Crabgrass will ruin the look of any well-tended lawn and proliferates both underground and by seed very quickly. It is important to disrupt the spread as early as possible using means that will keep it from popping up again unexpectedly.
Crabgrass is easily recognizable, especially when it mingles with the established grass chosen for any given climate. It emerges each spring, growing and flowering throughout the summer; the leaves are killed by the frost in autumn but the roots live on to invade the lawn during the following summer season.
The large type of crabgrass grows in mats, with leaves approximately 1/4th” wide; it may grow up to 3′ tall. The blue-green, pointed leaves usually have purplish stems; they are multi-branched and may lay flat or stand upright. Small, or smooth, crabgrass has light-green leaves that also grow in matted form but only reach 12″-15″ in height.
The most effective way to avoid an infestation of this stubborn weed is to use a pre-emergent herbicide. The choice of weed-killer used depends on one’s grass preference and the kinds of ornamental shrubs and/or flowers used in the landscaping. After choosing the appropriate brand for the grass type, it is important to wait until the temperature has stabilized for several days. At about 55 degrees Farenheit the crabgrass will begin to germinate.
Many herbicides are mixed with fertilizer so that the grass will grow quickly and healthily while destroying the weeds. Use a long-lasting herbicide or re-cover the lawn half-way through the summer to decrease chances of late-germinating crabgrass taking root.
These are not as effective as the pre-emergent herbicides because they allow the crabgrass roots to spread in a network underground and possibly go to seed. This lessens the treatment’s effectiveness and will likely necessitate spreading the herbicide several times during the season. As with the pre-emergents, post-emergent herbicides must be chosen according to grass type.
Do not use either pre- or post-emergent herbicides on fresh sod, and wait 3 months after seeding to cover area.
A healthy lawn is a natural deterrent to crabgrass. Keep it well-watered and fertilized, mowing at the height best suited for the grass. If the turf is kept strong and hardy it will keep the crabgrass at bay, because this weed will not thrive in competitive conditions. Corn gluten is a wonderful natural fertilizer and herbicide; it is popular with those who choose to use organic products.
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Crabgrass can destroy the beauty of any lawn if left to its own devices, but with proper care and the use of an herbicide suitable for the chosen grass-type, any lawn can be picture perfect.