How and When to Apply Pre-Emergent Herbicides


You don’t need a green thumb to have a green lawn, but you do need to know how and when to apply pre-emergent herbicides. This is especially true if you fertilize often in hopes of having the lushest lawn on the block. The same nutrients that feed your lawn also encourage something much less desirable: weeds. Now, they’re popping up in your grass, flowerbeds, and even the cracks in the driveway.

With a little planning, you can stop weeds before they start. When mapping out your year-round lawn care, set a reminder on your calendar app to apply pre-emergent herbicides in the spring so this scenario doesn’t play out year after year.

Plan Ahead to Avoid Infestations

There’s a lot to consider when striving for a weed-free lawn, including weed eating,  weed control fabric, or plain, old-fashioned pulling out those pesky weeds by hand. But what about preventing weeds from appearing in the first place? Pre-emergents can allow you to get ahead of the game, preventing all types of weeds and invasive grasses from corrupting your lawn. Dandelions, knotweed, and spurge are no match for herbicides. Applying pre-emergents can also tackle problematic infestations of crabgrass, foxtail, and cheatgrass.

Know When to Apply

You spray pre-emergents on your lawn (or spread them, depending on the formula) before weeds start to grow. Aim for early spring when the temperature in Idado has stabilized at about 55 degrees. Some pre-emergents allow for a second application in the early fall. Like fertilizer, you’ll want to apply it before a good, soaking rain (or plan to water after application). Avoid spraying a liquid formula when winds are above 10 miles per hour.

Consider Who and What Shares Your Lawn

As with most fertilizers, it’s generally recommended to keep children and pets off the lawn for 24 hours after you apply a pre-emergent herbicide. However, some pre-emergent crabgrass killers contain organic ingredients deemed dog-safe. Check labels and consult with your veterinarian before use. When it comes to children’s outdoor fun, it’s best to wait a day until the grass is dry before allowing kids to play on the lawn.

Decide Where to Spray

Some pre-emergents are also safe and effective in established perennial gardens and even vegetable gardens. Just be sure to get an herbicide designed specifically for gardens since some are formulated only for non-edible plants. Avoid applying pre-emergents (even organic concoctions like dish soap and vinegar) to any areas where you want plants to grow or where young fruits and veggies are already growing. Herbicides can’t distinguish between your prized heirloom tomato plant and common pigweed.

Is it Too Late?

The number one rule with weeds? Don’t let them seed! Some weeds produce thousands of seeds from a single plant. If you didn’t apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring and your efforts to control weeds in your existing garden now seem futile, plan ahead for the next growing season.

For expert advice and weed control and weed control products come visit Franz Witte’s Garden Center. We’re happy to help you have a successful year in your yard.

Poppy Tillman loves making meals with the fresh fruits and vegetables she grows right in her backyard. She spreads her passion for gardening by helping others plan their own edible and aesthetic gardens. She writes about how to grow anything under the sun or shade – and practices what she preaches.

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