As you look outside at your dormant lawn it’s hard to believe that in just a few weeks the pesky weeds will arrive. When the weather warms and plants wake up the weeds in your lawn wake up too. What most people don’t realize is that one of the best times for weed control is before they even start.
Weed seeds wait for the weather to warm before germinating. The best weed control product to handle this issue is called a pre-emergent herbicide. This type of weed preventer addresses weeds only, leaving lawn grass safely behind to grow. It is one of the best ways to get rid of perennial weeds. Crabgrass preventer is another type of pre-emergent herbicide; however, it can also be applied after weeds are visible. Pre-emergent herbicides are often mixed with lawn fertilizer, making spring lawn care even easier. This allows you to kill weeds at the same time as you feed your lawn.
Other types of weed control are called post-emergence herbicides. These get rid of weeds after they have appeared. This kind of weed control also handles all types of weeds including broadleaf weed species and grassy weed species. These fertilizers can be applied through the entire growing season to kill weeds; both annual weeds and perennial weeds are susceptible to this kind of treatment.
The long and the short of it is that staying on top of weeds with early treatment is easier than tackling a serious problem later in the season. If your lawn has only a few weeds here and there you might consider hand pulling, but once the problem gets too large a weed control product may be your only option. Remember that hand-pulled weeds can grow back and in some cases actually spread the seeds of the very weeds you’re trying to eliminate.
Early spring, before the warm season really starts, is a good time to do a special kind of herbicide application known as a pre-emergent herbicide. Pre-emergent herbicide applications help to eliminate weeds before they can grow. Some of the common summer grassy weeds that this treatment can prevent are crabgrass, foxtail, goosegrass, and sandbur.
Once the soil temperature rises it will be the perfect time to apply a weed preventer. The correct temperature means that it should be 55 or above for at least 2 days. Usually, this is at some point between March and April.
For most granules or liquids are the two main methods used to apply pre and post-emergent herbicides. It is vital that the active ingredient reaches into the soil, so if you are using granules you’ll need to water them in. If you’re using a liquid, it will seep in on its own.
It is important to make sure you’re applying pre-emergents before the growing season because once weeds—such as crabgrass, or broadleaf weeds like dandelions, clover, ragweed, and carpetweed—are visible it’s too late and you’ll have to use different treatments such as a post-emergent herbicide weed killer. When using a post-emergent weed killer be careful during application because lawns and decorative plants can be burned or killed by these chemicals.
Apply pre-emergent herbicides in both late summer to early fall as well as early spring because this is when most weeds bloom. These pesticides have an active ingredient which does not stop weed seeds from germinating, but instead keep them from sprouting. This means that the application is best done just when the seeds germinate. This usually happens twice a year. For the fall application wait until temperatures drop to the mid-70’s for three to five days in a row. For some weeds, such as annual bluegrass, multiple applications over consecutive years may be necessary to achieve the level of control you’re looking for.
Pre-emergent herbicide applications will not last through consecutive seasons so it is necessary to apply them each year, twice a year, to get the weed control you want for your lawn.