Crabgrass is an opportunistic plant that usually grows in bare or thin parts of your lawn. The plant is ugly and not a turf-type grass. If not controlled, the grass could dominate your yard since it grows all-through the season, especially in summer. Crabgrass could crowd-out good but weakened grass by scalping your lawn.
Unlike other grass types that thrive in the spring and fall then get dormant during summer, crabgrass establishes itself well during summer. When there is a hard frost, crabgrass dies, becomes brown, and makes the lawn uglier.
Why do I have crabgrass in my lawn?
Several factors attract crabgrass to grow on your lawn such as;
- Bare spots
Crabgrass thrives in any part of your lawn with bare soil and receives sunlight like driveway edges, tree lawn, and sidewalk. This problem could be prevented by seeding any damaged areas in the fall and early spring to cover bare spots and avoid crabgrass germination.
- Frequent watering
Your soil could have crabgrass seeds ready to germinate, and watering it every day will help them sprout. To prevent the roots from growing, don’t water your lawn more than twice per week but apply enough water to fill up a tuna can per session.
- Mowing too short
Mowing your lawn too short will favor crabgrass and provide it with suitable conditions to thrive. Ensure that you cut the grass up to 3.5-4 inches high as tall grass shades your soil’s surface and blocks the necessary light for crabgrass to grow.
You can start mowing high in April to October then reduce the height before winter.
- Suitable weather conditions
Perfect weather conditions such as rainy spring can help crabgrass germinate, and hot summer helps it grow. It is during such times when other grasses will go dormant. You can mow your lawn high and maintain a thick grass.
- Having a salty soil on your tree lawn
Crabgrass does well under salty conditions, and if you live in a salted area, your tree lawn risks having crabgrass. You can look for a liquid aeration service in the fall and spring to minimize the amount of salt in your soil. It is also advisable to seed bare areas in the fall and spring.
What to do when you have crabgrass
There is nothing much that you can do once you have crabgrass in your lawn. But you can make your yard thick by seeding later in the summer to prevent crabgrass from coming back in the next season. Try also some of the following methods;
- Minimizing bare spots and thickening your lawn
Maintaining a healthy, thick lawn is one of the best defenses against crabgrass. Try seeding in the late summer to add modern grasses that will compete with crabgrass. If the problem is in your entire lawn, try slice seeding, but if it only patches, you can rough up the dirt and seed in the spring and fall.
- Hand pulling
If the crabgrass is manageable, try pulling it out by hand. Using a weed pulling equipment such as the weed out could also work well. But if there is a lot of crabgrass on your lawn, you may have to live with it until next year then prevent it.
- Spot chemical spray
Some chemicals can work to kill crabgrass though they may not be entirely practical. If the crabgrass is already ugly and big, the chemicals will only turn it purple and uglier. You can allow it to wait till cold winter weather kills it.
- Watering properly
Water your lawn for two sessions per week in the next summer and spring to reduce crabgrass germination. Avoid frequent watering as this can promote the sprouting of crabgrass and other weeds.
- Perfect mowing height
Always mow high to prevent weed seeds from sprouting.
When you should kill crabgrass
It is suitable to apply the herbicide when the temperature of your soil rises above 60-degrees. You may not monitor the ground temperature, but you can notice the shrubs bloom and trees bud. Warm nights and seasons of rainfall promote crabgrass germination, which is the ideal time to spray herbicide.
Is crabgrass good for anything?
Crabgrass is among the world’s fastest-growing cereals and it is also nutritious. The plant produces edible seeds in 6-8 weeks and grows well in dry areas with poor soils in well-watered lawns. Crabgrass is a terrible weed but a fantastic edible.
Removing the husks from the grains is time-consuming, and one can pound the seeds in a mortar with sand the separate them. The seeds can also be popped over a flame and then pound to produce a toasted gain.
Crabgrass was cultivated as an essential food crop during the Stone Age in Switzerland, and it is a traditional food in Africa and India. This plant was introduced in the U.S. as forage for sheep, cattle, horses, and hogs and later made a main agricultural crop by the department of Agriculture.
Crabgrass leaves were used to make paper, but most people tested allergic to the plant. If you don’t eat crabgrass seeds, you can eliminate them by mowing methods.
What kills crabgrass and not grass?
You can use a ready-to-use chemical like Scott’s spot weed control if there are a few crabgrass plants. The spray will destroy weeds and crabgrass including their roots without spoiling your lawn. Ensure that you follow the instructions.
How to get rid of crabgrass during summer
Each year, crabgrass dies on its own in fall, and it will disappear by winter. Here’s what to do to prevent its re-emergence;
- Uproot the plant with your hands and water the soil to loosen it if it’s hard
- Seed the lawn to fill bare spots but wait for about a month if you had used a weed killer
- Water your lawn deeply once or twice per week
- Mow your grass high (about three inches tall). Leave the clippings to add nutrients and shade for the soil
- Apply a pre-emergent next spring at the time your trees and flowers bloom
Crabgrass can be ugly on your lawn, and you need to follow the methods listed above to get rid of it. Ensure that you follow all the instructions carefully.