Triclopyr vs. Glyphosate [Herbicide Comparison]

Triclopyr is a fast-acting selective herbicide that kills broadleaf weeds and poison ivy, but leaves grasses unharmed. In contrast, Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide. This means it attacks every plant it is applied to, including grasses.

Triclopyr is the best option for killing broadleaf weeds growing among grass that you wish to leave unharmed. Meanwhile, Glyphosate is the top choice for killing pest grasses and sedges down to the root.

Triclopyr vs Glyphosate: Which is Better?

What is the Difference Between Glyphosate and Triclopyr?

The main difference between Triclopyr and Glyphosate is that Triclopyr kills only broadleaf plants (non-grassy plants), while Glyphosate kills all plant species. Both Triclopyr and Glyphosate are systemic herbicides, meaning they enter the plant and disrupt its biological processes, killing it down to the root.

  • Triclopyr is a selective herbicide that kills broadleaf weeds, ivy, wood plants, and trees. It does not harm grasses.
  • Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide that attacks all plant species, including grass.
  • When applied, Triclopyr disrupts plant cell division and expansion, starving the plant and killing it from root to leaf.
  • Once absorbed, Glyphosate inhibits the plant’s ability to create essential proteins for cell division. It attacks all parts of the plant, including root, stem, and leaves.

Both Triclopyr and Glyphosate disrupt plant cellular processes. The difference is that while Triclopyr impairs cell division, strangling the plant, Glyphosate inhibits vital protein creation entirely.

What Weeds Does Triclopyr Kill?

Triclopyr for poison ivy

The most common application for Triclopyr is as a weed killer for extremely hardy unwanted plants. Poison ivy is very hard to kill by traditional methods and dangerous to remove by hand. Triclopyr kills poison ivy quickly and can wipe out English Ivy, as well as common broadleaf weeds.

  • Broadleaf weeds, including dandelions, clover, chickweed, and purslane.
  • Hardy ivies, including poison ivy, that resist other herbicides.
  • Tree stumps and cut plants.
  • Triclopyr does not kill grasses or nutsedge.

It’s not uncommon for trees, ivy, and stubborn weeds like horsetail to resist herbicide or regrow from the root. One powerful weed control method is to cut woody plants and apply Triclopyr to the cut stem or trunk. From here, it will infiltrate the plant and kill it entirely. Triclopyr can also be applied to cut tree stumps and used as a stump killer.

What Weeds Does Glyphosate Kill?

The better question might be, what doesn’t Glyphosate kill? As a non-selective herbicide, it is harmful to all plants. This makes application tricky when spraying weeds growing on your lawn. However, it’s important to note that while Glyphosate poses a threat to all plant species, it kills some more effectively than others.

  • Broadleaf weeds, from annual weeds like chickweed and clover, to perennial weeds like dandelions.
  • Grasses, including crabgrass and Poa Annua, as well as lawn grasses.
  • Sedges, including both purple and yellow nutsedge.
  • Glyphosate is not as effective at killing woody plants, trees, and ivy as Triclopyr.

If your herbicide of choice contains Glyphosate as an active ingredient, remain aware that it is potentially deadly to any desirable plants sprayed with it. However, Glyphosate performs when best when absorbed through plant leaves. It is inert in the soil and won’t attack plants through the roots.

Does Triclopyr Work Faster than Glyphosate?

Triclopyr kills weeds in 3–5 days, while Glyphosate requires 7–14 days to fully kill a plant it has been applied to. Because Triclopyr works faster, it is a superior choice for clearing brush and ivy quickly.

  • Both Triclopyr and Glyphosate cause initial wilting and yellowing within 24 hours.
  • Triclopyr often kills plants entirely in 3–5 days.
  • Glyphosate kills plants in 7–14 days.

Although Triclopyr may work more slowly in some cases, and repeat applications may be required, it is typically a much faster-acting herbicide than Glyphosate. If speed is of the essence, Triclopyr is the superior choice.

How Long Does Triclopyr Last in Soil vs. Glyphosate?

While Triclopyr lasts about 6 weeks in the soil, the answer is less clear with Glyphosate. Depending on temperature and precipitation, Glyphosate’s half-life can range between 3 days and 6 months.

  • Triclopyr has a half-life of 6 weeks in soil.
  • Glyphosate has a half-life of 3–249 days in soil, depending on environmental conditions.
  • Triclopyr remains active in the soil and may attack plants through the roots.
  • Once it has entered the soil, Glyphosate is mostly inert and not harmful to plants.

Glyphosate becomes harmless to plants when it enters the soil because it bonds to clay particles, neutralizing its herbicidal qualities. On the other hand, Triclopyr in the soil can still enter plant roots for several weeks after application. This means it’s possible for rain or water to distribute Triclopyr through soil near the area of application, where it may attack nearby desirable plants.

Is Triclopyr Safer than Glyphosate?

Is Triclopyr safer than Glyphosate?

Although both of these common herbicides are deemed safe for use by the EPA, Triclopyr poses a greater risk to humans and wildlife, and has a higher chance of entering waterways than Glyphosate.

  • Triclopyr is defined as having “low to moderate” toxicity to humans and wildlife.
  • Glyphosate “no risk of concern to human health,” according to the EPA.
  • Triclopyr does not bond with soil particles, raising the chance it enters natural water sources.
  • Glyphosate bonds with soil particles, making it resistant to being carried into waterways through runoff.

From both a human and environmental safety standpoint, Glyphosate is safer for use than Triclopyr. If Glyphosate use is a concern, consider using a natural Glyphosate alternative, such as Ammonium Nonanoate.

Best Triclopyr and Glyphosate Products

While Triclopyr or Glyphosate is the active ingredient in many weed control sprays, you won’t often find them in large print on the packaging. However, several products include these herbicides, along with surfactants and other ingredients to make them more effective.

  • For attacking broadleaf weeds and poison ivy without harming your grass, use this Triclopyr spray.
  • Roundup products contain Glyphosate as the main active ingredient. This one is great for use in your yard and garden.
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As a shortcut, look for the Roundup brand if you want Glyphosate. To find a Triclopyr product, examine the active ingredients of products marketed as poison ivy killers.

Visible Results in 3 Hours
Roundup Ready-to-Use Weed & Grass Killer III | Kills Toughest Weeds | No-Mix Formula | Visible Results in 3 Hours
  • Kills the toughest invasive grass and weeds down to the root.
  • No-mix formula that is convenient and easy to use.
  • Rainproof in 10 minutes with visible results within 3 hours.
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Which is Better: Triclopyr or Glyphosate?

Although there are benefits and drawbacks to both Glyphosate and Triclopyr, the main deciding factor is the job at hand. Are you trying to kill crabgrass growing up through your pavers? Then Glyphosate is the best choice for the task. Are you attempting to wipe out horsetail growing in your lawn but don’t want to harm your grass? Then it’s time to use Triclopyr.

Additionally, it’s important to consider that while Triclopyr works more quickly and is safe on grass, it is typically considered less safe for humans and animals than Glyphosate. However, both herbicides can be used safely when applied according to product label guidelines.

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