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How to Use Surfactants in Your Lawn

By DoMyOwn staff

Surfactants help the product you're using penetrate the waxy cuticle of the plant and increase the product's effectiveness.

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Garden and lawn care products like herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides can roll off the waxy cuticles of plant leaves, wasting product and limiting results. Surfactants added to your chemical application help cut through this cuticle, allowing the product to penetrate the plant and help prevent or cure a disease or fungus.

Surfactants are chemical compounds that lower the surface tension between a solid and a liquid. This helps your herbicide, insecticide, or fungicide stay on the leaves of the plant where they can be effective, rather than rolling off.

Surfactants are not meant to be used on their own, as they have no effect on the plant by themselves and will not help prevent or control any disease or pest.

Only use a surfactant when instructed to on the label of your insecticide, herbicide, or fungicide. Some products already include surfactants in their formula, or do not need surfactants to be effective.

There are several types of surfactants, including non-ionic surfactants, methylated seed oils, and oil concentrates. The product label of the chemical you are pairing the surfactant with will recommend the type of surfactant to use and product mixture rates.

Apply surfactants with a hand pump or backpack sprayer as instructed on the product label. Do not use surfactants in extreme heat as they can burn plants. Instead, apply in the cooler temperatures of the early morning.

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