When it comes to controlling weeds and invasive grasses in your lawn, you’ve got two options: pre-emergent and post-emergent control. The vision most people get into their heads is probably post-emergent, that is, some poor soul on their hands and knees yanking crabgrass and dandelions up by the roots. That or someone in a wide-brimmed hat with a backpack and sprayer in hand, trying to chemically shrivel the weeds as Dorothy did to the Wicked Witch of the West.

The fact is if we concentrate on post-emergence and allow weed seeds to germinate, getting rid of them can be a lengthy, labor-intensive process. In the lawn care industry, we know it’s better to eliminate weeds and problem grasses BEFORE they have the chance to germinate, and that means a proper application of pre-emergents.

What Are Pre-Emergents?

Pre-emergents are chemical compounds that work as a barrier that settles around the surface of your lawn. Pre-emergents prevent weed seeds from germinating, which saves nutrients and space in the soil for healthy grasses to germinate instead. Pre-emergents come in a range of chemical formulas and can be specially designed to work on whatever problem plants you’re dealing with in your particular region of the country.

Most lawn care companies use a variety of different chemicals for pre-emergent treatment on your lawn depending on the time of year and which invasives they need to repel.

Do Pre-Emergents Treat Weeds Once They’ve Germinated?

Short answer, no. Pre-emergents cannot treat weeds or problem grasses once the seeds have germinated and they’ve broken the surface of the soil. That is why it’s so important to get the timing right for pre-emergent applications. Apply too soon, and pre-emergents won’t be effective. Apply too late and you’ll find yourself on your hands and knees, yanking crabgrass clumps out one by one.

Knowing when to apply pre-emergents is something of a science. As climate trends change, it’s not as simple as, say, waiting until May. Every climate zone in the US has an ideal time to apply, and that’s why it is important to consult with lawn care professionals.

In Texas, we like to start our series of pre-emergents treatments in the Fall and continue through March. In our full program, fertilization plus pre and post emergents package, we apply pre-emergent treatments three times, once at the end of the season and twice a few weeks apart at the beginning of the new year.

A Series or a Single Application?

Wouldn’t it be great if we could cut our lawns once at the beginning of summer and it just stayed that way? Never grew an inch and was the perfect length from May through September, and the only thing we had to worry about was where to put our lawn chairs so we’d have the best shade in which to sip our lemonade?

Yeah, unfortunately, that is not the way our lawns work. Our lawn is a carpet of living things, each attempting to edge out the other by making its move when the time is right.

That is why we can’t apply a single pre-emergent treatment and call it a day. Crabgrass, chickweed, clover, dandelions, each of our climate zones have different invaders, and each of these invaders has its own schedule to keep.

What if I Still See Weeds?

Even through three layers of pre-emergent treatment, it is possible weeds will still slip through. Our lawns are imperfect surfaces, and no pre-emergents treatment is perfect.

Most landscaping companies will offer year-round service to address the problem of post-emergent weeds. Through chemical sprays or good, old fashioned weed pulling, we can make your problem of weeds go away.

By applying pre-emergent treatment, you can be sure you have made this job as easy as possible since the majority of the weeds will have been stopped before they had the chance to start.

Prevention is Better than Treatment

When it comes to weeds in your lawn, it is always better to prevent the problem, rather than trying to treat it when it emerges. There’s a reason these plants are so pervasive. Once they are allowed to sprout, weeds are very good at spreading seeds and very difficult to prevent from coming back. Having a robust prevention plan in place is the best way to maintain a beautiful lawn.

The problem with prevention, of course, is that it takes time to master. It requires many treatments of both pre and post emergents, not to mention fertilization, pest control, and aeration.

Now before you go ripping up your sod and replacing it with Astroturf a la Mike Brady, we can tell you there’s a simpler way.

If you’ve got the time to research chemical compounds and when is the best time in your region to apply pre-emergent treatments, there are certainly ways you can do that. If not, we highly recommend trusting experts.

Missing even a single pre-emergent treatment can have devastating effects on your lawn, and you might find yourself hunched over all summer long pulling dandelions. 

At College Fund Landscaping, we know the weather in Texas, we know exactly what we’re facing and when it rears its ugly head. So if you want to be absolutely positive you’re doing everything right for your lawn, give us a call. We’re always happy to help.