weeds, we have what you are looking for that can effectively take care of those invasive weeds. Our top recommendations for residential lawn control are msm turf herbicide and 2,4-D amine selective weed killer.

These herbicide recommendations are known as selective herbicides meaning that they will only affect target weeds and leave desired grass and vegetation unharmed. Simply mix the appropriate amount of herbicide with water in a handheld sprayer and apply uniformly onto the target weeds. Within a week, the weed will show yellowing and signs of death. Sometimes for more stubborn weeds, repeat applications are needed.

If you are stuck on what you should use, give us a call or email us at and we will help direct you toward a product that will fulfill your lawn and turf needs. Check out our selection and you can find an effective residential alternative that can fill the void of MSMA.

Key Takeaways

  • MSMA was once a widely used herbicide effective in eliminating a wide range of weeds but it has since been labeled as a restricted-use product that licensed applicators can use for certain sites like golf courses and sod farms.
  • Residential DIYers that are looking for an alternative that can deliver effective weed control as an alternative to MSMA can try msm turf herbicide or 2,4-D amine selective weed killer.
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