Recently, I was asked to write a blog post discussing what not to do with pre-emergents. Initially, I thought I was tasked with this because of my agronomic knowledge. However, the more I thought about it, I realized that it was most likely due to my vast experience with NOT doing what I am supposed to do.

Tip #1: Do NOT confuse breakthrough with failure.

Much like the saying “sh#@ happens,” so does breakthrough. These materials are subjected to many influences that affect their performance. Having 95% control of grassy weeds in a home lawn is a success, from a university perspective. But when viewed from a homeowner’s observation, that is unacceptable!

It is our job to communicate this to our customers, so they have realistic expectations. Although there are many factors that influence efficacy, success is a relative term.

Tip #2: Do NOT keep using the same approach if you are not satisfied with the results.

Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” He also said that his intellect was only rivaled by mine. I am not sure we can prove that he said either of those things. If you’ve met me, I’m sure one of those quotes was identified as BS immediately.

If you’re not meeting your pre-emergent expectations, we need to look at changing strategies to accomplish our goals. Timing, chemistry, rates, and cultural practices all have an effect on performance, so they all need to be assessed. Often times, the answer to your problem is easy to find if you’re looking in the right places.

Tip #3: Do NOT assume the label is right!

I know, the label is the law, and that is true. However, sometimes the label lists rates that are below any university study recommendations or even supported by the company that produces the active ingredient!

I looked at a label of a fertilizer with .10% Dimension. There is a recommendation listed for Northern states of 2.86lbs/1000sqft. This is 50% of the minimum lbs of AI recommended by most universities in the same geography! We never recommend exceeding the maximum label rate, but a 50% reduction of recommended university study rates seems, crazy right?

Tip #4: Do NOT use a higher percentage of active with hopes of increasing your material’s coverage.

To be clear, which is not my strong suit, this rule applies to using granular materials and not sprayable formulations. Increasing your percentage of AI should be viewed as an investment in control and not a means to reduce your costs. Reducing application rates means reducing particle distribution, which has a HUGE impact on efficacy.

Personally, I do not ever advocate lowering spread rates. When referencing the same label mentioned in Tip #3, the distributor has 2 rate recommendations with the same disclaimer, “Particle distribution at this rate may not provide adequate control or suppression.”

Tip #5: Do NOT avoid using pre-emergents during a new lawn establishment.

Early season/summer lawn installs are always so much fun! The best part is when the annual grasses and broadleaf weeds start to invade. Apparently, no one told them that the irrigation and fertilizer was for the newly emerging turfgrass only.

Often times, we forget about using pre-emergents during this crucial time. “No one will pay extra for that” is a common objection I hear, but it is never true. Someone ALWAYS pays but, unfortunately, it is usually the contractor. They pay in repeated trips to address invasive weeds, reseeding areas that were overtaken by the weeds, and delayed or reduced payments from their clients.

There are a few types of materials labeled to address these problems during an establishment. Which products to use are dependent on many factors including installation method, timing, and grass type being used. Ask your Advanced Turf rep which is best for your specific situation.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what some consider weeds aren’t necessarily always unwanted (just ask Colorado). Interestingly enough, many of the weeds we are trying to control are used as food sources by others.

Doug Dawson, an esteemed member of the ATS family, even gave us a delicious crabgrass muffin recipe in one of his blog posts! It was a real hit so I thought I would follow suit with a recipe of my own! Did you know that chickweed is packed with vitamins, minerals, and Omega 6 derivatives? You can add its leaves and stems to your salads and it is delicious! In the spirit of full disclosure, according to the article, eating too much can give you diarrhea. Maybe we’ll just stick with crabgrass muffins.