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You’ve waited all winter, and the day to start your garden is finally here. The soil is tilled, you picked out just the right flowers or vegetables, all the tools and supplies are laid out – but when you take a closer look, it seems that someone has beaten you to it.
Anyone trying to work the earth, whether tending a flowerbed or as a professional landscaper, has probably struggled with weeds at some point. For seasonal weeds, the solution is a simple manual weeding or a chemical herbicide for those looking to save some time.
Dormant weeds are somewhat harder to get rid of, whichever method you choose. Manual weeding can entirely miss the seeds or root networks that keep the plants alive through the winter, and can actually serve to scatter the seeds more broadly.
Chemical herbicides are also of limited use against dormant weeds. Most of them work by killing the leaves of the plant to inhibit its photosynthesis and nutrient intake, but pre-emergent weeds will remain unaffected. Since all the nutrients they need are contained within the seed, they have no leaf cover to remove.
To counteract this, a pre-emergent herbicide is engineered to coat the ground instead of foliage. When leaves try to push through the soil, they encounter the herbicide and die off before they can go any farther, clearing your lawn for planting and skipping the hassle of waiting for leaves to die before you can get to work.
Conditions and timing will be crucial to using these products – as pre-emergent herbicides, they must be applied in the narrow window between the soil becoming viable and the appearance of the first weeds. Make sure to keep an eye on meteorological news and the thermometer outside to know when it’s the right time to apply them.
Pre-emergent herbicides are perforce used either in late autumn or early winter, aiming to saturate the ground while the soil is exposed and make it ready for your optimal planting season in springtime. These products are best applied to loose soil that will absorb the spray and not cause the herbicide to run off to another location.
Like any gardening product, there are endless options available to a consumer looking to keep weeds out of their lawn. We’ve narrowed the range to the top five pre-emergent weed killers you can use on your garden this year.
Table of Contents
|1. Snapshot 2.5
|2. Quali-Pro Prodiamine 65 WDG
|3. Pro Turf Barricade
|4. Preen 2464092
|5. Scotts Crabgrass Preventer
Our Best Pre Emergent Herbicide Reviews and Comparisons
1. Snapshot 2.5
This formula is a granular herbicide, making it easier to clean and apply than liquid sprays.
- 50 lb per purchase
- Effective on broadleaf weeds
- Must be applied before irrigation
- Effective for up to eight months from the time of application
What We Like About Snapshot 2.5
Snapshot works on an extensive list of plants leaving behind none of the mess of its ‘wet’ herbicide counterparts.
What We Don’t Like About Snapshot 2.5
This product is not safe for use around pets or children and will kill desirable growths as well.
- Easy to apply
- Long-lasting protection
- Kills off more than 100 kinds of weeds
- Covers close to 50,000 square feet
- Safe for container-grown plants, even ornamental ones
- Kills benign growth as well
- Not effective on perennial weeds
2. Quali-Pro Prodiamine 65 WDG
This is a lawn-safe equivalent of many more potent formulas, letting you clear out what you don’t want without worrying about what you do.
- 5 lbs per purchase
- Rigid storage container
- Effective against 31 kinds of weeds
- Recommended for controlled growing environments
What We Like About Quali-Pro Prodiamine 65 WDG
The main appeal of this product lies in its relatively gentle nature; it is safe for your lawn or garden, and will not harm the carefully balanced arrangements of nurseries or turf farms.
What We Don’t Like About Quali-Pro Prodiamine 65 WDG
This product does not mix well with dry fertilizers, to the point where one should put two weeks between the two treatments.
- Safe for delicate plants
- Relatively economical application rate
- Fully compatible with moist fertilizers or other herbicides
- Shelf stable
- Will not disrupt grafts or transplants
- Relatively low number of plants affected
- Not compatible with dry fertilizers
3. Pro Turf Barricade
Barricade has something of a following in the landscaping world as the best product for weed prevention.
- 18 pounds per purchase
- Lasts up to three months
- Covers 5,800 square feet
- Rated against 31 species of plant
What We Like About Pro Turf Barricade
A track record like Barricade’s only comes from year after year of satisfied customers coming back for more.
What We Don’t Like About Pro Turf Barricade
Unlike other products that kill off weed roots or seeds, this is a preventative measure, and will only repel weeds if it is applied before they invade the treated area.
- Trusted product
- No mixing with mulch or fertilizer needed
- Resilient enough to work in harsher areas like roadsides or parking lots
- Safe for use on trees, vines, and shrubs
- Will not harm nursery seedlings
- Preventative only, cannot be used to control an infestation
- Will require multiple applications
4. Preen 2464092
This herbicide boasts half a year of protection against 125 varieties of weeds.
- Roughly five pounds per purchase
- Integrated applicator in storage container
- Covers 800 square feet
- Water activated
What We Like About Preen 2464092
This product works well after weeds start growing, making it a combination of herbicide and preventative lacking in other products.
What We Don’t Like About Preen 2464092
Using this product is somewhat more complicated a procedure than other pre-emergence herbicides, requiring mulching and watering on top of a carefully measured application.
- Spreader included in the storage jug
- Multirole product
- Half a year of protection
- Safe for use on perennial flowers or desired plants/li>
- Exceptionally long list of prevented plants
- Relatively low quantity per purchase
- Hard to apply correctly
5. Scotts Crabgrass Preventer
Anyone who deals with landscaping has likely heard of Scotts. This herbicide is another entry in a long line of quality products for your lawn.
- 9.5 lbs per purchase
- Covers 5,000 square feet
- Granules are ideally sized for all Scotts products
- Weather resistant right out of the package
What We Like About Scotts Crabgrass Preventer
Scotts comes through on the reputation it has earned with its other products, reliably delivering a full season free of weeds with each use of this product.
What We Don’t Like About Scotts Crabgrass Preventer
The Scotts formula is more temperature-sensitive than most and will require precisely the right weather to take effects.
- Trusted brand
- Includes nutrient supplements for your lawn
- Useable in all Scotts spreaders or broadcasters
- Fully weatherproofed
- Minimal chemical residue in soil
- Relatively small package
- Hard to apply properly
Take note that these products are granular substances, not the sprays favored as weed killers. This will make them easier to clean up by sweeping or vaccum cleaner, but note that a spill will not simply dry out of affected clothing.
Another side effect of using a granular substance is that it will not soak into the soil or leaves as a spray does. You will need to till the soil or mix your chosen herbicide with mulch to ensure full effect.
Although several of these will claim to be weatherproof, they are not. In fact, watering the ground where they have been applied is an important step in getting them to work properly. Watering spreads the chemicals from the grains into the surrounding dirt and forms an invisible barrier to keep weeds down.
As with any herbicide, you will want to keep pets and children out of the treated area for some time after use. The general wait time is a week, although the package you select could have different instructions.
When using this product near desired vegetation, you can use a sheet of any stiff, solid material to protect benign plants and redirect the grains to where you want them. This should especially be practiced if you are using a broadcast spreader, which has a wider range than many people realize.
Even though these are a solid form, each herbicide granule contains potent refined chemicals, and should be treated with the proper care. Storage should be in strong and secure containers, out of reach and sight of children and pets.
Some locales may even have restrictions on using herbicides of various kinds, or specific to certain ingredients. Familiarize yourself with all relevant legislation before purchasing these products.
Online shoppers should be even more careful, as their chosen product may not be permitted for import in their area. So save yourself the time and trouble by checking the shipping regulations before you buy.