I recommend Bonide Turbo a lot when discussing surfactants.
Why? Because it is simply the most readily available spreader-sticker in our area today.
There used to be several others, but I think most of them have fallen out of the distribution chain because they’re simply not promoted by their manufacturers anymore. Meanwhile, Bonide Turbo is in just about every nursery, garden center, hardware store and feed store in this region.
When it comes to applying liquid weed controls, there’s one big rule we must live by here in Southeast Texas: Because our water is so very, very hard, we can’t forget to add a surfactant to ensure that the herbicide sticks to weed leaf surfaces!
I always recommend using a professional surfactant like Bonide Turbo because it is a true “spreader-sticker.” I’m often asked, “Can’t I just use dish soap?” Yeah, but dish soap is just a “spreader,” and not so much a “sticker.” Plus, many of today’s dish soaps contain antibacterial agents which, I believe, further reduce their stickiness. Non-ionic surfactants, such as Turbo, do both.
Often, the label on a bottle of herbicide warns not to add an additional surfactant. I understand why, but their manufacturer probably doesn’t realize just how hard our water is in this area. So, test a small area of lawn with no added surfactant, and test a spot with one. If you see an inordinate amount of yellow grass on the surfactant test site, then don’t add it to the full application.
In my 22 years of hosting GardenLine, and with the thousands upon thousands of listeners following my rule of surfactant usage, I’ve never had anyone complain to me that adding the surfactant killed their yard or made the grass more yellow than the weeds. To the contrary, I have heard of countless times when no surfactant is added, and the herbicide drips down weed leaf surfaces because our hard water prevents it from sticking. And in those yards, a phytotoxic burn or yellow grass occurs because the herbicide saturates the soil instead of sticking to the weeds.