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Crabgrass – Early Spring Lawn Care Tips

Its starts out very inconspicuously, little green leaves poking through the soil but, as the weather warms, the crabgrass plant quickly develops into a very large, disruptive weed.  The best control is to prevent as many of the seeds from emerging as possible.  This is done in the late winter or early spring.

The seeds were deposited last fall as the mature crabgrass was dying.  It finds its way into the soil and waits for the right conditions to start growing.  It grows best in the parts of the lawn where that have higher temperatures (lawn edges along driveways, sidewalks and other hard surfaces, bare spots and along curb strips ) and little competition.

A pre-emergent application should be applied early in the season so the material is in place when the  seeds begin to germinate.  One crabgrass plant produces approximately 10,000 seeds and a lawn with even a moderate amount of crabgrass plants produce millions of seeds in a season. A properly applied pre-emergent application usually controls over 90% of the seeds.  If we have a wet summer, there may be some “break-through” later in the season but it should be minimal.

When fertilizer is also applied at the same time in late winter or early spring, the existing turfgrass will get a healthier start on the new season and will be better able to crowd-out the crabgrass. The lawns that are lush and thick provide competition to the emerging seed preventing more infestation.

Prevention is a team effort between the density of the turf and the proper application of pre-emergent. If the turf is thin or has bare spots, pre-emergent will have minimal effect. And, even a thick, dense stand of turf will have a hard time keeping crabgrass at bay without pre-emergent The first application is applied specifically to prevent crabgrass from being a summer bummer, and is vital to the health and vibrancy of this season’s lawn.