Getting Rid of Crabgrass

Crabgrass can kill your hopes for that golf-course-fresh look you've craved for your yard. Once in place, crabgrass can be a tenacious enemy, sometimes taking years to get rid of. The good news is that crabgrass can be eliminated from your yard if you develop (and stick to!) a thorough plan to eradicate this weedy menace.

Important Steps To Removing Crabgrass From Your Lawn

  • Halt the spread. Crabgrass is productive-a single plant can produce up 150,000 seeds that can remain viable for up to 3 years. Removing as many seeds from your yard as possible should be your first goal. Before you mow, use a rake to "tease" crabgrass seed pods upright so they can be cut off with the mower. Also, use a bagging mower to capture the crabgrass seed heads-don't compost crabgrass or the seeds could come back to haunt you.
  • Kill the little green menace. If you've missed the window for applying a preemergent herbicide for crabgrass control, a selective crabgrass killer is a viable option for removing individual plants. Follow the manufacturer's instructions, but in general, you should avoid using these herbicides if rain is in the forecast or it you've just mowed the lawn.
  • Get rid of the bodies. Once you've killed a crabgrass plant, remove it from your yard as soon as possible. Crabgrass is a low, mounding plant that will block the germination of grass seed. Crabgrass plants also emit a gas that inhibits the ability of other plants to grow.
  • Fill in the blanks. After you have removed dead crabgrass, reseed the open areas left behind. The quicker you can get grass to fill in the blank spots, the more likely you are to slow the growth of other weed seeds.
  • Prevent new growth. The best way to prevent new crabgrass plants from forming is to kill the seeds in the ground with a preemergent herbicide. Applied in the early spring, a preemergent forms a protective layer over the ground and kills crabgrass seeds before they have a chance to germinate.
  • Encourage healthy grass. If you have crabgrass on the run, rejoice! Then get back to work. Avoid over feeding your lawn with fertilizer and avoid daily watering. Deep, but infrequent waterings will encourage the formation of deep grass roots. Crabgrass has a shallow root system and won't flourish under these conditions. Also, setting your lawn mower to a higher cutting height will help grass crowd out crabgrass by creating shade.
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