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Home Grounds, Gardens and Home Pests > Home Grounds Blog > Posts > Be Prepared and Informed When Choosing Pre-emergence Herbicides

Although there is still a little nip in the air, March is approaching and people are beginning to think about spring weed control for their lawn. The end of February or first of March is usually the prime time for applying pre-emergent herbicides for control of pesky warm season grass and broadleaf weeds. Before you head off to your favorite garden center to make that purchase, there are a few things to consider and know in advance to make the experience easier.

There are many homeowner products on the shelves these days and choosing the right one can be a daunting task. But don't despair! Here a few tips and a few facts about herbicides that will help you make the right choice.

Tips for choosing the right herbicide:    

  1. Be Prepared before you shop. Know what type of grass you have, the weeds (broadleaf, grass or sedge) that you normally have in your lawn, and what type of equipment you have available for applying an herbicide.
  2. Read the Label on the herbicide container. The label gives you all the information you need to know about a particular herbicide including what grasses it's safe to use the product on, the weeds it controls, when and how to apply, and much more. Remember though, the label is the law. Follow all label directions exactly! Failure to do so is unsafe for you, the environment and your lawn; not to mention a complete waste of money.
  3. Ask Questions if you are unsure about a product. Go to a reputable garden center with trained, knowledgeable employees or contact your local Extension Office for help. It's better to ask questions before you purchase or apply an herbicide than to make a costly mistake.

When standing in a garden center staring down the rows and rows of herbicides, the possibilities seem mind-boggling, even when you go there prepared with the tips above! But remember, herbicides all come down to the active ingredient, which narrows the choices to a much more manageable field. An active ingredient may be available under several trade names, with a different rate, formulation, or combination of ingredients. This is again why the label is so important. Listed below are some pre-emergence herbicide active ingredients, the weeds they control, and grasses on which they can be applied. For a more comprehensive list of trade names refer to the 2009 Chemical Weed Recommendations for home lawns.

  • Pendimethalin for control of summer annual grasses in Bermuda, Centipede, St. Augustine, and Zoysiagrass
  • Dithiopyr for control of annual grasses and some small broadleaves in Bermuda, Centipede, St. Augustine, and Zoysiagrass
  • Benefin + Trifluralin for control of annual grasses and several broadleaves in Bermuda, Centipede, St. Augustine, and Zoysiagrass.
  • Bensulide for control of annual grasses and several broadleaves in Bermuda, Centipede, St. Augustine, and Zoysiagrass
  • Atrazine for control of broadleaf weeds and annual bluegrass in Centipede and St. Augustine ONLY

All of the pre-emergent herbicides listed above must be watered in after application. Also be aware that there are temperature requires for some products. Those requirements will be listed on the label, too.

If you arrive at the garden center prepared and informed, you will be able to make the correct pre-emergence herbicide choice in record time! Your lawn and your wallet will thank you, too.

For more information on home lawn or gardening questions, contact the Alabama Master Gardener Helpline at 1-877-252-4769.


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