Crabgrass is a nuisance weed that is the bane of many homeowners. At first, it is just an oddly colored blade growing here and there among your lush green turf. Then in no time, you will see the offensive growth in full bloom sabotaging your immaculate garden. Even if the crabgrass is an annual occurrence, the bare spots they leave in your lawn provide ideal conditions for germinating additional seedlings the following season. Before you call the professionals to help you get rid of the menace, try these ways to kill and prevent the weed from re-growing.
What Is Crabgrass And What Does It Look Like
Crabgrass is an annual weed that grows best in compacted soil with thinned and weakened grass. These invasive weeds deplete the soil’s moisture and nutrients meant for your plants, such as lawn grasses, flowers, and vegetables. Crabgrass gives an unkempt look to your lawn or garden. It germinates in the early spring and summer when soil temperatures are between 55 and 65 degrees, about 3 inches below the surface. When this annual weed dies in the fall season, they leave gaping holes in your lawn during the winter season.
Identifying crabgrass is easy as this weed with coarse, yellowish leaves stands out from your lush, delicate turf leaves. Crabgrass spreads in clumps, like a crab’s weapons or soldiers dispersed around a battlefield. There are two types of crabgrass-large and smooth. Large crabgrass has light-green leaves with a hairy upper surface. Its mature plant leaves are of three-inch length with branches of two to five inches.
In contrast, smooth crabgrass grows to six inches in height when mature. Its seedling has light green and smooth leaves with pointy leaf blades. Smooth crabgrass, even when cut to one-quarter inch length, can still sprout seeds.
How To Kill And Prevent Crabgrass?
The crabgrass growth cycle is the real issue. A single plant of crabgrass in the summer can grow up to 150,000 seeds. These seeds can remain dormant for up to 30 years. What this means is that each growing season is yet another fight in the continuing crabgrass war. It is possible to defeat crabgrass with the right preventive measures. Although it’s impossible that you’ll ever eliminate crabgrass, but, you can keep it under control and win this fight by using the correct methods. Here are some ways to kill and prevent crabgrass:
Pulling out individual crabgrass plants can be an effective strategy to get rid of crabgrass naturally. One of the most effective ways to eradicate crabgrass is to remove it at the root level, but this is time-consuming and requires patience. Unfortunately, controlling crabgrass growth necessitates weeding the lawn regularly. Ideally, weeding can occur in late spring, before the crabgrass plant can grow large enough to distribute its seeds. Like all other weeding activities, weeding crabgrass is easiest after rain when the soil is damp and soft.
2. Use Weed Killers
When thinking about how to remove crabgrass, the most common choice is the use of weed killers. There are many herbicide options in your local home store, but choosing the right one is essential as not all herbicides will be effective on crabgrass. It is critical to use a selective weed killer to only target certain weeds without causing any permanent damage to the surrounding grass or plants. You will also have to select a weed killer that targets invasive grass, as crabgrass is a grass, not broad-leaf weed. There are two types of weed killers available for crabgrass, pre-emergent, and post-emergent weed killers. Pre-emergent weed killers are the most effective weed killers. These economical herbicides work by interrupting the growth process of crabgrass, preventing their complete germination. On the other hand, post-emergent weed killers are useful for crabgrass that has already spread in your lawn. They target the crabgrass plant and kill it before it starts producing more seeds. Some people use both types of weed killers to get better results. So if you are wondering about the time gap between crabgrass preventer and weed and feed weed killer application? It’s best to stay away from weed and feed a variety of herbicide as they combine fertilizer and herbicide. As crabgrass is a grass variety, these will nourish them instead of preventing their growth. Instead, use any one type of weed killer that explicitly targets crabgrass.
3. Reduce Seed Production
One way to prevent crabgrass from growing is by reducing its seed production. To do so, you should pull out the plants early in the season. This will ensure they are not able to set seeds. Mowing will provide you time to remove crabgrass before you plant other grass. If your landscape has large patches of crabgrass, then use natural herbicide containing citric acid and clove oil to get rid of them without chemicals. Just ensure to spray the natural herbicide only on the crabgrass as it will damage or kill any plant it gets sprayed on.
4. Prevent Crabgrass Seed Distribution
By preventing the seed distribution of crabgrass, you can effectively get rid of them from your lawn. To prevent their seed distribution, bag every pulled-out or cut plant or clippings from your property and discard them immediately. Remember to throw them in a landfill and not use them as mulch or throw them in the compost pile. Another method is to tie the bag’s mouth containing the discarded plants and leave the bag in the sun for four to six weeks. The heat will kill every seed, and after that, you can compost it safely.
5. Corn Gluten Meal
Corn gluten meal (CGM) is a corn byproduct used to control many types of broadleaf weeds such as clover and dandelions. It is a natural solution that will not damage your grass but will kill only the invasive weeds. It contains proteins that delay the growth of seedling roots while also providing nitrogen to support turf growth. You should use corn gluten meal liberally to get rid of the crabgrass effectively.
6. Suppress Germination
To suppress the germination of crabgrass, maintaining a healthy lawn is the best defense. When you have dense growth in your yard or garden, crabgrass seeds don’t have a chance to germinate. To improve the health of your landscape, you can do many things. Firstly set your mower’s height to the top value of the recommended range for your lawn. The crabgrass that proliferates would have a tougher time out-competing the rest of your turf. When watering, do it intensely but not regularly. Infrequent, deep watering will dry out the soil surface but maintain moisture deep in the soil. So the shallow-rooted crabgrass will be killed or won’t survive. Try to plant your lawn grass in the fall season if staying in a country that experiences extreme winters. The winter frost will kill all crabgrass seedlings. If you have a thin lawn, you can use corn gluten in the spring season or before the rainy season. Corn gluten will inhibit the germination of crabgrass seeds and will rapidly break down while leaving nitrogen in the soil to nourish the already established grass.
7. Solarize the Soil
If you’re still facing trouble killing crabgrass seeds or plants, you can try this trick of solarizing the soil. Mow your lawn plants as short as possible during the warmest, sunniest part of the year, and then water them generously. After watering, cover your lawn area with a sheet of transparent plastic. To seal the edges of the sheet, dig a shallow trench around it and then cover the perimeter of the plastic sheet with soil. Make sure the sheet is not punctured and leave it like that for four to six weeks. The plastic will heat the soil to the point that all seeds under it will die. After that, you can reseed the field with any grass you choose.
You can use any of these methods to kill and prevent the growth of crabgrass from your lawn. Getting rid of crabgrass is the best way to maintain the beauty of your landscape or garden.