Crabgrass is the bane of every yard. No matter how much work you put into caring for your lawn, all it takes is one seed from a neighbor’s yard or floating on the wind to start the infestation. Learn how to get rid of crabgrass by following these tips and keep your lawn looking beautiful all year round.
What is crabgrass?
Crabgrass is an unkempt weed that blooms in Spring and dies off in late Fall, but not before dropping thousands upon thousands of seeds. Most of which will spread throughout your and your neighbors’ lawns. (Something they will not thank you for.)
Why is Crabgrass a problem?
Crabgrass is an unsightly blemish that can, and will, ruin otherwise beautiful lawns if left unchecked. These annual weeds drop thousands of seeds at a time that lay dormant until the following Spring so they can germinate and start the whole process over again. They’ll take over your lawn, flower bed, garden, and anywhere else it can take root. Once they’ve set their roots, they’ll compete with your grass for water and nutrients while being notoriously difficult to get rid of.
This is why it’s so important to be proactive in getting rid of crabgrass and planning ahead to prevent any seeds that have fallen from growing next season.
HOW TO PREVENT CRABGRASS
It’s a much easier task to prevent crabgrass than it is to kill it and keep it from growing back. If you see a patch of crabgrass, it’s time to get to work so it doesn’t spread.
Mow the right height
There are varying stances on how long or short you should cut your lawn, but if you want to get rid of crabgrass, you need to let it grow a bit. Having longer grass lets it shade the soil more and starve crabgrass seeds from the sunlight they need to grow. Don’t forget, a single crabgrass plant can drop tens of thousands of seeds. This will keep them from germinating and end the cycle.
Crabgrass thrives in the little empty spaces of soil within your lawn so making sure you regularly fertilize your grass is one of the most important things you can do. By fertilizing every 6 weeks, you keep your lawn healthy and thick so if any crabgrass seeds land in your lawn, there’s very little space for them to take root and grow.
Pro Tip: Be sure to reseed during / after winter. You’ll be able to find those dead spaces in your lawn and reseed them much easier.
Water longer, not more often
Watering in small amounts, but more frequently will only help your lawn grow shallow roots. This will cause it to have a poor root system which will lead to problems if you happen to hit a heat wave or prolonged drought. Crabgrass, however, won’t be affected by those adverse conditions and will in all likelihood thrive with less competition for moisture and nutrients. So, water longer and less often to help your grass grow a deep root system.
Repair your lawn
If you lay down a weed killer or the crabgrass in your lawn dies off in winter, your lawn’s going to be patchy and it’ll need some love. Be sure to reseed as soon as possible to make sure your lawn will fill in before any new seeds can germinate.
HOW TO GET RID OF CRABGRASS
If you weren’t able to prevent crabgrass from growing, there are still ways for you to kill it without killing the rest of your lawn along with it.
There are a number of weed killers you can pick up from any hardware store or nursery. These sprays will kill the crabgrass down to the roots while leaving your grass unaffected. You’ll want to liberally spray the crabgrass around the roots to ensure that it kills the weed and its roots.
A pre-emergence herbicide is used to get rid of crabgrass before its bloomed. This type of weed killer will been 100% ineffective on crabgrass that’s already sprouted so you’ll want to spray it on your lawn as Winter is turning into Spring. This will kill any seeds that last year’s crabgrass dropped and keep them from blooming. Depending on the herbicide, you may need to apply multiple times, but the earlier you do this, the better.
Good old fashioned elbow work is always a good way to go, especially in gardens and flower beds. Depending on the size of the weed, you can use a gardening spade or a shovel remove the weed and its root system. One thing to keep in mind is that this is one of the least effective methods for your lawn unless you pair it with a weed killer a few days before. It’s most effective when crabgrass plants are young (early on in the season) so you’ll want to keep an eye on your lawn in early Spring to catch these weeds early. If the seed pods have already forked, don’t bother.
Crabgrass is a pesky nuisance that will ruin your lawn if left alone. This weed will invade and overwhelm your once beautiful lawn and turn it into an unsightly, clumpy mess that will soon spread to your neighbors’ lawn as well. Stay ahead of this blight to keep your lawn beautiful and weed free.