In some parts of the country, there’s still frost on the ground. So it’s hard to think about summer weeds, but getting the groundwork done in early spring will keep you out of the weeds this summer.
Adding a pre-emergent application to your spring season to-do list can help minimize your summer maintenance work. Spring-applied pre-emergent herbicides provide control of summer weeds like crab grass, goose grass and foxtail.
Pre-emergent herbicides create a chemical barrier between the weed seed and soil, limiting the success of pesky weeds sprouting in your grass. Before applying a pre-emergent, it’s important to prep your turf and select the right type of product.
Prep your turf
Prior to any pre-emergent application, it’s important to clear the turf of any debris lingering from the winter months. This allows the pre-emergent to appropriately penetrate the soil.
Thatching the turf may also be necessary. For some grass types, like the Kentucky blue grass, thatch build-up is frequent and needs to be cleared up often. Other types, like tall fescue and perennial rye grass, only need to be thatched every few years.
A thatch build-up can harm your turf, preventing water and nutrients from reaching the roots for uptake. It can also harbor disease and make insecticide application for grub insects ineffective. Researching the type of grass you’re maintaining will help you determine if you need to thatch this year.
You will also need to aerate the turf prior to applying a pre-emergent.
Select the right pre-emergent
There are more than 50 different types of pre-emergent herbicides, which can make selecting the right one for your needs feel a bit overwhelming. There are three common types of pre-emergent herbicides: dithiopyr (Dimension®), prodiamine (Barricade®) and pendimethilin (Pendulum®).
Each type has different benefits and uses. Tony Goldsby, Ewing’s National Turf Product Manager, shared two of the top pre-emergent products and how to determine which to use.
Barricade (prodiamine): Goldsby recommends using a barricade pre-emergent if you are early in your season. “A Barricade pre-emergent needs to be applied well before weeds emerge, when the soil temperature hits an average of 55 degrees over a three to four day period,” Goldsby said. Here are the highlights to a Barricade pre-emergent:
- More cost effective product offering.
- Use early in the spring season.
- If you miss the application window, this product is ineffective.
- Ewing offers fertilizers with Barricade(prodiamine), Best, Bonus Crop Fertilizer, Anderson’s and Howard Johnson’s.
Dimension (dithiopyr): If you missed the application window for most pre-emergent options, Goldsby recommends using Dimension. Here are the highlights for a Dimension pre-emergent:
- Still effective with post-emergent activity
- More expensive option
- Ewing carries Dimension in a granular form and combined in five different fertilizer options. Ewing also carries dithiopyr in liquid and water soluble packets for those who prefer sprayer as their application method.
When selecting and applying a pre-emergent, Goldsby emphasized the importance of reviewing the manufacturer label and directions.
“Check the label to make sure the pre-emergent is effective for the weeds in your region. Since each product could differ slightly on application techniques, it’s also important to follow the manufacturer’s directions,” Goldsby said.
Learn more about using pre-emergent herbicides with this video:
How are you preparing your turf this season? Share your thoughts in the comments below.