6 Best Pre-Emergent Herbicides of 2024 [Reviews]

Best pre-emergent herbicides

Pre-emergent herbicides kill weeds by preventing their seeds from germinating. They keep weeds from ever sprouting in your lawn and garden. We looked at pre-emergent weed control products at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Amazon, and Walmart to find the best pre-emergent herbicides. Our list includes synthetic and organic options for lawns, landscaping, and ornamentals.

Our top picks

6 Best Pre-Emergent Herbicides
1. Quali-Pro Prodiamine 65 WDG
2. Dimension 2EW
3. Barricade from The Andersons
4. Espoma Organic Weed Preventer
5. Preen Extended control Weed Preventer
6. Scotts Turfbuilder Halts Crabgrass Preventer

Top 6 pre-emergent herbicides – Reviews

1. Quali-Pro Prodiamine 65 WDG 

Quali-Pro Prodiamine Pre-Emergent Herbicide

If you want to control weeds in your lawn and landscaping, try Quali-Pro Prodiamine 65 WDG. Its long-lasting formula effectively prevents grassy and broadleaf weeds such as annual bluegrass, crabgrass, and spurge. 

Appropriate for both spring and fall applications, Quali-Pro Prodiamine comes in granules that mix into a liquid for even application. When tank mixing, it goes well with fertilizers and iron solutions. 


  • Active ingredient: Prodiamine
  • Application: Sprayer
  • Coverage: 6250 sq. ft.
  • Product size: 5 lb.
  • Type: Liquid (comes in granules and mixes into a liquid)
  • Use sites: Lawns, landscaping, trees, golf courses, nurseries
  • Weeds treated: Grassy and broadleaf weeds, including annual bluegrass, chickweed, crabgrass, foxtail, goosegrass, henbit, knotweed, spurge

Pros and cons

What we liked What we didn’t like
✓ Can be mixed with fertilizer
✓ Professional strength
✓ Evenly applies with a sprayer
✓ Can use in spring and fall
✗ Weak on ragweed
✗ Can stain your clothes

Where to buy

2. Dimension 2EW

Dimension 2EW

If you’re looking for pre-emergent or early post-emergent crabgrass treatment, consider Dimension 2EW. It’s safe for most cool-season and warm-season turfgrass, golf courses, and over 400 ornamental plants. It’s also handy for preventing annual summer grassy weeds and many varieties of broadleaf weeds.

Dimension 2EW comes as a liquid, so you need a handheld or backpack sprayer to apply it evenly. For best results, use before weeds germinate. It only works on crabgrass after germination. 


  • Active ingredient: Dithiopyr
  • Application: Sprayer
  • Coverage: 2 – 4 acres
  • Product size: .5 gal.
  • Type: Liquid
  • Use sites: Lawns, golf courses, landscaping, nurseries
  • Weeds treated: Annual bluegrass, bittercress, chickweed, crabgrasses, foxtail, goosegrass, henbit, lespedeza, oxalis, parsley-piert, and other summer annual grasses and broadleaf weeds

Pros and cons

What we liked What we didn’t like
✓ Works on crabgrass even after germination
✓ Odorless
✓ Doesn’t stain
✗ High upfront cost

Where to buy

3. Barricade from The Andersons

Barricade from The Andersons

Although Barricade from The Andersons has the same active ingredient as Quali-Pro Prodiamine 65 WDG, it’s applied as granules using a spreader and is less expensive per square foot of coverage. It’s harder to apply evenly than a liquid solution but is more effective when temperatures freeze.


  • Active ingredient: Prodiamine
  • Application: Spreader
  • Coverage: 5,800 sq. ft.
  • Product size: 18 lb.
  • Type: Granular
  • Use sites: Lawns, landscaping, ornamental beds
  • Weeds treated: 30 broadleaf and grassy weeds, including annual bluegrass and crabgrass

Pros and cons

What we liked What we didn’t like
✓ Good value
✓ Effective when properly applied
✗ Difficult to apply evenly

Where to buy

4. Espoma Organic Weed Preventer

Espoma Organic Weed Preventer

Espoma Organic Weed Preventer is a natural weed inhibitor and lawn nourisher made from 100% corn gluten meal. Extensive research by Iowa State University found that corn gluten meal is a natural pre-emergent herbicide effective on crabgrass, dandelions, and other common weeds. 

Homeowners and farmers concerned with the potentially harmful effects of chemicals welcome this organic weed control solution for established lawns and crop fields. Apply the granules with a spreader in early spring and again in early fall.


