Plant Health Care Tips: Crabgrass
Crabgrass is one of the most hated weeds in home lawns because it’s the most dominant. Practicing proper lawn maintenance can help you gain control over this unsightly turf invader.
Tough Little Seeds
Crabgrass is a course-textured, clumpy, yellowish-green grass. Seeds are numerous and can remain dormant in the soil for many years. Added light and moisture turn the seeds into full-blown weeds in the warmer months.
Keep Them in the Shadows
Practicing proper lawn maintenance is the first step in controlling crabgrass and keeping your lawn looking healthy. The denser the turf, the less potential for light to initiate weed seed germination. Early on, hand pick straggler crabgrass plants when they are small (Tip: check areas near heat sources such as driveways, sidewalks, curbs, and those with southern exposures). Proper mowing, fertilization and regular water treatments are also important.
Crabgrass can also tolerate high temperatures and dry soils, which is why it tends to pop up along sidewalks and driveways where turf tends to be weaker and thinner. Mow lawns at recommended heights for your turf type to keep soil shady.
- Mow high, keeping grass about 3 inches tall. This will shade and cool the soil and reduce weeds. Crabgrass is not found in the shade.
- Remove no more than 1/3 of the blade height with a single mowing. Cutting grasses too short decreases their energy, root development and plant vigor, making them more susceptible to damage.
- Dull mower blades tear grass leaves, causing a whitish-tan discoloration of turf tips. Sharp, balanced mower blades produce clean, green cuts that can better withstand stress.
- Leave grass clippings on the lawn. Here, they decompose and provide valuable, natural nutrients for plant growth.
Fertilization & Watering
Feed your lawn, helping it to develop healthy roots and blades. Boosting a dense turf cover is still the No. 1 priority to prevent crabgrass later in the season.
- Early in the year, while turf is recuperating from winter dormancy, preemergent herbicide applications are advised to keep crabgrass at bay. But these products will only provide limited control.
- If this weed should get out of hand, postemergent herbicide treatments are available and recommended to control undesirable crabgrass.
- Water as necessary - give your lawn a deep water treatment about once or twice a week. Frequent, shallow watering is not helpful for your lawn's health.
- With too little water, you run the risk of drought stress, and increase the chances of other weeds emerging.