Don't Get Crabby(grass) This Year

What is crabgrass?

Crabgrass is a summer-annual weed that stays low to the ground while spreading out in large patches. Crabgrass most commonly roots in compacted, sandy soil that most grass species won't thrive in and in areas where the soil heats up faster, such as near cement, driveways, walkways, or bare areas.  Crabgrass is not only heat resistant but it is also drought resistant and will thrive in hot dry weather that would put your typical lawn into summer dormancy.

There are two types of crabgrass, long and smooth. Long crabgrass, also known as large or hairy crabgrass, has longer, narrower leaves and long-stiff hairs on the sheath and the leaves. The leaves on this crabgrass species can get up to 8 inches in length! Smooth crabgrass, also known as small crabgrass only hairs on the base of its leaves and can have a purple tint to the stems. Smooth crabgrass, an invasive plant, is the most common type of crabgrass in North America.

The life cycle of crabgrass can last up to a whole season, from the soil thawing in spring to the first frost. We usually see seeds germinate around May but may not be noticeable until later into the summer season.

One way crabgrass continuously stays in your yard is by releasing thousands of seeds during their life cycle. The seed pods can expel up to 150 thousand seeds, which can stay in dormancy for up to 5 years.

Crabgrass isn't always the culprit in your lawn as there are many species of weedy grasses that look similar to crabgrass and can be just as invasive.

For example, quackgrass is a fast-growing perennial with wide leaves similar to crabgrass but tends to grow more upright. Orchard, Bermuda, and foxtail grasses are a few more just to list off. These are all species that are heat and drought resistant, so they end up thriving where your typical lawn grass would struggle from drought stress.

The best way to treat and further remove crabgrass is to use a pre-emergent in the spring and a post-emergent herbicide in the late summer to early fall. These products used alongside good ergonomic lawn practices such as proper mowing heights and watering schedules will produce great results.  A pre-emergent herbicide that's applied in the spring before the weather warms (anything around 50 degrees for 4-5 days continuously) will help to stop some crabgrass seeds from germinating. The crabgrass pre-emergent targets germinating seeds before any new shoots can peek thru the soil. Crabgrass post-emergent or a crabgrass curative is a herbicide that kills crabgrass after it has germinated and established itself in the lawn. Crabgrass curative is a great solution for those that have large patches or an entire lawn full of crabgrass. When using this curative, it's recommended that the area be re-seeded to prevent more crabgrass from taking back those spots in your lawn.

For any other questions about treating crabgrass or how to get your lawn looking full and green, give us a call!

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