Crab grass thrives in hot and dry conditions and is an annual grass that sprouts roots at the nodes and crowds out the grass your really want in your lawn. Its roots are shallow and the leaves are course textured. Crabgrass often has a different color than grass and will stand out in an otherwise perfect lawn. It makes the lawn look uneven and the weeds can turn brown while the grass around it remains green.
It eventually flowers with spiked seed heads coming from the center of the plants. They produce many seeds and those seeds will be germinating in the spring to give your lawn even more grief. Weak spots in your lawn are especially vulnerable to crabgrass.
The areas most susceptible are areas that are next to pavements and heavily used areas. Crabgrass is nearly impossible to get rid of entirely but there are things you can do to keep it from overtaking your lawn.
Best Crabgrass Defense
You can hoe or dig out the crab grass leaving the roots exposed so they dry out and die, or you can maintain a good thick lawn to keep crabgrass from taking hold. The lawn should be well fertilized, well watered and you will not want to cut the grass too short.
Cutting the grass too short will weaken your lawn base and allow crabgrass and other weeds to attack your lawn. Crabgrass will die in the fall with the first frost, but if it was allowed to seed, you will need to apply crab grass killer that will prevent it from germinating in the spring.
Here are a few tips on controlling that annoying crab grass in your lawn. As stated above it is hard for crabgrass to get a toehold in your yard if your lawn is healthy. Without sunlight, the crabgrass can’t take root. Try to remove crabgrass as soon as you see it. One little sprig of crabgrass can quickly turn into a large patch because it is so fertile.
Proper Grass Height
Cutting your lawn too short will allow the sunlight to reach sprigs of crabgrass as it will take advantage of the sunlight and spread quickly. Lawns should be cut to a height of between two and one half to three inches.
Mowing and grass length seems to have a great deal to do with a healthy lawn. Keep your lawn mower blades sharp.
Before you try to remove the crabgrass, water the area heavily. This will help loosen the soil and make removal easier. Make sure you get the entire root.
Roots will grow wherever roots touch the soil. Once you have removed the crabgrass, mulch the soil. This helps any left over roots from taking hold and causing problems later.
Using chemicals should be a last resort. You won’t be able to find an herbicide that only kills crabgrass. That means that other plants will be vulnerable to any type of chemical treatment you apply to the crabgrass. There are chemicals that are pre-emergent but it’s hard to predict when to apply it.
If you apply too early the effects can fade and the weed can appear later. If you wait and apply the chemical too late, then the crabgrass can already have taken hold. Always use gloves when using any sort of chemicals as gloves will also protect your hands from calluses caused by pulling weeds and gardening.
One of the easiest ways to keep crabgrass out of your lawn is by using Zoysia grass. This grass grows into a think heavy ground cover and virtually chokes out weeds. Zoysia grass is not a good grass to use in some climates and you should check to see what is recommended for your climate zone.
Crabgrass is very hard to get rid of, so be patient and diligent. Crabgrass can spring up seemingly out of nowhere. Be firm, mow with a sharp blade, feed your lawn with a good fertilizer, and reseed bad parts of your lawn.
Remember, reseeding helps keep your lawn healthy and will not allow weeds to take hold. Keep an eye on your lawn; even if it means getting down to weed level, you can control the dreaded crabgrass weed.
Photo by flickr user Macleay Grass Man