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Creating beautiful lawns in Southeast New Mexico often requires more than just applying weed killers once or twice a year. It can require a multi-step ongoing program of different elements to create a thick healthy lawn that also includes pre and post emergent herbicides as just one part of the program.
Without a doubt, the most effective means of a weed free yard is a thick lush lawn that chokes out unwanted invasive plants. This often takes other means than simply applying herbicides to reach that point. However, once that point is reached, keeping weeds from taking a hold in your lawn generally requires minimal time, effort, and fewer chemicals.
This guideline will prove helpful whether you plan to do it yourself or hire a yard and weed control professional to help you with the project.
Using Post & Pre Emergent Herbicides
Pre-emrgent herbicides are chemicals that disrupt the sprouting and growth of newly germinated seeds while post emergent herbicides work to kill existing growing broadleaf and grassy weeds and stickers.
While the use of post and pre-emergent herbicides is an effective and often necessary tool in this multi-step program it is often misunderstood and not used correctly. A lot of folks are under the impression that they can simply apply weed killer and pre-emergent once a year in the Spring to their yard and have total weed control for the entire year. Not in most cases. This thinking not only leads to disappointment in their lawn care or pest control professional but also the idea that post and pre-emergent herbicides are not effective at all.
The fact is that weed control chemicals are very effective and should generally be applied at least twice a year and often more. At least once in the Spring and once in the Fall. However, there are several variables that can determine the frequency in which they should be applied. And oftentimes, more than two applications are needed.
The following considerations can be used to determine how long preemergent herbicides will stay effective in the soil and how many applications you may need a year -
- The Condition Of Your Lawn At The Beginning Of The Program – If your grass is thin or choked out completely by weeds it may be necessary to not only use weed killers at timed intervals a few times a year but also get on a specially designed program of soil conditioning, fertilizing, watering, and seeding.
- Soil Type – In Carlsbad, Artesia, and many areas of Southeast New Mexico, there can be several different soil types within the same area. From rich farm soil to totally organic depleted dirt to sandy soil to totally alkaline soils. This alone can determine how long the preemergents stay effective in the top layer of ground as well as how well post emergents even work.
- Types Of Weeds – Different types of plants germinate at different times of the year. Some in Spring, some in Summer, and some in the Fall. And while pre-emergents don’t generally last the entire season, most are not effective to all weeds and weed types. Also, some weed and grassy sticker plant seeds are viable for up to seven years or longer. And until they actually start to sprout, both post and preemergent herbicides will not be effective on them as these type of weed killers don’t sterilize the ground.
- Length Of Growing Season – Here in Carlsbad, Artesia, Southeast New Mexico, and a lot of the desert Southwest, the growing season is extended longer than in many areas. And since the effectiveness of these herbicides can dwindle over time and depending on the type of weeds or stickers you’re trying to control, it may be necessary to do up to three or more applications for good weed control.
- Amount Of Rainfall And Irrigation – Along with the type of soil and how long it holds the herbicides in the top layer of soil where seeds germinate, the amount of moisture that washes the herbicide into the soil must also be considered. The more moisture, the shorter the life of the herbicide and the more frequent the applications need to be.
- Type Of Pre Emergent – There are several pre emergent herbicides on the market to choose from. Some are effective longer than others. Along with that, their differences also make them effective on different weeds and types of weeds. Some work on broadleaf weeds such as dandelion while others are effective on grassy weeds like crabgrass and sand bur. And still, there are some that are somewhat effective on both. However, there are none that are effective to control all. It’s important to know your target and choose a pre-emergent that will give you the best protection for the longest amount of time. Do some research and read the labels.
Also See: The Best Time To Apply Pre-emergents In Southeast New Mexico for more information on proper timing and frequency of application.
About Split Applications Of Pre Emergents
A split application is the method of taking the yearly amount allowed on the label and splitting it into two applications over a period of time. This method generally gives longer protection against seeds that have longer germination cycles as well as increased season long protection against a larger variety of weeds.
Depending on the herbicide, the amount of time between applications could be anywhere between 4 to 16 weeks. The label will tell you the yearly amount allowed and many will give instructions regarding split applications.
Post Emergents / Weed Killers
As with pre-emergents, not all post emergent herbicides work on all types of weeds. Some work on broadleaf, some work on grassy types like sand bur and crabgrass, and some work on both. Again, it’s important to know your target, do a little research, and read the labels.
