Weed control is an essential maintenance activity required to provide a safe, beautifully presented and sustainable city. It is heavily influenced by seasonal plant growth which, in Canberra, generally occurs from the warmer and wetter months of Spring through to Autumn.
Weed control is carried out along laneways, in urban parks and open spaces, along kerbs and gutters, in stormwater channels, along fence lines and bollards, on gravel medians, and in and around car parks and shopping centres.
A combination of weed control practices including physical and mechanical controls are used. These include brush cutting and hand weeding which is used in sensitive areas such as waterways.
The team also actively seek and trial alternative weed control methods and, as a priority, undertake activities to prevent weed growth such as mulching, sanitation and landscape design.
For information on invasive weeds and how to identify them please visit the .
The use of chemical treatments such as registered herbicides like glyphosate, commonly known as “Roundup” (a trademarked name), are still the most effective, efficient and preferred option for managing weeds.
Along roadsides, a vehicle fitted with an optical boom sprayer is used to spray weeds. It features an infraâ€‘red beam to identify plant material and then applies herbicide to the plant. This improves the accuracy of the spraying and means it can be undertaken at night to minimise disruption to traffic.
The City Services team develop and follow an annual weed control program which guides and tracks spray application locations and frequency to help maximise effectiveness and reduce the use of glyphosate.
For further information on the use of glyphosate in weed spraying activities please read the frequently asked questions below.
Frequently asked questions
General information about glyphosate
What is glyphosate?
Is glyphosate safe for humans?
Glyphosate is a broad spectrum non-selective herbicide for use on plants. Once absorbed through plant leaves, stems and bark, it prevents plants from making certain proteins crucial for growth. Often a non-toxic colourant made from vegetable dye is added to the mix, which allows spray operators to keep track of where they have sprayed.
When is it safe to enter an area that has been sprayed with glyphosate?
All glyphosate products registered for use in Australia have been through a robust chemical risk assessment process by the and are safe to use provided they are used as per the label instructions.
The APVMA is the Australian Government authority responsible for the assessment and registration of pesticides and veterinary medicines. APVMA research concludes that based on their current risk assessment the label instructions on all glyphosate products, when followed, provide adequate protection for people.
To ensure public and employee safety, glyphosate use in Canberra is applied by trained operators in strict accordance with the label instructions, standard operating procedures and risk assessments. The application of glyphosate does not require the use of masks and it is a matter of preference for an operator.
Is glyphosate safe to use in sensitive areas such as wetlands and waterways?
It is safe to enter an area once the chemical has dried as, once dry, the risk of it spreading to other non-target species is minimised. Drying times depend on the prevailing weather conditions, for example, drying times on a warm and sunny day are less than 30 minutes. Entering an area before drying is complete is low risk provided the wet product does not come into skin contact.
The use of chemicals near sensitive areas needs to be managed carefully to avoid any environmental damage. When spraying near wetlands and waterways including drains, only a wetland friendly glyphosate is used which does not contain ingredients that may be harmful to amphibians.
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Why does City Services use glyphosate?
Why does City Services spray bare areas?
Weed control using glyphosate is currently the most effective and cost-efficient method of weed control available. Its use is essential to maintain the amenity of the city through controlling unwanted vegetation such as noxious weeds.
City Services will continue to use glyphosate for weed control, although we will continue to review its use and investigate alternative options. This includes continuing to seek advice and guidance on the use of glyphosate from the APVMA and appropriate authorities and agencies.
Can I make a request to have no spraying undertaken near my property?
A pre-emergent herbicide is used on bare ground as it is designed to prevent the germination of new weed seeds where there is little to no competition from other plants. This practice helps reduce the use of glyphosate.
City Services maintains a “No Spray Register” which lists residents who have requested that no spraying is conducted along their boundary line or other areas immediately adjacent to their home. It also lists those that require notification prior to the application of herbicide near their home or in adjacent parkland. Residents can request to be on the “No Spray Register” through Access Canberra where it will be passed on to the relevant City Services staff for assessment.
Where a resident has requested that no herbicide spraying is conducted along the boundary line of their residence, or of other areas adjacent to their residence, it is the resident’s responsibility to maintain that area. Maintenance requires either a mown strip or a 30cm wide strip free of weeds around the perimeter of their property and/or along adjacent fence lines or laneways. If no spray sites include a granite laneway, then the previously sprayed granite areas must also be maintained free of weeds.