You can save money by using regular dish soap as a surfactant
This is a trick that works quite well, check out the results pictures I posted below. Using any dish soap, I like Palmolive and Dawn, is just as effective as buying a name brand surfactant. If you are wondering how to kill weeds in lawn with better results or just looking for a cheaper surfactant than this is the method for you. In fact if you check the label of both soaps it says that it is a surfactant on it. The mix ratio I use for soap is 2 to 4 oz per acre which is less than the amount needed when using a surfactant made specifically for weed control or tree products. In a backpack sprayer just a quick squirt will do the trick.
Surfactants help weed control and other products stick to target
Surfactants are products made to help hold a liquid or granular product in suspension in your spray tank. A surfactant will also help the product disperse evenly on the target plant, rather than the water beading. They are a spray sticker as well, helping to keep your product on the target plant. Surfactants, including soap, will make your application more rainfast which is important for protecting work quality and preventing expensive re-applications when killing weeds in lawn.
When to use a surfactant
I use a surfactant in every single tank of herbicide because it increases results and effectiveness of treatment. I also use surfactants mixed in with tree sprays because it will help disperse the product, coating the entire leaf, especially important for fungicides. A two and a half gallon jug of surfactant costs me about $70.00 from my supplier and even less from Amazon (about $49 but it fluctuates), I use the product Alligare 90. It will add to your cost slightly, especially if you use a name brand product like Alligare 90 rather than soap but it is worth the added benefit.
Situations where surfactants are needed
Surfactants are a must for wettable powders and granular products. If you are not going to regularly use a surfactant than you at least should stock some for your dry products that mix with water such as sedgehammer or other nutsedge control products. If you read the label of these products they mandate adding surfactant because they will not dissolve properly without it. This will cause the application to not work and it worst case scenarios it can break your sprayers pumping mechanism by getting the moving parts gummed up. Other must use situations are when rain is in the immediate forecast and when spraying trees for diseases.
The bottom line is surfactants greatly improve your results and if you choose wisely you can get the cost way down using a dish soap, although there is nothing wrong with using a pesticide specific product if you feel more comfortable, I’ll link to the one I use below, called Alligare 90, and also to Palmolive. Good luck and enjoy your improved results.
If you have experience using a surfactant comment below