Pre Emergent…What’s That???

When it comes to keeping a lawn weed-free, I believe a strong defense is better than a good offense. What I mean by that is, it is better to prevent the weeds from growing in your lawn, rather than using weed killers to clean up your lawn once the weeds have already popped up. Don’t get me wrong, weed killers (post emergent herbicides) are necessary to keeping your lawn weed free. Pre emergents don’t work well with all weeds. They are great for controlling weeds like crabgrass and spurge, but they don’t work well at all on wild onions, garlic, nutgrass, dallisgrass or goosegrass. So when controlling those weed types, you have to choose the right weed killer and get it down at the optimum time.

So what is a pre emergent? Well, pre emergents are herbicides that are designed to prevent weed seeds from being able to germinate (sprout).  There are several different types of pre emerges on the market and they all serve  a different function. So knowing the type of weed you are trying to control and when it typically germinates is crucial for an effective pre emergent application.

In our lawn care program, we apply pre emerges four times throughout the growing season. Our first application is in late winter. This treatment protects us from early germinating summer annuals like crabgrass. Then we follow that application with another application of the same product in the spring to extend the control of crabgrass throughout the growing season. When late summer rolls around we apply another pre emergent to control Poa Annua or annual bluegrass. Finally, in the fall we apply a pre emergent to prevent winter annuals like henbit. We also use post emergent herbicides when necessary, but by applying pre emerges at certain times of the year for specific weeds we are able to drastically reduce the amount of weed killers we use which is better for your lawn and the environment.

To sum up, use pre emerges to prevent weeds before they grow. There are a lot of different products on the market. Do your homework and choose the right product for the weed you are trying to control. Make sure you time the application before the weed typically emerges, and use the appropriate rate so that you will continue to get control throughout that weeds growing season. We didn’t talk about it today, but you also need a balanced fertilizer program in place. The only drawback about pre emergents, is that many of them slow down root growth of the desired turf. In other words, your Bermuda grass or Zoysia grass lawn won’t grow as quickly. Fertilizing your lawn will not only hep your grass recover, it will also help choke out weeds by being nice and thick. The weeds won’t have any room to grow.

Well, that’s all the time we have for today. Until next time, Happy Growing!