Probably the most common broadleaf herbicide still available to the general public is 2,4-D. It’s the active ingredient in Weed-B-Gone and other off the shelf herbicides. It can also be found in purer form at some farm and feed stores. If applied correctly, it generally does a good job of controlling a broad spectrum of the most common lawn weeds like dandelion.
Professional applicators, on the other hand, have access to a larger selection of herbicides that contain a combination of two or more active ingredients. Some of these are often referred to a 3 way herbicides because they contain a combination of 3 active ingredients. This gives the product the ability to control even a larger spectrum of weeds.
Some of these herbicides can be very dangerous to people, animals, and around other desirable plants. So if you happen to get your hands on them and plan on doing it yourself (which may be against the law), read and follow the label exactly.
As with all pesticides, fertilizers, and amendments, there are strict guidelines and instructions that should be followed such as -
- - How much to use
- - How much can be used in a year
- - Proper timing between applications
- - Proper handling
- - Proper protective clothing that should be worn during application
- - Safety around other plants
- - Correct application temperatures
- - Proper weather and wind conditions during application
- - How long before people and pets can re-enter the area
- - And a list of other considerations specific to each herbicide used
Follow The Label – Follow The Label – Follow The Label
IT’S THE LAW
A Thick Lush Grass Lawn – The Best Defense
As I stated earlier, the best defense against weeds is a thick lush stand of turf. And so your first goal may be to begin to establish some thick grass. However, before you begin to seed or sod, there are some steps that need to be taken.
Keep in mind that if you plan to seed or sod a new lawn, you don’t want to apply any preemergents to the soil until after the lawn is well established. The chemicals not only prevent weed seeds from sprouting but also grass seeds or prune the roots of new sod. And while you do want to kill as many weeds and undesirable grasses as possible before planting, also keep in mind that post emergent weed killers can remain in the soil for several weeks after application. Generally a non-selective herbicide like Round Up is the best option. Consult the label before you apply anything.
The following things should be considered when attempting to establish a thick healthy lawn -
- The Condition Of The Soil – Either get the soil tested for ph and nutrient content by a professional, local extension service, or with a do it yourself kit that you can usually get from the local home garden center. Then adjust as necessary before you ever put any seed or sod to the ground. Adding organic matter is generally a good step in most soils as it will often buffer soils to the right ph, add nutrient content, and help in moisture retention.
- Plant The Correct Turf Type – Is the area shady, sunny, or both? If you’re starting with a Bermuda lawn in a sunny location, I suggest that you stay with the Bermuda turf type. While there are many Fescue varieties that do well in sunny hot locations here in Southeast New Mexico, Bermuda is a very aggressive grass and will generally choke out Fescue and other cool season grasses in a few seasons unless you eradicate it completely before you begin. If your yard is totally shady, go with a Fescue or other shady grass as Bermuda will not dominate in shade. If there are both shady and sunny areas, we often have good results planting both Fescue and Bermuda. The Fescue will dominate in the shady areas while the Bermuda will dominate in the sunny locations.
- Proper Irrigation – This is critical for keeping a lawn optimal, lush, and healthy. If you don’t have a sprinkler system and don’t have the time to be constantly moving a hose, you may consider installing a sprinkler system. Drought stressed and thirsty lawns leave a lot of blank areas where only opportunistic weeds will grow.
- Replenish Nutrient Content With The Right Fertilizer – Not all lawn fertilizers are made for every application, geographical location, soil type, and time of year. Consult your local county extension agent for more information about fertilizing lawns in your specific location.
More information about establishing a lawn in New Mexico can be found at Turfgrass Establishment.
So, in conclusion – Pre and post emergent herbicides are a supplementary tool in good lawn weed control in Carlsbad, Artesia, and Southeast New Mexico and not necessarily the first and most important step. Establishing a healthy thick stand of turf is.
Generally, when used as part of your weed control program, weed killers and pre emergents should be applied at least twice a year and possibly more depending on your specific situation. Once in the Spring, once in the Fall, and possibly in early Summer.
Professional Weed Control
If you live in the Carlsbad and Artesia New Mexico Area, Horizon Pest Control is available to either give free consultation to help you design a program to do it yourself or get you on schedule for professional weed control. We don’t require you to sign any contracts. Give us a call today at 575-725-9331.