  • Active ingredient: Corn gluten meal
  • Application: Spreader
  • Coverage: 1,250 sq. ft.
  • Product size: 25 lb.
  • Type: Granules
  • Use sites: Lawns
  • Weeds treated: Crabgrass, dandelions, and other common weeds

Pros and cons

What we liked What we didn’t like
✓ Organic
✓ Natural
✓ Adds nutrients to soil
✓ Doesn’t burn lawn
✗ Doesn’t work as well as chemicals

Where to buy

5. Preen Extended Control Weed Preventer

Preen Extended control Weed Preventer

Preen Extended Control Weed Preventer works for up to 6 months and is safe to use near over 600 plants, including perennial flowers and ground covers. However, you shouldn’t use it on lawns or edible crops. It prevents many common weeds, including clover, crabgrass, and dandelion. 

Application is simple and requires no additional equipment, but keep in mind the chemicals are strong and not recommended for pet owners.


  • Active ingredient: Trifluralin, isoxaben
  • Application: Sprinkle from the bottle, then water to activate
  • Coverage: 2,245 sq. ft.
  • Product size: 13.75 lb.
  • Type: Granules
  • Use sites: Perennial flower beds, ground covers, trees, landscaping, rock gardens
  • Weeds treated: Broadleaf, grassy, and common weeds, including annual ryegrass, clover, crabgrass, dandelion, henbit, mustard, pokeweed, sandbur, thistle, and wild carrot

Pros and cons

What we liked What we didn’t like
✓ Easy to apply
✓ Effective against many weeds
✓ Long lasting
✗ Poisonous to pets 
✗ Harmful to aquatic life
✗ Not safe for lawns
✗ Not safe for edible crops

Where to buy

6. Scotts Turfbuilder Halts Crabgrass Preventer

Scotts Turfbuilder Halts Crabgrass Preventer

If you want a product that fertilizes your lawn while preventing crabgrass, try Scotts Turfbuilder Halts Crabgrass Preventer. Apply the granules in early spring using a spreader for a nourished lawn free from crabgrass, barnyard grass, and other common spring weeds. It’s safe for most turfgrass, but you shouldn’t use this product if you have a bentgrass lawn.


  • Active ingredient: Pendimethalin
  • Application: Spreader
  • Coverage: 5,000 sq. ft.
  • Product size: 13.58 lb.
  • Type: Granules
  • Use sites: Bermudagrass, Kentucky bluegrass, centipedegrass, fine fescue, ryegrass, St. Augustinegrass, tall fescue, and Zoysiagrass lawns
  • Weeds treated: Crabgrass, barnyard grass, foxtail, Poa annua, chickweed, and oxalis

Pros and cons

What we liked What we didn’t like
✓ Fertilizes grass
✓ Effectively prevents crabgrass
✗ Not good for fall applications

Where to buy

Buyer’s guide to pre-emergent herbicides

If you are shopping for a pre-emergent herbicide, here are some factors to keep in mind:

Type of pre-emergent herbicide

When choosing a weed preventer, there are several types of pre-emergent herbicides. The right choice for you depends on the types of weeds you want to treat, how fast you want it to work, and the landscape of your yard.  

Some of your options include:

  • Liquid vs. granular: Achieving even coverage with a liquid pre-emergent herbicide is easier. However, granular herbicides are a better choice in freezing temperatures.
  • Organic vs. synthetic: Organic herbicides add nutrients to the soil, benefiting the environment but sometimes attracting bugs. Although synthetic herbicides aren’t as good for the environment, they are often more effective than organic products.
  • Selective vs. non-selective: Most homeowners choose selective herbicides because they only kill specific types of weeds. Non-selective herbicides will destroy everything, including turfgrass and flowers.


Ingredients commonly found in synthetic pre-emergent fertilizers include:

  • Dithiopyr is safe for turfgrass, vines, and ornamental grass but effectively prevents the growth of 45 grassy and broadleaf weeds, including crabgrass, chickweed, and annual bluegrass (Poa annua). However, it doesn’t work well for spurge control, and dithiopyr is ineffective against nutsedge.
  • Isoxaben is a broadleaf weed preventer applied to lawns, ground covers, and ornamental container plants. It effectively keeps chickweed, spurge, oxalis, and horseweed out of your yard, but isoxaben won’t control sedges, annual grasses, and most perennial weeds.
  • Pendimethalin is in both a pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicide, targeting broadleaf weeds. It’s used to treat lawns, crops, and gardens.
  • Prodiamine is a popular crabgrass preventer applied to lawns, landscaping, and nurseries. It prevents additional broadleaf weeds and summer annual grasses such as Poa annua, goosegrass, and chickweed. Once applied, it works for about three months. Most lawn care pros use prodiamine and dithiopyr.
  • Trifluralin is banned in Europe for poisoning sea life, and the EPA lists it as a hazardous pollutant. Still, it remains one of the most sought-after herbicides for landscaping, trees, shrubs, and non-edible crops. Homeowners with pets should avoid products containing trifluralin because it’s very toxic to dogs, cats, rabbits, and other animals.

