The Skinny on Preemergent Herbicide

dandilions: lawn care nightmare!The old adage “A good offense is the best defense” couldn’t be more true when trying to keep your lawn weed free. Weeds are the inevitable enemy of your lawn and will take over if nothing is done to stop them. A single weed may be capable of dropping thousands of seeds, and then you hit that weed with the lawn mower and those seeds are spread literally everywhere.  If you have convinced yourself you don’t have a single weed in your lawn, odds are your neighbor does, and a nice breeze will carry those weed seeds hundreds of yards where they can last upwards of 50 years just waiting for the right conditions to take root in your finely manicured lawn.

Fortunately for all of us, technology has lent us a hand at battling weeds. A quick application of a preemergent herbicide product and all those pesky weeds will lay dormant another year. Yes, dormant. See a preemergent weed control product isn’t a pre emergent weed killer. It keeps the weeds from growing which is why it’s necessary for you to put down a pre emergent herbicide product every year.

When to apply pre emergent herbicides:

Simple! March 15th & September 15th. Basically you want to control summer weeds and winter weeds. As soil temperature rise above 50°F the summer weeds begin to take root and begin growing. The major offenders, crabgrass and clover, will not emerge until the soil is consistently over 50°F. If you do live in a warmer area you may need to apply your pre emergent herbicide before March 15th, so it’s not quite as simple as I first made it sound.

Late in the growing season the weeds begin to set new seed. This is where you want to catch any late growth with the application in September. Remember keeping on top of the weeds will save you much time and aggravation next spring when the lawn mowing season begins again.

Caution: Application of a preemergent herbicide to early may cause the elements to dilute or wash away the herbicide and allow the weeds to grow uninhibited. Application of the herbicide after the weeds start to grow will not stop the growth since its already rooted.


  1. Another defense is to just weed and then dump mulch in some areas, such as empty planting beds, to at least keep the weeds down until you can address them.

  2. My Burmuda yard get a severe case of poanna fever every spring then dies off as it gets warm and the bermuda comes to life.

    Will a preemergent stop the poanna from sprouting if it put it out now and will just any preemergent work?


  3. I have a lot of cabbage in my yard, how can I get rid of this?

  4. I have heard using a pre emergent weed killer can cause damage to oak trees if used repeatedly over time. Is this true and if so can other desirable plants be damaged?

  5. In centeral TX the ground does not freeze for long, should winter app. be done earlier in the year, considering last freeze is earlier
    (feb)? By March 15th temps are in the 80’s durning the day and 50’s @ night.

  6. We are in central Mississippi. We put St Augustine Sod on our yard in Oct of last year. There is a maroon to green blade looking clumps of grass that has come up all over the sod.
    There is also a scolloped green low growing clump of vine looking weed everywhere.
    Even though it is mid Feburary, should we go ahead with a Pre emergent now. This week we are having temps in the 70’s but will probably get cold again before our winter is past.
    Also we were told to put a fungicide and inpesticide on the turf early spring as well. Is there a specific time for there applications?

  7. I got sold a bunch of malarky with herbicides and pesticides last year. The only thing I did use was nemotodes for the grub worms, damn them!

  8. I meant the grubs, not the nemotodes, which work beautifully so far 🙂

  9. kenneth thompson says

    i have centeapede lawn i also have a yard of henbit annual blue grass jap. clover & later i will have crab grass.please tell me the best preemergence name when to apply. i was told atrazine but told it does not come in

  10. hello im in southern cal and its the end of may i have two acres full of weeds i was wondering am i too late to put any type of preemergent down right now? shoud i just clear the land with my drag for now? and if its not too late should i use preemergent where im going to plant a lawn or just dont spray anything in those areas thanks!

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