There are still many people who choose to take significant pride in their home’s front and rear yard lawns instead of taking the higher tech approach and coloring their foliage with environmentally safe green spray paint. For these people, the issue of crabgrass is an annual battle, where a single yellow patch of grass can ruin the appearance of an otherwise healthy green lawn. The problem with crabgrass is that many gardeners believe the problem is as patchy as the appearance itself; that somehow the crabgrass just pops up here and there with no real rhyme or reason. Yet the opposite is true. Crabgrass has a seasonal cycle, and if you know what it is you are well on your way to effectively getting rid of crabgrass even though it will be an annual battle.
Stage one occurs in the springtime when the temperature of the earth at a two to four inch depth gets a balmy 55 degrees. It is here when the seeds begin to germinate and herald the beginning of your problem. Stage two begins in mid-summer for what crabgrass remains, and it is here when they will produce seeds to lay a foundation for next spring’s challenge. Stage three occurs with the first frost of autumn when the grass dies but the seeds remain waiting for the spring.
So the plan needs to be knowing the right time to kill the springtime seeds and how to kill them. A lawn care chemical known as a preemergent herbicide (it is not a brand name) needs to be applied at the right time to maximize its effectiveness. It is available in either granular (pellet) form or as the more traditional liquid. You apply the herbicide as the seeds are germinating, which means you have to wait until the germinating soil temperature of 60 degrees is reached.
How are you supposed to know exactly when this time is? The simplest, and natural, way is to plant lilac bushes. When you see the lilac bushes begin to bloom it is time to begin treating your lawn.
What happens after you treat your lawn is a chemical canopy is formed over the grass that basically prevents the seeds from getting the air it needs to sprout into crabgrass. You will need to treat the entire lawn, as any pocket of air will allow some of the seeds to become crabgrass later on. Also, this is not the time to skimp on how much herbicide you use, just don’t overdo it. If you are going to aerate your lawn you need to do it before applying the preemergent herbicide.
Everything that has been discussed addresses the beginning of the battle. But there is more to come. In order to prevent crabgrass from taking over the bare spots in your lawn, regardless of the reason for their presence, you will need to heavily seed them with grass. Then be sure to heavily water your lawn deeply, but not frequently. Over-watering a lawn is one of the most common mistakes made by inexperienced gardeners. Finally, in the fall be sure to apply the requisite amount of fertilizer to keep your lawn healthy and green.
These are the basics you need to know about effectively keeping crabgrass at bay throughout the year. If you don’t get it right the first time, just keep repeating the steps every year. If your lawn has more yellow than green, it might take a few years to get things under control. One reason crabgrass is such a problem for many homeowners is because the seeds can be found in your neighbor’s lawn and make their way over to yours. You don’t want to do battle with your neighbor, so passing this basic information can go a long way to having a consistently green lawn and avoiding contact with the police.
Keep in mind that while every lawn is the same, every lawn is also different. Soil types might cause a problem or there may be an underlying reason, such as an unfertilized lawn, that is causing the problem. When in doubt, call in a professional who can give you the best advice on how to fix your crabgrass problem The battle can be won with the right knowledge and the right preemergent herbicide.