Preventing Crabgrass

crabgrass growing in a lawn

Crabgrass is an invasive and unwelcome addition to your lawn. The key to preventing crabgrass is keeping a healthy lawn that keeps it from settling in the first place.

What is Crabgrass?

Crabgrass is an annual grass weed. It grows in the spring and dies off after the first frost. Sunny, moist conditions and sparse lawns where light reaches the soil are ideal for crabgrass to grow. Once crabgrass starts germinating in early spring it can quickly spread.

Keeping a Healthy Lawn

green lawn and surrounding landscaping

Thick lawns prohibit the growth of crabgrass since the sun cannot reach the soil. Keeping your lawn higher about 2 ½ to 3 inches makes it hard for crabgrass to get established. Water lawn on an irregular schedule for long time periods instead of frequent short spurts of watering. This helps the grass create a deeper root system leaving no room for crabgrass to grow.

Stopping Crabgrass

Remove crabgrass as soon as you see it. Thoroughly soak the crabgrass to make it easier to dig out. Be sure to get all of the roots or your effort will not work. While this method can get rid of a small patch of crabgrass it is not effective if more of your lawn is affected. You will have to wait until the next year to tackle the problem.

Preventing Crabgrass

Timing is crucial to preventing crabgrass. By using pre-emergent chemicals you can stop crabgrass seeds from germinating in early spring. Crabgrass seeds begin germination when the ground reaches 60 degrees. Early spring is different across the country so you need to be aware of when conditions are right for using pre-emergent chemicals. If, you experience warm nights and plenty of rainfall it’s a good time to use pre-emergent chemicals. Another indication is when shrubs start blooming and buds appear on the trees, or look for when the forsythia blooms begin to fade.

Using Pre-emergent Chemicals

seed spreader sitting on a lawn

Most pre-emergent chemicals are a combination of weed killer and lawn fertilizer so prevention and growing a healthy lawn can be accomplished at the same time. Always spread pre-emergent chemicals over your entire lawn. You don’t want to miss any spots where crabgrass can get a hold. A spreader can be used to apply pre-emergent chemicals.

Taking Caution When Using Pre-emergent Chemicals

If you have a newly seeded lawn, you should wait and mow it at least three times before using pre-emergent chemicals. This will help avoid killing the new grass seedlings. Do not aerate or dethatch once you put down pre-emergent chemicals because you will break the chemical barrier of the pre-emergent chemicals making them ineffective.