Does anyone not put down pre-emergent?

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by MacLawnCo, Mar 25, 2003.

  1. MacLawnCo

    MacLawnCo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,847

    Guys, im thinking that on the accounts that i do the lawn maintenance and also do the applications for, i am going to not put down a pre-emergent. All the lawns i am considering for this are very dense and mowed high, so i think that my cultural practices may help me sway off and weeds that may want to pop through. Does this sound like a good plan to anyone? What should i be aware of if i go with this method?
  2. turfsolutions

    turfsolutions LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 851

    I am considering this same thing for next year. I have been developing a lawn program for the last 8 years with the goal of reducing pesticides by 25-50% for an established turf. I experimented last year on my lawn. Full sun, tall fescue. I didn't apply a prem and had no crabgrass germination. Plenty of oxalis and other broadleafs, but no crabgrass. I will try some other lawns this year to see if I get similiar results.

    On selected well established lawns, I would say go for it. You can always spot treat with a post M. I would communicate well with your customers so they know your program.

    What do you think about every other year for grub prevent after several years of treating with it?

    Good luck.
  3. xpnd

    xpnd LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 378

    The easiest weed to control is the one that never germinates. I do three pre emergent treatments a year. Four on some lawns that have trouble with spurge. New customers, no matter when they sign up pay for an initial pre emerge treatment . If they fuss about it, they can go with someone else. Trying to do 100% post control will drive you nuts.
  4. Meier

    Meier LawnSite Senior Member
    from DFW
    Posts: 269

    Personally, for me, I would not take a chance on not using Pre-Emergence herbicide.

    If you take the chance, and the customer does get a bunch of crab grass or other summer grassy weeds, they'll likely be unhappy. If you talk to the customer first about them being a guinea pig, I doubt they'd like that. Not at the prices they're likely paying.

    Is it the cost of the pre-emergence that you're trying to avoid? Or are you concerned about the environment?

    My thinking is this:

    As far as the cost goes, the customer is paying you for a weed control & fertilization program. The cost of pre-emergence herbicide is already built into the price you quoted the customer. Also, if the customer cancels because they get crab grass, what is your cost? Also, the opportunity cost of the neighbors who were thinking about signing up, but now see weeds in the lawn?

    As far as the environment goes, I figure none of your competitors, such as Lawn Doctor or Scotts or Trugreen/Chemlawn are doing anything like this. I realize that the protection of the environment is something that everyone must do their part on, and every little bit helps. But in the big scope of things, comparing the amount of material you apply in a season to the amount of material all of your combined competitors in your market apply, will your contribution really matter that much? I mean, in the scope of things? Also, as long as the folks in this industry are following the label, we're not doing any real harm to the environment opinion. These materials were approved by various state and federal agencies at the specified application rates. It's a trade off made by these regulatory entities (hopefully, after many studies were performed)...we'll trade a small amount of pre-emergence herbicide in the top soil for better looking lawns.

    Ideally, if we could control all pests with lady bugs and praying mantis, we would. In theory, it's more environmentally friendly. But the reality is, we use pesticides in this country.

    Here is the question that must be answered: Will the benefits of pesticide use outwiegh the costs of non-use? When dealing with agricultural products, the decision can be made mathematically based on the worth of the harvest. With ornamental and turf, it's all based on looks, which is certainly subject to opinion.

    My opinion: Don't take a chance with skipping pre-emergence applications. A pound of prevention is better than a ton of cure.

    DFW, TX
  5. Mike Bradbury

    Mike Bradbury LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 493

    It's been known for a DECADE that 2.5-3" of thick turf will not allow crabgrass ALL ON ITS" OWN.
    Heck, you can start with a lawn with a fair amount of crabgrass. Start cutting it longer and with decent fertility you can eliminate the crabgrass by the 2nd season.

    Do a GOOGLE search. LOTS of info out there.

    I LOVE responsible pesticide use!:) :p :D
  6. Mike Bradbury

    Mike Bradbury LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 493

  7. Mike Bradbury

    Mike Bradbury LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 493

    . But in the big scope of things, comparing the amount of material you apply in a season to the amount of material all of your combined competitors in your market apply, will your contribution really matter that much?

    Not to be picking on you but I find that attitude REALLy sad. The world is changed ONE MAN AT A TIME.:(
  8. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,969

    You should be aware that, if you just quit every lawn cold turkey, you could be in for a major disaster. You might be running around with a post emergent for the rest of the year, depending on the environmental conditions.

    Think about how you will charge client. Will there be a fee built into fertilization in case you have to treat crabgrass postemergently? Or will it be an extra charge? Postemerge crab controls are not cheap.

    I have been reducing pre-ems for 5 years; this year will do less than 10% of managed turf areas. But you need to learn the high pressure areas on each site. I have one 23K lawn in full sun that had zero pre-em last year, and even with the hot summer, there were only 5-6 crabgrass plants. But one year, while weaning and learning this lawn, there were hundreds. That took quite some time and expense with postemergent. But now I know just which areas of that lawn to watch for crabgrass any year.

    If you have the desire and the talent of observation, you can easily eliminate preemergent use in cool season areas. The much enhanced root health will give you a hardier grass stand to resist all weed incursion.
  9. Mike Bradbury

    Mike Bradbury LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 493

    yeh, don't mean to imply you can do it everywhere. The thick turf part is the whole key. Any thin spots would be at risk.
  10. turfsolutions

    turfsolutions LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 851

    Well said Jim.

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