Ever pulled up a single piece of crabgrass? Probably not, because pulling on a single piece of crabgrass is like pulling an elastic thread from a snagged waistband – it keeps coming and coming and coming.
Those seemingly endless feeders are proof of the insidious nature of crabgrass. It’s pervasive and if you aren’t diligent – and proactive – it will take over your lawn.
Early Spring is Crabgrass Prevention Season
Crabgrass is a smart “lawn predator” of sorts. This annual, weedy grass knows better than to compete with healthy lawn, so it finds the spots that are the weakest. Crabgrass prefers dry, thin, salty, sun-scorched patches of lawns, or turf patches that have already been decimated by the evil grub – these are crabgrass’s prime real estate.
In those patches, it will seed, take root and thrive, making it easy to stretch out its long feeder branches so it can take over. Now, the competition begins and – if you aren’t on top of it – the crabgrass will win every time.
The key is to catch crabgrass before it can really take hold. Once established, you might be out of luck until the grass dies back again next winter. Crabgrass treatment requires a few simple steps:
- Get on the books ASAP. Late winter is the perfect time to get on your local lawn care professional’s books. We spray professional-grade herbicides, paired with fertilizer. This kills the crabgrass before it can emerge, and it gives your existing lawn its recommended dose of nutrients so it can get a healthy start this spring. Take remembering out of the equation by signing up for professional lawn maintenance services. Now, you have lawn care professionals doing all the work for you so you can enjoy a vibrant lawn almost year-round (we haven’t found a way to trick ol’ Father Winter just yet…)
- Pull up what you see. If you’re noticing the first little tendrils of crabgrass (also called Bermuda grass) coming up, go ahead and rip them right out of the ground. Consider it a walking meditation around your turf. Anything you remove can’t sprout and re-seed - and that’s taking crabgrass prevention in the right direction. Know any local 4- to 7-year olds? They love to pull up those feeder branches, so that’s a low-cost, preventative option as well.
- Observe healthy lawn care practices. If your lawn is rundown, it’s prone to all kinds of pests and diseases – including pervasive crabgrass. This is why healthy lawn care practices are so important. Irrigation, proper mowing practices and seasonal lawn fertilization will go a long way towards ever letting crabgrass flourish in the first place.
Special Note: Notice we mentioned that salty patches of lawn are a crabgrass target up above? It’s true! Crabgrass just loves the salty edges of lawn around those walkways you salted this winter and the tree grass that’s salt-saturated from roads and plows. Flush these areas thoroughly or use products that counteract high-salt content in soil. Then re-seed the areas and fertilize them so healthy grass gets rooted and firmly established before crabgrass rears its ugly head.
Situations that increase your chance of hosting a crabgrass takeover
Here are some of the things that will make your lawn more prone to a crabgrass infestation:
- Over-watering. Watering a lawn is good, watering it too much is not. Both lawns and trees have a max irrigation point, after which their root systems get bogged down. Programmable irrigation systems are wonderful – but if they don’t have a rain sensor, turn them off when we’re in the midst of spring or summer storms. If you notice areas of your lawn are saturated, get curious and see why – slight irrigation adjustment or repair may be required to prevent overwatering.
- Lingering bare patches. Crabgrass loves bare soil, water and sun. That bare lawn patch is your lawn’s SOS and if you don’t answer its call, crabgrass will fill it right in. You can fix those bare patches ASAP by reseeding and fertilizing them. A visit from a friendly lawn care expert is always a good idea to make sure the bare patches aren’t a sign of grubs, pests or other diseases that require specific treatment.
- Mowing the grass too short. You love that look of golf course-esque, manicured turf, but guess what? So does crabgrass!! Your lawn is happiest and strongest when it is mowed to at least 2.5 inches long, and studies show that grass left between 3- and 4+ inches long is much more resistance to crabgrass.
The good news is that your plan of action – one that aligns with best lawn care practices – will ensure a beautiful, thick and healthy lawn that’s free of invasive crabgrass.