Preen Weed Preventer

carmen_grower_2007(4/5)April 29, 2010

I am a recovering organic gardener (sort of). Never would have considered using anything like this in the past but if I am to continue gardening, I have to cut down on the weeding.

I'm reading the precautions and wonder what happens when my cats step on the soil - get this on their feet - lick their feet. They are outdoor cats and I can't keep them off.

Any experiences you have with this product would be appreciated.

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The active ingredient in Preen is trifluralin. You can research trifluralin's toxicity rather easily and make your own decisions as to whether you think this product is safe to use around your pets.

FWIW, there is an organic alternative -- corn gluten meal also possesses the abilty to stop weed development in much the same manner as Preen. It is considered a natural pre-emergent in that it has no effect on existing weeds and other plants but hinders the germination and development of any seeds.

And mulching is a great weed reducer as well. I'd ever consider using any type of herbicide - organic or not - without combining that with a good layer of mulch. You are just tossing $$ away otherwise.

Here is a link that might be useful: trifluralin toxicity

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 12:07PM
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aunt_lou(Z5 OH)

I use Preen and also have lots of barn cats and have noticed no ill effects whatsoever. I wish I could keep them out of the flowerbeds but they seem to think I make them especially for them! lol

aunt lou

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 12:07PM
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When I spread corn gluten meal, the cats actually ate it, which I didn't expect them to do. I was running around after them saying "No, shoo, shoo, that's for the weeds, not you!" So, if you use it, you may want to water it in directly after so that it less appealing to the cats.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 1:06PM
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njmomma(z6 NJ)

I use Preen once a year in the spring and then water and then put down 2 inches of mulch. Unless the cats dig they shouldn't get Preen on themselves.
I only need to use it once a year.
My sister used it once and found a dead rabbit in her garden the next day and refuses to ever use it again. You don't want to know what her "garden" looks like, but she doesn't hand weed either.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 1:33PM
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Thanks all. I do have a great layer of mulch over everything (chicken bedding that has been composting for 3 years!) I realize now, that the Preen is easiest if you put it down very early in the spring before anything emerges. But, everything is up and growing now and I wonder how I can spread it effectively without getting it on leaves?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 3:32PM
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Preen doesn't kill weeds or other plants - it is a preemergent, which means that it keeps seeds from growing. It won't kill your plants or already sprouted weeds.

Putting a layer of mulch that is less nutritious than the compost you have down may help also. I use multiple layers of newspaper or cardboard topped by wood shavings. That does a pretty good job of keeping the garden weed-free.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 6:25PM
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kentstar(5b, NE Ohio)

If you read the back of the Preen bottle, it says something like "Do not use on soils containing more than 10% organic matter". Well, they can keep the Preen then. Just my opinion lol.
It's on the back of the bottle under general information, above the bar code.
If I am misunderstanding anything I apologize, but I reread this again, and that's what it says.

Here is a link that might be useful: Preen Product Label

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 7:03PM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

There is an organic Preen, which is a corn gluten meal product.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 9:04PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Organic gardener here with huge ornamental and vegetable gardens. A little weeding and occasional corn gluten work just fine. And I garden surrounded by woods and fields with lots of weeds.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 6:12AM
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kentstar(5b, NE Ohio)

I stand corrected lol. I didn't know they had an organic one that was just corn gluten. :)

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 4:09PM
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gonativegal(zone 5a)

I only use Preen when a client requires me to use it. Either I do or the lawn care people will which is the worse of the two evils.

Keep this in mind - if a bed is properly planted with a diverse number of species (shrubs/perennials & groundcovers) they should naturally knit together after a few seasons and there should be very little open ground showing. Also, will eventually reduce the need to apply large amounts of mulch as well each season. Preen not only prevents weed seed germination but also that of those perennials you want to fill in the open spaces. So if you must use - I would just spread it in selected areas where you have serious problems or just mulch instead.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 9:27PM
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I've use preen in the past and have been please with the results. of course I am on my hands and knees pulling up whatever is already up, then apply, then you are supposed to go back in about 4 weeks, pull anything that came up and reapply.

