Crabgrass is an ugly annual weed that can take over your lawn in the warm summer months. Controlling this weed may require the use of several tactics.
1. Pre-emergent Herbicides
Apply pre-emergent herbicides in early spring before you see the young leaves of the crabgrass emerge. Timing is the key to effectively destroying crabgrass in this manner. The herbicide needs to be put down after crabgrass seeds begin to germinate but before the foliage grows in. This is usually after soil temperatures have warmed sufficiently. A professional weed control service can help guide you to the best application time for your location.
2. Lawn Fertilization
Healthy lawns have such dense root and foliage growth that they effectively shade out heavy crabgrass infestations. Proper fertilization is what leads to a healthy and lush lawn. A lawn service can test your soil to determine exactly what nutrients are necessary. They can then put your lawn on a monthly or six-week fertilization schedule designed to keep the lawn lush and dense, which will minimize the growth of crabgrass and other weeds.
3. Post-Emergent Herbicide
If the pre-emergent herbicide doesn't destroy all of the crabgrass, then a post-emergent may be needed in late spring while the crabgrass plants are still young. Herbicides do not work well on mature plants. Post-emergent herbicides are typically applied directly to the crown of the offending crabgrass plants so that the active ingredients can quickly work to destroy the plant. They may need to be applied multiple times in order to be properly effective.
4. Avoid Dry Conditions
Dry soil can create the perfect conditions for a profusion of crabgrass in the summer. Dry soil leads to dormant patches of lawn. The deep, rambling roots of crabgrass are often more drought tolerant than desirable lawn grasses, so the crabgrass will thrive in the dead spots left behind by an overly dry lawn. Water regularly on a schedule during cool periods when water loss is at a minimum, such as early morning. Get in the habit of providing only a couple of deep waterings a week, and your lawn grass will develop drought- and heat-resistant roots that will help keep it green throughout the summer heat.
5. Pull It
When all else fails, crabgrass can be pulled by hand. Use a weeding stick to help loosen the main root, then pull carefully to get out as many of the long trailing rhizomatous roots as possible. Don't toss crabgrass onto the compost pile, though, as the seeds may survive. Pulled crabgrass should be bagged and tossed in the garbage.
Contact a weed control service for more help with destroying the crabgrass in your yard.