Having a good looking yard might cost a lot of time and effort, but it’s definitely worth it. And when it seems you’ve handled all the issues, and it’s time to finally get that well-earned rest, here comes the enemy of every lawn owner. The crabgrass. I know what trouble it can be from my own experience: this annoying grass doesn’t only ruin the ‘perfect lawn’ image you’ve worked so hard for but also takes up so much space prepared for grass.
Don’t get frustrated: every problem can be solved. After trying so many ways, I can say some tools are more effective than others. Do you want to learn the fastest and the best solution? I am sure, after reading this guide, you’ll have no questions!
What do you need?
The list of tools needed varies depending on the prevention way you choose. Overall, you might need:
- soil thermometer;
- chemical preventer;
- organic acids;
Using a crabgrass preventer: yes or no?
Pre-emergent herbicide is the first-rate weapon to deal with crabgrass. Currently, there is nothing better on the market. This product contains synthetic granules, which create a block in the chosen area. The best part is — read carefully — it doesn’t affect the existing grass. Think about it! You get to kill unnecessary weed AND save the one you’ve planted. Here’s how to use it:
- Prepare the best preventer in spring, after doing few lawn mowings.
- Use chosen herbicide with a spreader according to a product’s instructions.
- In 2-3 months after the procedure, you may notice light green sprouts peeping out of the ground. Pull them out ASAP, and don’t worry, they will look different from the usual grass.
- One application prevents crabgrass all season long
- Rain, snow or freezing weather after application won't affect product performance
Instructions for organic prevention
Some landowners prefer using organic ways to handle with the crabgrass. In my opinion, chemical preventers are faster and more resultative, but if you support natural ones, it’s just for you. Use this simple guidance:
- Pull out as many unwanted plants as possible before they start setting seeds. You can use clove oil or citric acid to accelerate the process but apply it locally since they are extremely harmful to your grass.
- Put the extra weeds in a plastic bag with a clip, and immediately dispose of it. Another way is to tie the top of a trash bag and leave it in a warm place for 1,5 month. This action helps to kill the seeds left. Afterward, you can safely compost them.
- Use corn gluten (25 lbs/1000 ft2) between March and May, it stops the spread of seeds and soaks in more quickly. Be careful: it is compatible only with thin grass.
- If the previous tips aren’t helpful, I try to follow this life hack from professionals: in the hot summer days mow grass to its shortest, water as much as needed, and then cover zone with a thick coat of plastic. Dig a shallow trench and cover the perimeter with soil. Leave it for 1-2 months, the sheet warms up and kills the seeds. It’s better to repeat planting the preferred kind of grass 3-4 weeks later.
How to prevent crabgrass after seeding?
If the seeds have already sprouted, using the pre-emergent preventer is senseless. No worries, you still have another option: post-emergent products, which control crabgrass after it’s grown.
Use post-emergent chemicals with visible sprouts. Also, those products are picky in terms of weather conditions.
- check the forecast and apply it during warm sunny days;
- spread chemicals in before noon, when the dew has already dried;
- it works best when the degree is stable 65-90°;
- water the soil 48 hours before applying.
You can use post-emergent care both in spring and summer, there are no specific recommendations.
- Non-staining formula
- Covers 5,000 square fee
- Controls crabgrass all season long, both before and after it germinates
Preventive techniques for Spring
Weed seeds sprout in the first month of spring when the ground temperature rises up to 55-65°. While daily temperature is stable 52-55°, you should start applying the preventer: doing it on an early stage is the main point.
Professionals recommend to use herbicide once per spring, but concentrating on the cultivation for the rest of the year makes more sense. After using this prevention, avoid planting any kind of grass within the next 6 months. In such case, the following planting is possible only in the first half of the fall.
When to apply preventers?
Crabgrass prevention is effective only for 60 days. So it’s important to carry it out at the right time.
Depending on the US state, the preventer spraying time may differ, e.g:
- Iowa: the middle of April – first days of the last spring month in the center areas and from late April until early May in the northern;
- Illinois: the end of April and the first days of May for central parts, mid-late April in the southern state parts.
However, there are some other reliable ways to find out the planting time. Some people use a thermometer. Simply stick it in the soil, and if the temperature is about 55° it’s a perfect time.
Tip: you can rely on nature to find out the perfect timing! Forsythia is a plant that blooms at exactly the suitable time to use preventive herbicide. Gardeners consider this the easiest way. This recommendation is suitable in every state.
I know it can seem complicated. Finding the right time, weather, and product… yes, it’s not easy, but there are ways to make it easier for you. Find a pre-emergent map, where the green color is a time to apply, yellow is ‘get ready’, and red is ‘too early’.
Ideal lawn, like everything ideal, demands effort. A little of it and your yard will be the object of admiration. If you have any questions, I’ll be happy to help: just leave a comment below! And don’t forget to share this tutorial with your friends, so they can also get some helpful tips!