Ornamental Landscape Bed Weed Control: Maximize the Opportunity, Minimize the Labor Costs

The opportunity to maintain and enhance a client’s place of residence, business, or leisure doesn’t just stop with a lawn care program. What about the ornamental landscape beds on the property? This is a tremendous area of opportunity to grow your business, but also provide additional value to your clients. Maintaining ornamental landscape beds can get a bad rap for being viewed as a service to a client that puts pressure on already limited resources and time for a Lawn and Landscape businesses. While programs can get complex if you decide to go down that path, at the end of the day most clients are just simply looking for weed free ornamental landscape beds so that the property is aesthetically pleasing and they aren’t having to break their back hand weeding throughout the season.

There are solutions out there that allow you to provide your clients the value they are looking for without putting pressure on your potentially limited resources. In fact, this may be an untapped area for growth whether you are an established or upcoming business in the industry. In this article Austin Marsteller, Central’s Turf Director of Chemicals, is here to help you consider these options.

From Austin

Agronomically speaking, a lot of the same weeds you are battling in your turf will be similar issues in the ornamental landscape beds. Some common weeds you may encounter are crabgrass, goosegrass, foxtail, spurge, chickweed, groundsel, bittercress, marestail and others depending on your region. A key to a successful control program aside from identification, is understanding what weeds are summer annuals vs. winter annuals and perennials vs. biennials. For example, chickweed (winter annual) will germinate in the Fall and takeover beds in early Spring, whereas spurge (summer annual) will germinate in the Spring, and take over beds throughout the summer if left untreated. Understanding what weeds are problematic will drive product selection, timing, and rates.

When it comes to keeping ornamental landscape beds free of weeds there a couple approaches. The first one is hand-weeding. This method is one that is automatically going to put pressure on company resources because of the amount labor involved. Luckily today, there are plenty of solutions out there that can practically eliminate the need for this method in your program. A second approach is using post-emergent treatments (ex. spot treating with non-selective herbicide). This may be an initial first step in order to get rid of existing weeds that are established (perennials or established annual weeds). However, this should not be the foundation of the program. This type of program will still require multiple applications throughout the season in order to keep the weeds out of the ornamental landscape beds. This approach still requires a lot of labor although less than hand-weeding. The last approach is through the use of pre-emergent products. A sound pre-emergent program will provide the results your clients are looking for without depleting valuable time and resources. The remaining parts of this article will focus on this approach and will provide the key considerations when building that program.

Hopefully I’ve convinced you that going the pre-emergent program approach is the best way to maintain ornamental landscape bed areas, but how do you decide on what product to use? You will need to rank the following points in order of importance to your business as it pertains to product selection

    • Desirable Ornamental Plant Safety
    • Weed Spectrum Controlled
    • Residual Control
    • PPE
    • Formulation / Preferred Application Method
    • Product Activation Timeframe

Ranking these will enable a product or two to rise to the top based on the individual situation

Ornamental Plant Safety- The number of ornamentals listed as tolerant on a label is important because let’s face it, we aren’t all botanical experts and we want to make the applications as worry free and efficient as possible. Clients do not want to see damaged plants as a result of an application and you certainly don’t want to be replacing them. The following pre-emerge products in the market have leading ornamental plant safety based on a head-to-head label comparison among products available in this market segment.

      • Crew
      • Snapshot 2.5TG
      • Gallery

Weed Spectrum – Earlier in the article I listed a few key weeds, but there are several others that you may encounter in an ornamental landscape bed setting. With that said, the number of weeds controlled pre-emergently by a product will help ensure you have the spectrum you need for your clients’ ornamental beds to stay free of weeds while minimizing call backs and retreatments. A few products again rise to the top as having the most expansive list by label?

      • Gallery + (Dimension or Prodiamine)
      • Crew
      • Snapshot
      • SureGuard

Residual Control- How long is this product going to provide pre-emergent control in my ornamental landscape beds? This will vary tremendously by region, growing conditions, soil temperatures, rates, and other factors. Again, this will also vary but in general residuals for common products will range from 3 to 8 months. This provides an excellent spot to point out that in most regions to achieve year around pre-emergent protection in ornamental landscape beds a Spring (prevent summer annuals) and a Fall (prevent winter annuals) application program is recommended.

Product Activation Timeframe – So you made the application now what? Just like pre-emergents you use in the lawn ornamental landscape bed pre-emergent products need to be watered-in to become activated. This is important to consider whether irrigation is accessible or the property relies only on natural rainfall. Not properly incorporating or activating the product in a timely manner by label can result in eradicate control of weeds. What do these windows to get watered in look like?

      • Crew- ½” inch water within 21 days of application
      • Snapshot 2.5TG- ½” inch water within 3 days after application
      • Specticle G- for applications to ornamentals over-the-top irrigate within 1 hour
      • Broadstar- irrigate within 1 hour after application with 0.5-0.75 inches of water
      • Gallery- ½” inch water within 21 days of application
      • SureGuard- irrigate within 1 hour after application with 0.5-0.75 inches of water
      • Freehand- water into the soil by 0.5 inch within 7-10 days (after application)

Formulation / Preferred Application Method- This really comes down to an operational perspective on whether liquid applications or granular applications work best for your situation. In most cases similar active ingredients (or active ingredient combinations) can be found in a liquid and granular equivalents. (Ex. The active ingredients in liquid Gallery and Dimension products are the same as in Crew, a granular product formulation)


      • Crew
      • Snapshot 2.5TG
      • Specticle G
      • Broadstar
      • Freehand


      • Dimension 2EW
      • Gallery SC
      • SureGuard

There is tremendous value to your clients and an excellent growth opportunity for your business by offering an ornamental landscape bed weed control program. Remember when you are selecting a product consider the points I asked you to force rank based on your individual solution. There are a lot of great solutions out there to build your program from. At Central Turf and Irrigation, we are available and ready to help you create the best program tailored for your business.

*Please carefully read and follow all label instructions. Please follow all state and local laws.

About Austin Marsteller

Austin has a decade of experience in the Green Industry, a degree in Turfgrass Science from Penn State University and an MBA from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. His career has been heavily focused in turf and ornamental on the manufacturer side, and most recently in agriculture specifically in bio stimulants, adjuvants, and specialty fertilizers. Austin works closely with all the employees and partners of Central to provide superior service and solutions to our turf and ornamental customers.