Why You Should Use Preemergent for Your Lawn Care This Spring

Guide to Preemergent Lawn Treatment Sign.

One of the best things about living in Florida? Great, warm weather throughout most of the year. Our climate is extremely conducive to having an enjoyable, lush, green lawn all summer long, but the heat and humidity also make for perfect conditions to allow weeds to grow. Between watering, fertilizing, feeding, and weeding, ensuring your lawn stays green can often feel like a full-time job.

At McCall Service, our primary goal when it comes to lawn care is to make your life as easy as possible. That’s why we offer premium lawn care services that include:

  • Irrigation maintenance
  • Treatments for diseases, weeds, fungus
  • Removal and elimination of common lawn pests

As you prepare your lawn for the long growing season, one thing you don’t want to neglect is weed control that can be done early. One of the best things you can do for your lawn before it gets too hot is to apply a preemergent herbicide. Our lawn care services can and do often include the use of preemergents—but let’s talk about what they are, how they work, and why they’re important for a healthy lawn all season long.

What are preemergent herbicides?

A preemergent herbicide is a chemical that is applied to a lawn or field and prevents germinated weed seedlings from establishing roots. It’s commonly used in the control of crabgrass, but it can be effective for other weeds as well, including dandelions. Preemergents are great for lawns because they won’t affect established plants (such as your existing grass). Because they only have an impact on weeds before they start really growing, you can significantly cut down on the amount of hand pulling you’ll have to do.

What do preemergents do to weeds?

Preemergent herbicides work to prevent cells from dividing in the weed seedlings. This keeps parts of weeds that are needed for survival from developing. It does not, however, kill existing weeds; thus, it’s important to apply the preemergent at the proper time.

When should I apply a preemergent?

Preemergents have to be applied at just the right time to be effective, and the window can often be as short as a few days—especially in Florida, where our temperatures are known to skyrocket quickly at the end of February and into early March. Springtime application should happen when air temperatures are consistently between 65 and 70 degrees for four days in a row. Fall applications, though less common, can be done when nighttime temperatures fall between 55 and 60 degrees for four consecutive nights.

sprinklers soaking green grass

Applying a preemergent too early will lead to it being washed away or too deeply into the soil. By applying it to the lawn at the right time and watering it properly, you can stop crabgrass before it becomes a problem.

What happens if I apply preemergent too early or too late?

If applied too early, preemergent herbicides can get washed away by rain or be washed too deeply into the soil, rendering them ineffective. If applied too late, their enzymes don’t properly work, and the weeds will grow up anyway. That’s why it’s important to watch the temperature and know exactly when to apply them. At McCall Service, our lawn care experts pay close attention to local weather conditions and prepare for the correct application period every year.

green grass and lots of dandelion weeds

At this point, a preemergent herbicide application won’t do any good. It should be applied before the first consistently warm days for maximum effectiveness.

Where should I avoid using preemergent herbicides?

If you’re thinking about putting down new sod or grass seed, avoid using a preemergent herbicide in these areas. Because preemergents work to prevent plants from germinating, applying a herbicide in these areas will only hamper growth.

Sod that is ready to be unrolled over a patch of bare earth.

Preemergent herbicides shouldn’t be applied to newly seeded areas or where sod has recently been laid, as these grasses haven’t had time to establish themselves.

What about “weed and feed” lawn fertilizers and herbicides?

 In many hardware stores, you can find products that combine seed, fertilizer, and herbicides in one bag for simple application. These products are not recommended for use in Florida or other areas with warm-season grasses. Applying fertilizer at the same time as a preemergent could burn or stress the lawn. The “ease of application” is undone by the difficulty of trying to repair your grass after it’s been damaged.

How many times does preemergent need to be applied?

The first application is definitely the most crucial, but it is possible (and sometimes recommended) to perform a follow-up application around six to eight weeks after the initial one. Your lawn care professional will often determine when and where these applications are necessary.

I didn’t apply a preemergent. Can I still prevent weeds?

If you’ve missed your opportunity for a preemergent application, weed control isn’t completely out of the question. There are postemergent weed treatments that may be used, but the amount of proper application depends on:

  • Weed size
  • Turf level
  • Drought stress
  • Cold temperatures

The key thing to remember with postemergent weed treatments is that, if improperly applied, they can cause massive damage to the existing turf in the areas surrounding the weed. Smaller/younger weeds are easier to control.

How do I pick the best preemergent for my lawn needs?

The best way to choose a preemergent for your lawn is to consult with a trusted professional who understands the ways that weather, soil, and grass conditions interact. At McCall Service, our team of lawn care experts can identify your grass types, potential issues, and current lawn health to develop a plan for applying preemergent to the soil when—and where—it’s most necessary.

Schedule Your Lawn Care Consultation with McCall Service Today

Whether you want to wrestle back control of your lawn from pernicious and persistent weeds or want to simply enjoy a weed-free space to play with pets and kids, preemergent weed prevention from McCall Service can help stem the growth of weeds before they get out of control. In addition to weed control, our team can help develop a plan for proper watering, seeding, fertilizing, and more. To learn more about our lawn care services, contact us today to schedule your appointment with a lawn care professional.

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