For lawn care companies, there are many advantages of using liquid pre-emergent herbicides rather than granular pre-emergents. This blog post will explore those benefits and provide one caution to heed when developing a liquid weed control program.

The first benefit of liquid pre-emergents is that they’re less messy than granular products. It’s virtually impossible to make a granular application without some granules ending up on the driveway and sidewalks. Stray granules not only lead to harmful chemical runoff but also bother most homeowners. With liquid products, your crew won’t have to waste time blowing granules off of the pavement.

In addition to being less messy, liquid pre-emergents provide better coverage than granular products. Application droplets are smaller than even the smallest granules, so they disperse more evenly over the turf. There’s also less room for error when it comes to the physics of applying the product. With some broadcast spreaders, you have to worry about granule density affecting how evenly the product distributes. 

Most lawn care crews would gladly ditch the push spreader in exchange for a backpack or ride-on sprayer. While there is an up-front cost of transitioning from spread to spray equipment, the product and time savings can make up the difference in the long run. Liquid pre-emergents are more precise, which could reduce the number of callbacks you have to deal with throughout the spring and summer.

Another advantage of liquid pre-emergents is the ability to tank-mix them with other products. There’s a good chance you’re applying fertilizer at the same time as your pre-emergent herbicides, so why not combine them? This practice saves time while allowing you to mix better fertilizers into your application. Liquid fertilizers are generally more effective and less expensive, making a liquid combination an efficient option. If weeds are already present, you could also mix post-emergent herbicides into your tank at the same time.

Liquid pre-emergents also offer more flexibility when it comes to watering in the applications. Granular applications require more water to work their way into the soil, so it’s crucial to time them before rain or irrigate soon after. Liquid products also require water to activate, but they don’t need as much or as soon after application. Flexibility should be a high priority when building a scalable weed control program.

Flexibility includes storing and transporting products. A liquid weed control program will require less storage space than bags of granular herbicides. Liquid products are more concentrated, so your crew will have less material to load, unload, and haul around every day.

Generally, liquid pre-emergents are less expensive than granular products. While it may feel like you’re paying more for less with liquid, that’s because the products are concentrated. Calculated per square foot, the cost is generally lower with liquid. Factor in the additional time and labor savings described above, and the cost savings of liquid are even greater.

One caution for using liquid pre-emergents is the quality of the water you’re mixing them with. Because you’ll combine most liquid products with water in your sprayer, you must be careful that the water doesn’t interfere with product efficacy. High pH and bicarbonates can break down chemicals and weaken their potency. That’s why ATS is now providing free water testing at all our locations. Just bring in a sample of your spray water, and we’ll let you know if it needs any conditioning to improve your liquid applications. 

The decision between liquid and granular pre-emergents is personal to every lawn care company, but liquid programs often prove more efficient in the long run. Talk to your ATS rep about what makes the most sense for your operation.