Crabgrass spreads like wildfire, with one plant able to produce 150,000 seeds. These seeds stick around in the soil for up to 3 years, germinating when the ground warms, and the moisture reaches them. If this problem is left unattended, you will soon be facing an outbreak, or a yard made up entirely of this stubborn grass. Rather than treating this as a standard weed issue, particular attention must be given to eradicate it once and for all.
Now that you’ve established a need for crabgrass control, you may be thinking that chemical-laden weed-killers are your only option. Wait a minute before grabbing that bottle of weed-killer, however. Toxic herbicides not only harm your garden and the grass in the surrounding area but also can be incredibly detrimental to your health and that of your pets. A beautiful lawn isn’t worth the risk of chemical side-effects and adverse conditions.
Here a few methods useful for deterring crabgrass and making your yard inhospitable to this persistent weed.
1. Catch It Early
The longer you allow a crabgrass outbreak to continue, the more difficulty you will have containing and controlling its’ spread. If you have had any trouble in the past, or are concerned about the threat of crabgrass in your lawn or garden, take preventative steps immediately. Consider investing in an organic post-emergent weed control spray that will not harm your plants or turf. Remember, pre-emergents must be applied before the soil has warmed sufficiently for crabgrass germination. Apply these organic herbicides before soil temperatures reach or exceed 50 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the weeds before they can grow.
2. Pull It Out
This back to basics solution is particularly helpful when crabgrass has taken residence in flower or vegetable beds and can be easily identified. Wait until the ground is softened from rain and grab the weed at its base, twisting and pulling it by the roots. If the crabgrass is incredibly stubborn, use a mattock or weed puller to tear it up entirely.
If you are incredibly determined and patient, you can divide your lawn into sections and pull out crabgrass clumps by hand. Enlist the help of your family members and spend a few minutes each evening tackling the unruly grass. You will be surprised at how effective this method is. Plus, all your hard work will be worth it in the long run when you have a weed-free yard.
3. Wait for Longer To Mow
Though a short lawn is often the key to your curbside appeal, you may have to tolerate longer grass for the sake of your yard’s health. Crabgrass thrives on light and moisture, and when longer grass shades it, it is unlikely to be as determined. Leave your grass until it is about 2-3 ½ inches before mowing.
4. Focus On Lawn Health
Sometimes the best method to handle crabgrass in the yard is to prevent it from growing in the first place. Take time to cultivate a healthy, full lawn. This includes picking the type of grass seed that best suits your region and soil type. Since crabgrass is so attracted to bald spots, you can often keep it from sprouting by paying particular attention to the trouble areas of your yard.
Fertilizing as required by the type of grass seed in your lawn can lead to a lush bed of grass that leaves no room or nutrients for crabgrass growth. Follow fertilizer instructions and repeat as directed.
5. Prevent Seed Spread
Since crabgrass is so easily spread, you should take measures to ensure that the seeds from your weed pulling efforts are contained. Bag and dispose of all your weeds immediately. Avoid putting weeds in any compost bins as this can lead to seed distribution issues.
6. Change Your Watering Schedule
Often, people make the mistake of watering their turf frequently with a light sprinkling. This not only harms your grass by encouraging shallow root growth, but it also makes the environment more desirable for crabgrass. Water your lawn deeply every couple of days, or as often as needed to allow time for the soil to dry out.