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Can I Use a Pre-Emergent on a Vegetable Garden?

By Cassie Hart ; Updated September 21, 2017
Weed control is an ongoing challenge for gardeners.

Weeds are invasive and sometimes aggressively growing plants that often rob valued plants of required sunlight, nutrients and moisture. Pre-emergent herbicides may be used to prevent the growth of weeds in vegetable gardens, but they must be used with care.


Pre-emergent herbicides are those that prevent weeds from germinating. They are used to kill grass and broad-leaf weeds, but they do not kill plants that have already grown above the ground.


When applying pre-emergent herbicides in vegetable gardens, it's important to correctly identify the weeds you wish to control. Also, read labels carefully when selecting an herbicide. Some types kill vegetables and weeds alike, while others may not be effective against the weeds you are targeting. No one herbicide kills all weeds.


If you don't want to use chemicals in your garden, alternative control methods can be very effective, including pulling weeds by hand, shading, planting cover crops and mulching. When weeds sprout in your garden, remove them before they go to seed.


Avoid contact with skin and eyes when using herbicides, and wash exposed skin thoroughly following the application. Keep all chemicals in their original containers and store them where children cannot reach them.


About the Author


Cassie Hart has written freelance since 1997. Her articles have appeared in national publications such as “Dynamic Graphics Magazine” and “Windplayer Magazine.” Hart holds a Bachelor of Arts in music from Knox College and a Master of Science in English studies from Illinois State University.