What’s the difference between Roundup and Roundup For Lawns?

These two different products are good examples of why understanding the difference between product names and herbicide active ingredients is critical.

The spring blitz of lawn care ads is in full swing as northerners emerge from their long winter slumber and begin to venture outside into the lawn. This year, a new product called Roundup For Lawns is gathering attention and has already generated questions from those wondering why they’d spray Roundup on their lawn—wouldn’t it kill the lawn?

The confusion originates from the name Roundup itself and that for most consumers, they don’t recognize Roundup is a product name such as Coke or Tylenol.

It turns out there is a lot in a name!

Roundup: The herbicide active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, which if sprayed on the lawn will kill not only the weeds but the lawn. This is a nonselective herbicide that controls any green plant on which it is applied.

Roundup For Lawns: The new Roundup For Lawns does not contain glyphosate. The herbicide active ingredients in Roundup For Lawns are MCPA, quinclorac, dicamba and sulfentrazone. These herbicides are effective on a broad range of weeds that might infest the lawn such as dandelion, crabgrass and nutsedge. When used properly it will not kill the desirable turfgrasses in the lawn. This is a selective herbicide that controls specific weeds, but not lawn grasses.

This is a good lesson in recognizing that product name is not the important information when selecting a herbicide—it’s the active ingredients that matter.

Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Michigan State University Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

Dr. Frank’s work is funded in part by MSU’s AgBioResearch.

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