However, this year I realized that I've been missing out on the opportunity of allowing several perennials to self seed. Therefore I will only be using this product around my daylilies until I find a groundcover I like. The other bed will be preen free and I'll keep the weeds hand pulled and the bed down to a managable size.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 10:49PM
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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

Preen is expensive. Corn gluten is much cheaper and very effective for me.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 6:00AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I have read, that corn gluten attracts fire ants. I would like to use it but have not for that reason.
Any fire ant issues?

Doesn't it take several seasons for corn gluten to become effective?
Are you using corn gluten from the feed store or the Preen organic -is that all Preen organic is, just corn gluten?

I do use a lot of Preen and yes, it is expensive. I would like to find an alternative.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 8:17AM
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gonativegal or anyone...

I should had done research on this. I have my star jasmines and now they are not sprawling at all when I used Preen surrounding the plants.

What can I do to fix this issue?

Any suggestions to undo this so my star jasmine can sprawl?


    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 3:27PM
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"...if I am to continue gardening, I have to cut down on the weeding."

The best solutions to this problem involve cutting back on the size of the garden so routine maintenance doesn't overwhelm you, using adequate mulch, minimizing bare soil through close plant spacing (without overcrowding) so that weeds don't have a chance to get established, and possibly using corn gluten meal as a pre-emergent inhibitor if you don't care about having valued perennials/annuals reseeding.

Preen (trifluralin) is not regarded as especially toxic based on studies to date, but there are problems reported for some animals like amphibians (toads are valued residents of my garden). And I'd rather not find out a decade in the future that the stuff has some previously unknown potential to cause disease. We just got a new pup who wants to eat everything, and I feel better knowing that chemical use is minimized in the garden.

Check out the Preen label warnings described in this thread.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 5:11PM
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I used Preen last year with good results. I bought a jug of Preen from Wal-Mart store in Ashland, Ky 41101 and my 3 lots were cleared of any weeds. I then put my garden out and used the Preen and it has been about 10 days and there is weeds everywhere in my 3 plots. I will not buy any more and I am deeply angry. I am on SS disability and really could not afford to buy the Preen this year but I did with terrible results.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 7:41PM
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njmomma(z6 NJ)

I haven't read all the responses, but it did kill a bunny in my sister's yard. However, to the product's defense, she didn't cover it with mulch like she was supposed to.
I use preen every year and I can't live without it. However, I ALWAYS cover it with 1-2 inches of mulch immediately and water it in. It's a life saver when it comes to weeding!
Keep in mind you need to weed first before putting it down and then cover it with mulch so it doesn't wash away or get eaten by wildlife. For me, I can't live without it and it works and is recommended by landscapers I know.

Another suggestion... I no longer need to use preen in my front bed because the plants have filled in most of the ground space. So, fill up those beds!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 8:27AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Preen stops seeds from sprouting.

It won't stop perennial weeds from growing if they are already there when you spread it. If you pull them and don't get all the root/crown, they will still sprout again with Preen use.

Organic Preen is corn gluten so save your money for the packaging/name and just buy corn gluten.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 11:05AM
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I was thinking of starting a thread titled "The Anti-Preen", about my discovery of a bunch of self-sown Helleborus seedlings in a front bed. Hellebores hybridize freely and I'm looking forward to seeing what I eventually wind up with. If I'd used Preen, there would probably be no seedlings of Hellebore or other desirable plants I currently get (hostas, brunnera, biennial Honesty etc.).

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 1:16PM
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wishnforspring(z5 Upstate NY)

Where do you buy corn gluten?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 4:53PM
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You can buy corn gluten meal at feed stores.

It's so disappointing that people are still using so many fungicides, herbicides and insecticides in their gardens when there are alternatives that don't impact the health of animals, insects and people.

Believing claims that these things are not harmful to the earth is like believing tobacco companies who swore up and down for decades smoking wouldn't hurt you.


This may be unpopular, but I think those of us who are able to have a nice garden without killing/harming other living things have to speak up and say it's just not right.

I also don't buy into the argument that it's easier for those of us with small yards to manage pests and weeds. I've taken care of an eight hectare property where no spraying was done -- and it was beautiful!!

The impact these pollutants have spread far beyond your yard and collectively have devastating consequences.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 5:34PM
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