By DoMyOwn staff
Pre-emergent herbicides are usually applied in the early growing season and help prevent target grass and broadleaf weed seeds from germinating as the weather begins to warm up in the Spring.
I.. I get it.. Half the country's still in a frozen tundra, grass is still dormant, so why on earth are we talking about Pre-Emergents? More specifically, Spring Pre-Emergents. The answer is simply that spring will be here before you know it, so.. it's better to start planning now and figuring out what kind of Pre-Emergents you need for your yard so you can have them on hand and get them down before the weather starts to warm up and those weeds start to germinate.
So what exactly are spring pre-emergents? Well, just like fall pre-emergents, they're a herbicide you put down in your yard to get a protective barrier to help prevent weeds from germinating and thriving in your lawn.
And we've touched on this in previous videos, but timing is key when it comes to pre-emergents. If you put them down too late, weeds have already started to germinate, and it's going to be less effective in controlling them. So you want to make sure you get them down at the appropriate time. And We'll discuss that a little later on in the video.
Now, these pre-emergents can penetrate the top two inches of the soil so, like we said before, it gives it a nice protective barrier, so when spring rolls in and the weather starts to warm up. As weeds start to germinate, they'll hit that protective barrier and die.
So a question our Customer Service staff gets a lot at this time of year is which spring pre-emergent application is going to be best for my lawn? The biggest thing that you need to know here is what type of grass you have in and around your yard. Most pre-emergents are formulated to work with a specific grass type. So, if you are spraying the pre-emergent in your yard and your grass type is NOT on the label, you could risk potentially causing some serious damage to your yard. Once you know what kind of grass that you've got, you can narrow down what type of pre-emergent is gonna best fit your needs. This will also kind of give you an indication as to what type of weeds you will be dealing with come Spring and Summertime.
Weeds.. more weeds.. nothing but weeds.
Now, if you know a specific weed that you've had a problem with in the past like crabgrass [punching sound] or spurge.. you can look for a pre-emergent that's formulated to tackle those specific weeds.
Now there are pre-emergents that can tackle a variety of weeds.. in other words, broadleaf control, while others will only tackle one or two specific type of weeds.
If you're new to the DIY Lawn Care game, and you're not sure what type of weeds you're tackling - and it's your first time putting down a pre-emergent, it's probably best if you go with a pre-emergent with broadleaf weed control. Just once again, read the label on the product you're thinking of selecting, make sure your grass type is on there, and you should be good to go.
Now this brings up a topic that we've touched on in the past. Pre-emergents are broken down into two different categories. You have your selective and non-selective. Selective are only gonna kill a certain type of weeds. For example, a selective pre-emergent herbicide might be labeled to control broadleaf weeds, like clover or chickweed, so it's only gonna tackle those specific weeds and your grass will be safe.
On the opposite side of that, you have non-selective pre-emergent herbicides which will kill everything they come in contact with. That's gonna be your grass, your flowers, and any other plants in and around your yard. These type of herbicides are typically used in gravel driveways, cracks on the sidewalk, or along fence lines.
Now the next big question that our customer service staff gets asked all the time is when exactly do I need to put down my spring pre-emergents.
Now, let me make a disclaimer here, the timing of your application is going to vary depending on the region you live in, the climate you have, and the grass type you are dealing with. One thing you can do is reference our Lawn Care Schedule Guide. That will give you a general idea of when you should put down a pre-emergent in either a cool season or warm season grass. But the other thing that you can do is reach out to your local extension office. They can give you a general idea of when you should think about putting down a pre-emergent in and around you yard. But, as a general rule, you want to put down that pre-emergent before the spring air rolls in and those air temperatures start to climb.
Now for all of us down here in the Southeast our window for putting down a spring pre-emergent is anywhere from between the beginning of February to the end of May and of course, it's all going to depend on the weather.
Now, another general rule when putting down pre-emergents is you want to tackle it after the ground has thawed from winter, but before your soil temperatures reach 55 degrees. Most weeds will begin to germinate when the soil is between 55 and 65 degrees.
Now, I know you're probably asking: How in the world am I going to know what my soil temperature is? One way you can figure this out is using a soil thermometer and measuring the first few inches below ground. Another thing you want to keep in mind here is.. you apply a pre-emergent after the soil temperatures are above 55 degrees, weeds are most likely starting to germinate, and that pre-emergent barrier you're trying to put on your yard is most likely going to be less effective.
If weeds have already started to germinate, you're most likely going to have to use a post-emergent later on in the season. That's another video for another time.
And last but not least, another great question we get asked all the time when it comes to spring pre-emergents is how do I actually apply them to my yard. And you've got two options here. You can either goko liquid or you can go granular. Granular pre-emergents are applied with a granular spreader. And the first thing you're gonna do is set the spreader to the setting recommended on the label of the herbicide that you've chosen and fill your spreader with the granules.
Next, you'll place the spreader on the grass of your lawn, next to the driveway or sidewalk, and throw down that spreader guard to prevent the granules from getting thrown all over the concrete, wasting your product, time, and money. Walk the length of your lawn and if your spreader requires it, pull the hand trigger to allow the granules to be released.
Once you've finished the first length of your yard, open the spreader guard, position the spreader a few feet away from the first row that you walked. Walk the length of your lawn again, this time in the opposite direction of the first pass. You'll continue walking back and forth across the lawn in rows to cover the entire lawn in granules. With each pass, just make sure the granules reach the tire marks of the previous row, to make sure you get the most coverage as possible. You'll continue until your entire lawn is completely covered in granules.
One thing most pros recommend you do is do a checkerboard type of pattern. This will definitely ensure that you get the most coverage out of your granules. Make sure to read the label of the pre-emergent herbicide for instructions on if and when to water in that pre-emergent granule.
Typically, pre-emergents should be watered in, meaning the lawn needs to be wet down within 3 days of the application. If it's going to rain shortly after your application, skip the hose and all that mess, and let mother nature do the watering for you.
Now if you're like me, I prefer a liquid pre-emergent in a backpack sprayer to get my protective barrier in the yard. If this is the method you prefer, the first thing you're gonna do is read the label on the herbicide to determine the amount of water needed for the size of your lawn. Make sure to wear long sleeves, gloves, and eye goggles, and mix the amount of water and herbicide needed in your sprayer.
Once you've got your chemical and water inside your sprayer, you're gonna shake it up to make sure they mix together well. Now, I like to add a marking dye to the mix so that I can see exactly where I sprayed, or didn't spray.
The dye will go away after a while, but just know that it's messy and can stain most surfaces it comes in contact with. So.. be careful when using a marking dye. Once you have your mixture all ready, walk your lawn while spraying the herbicide. I like to walk backwards so I do not get anything on my shoes, and accidently track the pre-emergent into an area I did not intend to treat. Similar to putting down granules, you are gonna walk back and forth giving the lawn an even coating of the pre-emergent herbicide.
If you've previously measured your lawn, and you've calculated how much you need, and you've evenly distributed that pre-emergent over your yard, this should drastically reduce amount of weeds you'll have to tackle throughout spring and summer.
Now, if you have weeds that popped after you put down your spring pre-emergent, you most likely will have to tackle them with a post-emergent herbicide. And like I've said before, that's another video for another time.
So there you go. That's spring pre-emergents in a nutshell. I'm sure there's something I left out, if you have any other further questions, you know what you can do.. leave them in the comments below, email to our customer service staff, or pick up the phone and give us a call.
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