You made it through Good Friday, the ham is in the oven, tomorrow is Easter and the forecast is sunny and warm with light showers and sprinkles on the way. You want to run out and get working on your yard. So you go to the lawn and garden center and the guy tells you “you NEED to put crabgrass preventer down NOW!!!!!!” He sells you the “good stuff”, you run home and put it down and in August you see crabgrass! Now you complain that his stuff doesn’t work.
What is crabgrass?
By Kelly Burke, About.com Guide The two main species of crabgrass are Large Crabgrass, sometimes called Hairy Crabgrass, and Smooth Crabgrass. An annual plant capable of producing 150, 000 seeds per plant, per season, preferring dry, poorly drained, under-fertilized soil and thin turf or bare patches. Crabgrass is known for it’s light green color and coarse, hairy leaf blades on thick stems expanding outwardly to a diameter of 12 inches per plant. Crabgrass is capable of out competing and taking over an entire lawn in a season if the conditions are right.
By David Beaulieu, About.com Guide To get rid of crabgrass it helps to know its life cycle. When spring soil temps (at a depth of 2″-3″) reach 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit, the first crabgrass (also spelled “crab grass”) seed will germinate. From mid-summer to fall, crabgrass produces seed. The crabgrass plants (but not the seeds) are killed by frosts in autumn.
Preemergent Herbicides for Killing Crabgrass: Preemergent herbicides (also spelled “pre-emergent”) come in either granular or liquid form and kill crabgrass seedlings as they germinate. Think of preemergent herbicides as forming an invisible shield across the soil surface that stops emerging crabgrass dead in its tracks. This shield image will serve as a reminder not to practice core aeration on lawns after applying preemergent herbicides, since doing so would only “puncture” the shield. Aerate lawns beforehand, instead.
Actually the stuff does work. Here is the problem…Right now even thought we have a warm day the soil temperatures are still cold. Two days ago the ground was frozen and Wednesday we had snow on the ground and yesterday we still had a frozen pile in our parking lot. All of the products are effective to about 85%. Which means that if they are working properly there would still be the possibility or 15% crabgrass. And at 150,000 seeds per plant that is still a lot of possible plants to be growing.
So…What should you do. (you’ll love this one…) Wait. Yes, WAIT! If you must go out and put something on your yard use a balanced fertilizer for turf. Go lightly because the grass is naturally going to start to grow rapidly when it starts to get warm at night.
Now that you have waited for about two weeks follow the split application instructions on the product you have chosen to use this year. (Most products have a three-tier system for different parts of the country.) Use the one for Ohio that has you making two applications about a month apart. I am not going to tell you an exact date because I use Growing Degree Day Tracker out of MSU and we are still too early for the first application.
If you are a smart cookie you will keep following this blog. I will let you know when I am putting down my first and second application on my yard. Disclaimer alert!…Don’t go by the lawn care guys and me at the golf course . We are on a different schedule because of the amount of acreage we apply and we will be trying to achieve different levels of control.
So check back, look for the Turf Tips for Homeowners post and I will let you know when I am working on my yard. You can go out and pull weeds in your beds today and mulch. Edging is also much easier when the ground is this soft.
Since you are smart cookies and stayed with this to the end. Did you catch that the crabgrass plants get killed by frost? So why worry about germinating crabgrass when Monday and Tuesday’s forecast is for nightly low’s in the mid 20’s. Any crabgrass plants that would germinate (which they won’t) would be killed anyway and you product would be waisted by being down too early. We want the product to go down just before the crabgrass will have a chance to germinate.
Mark Novotny CGCS