And ingredients found in organic pre-emergent herbicides include:

  • Ammonium nonanoate is a pre-emergent weed killer used on crops, nurseries, and landscaping to prevent grasses, vines, underbrush, and other weeds.
  • Citric acid is a non-selective herbicide, so it kills everything.
  • Corn gluten meal prevents weed growth for four to six weeks and will also prevent grass seeds from sprouting. Don’t use corn gluten close to when you overseed. Corn gluten is common in organic dandelion and crabgrass control products.
  • Vinegar is a common organic ingredient in pre- and post-emergent herbicides and works similarly to citric acid because it’s also acidic. 


Although some pre-emergent herbicides are applied directly from the bottle, herbicide application often requires extra equipment. Liquid pre-emergent products typically require a sprayer to distribute the product evenly, and granules need a spreader.


Most pre-emergent herbicides cost $20 – $150 per container or $0.01 – $0.07 per square foot of coverage. Organic products that use corn gluten as the primary active ingredient tend to be the most expensive.

FAQ about pre-emergent herbicides

1. When is the best time to apply pre-emergent herbicide?

To work effectively, you must know when and how to apply pre-emergent herbicides. Early spring and fall applications are typically the most effective, and most pre-emergent herbicides work for 3 to 5 months.

Early spring applications prevent annual weeds that sprout in the summer, such as crabgrass and foxtail. Fall applications prevent weeds that grow in cooler temperatures, such as prickly lettuce and dandelions

2. What are the best post-emergent herbicides? 

The best post-emergent herbicides include Southern Ag 2,4-D Amine and Spectracide Weed and Grass Killer. Post-emergent herbicides don’t prevent weed seeds like pre-emergents. Instead, they kill existing weeds. 

3. What’s the best lawn care to prevent weeds?

The best way to prevent weeds is to maintain a lush, well-nourished lawn that is fit to outcompete potential weeds. In addition to pre-emergent herbicides, good lawn care, including the following, will prevent weeds:

Aeration: Lawn aeration pokes holes in the soil to improve drainage. As a result, the grass receives more fertilizer, water, and oxygen. The two main methods are core aeration and spike aeration, and professional lawn aeration typically costs $75 to $225.

Dethatching: Thatch is a layer of organic matter that accumulates between the grass and soil. Dethatching your lawn when thatch is over one-half inch thick improves soil drainage and overall grass health. Expect dethatching to cost 15 to 35 cents per square foot.

Mowing: Regular lawn maintenance, such as mowing and edging, is essential to maintaining a healthy lawn. Follow our tips on how to mow your lawn and check out the best lawn mowers.

Fertilization: Proper lawn fertilization is a critical factor in maintaining a lush weed-free lawn, so we put together a guide to lawn fertilization. Most professional fertilization treatments cost $120 to $480, but you can do it yourself with the best lawn fertilizers.

4. Can you use pre-emergent herbicides in flower beds?

Yes, pre-emergent herbicides are safe to use in flower beds because they don’t damage established plants. Just don’t plant any new flower seeds for a few months after applying pre-emergent herbicides, as they will prevent the seeds from germinating.

See our list of the best weed killers for flower beds to help you choose the right pre-emergent products for this purpose. Our favorites include Preen Garden Weed Preventer and Miracle-Gro Shake n’ Feed Weed Preventer.

5. Are pre-emergent herbicides weed killers?

Yes and no. While pre-emergents essentially kill weed seeds, they don’t do anything to weeds that have already grown. If you’re looking for a way to kill existing weeds, we recommend checking out our list of the best weed killers.

When to call a lawn care pro

If you want to take the guesswork out of weed control, your best bet is to call a local lawn care pro. Many factors affect your lawn’s overall health, and there are over 600 weed species in America. A pro can diagnose and adequately treat existing concerns and maintain routine lawn care to prevent future problems.

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Michelle Selzer

Michelle Selzer is a witty writer with a passion for plants and outdoor power tools. When she's not out in the yard, Michelle enjoys fishing, hunting, and chasing waterfalls.