Warmer temperatures bring weeds to life, making late winter the perfect time to take preventative measures to keep weeds from taking over your lawn.
It’s critical to remove weeds and their seeds from your lawn before they drop to the ground, take root and set the stage for years of weed woes. The best way to do this is with a pre-emergent weed killer.
A layer of pre-emergent applied on the grass prevents many seeds from sprouting, including crabgrass. If you apply pre-emergent herbicides now you will stop crabgrass before the seeds start to germinate.
Do not apply a pre-emergent if you’re planning on seeding your lawn this spring. It will stop grass seed from growing for 2-6 months. Wait until next spring to apply a pre-emergent.
Timing is also key with pre-emergents. Apply in early spring before the soil temperature reaches 55-60 degrees. Insert a soil thermometer 1/2” below the surface to test the temperature and find your perfect window of opportunity.
How to spread pre-emergent fertilizer:
- Mow your lawn short to help pre-emergent make contact with the soil.
- Allow dew on the grass to evaporate before you apply the pre-emergent so granules won’t stick to the blades and burn the grass.
- Fill a drop spreader and adjust it to the delivery rate designated by package instructions.
- Test the spreader on your driveway to make sure it delivers evenly, then sweep up the granules to reuse.
- Push the lawn spreader back and forth in a zigzag pattern across the lawn.
- Turn the lawn spreader around and retrace your steps, spreading a second layer over the first.
- Water immediately to activate pre-emergent. Don’t overwater, which causes runoff.
Create a Golf Course Quality Lawn: Additional Tips for Successful Weed Prevention and Maintenance
- Follow the 1/3 rule. After your lawn begins to grow, cut off no more than 1/3 the length of the grass. Tall grass shades weeds and prevents the germination of weed seeds.
- Water deeply. Shallow and infrequent watering will only weaken grass roots, allowing weeds to thrive and take over. When watering, wet the soil to a depth of 4-6” or 1/2-1” of rainfall.
- Overseed. A deep, thick lawn crowds weeds out.