Weeds can be unsightly in an otherwise perfect, healthy lawn. Not only are they sometimes ugly, but they also compete with your lawn for space, sunlight, water, and other nutrients! Crabgrass is one of the most notorious weeds known for its difficulty to control. If you’re one of the unlucky homeowners who have crabgrass in their lawn—not to worry! Read on to learn more about how to get rid of crabgrass
What is Crabgrass?
Crabgrass is a pervasive weed found throughout the continental United States that causes many lawn owners to struggle with controlling it. Crabgrass was given this name because it grows close to the ground and has branching stems resembling crab legs. Due to how it grows, crabgrass is very adaptable to short mowing heights and can continue producing seed even when mowed as low as ½ an inch. Crabgrass is also pretty drought-tolerant and thrives in the hot conditions that the summer brings. We in the south know far too well about the hot summer conditions that can take place.
As an annual weed, crabgrass remains present in the landscape for one growing season. This usually begins in the late spring and early summer after the soil temperature has reached a temperature of 55 to 60 degrees for over five days. Once the plants germinate, they will continue to grow until the days begin to shorten. Which in turn causes them to enter a reproductive stage. During this time, plants produce seeds (up to 150,000 per plant) until the first frosts of the fall hit, knocking them out. Even if crabgrass is not visible on your lawn during the fall and winter, if the plant can set seed, prepare to begin fighting it again come warmer weather.
Crabgrass Non-Chemical Control
There are many control options available to help ensure that this season is the last time crabgrass invades your lawn. Some natural prevention methods to strengthen your lawn include:
- Raising the mowing height will help keep the soil cool. Keeping the sunlight out will make it more difficult for the crabgrass to germinate and take over.
- Watering deeply once a week. Avoid light irrigation that would allow weed seed to germinate. Also, make sure your lawn is well watered and healthy before germination begins.
- Avoid fertilizing in the summer. Make sure fertilizer is applied before the crabgrass begins. This will keep your lawn thick and give it the upper hand
Crabgrass Chemical Control
If the non-chemical control methods do not help with controlling crabgrass entirely, chemical controls can be implemented. Pre-emergent herbicides will be your first chemical line of defense, as they can stop the weed seeds from germinating. The timing of the application is everything. The application’s success will depend on getting it out before the seeds germinate, so pay close attention to the changing temperature!
If it is too late for the pre-emergent to be applied then a crabgrass post-emergent herbicide will be necessary at this point in the game. Even if you applied a pre-emergent on time, it’s good to apply a post-emergent to kill any current crabgrass weeds before they begin spreading.