How Can I Get Rid Of Crabgrass In My Lawn
Crabgrass is one of the most ubiquitous weeds of lawns and landscapes. Native to Europe and Eurasia, crabgrass was introduced to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century as a possible forage crop. Since then, crabgrass has spread far and wide throughout the continent, growing just about anywhere with disturbed soil, from agricultural lands to lawns and gardens. It does especially well in sunny lawns and is most competitive in hot and dry weather when turf grasses are under stress and beginning to go dormant. The wide, yellowish-green leaf blades of crabgrass stand in stark contrast with the dark green cool-season grasses a look that is intolerable to many lawn enthusiasts. Fortunately, crabgrass is merely an aesthetic issue in most situations.
Crabgrass is a summer annual species, which means it completes its entire lifecycle in a single growing season. It reproduces by seeds and tillering, or, in other words, segmented shoots that grow from the parent plant and root at the nodes. It is estimated that a single plant can produce dozens of tillers and as many as 150,000 seeds. Seeds begin to develop when the days become shorter in mid to late summer. Mature crabgrass plants are killed by the first hard frost, but not before they have produced and dropped seed. Seeds lie dormant through the winter and begin to germinate in the spring when the soil temperature reaches 55°F at a depth of 1-2 inches for about a week, and continue germinating through the late summer.
What Is Crabgrass And Why Not Just Let It Grow
Crabgrass and other unwanted weeds steal valuable moisture and nutrients from the soil, taking them away from plants you value such as lawn grasses, flowers and vegetables. Crabgrass can also make a lawn look unkempt. As an annual grass sown from seed, when the plants die in the fall, they leave gaping holes throughout the lawn during the winter.
The first step in managing and repelling any intruder is to identify the enemy. Once you learn what crabgrass looks like, its important to learn several methods of controlling this weedy grass. Biological control of crabgrass is easier than youd think, but there are also several crabgrass control products available at your local nursery and garden center that kill unwanted crabgrass or prevent it from sprouting in the first place.
Seeding And Sodding The Bald Spots
As Ive mentioned, crabgrass and other weed seeds love to nest and sprout in the bald patches of your lawn. Its their gateway for moving in. That is why it pays off to seed or sod those patches ASAP.
When you remove crabgrass by any of the given methods, also make sure you mend the newly created baldness by sowing of seed, preceded by appropriate fertilizing.
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Prevent Crabgrass In The Spring
Crabgrass can be prevented in the spring so they don’t become a problem in the summer. Applying a pre-emergent weed seed germination inhibitor, like Scotts® Turf Builder® Weed Prevent in the early spring, will help stop weed seeds from germinating.Crabgrass gets its name because it sprawls from a central root low across the ground. It can become a problem quickly during the summer because it is able to grow vigorously in hot, dry conditions. Before dying in the fall, a single weed can distribute thousands of seeds that will be ready to germinate the following spring. You can take care of crabgrass in your lawn easily with our plan.
Is Crabgrass Really That Bad
Its crucial to acknowledge at the start that for a new generation of gardeners, weeds like crabgrass arent actually a problem. Many indeed take great pride in the fact that their gardens run wild, as it is the perfect condition for nature to return. Bees and small animals love unruly gardens, so some people just let things grow and are happy to watch nature take its course.
However, for many, weeds like crabgrass are the bane of our lives, and we spend far too much time trying to kill it. This article is really for us who take pride in our beautiful manicured lawns and dont want our grasses infested by weeds like crabgrass.
The most significant problem that crabgrass presents is the speed at which it proliferates. We will touch on this in the section below, but if we dont work to control it, then our lawn is really at its mercy!
With this in mind, its straightforward to understand why crabgrass presents a significant challenge to gardeners worldwide and why its so difficult to control and contain. Before we look at how to remove crabgrass from your garden, lets understand the conditions in which crabgrass thrives.
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Simple And Safe Ways To Deal With Crabgrass
If some odd crabgrass growth does appear on your lawn, there are other ways to treat it besides using synthetic herbicides. When used properly, natural herbicides and weed remedies are safe and dont harm the environment.
Enough with all the talking! Lets get to the bottom of it! I hear some of you in my virtual audience shout.
Due to popular demand, lets explore the best options for killing crabgrass naturally right away.
Mature Crabgrass Seed Heads
- Keep your eyes peeled for seed heads that spread out like a fork, and leave them alone. Fully mature crabgrass has splayed seed heads. Otherwise, you’ll scatter scads of seeds over that nice big hole you’ve just created by removing the mature weed. You might as well be trying to cultivate new crabgrass! Pulling will leave a big hole in the lawn and spread up to 5,000 seeds per plant.
- Wait for the plant to die in the fall. Then hit the area next spring with pre-emergence granules to keep the seeds from sprouting. With good lawn care practices, you’ll soon crowd out those fallen crabgrass seeds.
