Crabgrass…in Early Spring?!

Every spring, our Weed Man franchises throughout the US field a fair amount of calls regarding possible Crabgrass infestations in home lawns.

To most homeowners, the thick-bladed grass that they’re noticing in their lawn must be Crabgrass. But since Crabgrass is an annual weed, what they are actually seeing (especially this early on in spring) is not, in fact, Crabgrass. However, in very rare cases, if there was no cold weather in the very southern states, the existing Crabgrass may not have died off.

In most cases, homeowners are misidentifying a weedy grass, such as Tall Fescue or Quackgrass. Both grasses are thick-bladed and look a lot like Crabgrass, so it’s not surprising that they presume that’s what they are seeing grow in their lawn.

Above: Crabgrass in August;                     Above: Quackgrass in April

 

Because Crabgrass is an annual, there are things that we can apply in the spring, such as pre-emergent weed control, that will help prevent it from germinating. There are also products that will help control it after it has germinated, although this method is a bit tougher to accomplish. Unfortunately, this is not the case for those weedy grasses like Tall Fescue and Quackgrass. Because these grasses are biologically similar to desired grasses, there really is no way to get rid of them other than digging them out or using a non-selective herbicide and re-sodding the area.

One other thing to keep in mind is that the germination of Crabgrass can vary, often starting in a sunny location, a full month ahead of other parts of the lawn that may be more shaded. A good way to know when Crabgrass is about to germinate is to use an indicator plant, such as the Forsythia Bush.  Keep an eye out for when the Forsythia Bush starts to flower, as this is a good indication that Crabgrass could be starting to germinate. However, in my opinion, the best way to tell is once you see the farmers in the fields planting their corn crops. This means the soil temperatures are just right and you can bet that the Crabgrass is going to be germinating as well.

If you have any questions about your lawn? Weed Man would be happy to help you. Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

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Q & A with Weed Man: When is the best time to put a pre-emergent on my lawn?

Q: When is the best time to put a pre-emergent on my lawn?

A: Great question! For those of us in the North, it’s pretty hard to see our lawns with all of this white stuff still hanging around. For those in the South and Mid-West, it’s time to start thinking about getting a pre-emergent application out there on the turf.

Weed Man always gets a lot questions around this time of the year regarding when to apply a pre-emergent and prevent crabgrass from taking over a lawn. To tell you the truth, there is no easy answer. There are multiple factors to consider before deciding on the proper time, some of which I’ll address below.

The first thing you will need to look at is what type of product you are applying. If you are utilizing a product that contains Prodiamine, then you will have to be quick to the punch, as it is a preventative treatment. This means that it stops weedy grasses like crabgrass from germinating, and therefore must be applied before germination begins. If you opt for a product with the active ingredient Dithiopyr, on the other hand, then you can be a little more flexible with your time. It can go down a bit later and still get control of crabgrass even if it has already started to germinate.

One other thing to keep in mind is that the germination of crabgrass can vary. It can start germinating in a sunny location, typically a full month ahead of other parts of the lawn that may be more shaded. A good way to know when crabgrass is about to germinate is to use an indicator plant, such as the forsythia bush. Once the forsythia bush starts to flower, it is likely that crabgrass could be starting to germinate. However, in my opinion, the best way to tell is by monitoring farmers in the fields planting corn crops. Corn planting is a good indicator that soil temperatures are right, and you can bet that crabgrass will take advantage of these ideal conditions and start germinating.

Pre-emergents that are applied too early may not last long enough throughout the season, and you may have breakthrough in the middle of the summer. Believe me when I say that trying to control crabgrass in the heat of summer is a BIG challenge. Also, a wetter than average spring can affect the longevity of a pre-emergent, causing it to break down faster than usual. Again, this allows for possible crabgrass breakthrough. Last year we witnessed this occurring in most of the country, which resulted in numerous crabgrass issues once July and August arrived.

Last but not least – crabgrass is typically worse along the edges of driveways and sidewalks, so paying special attention to those areas is really important. This undesirable lawn invader is also more prevalent when the turf is thin or weak. Keeping your lawn thick and healthy will result in fewer opportunities for crabgrass to germinate. When applying the application, ensure that you don’t miss any areas of the lawn, otherwise you will have crabgrass breakthrough as you can see in the picture below:

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Lots of things to remember, but reading the label and following the directions provided will help you prevent crabgrass from germinating later in the summer. Weed Man can also help if you have any questions when it comes to crabgrass control and pre-emergent applications. To find the location nearest to you, please visit our locator map by clicking HERE.

Looking forward to a great spring ahead,

Chris

Weed Man USA