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Fall Pre-Emergents: Preventing Cool Weather Weeds

Have you ever wondered how your lawn care company knows when to apply products to your lawn? Timing is everything with pre-emergent applications!

You have probably heard industry experts, TV advertisements, or your favorite Youtube channel say, “Now is the time to protect your lawn!” or another bold statement aimed to get you to buy their product or hire their service. How do they really know it is the right time though? Let’s look at some key scientific factors that contribute to understanding ”the right time” for your application.

Timing a pre-emergent application can be tricky, so there are a few key factors to keep in mind. Because plants and plant seeds do not have eyes or ears to judge when the seasons change, they rely on the only sense they have: feeling. Soil temperatures are the “environmental trigger” for plants to transition properly through the different seasons. This “trigger point” is different depending on the type of plant and the season in which they grow.

Often times, you will hear experts say the best time to place pre-emergents on a lawn is a particular month, like September. While this advice is a good starting point for the do-it-yourselfer, it doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, most weeds do not begin the germination process until the ground temperatures reach 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

After taking data from weather records in our area for the day of September 10 in the years 2010, 2014 and 2018 the average temperatures were 93/77, 101/79, and 78/69 for highs and lows, respectively. Even with this small sample size, you can see that weather can vary wildly year-to-year, therefore, making the selection of a specific month to start pre-emergents difficult and unwise.

We could have a mild summer with a swift transition into winter, that situation may necessitate the need to apply pre-emergents sooner. In other cases, you may have a prolonged warm to hot summer, meaning the time to apply pre-emergents would be later in the season. In the latter situation, it would be better for your lawn to have additional fertilizer done prior to pre-emergents to build up the strength of the lawn before dormancy.

Another factor in determining the correct timing is understanding that professional licensed lawn care companies use products not available to the public. These chemicals are usually regulated because they are more effective at controlling conditions in lawns. With these formulations come different rules for application. Most store-bought chemicals and solutions do not have the same standards for proper use as these regulated chemicals.

The main factor to understand is that pre-emergents are a preventative measure applied at the end (or beginning) of a growing season. This keeps weeds from taking over a lawn and forcibly thinning the grass by competing for space.

When in doubt, the best thing to do is contact your lawn care professional about the current conditions on your lawn. At Weed Xtinguishers we constantly monitor weather patterns. Doing allows us to feed and boost lawn health as much as possible, while still ensuring that we get pre-emergents down in time to prevent the hard to kill weeds from taking up residence in your lawn. This balancing act is the key to adding the most value and comfort to your property.

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