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Solarize Large Patches Of Crabgrass
Something else you can do to help kill crabgrass seed is to wait until the sunniest and warmest period of the year, use your lawnmower to cut the plants as short as you can, apply a generous amount of water, and use a sheet of clear plastic to cover the ground.
This process is called solarization, and its a good way to kill a large section of grass or weeds.
You must ensure that the plastic isnt punctured in any way. Leave it on the ground for between a month and six weeks. During this time youll answer the same question repeatedly when all your neighbors ask what the heck youre doing, and the sheet and the ground beneath will heat the ground sufficiently to destroy all the seeds below it.
After this, you can reseed the area with grass seed, or lay sod.
Crabgrass Takes Over The Lawn
Crabgrass grows even in the worst conditions because it is remarkably stubborn and self-sufficient. It can steal valuable nutrients and moisture from your lawn, making it difficult for other grasses to grow. As a weed that germinates in the spring and dies off in the fall, crabgrass is also known for having a higher stalk space that creates a perfect haven for pests.
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Kick That Crabgrass In The You Know
You now have the information you need to prevent crabgrass germination and know how to kill crabgrass naturally.
Once you get ahead of Crabgrass simply maintain a nice thick green lawn, and apply an organic pre-emergent each spring and youll be in great shape.
Final Note: If your crabgrass problem is getting out of hand and you arent opposed to using chemicals, check out the video at the bottom of this post. Its a cant-miss approach.
Crabgrass Removal & Prevention
Here are some tips from the grass experts at LawnSavers for preventing the spread of crabgrass:
- Manually pull as much crabgrass as possible before seed heads develop and mature
- Crabgrass growing on hard surfaces like interlock or between stones can be destroyed with horticultural vinegar
- Mow frequently and bag all clippings to capture seeds. Raking prostrate crabgrass tillers before mowing to stand them up will improve results
- Rake out dead plants along the edge of driveways early in spring to prepare for seeding with desirable grasses varieties
- Thicken the lawn with Liquid Aeration and OverSeeding to reduce thin or bare areas to crowd out the crabgrass
- Let the lawn grow to two and a half or three inches tall to shade the soil and reduce the amount of sunlight and warmth that reaches dormant crabgrass seeds
- Water deeply, at least once a week, to strengthen desired grass and minimize surface moisture that crabgrass seeds need to germinate
- If you are not planning to seed the lawn, apply corn gluten meal in the spring. It can help, but will not eliminate crabgrass development
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Why Is Crabgrass Bad For Your Lawn
If you have crabgrass in your yard, you might be wondering if its really that big a deal. As long as its not in your garden, whats the harm?
Here are a few ways crabgrass can damage your outdoor space:
- Crabgrass is invasive. Crabgrass is native to Europe and was introduced to the US as a forage crop. It tolerates high temperatures, dry weather, and poor soil conditions without issue. Its a self-sufficient, stubborn weed thats much hardier than traditional turfgrasses. As such, even a small crabgrass infestation can quickly expand to take over your entire yard, crowding out desirable grasses and killing off portions of your yard.
- Crabgrass is temporary. Crabgrass is an annual, which means it dies off at the end of the year. While this may seem like a good thing, its not. During its short life cycle, crabgrass gets greedy about resources. It hogs nutrients, water, and space, making it difficult for other grasses to thrive. When it dies off in the fall, it can leave bare patches in your yard that can quickly become the ideal habitat for pests.
- Crabgrass is unsightly. Finally, crabgrass is unsightly. While turf grass is dense and emerald green, crabgrass is stringy and pronounced, making even the most beautiful lawn look shaggy and unkempt.
While healthy lawns can usually resist crabgrass infestation, lawns that already have lots of established crabgrass will need some special attention to get rid of this invasive plant.
Is Pulling Crabgrass Effective
Pulling out crabgrass can be effective. Mature crabgrass contains forked seed heads holding thousands of tiny seeds that will scatter on the newly created open soil patch. Leave these seed heads alone, but young closed seed heads are okay to pull out. It also helps to water the soil first before yanking the weeds.
Also Check: What Is Preemergent
Crabgrass Requires Preventative Measures
How to get rid of crabgrass? Ideally, you should not wait until you notice it during hot, summer days. Instead, call professionals to do some preparation work that will prevent the crabgrass from expanding during those hot, dry months. The team at Lehigh Lawns & Landscaping, Inc. team will use a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent the crabgrass seeds from sprouting. This preventative measure will help your lawn and plants grow healthier because it doesnt allow the crabgrass to start growing roots.
Identifying Crabgrass In Lawn Grass
While some may dismiss it as nothing more than a strange grass clump, crabgrass is a weed that resembles a crab. Its characterized by a stem in the middle of the weed and blades emanating from it resembling crab legs.
Crabgrass thrives in dry, hot weather so it tends to appear in lawn grasses in the mid to late summer months. Because of how crabgrass seed spreads, usually theres always more than just a single crabgrass plant.
