How to Use a Pre-Emergent Herbicide in the Fall

How to Use a Pre-Emergent Herbicide in the Fall

How to Use a Pre-Emergent Herbicide in the Fall

The heat of summer is slowly coming to an end and the cool temperatures of fall are finally among us. When it comes to the beginning of fall, a lot of people may think that this signifies the end of lawn care. Although time spent outside on your lawn may be greatly reduced, the time that takes place between summer and fall is still important for preparing your lawn for winter and next spring. Applying a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent weeds is one of the best things you can do for your lawn during this time.

Certain annual weeds can continue to grow during the winter. Some of these weeds in grass include Poa annua, common chickweed, purple deadnettle and henbit. Annual weeds typically emerge in the fall and winter and continue to grow actively in spring. After they flower in spring and disappear during the summer, they often return again in the fall or winter when seeds germinate.

Pictured above from left to right: Poa annua, common chickweed, purple deadnettle and henbit.

What is a Pre-Emergent Herbicide?

Pre-emergent herbicides, as the name suggests, are a category of herbicides that prevent weeds from appearing in the first place. The difference between a pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicide is that a pre-emergent herbicide should be applied before a weed grows while a post-emergent herbicide should be applied if you already have weeds in your lawn. Pre-emergent herbicides form a barrier in the soil that prevent weeds from sprouting or germinating as illustrated in the image below. It can be hard to get rid of weeds once they are already growing in the spring, so get ahead of the game by applying a pre-emergent herbicide in the fall and save yourself time and money—especially if you already know which weeds tend to come around in the spring every year.

When to Apply Pre-Emergents in the Fall

The best time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn during the fall season is between the months of August and November for both warm and cool season grasses. Your soil temperature should be below 70 degrees and dropping.

It should be noted that a pre-emergent herbicide that is applied before you overseed in the fall will keep your seed from germinating. Your common pre-emergents will kill the seed that you put down 100 percent of the time. You can read more about overseeding in the fall in How to Keep Your Lawn Green During the Winter or by visiting our Grass Seed Planting Guide. You should also make pre-emergent applications in the spring.

How to Select a Pre-Emergent Herbicide

When it comes to selecting a pre-emergent herbicide, choices can be daunting. Narrow down the selection process by looking for an herbicide that works on the type of weed you’ve seen in previous years and for your type of grass. Most herbicides will say on the back of the product which grasses they can and shouldn’t be used on as well as which weeds they will kill. Once you have simplified your choices of herbicides, the last thing to choose between may be a granule vs. a liquid herbicide. Liquid herbicides are usually mixed with water in a tank and then sprayed. These should be mixed in accordance to the product label instructions. Granular, or dry herbicides, are small pellets coated with herbicides that can be applied with a broadcast or drop spreader at the rate specified on the product label. Either choice of granular or liquid herbicides will perform well on your lawn. The most important thing to look for is that it kills the weeds you usually encounter during this time of year and that it works with your type of grass. Here are a few of our top recommended suggestions. Be sure to read the product label thoroughly before application.

Product Comparisons

Crabgrass Control Plus 0-0-7 with 0.37% Prodiamine Herbicide

  • Coverage: 50 lbs. covers about 12,500 sq. ft.
  • Active Ingredient(s): Prodiamine 0.37%.
  • Ease of Use: Requires granular drop or broadcast spreader for application.
  • Best Used On/For: Established warm and cool season turfgrass before weeds appear.

Prodiamine 65 WDG Pre-Emergent


Coverage: 5 lbs. covers between 50,000–80,000 sq. ft.

Active Ingredient(s): Prodiamine 65%.

Ease of Use: Requires tank mixing and application with a sprayer.

Best Used On/For: Established turfgrass before weeds appear.

Dimension 2EW Pre-Emergent

Dimension 2EW Half Gallon

Coverage: 0.5 gallon covers between 87,000–228,000 sq. ft.

Active Ingredient(s): Dithiopyr 24%.

Ease of Use: Requires tank mixing and application with a sprayer.

Best Used On/For: Established turfgrass before broadleaf weeds appear.

Although fertilizer isn’t going to help kill your weeds, a good fertilizer program will help your lawn stay healthy and thick so that it chokes them out. Be sure to check out the LawnifiTM Fall Fertilizer Box and Lawnifi Foundation to help give your lawn the nutrition it needs when it needs it. Lawnifi is a fertilizer program powered by Catalyst TechnologyTM that matches seasonal changes with combined fertilizer boxes for spring, summer and fall. The Fall Fertilizer Box contains one bottle of Boost, Maintain and Recover, which work together to help your lawn get over the stressful heat of the summer as well as prepare for winter dormancy. Visit to learn more.

To learn more about herbicides and lawn weeds, check out our Weed Control blog. If you are interested in being able to recognize and name weeds, or to understand the difference between grassy and broadleaf weeds, read our Identifying Common Lawn Weeds blog. Lastly, our How to Use a Pre-Emergent Herbicide in the Spring article discusses the other most important time of the year to apply pre-emergents. Lastly, be sure to read our Fall Lawn Maintenance Tips blog for more information on other regular maintenance practices that should take place during the season.

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