The way crabgrass seedlings spread and germinate and its designation as an annual weed underscore the importance of properly treating crabgrass to prevent it from overtaking cool-season grasses year after year.
- Smooth Crabgrass
- Crabgrass post Tenacity herbicide application
- Large crabgrass purposely overgrown to test Quinclorac.
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Healthy Lawn = Best Crabgrass Killer
The best way to not have crabgrass in your lawn is to have a healthy lawn that can easily compete for sunlight, water and soil nutrients.
Healthy grass smothers a crabgrass seedling and prevents it from being able to germinate. If crabgrass doesnt have anywhere it can gain a toehold in your lawn, it cant grow well enough to drive out your desired grass.
By regularly aerating, fertilizing, dethatching, cutting and irrigating your lawn to keep it performing at its best and dealing with pest problems as soon as they are apparent, youll find your lawn is much easier to maintain.and you wont have to deal with much crabgrass if any at all.
I Missed Putting Down My Pre
If you happen to miss the window for applying a pre-emergent herbicide you still have options. Post-emergent herbicides like quinclorac and mesotrione can be effective, but you need to apply them while plants are still young. The longer you wait, the less effective they will become.
Hand pulling crabgrass plants is also an option, but can be time-consuming and potentially labor-intensive.
One of the best strategies to combat crabgrass, and other weeds in general, is to maintain a healthy lawn. A thick, healthy lawn has a robust root system with lots of aboveground growth to outcompete many lawn weeds.
To learn more, please visit these other resources available from the University of Minnesota.
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Crabgrass How To Kill It
Crabgrass is one of the most problematic weeds plaguing our yards. From centipede to fescue, regardless of your grass type, crabgrass does not discriminate! Actually, there are over 35 species across North America. Based on your region of the country and grass type, the crabgrass species may vary, but the hatred we have is all the same!
Know Crabgrass’s Weakness
Crabgrass species are annuals, which mean they will only grow for one season and then die. Knowing this tidbit will help find the best way to manage this pest. It is important to begin prepping to manage early, for once crabgrass has seeded, it has already begun prepping for next year. For this reason, youre wasting your money trying to treat crabgrass in late summer after it has seeded. The best option is to focus on preventing it from growing in your yard next year or catching it early in the spring
Crabgrass will begin popping up in your yard, flower beds or cracks in your pavement when the soil temperature reaches 55F and remains there for at least 4 days. It will die after seeding and the first frost in the fall\winter. Therefore, you need to apply your pre-emergent weed killer before the seeds begin to germinate. This is the best bet for a crabgrass free lawn. However, pre-emergents will typically only last 12-16 weeks. This means even with a pre-emergent application, you may see some late-summer germination. Lowering the application rate and staggering your pre-emergent treatment can provide longer control.
Natural Crabgrass Control Methods
As was mentioned at the beginning, the best crabgrass control is having a healthy, well-established lawn.
By fertilizing in the spring and fall, with a heavier fall application, your cool season grasses will be able to grow well enough to smother out any crabgrass seedlings that are able to get started.
Maintaining your lawn by immediately filling any bare spots will help keep crabgrass at bay.
Because crabgrass has shallow roots, irrigating with more water less frequently will provide plenty of water for your desired grass while depriving crabgrass of the water it needs.
These shorter roots also help make hand weeding work well as a control method. Watering the lawn before hand weeding makes it much easier to get up as much of the plant as possible.
Proper mowing technique is one of the most effective weed control methods available. According to a report from Michigan State University, proper mowing will control not only crabgrass but 80 additional weed species as well. Leave more grass on your lawn, to a height of 2.5-3, to provide the best photosynthesis for your existing grass plants and keep the shorter crabgrass from getting the sunlight it needs for growth.
Removing crabgrass seed in plant cuttings by hot composting it to kill the seed or by raking it off later in the season will help reduce your seed bank for next year. Avoid raking in the spring, as that will just bring more crabgrass up to the surface to cause more problems in your lawn.
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How To Get Rid Of Crabgrass In The Lawn
Crabgrass loves hot, dry conditions. Take care of it before it becomes a problem.
Crabgrass gets its name because it grows low to the ground with stems that radiate out from the center of the grass clump, resembling crab legs. Seeds begin to sprout in mid-spring, as soon as the soil temperature reaches 55 °F, and crabgrass can quickly become a problem during the summer because it is able to grow vigorously in hot, dry conditions. Crabgrass is an opportunistic annual weed that will grow in the thin and bare spots in your lawn. Before it dies in the fall, a single crabgrass plant produces thousands of seeds that can germinate the following spring.
What Ingredient Kills Crabgrass
Drive XLR8 Herbicide Crabgrass Killer
It contains over 18% quinclorac as the main active ingredient, which is undeniably the best herbicide to kill crabgrass particularly in mature crabgrass plants in more than three tiller stages. It is also labeled for many other weeds like white clover, dandelion, and more.
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