If you are a homeowner in the Texas area, it is likely that you have had to fight the growth and appearance of crabgrass in your lawn. Crabgrass is a common weed in Texas, made up of clumps of long, finger-like blades, and can appear in all types of turfgrass.
The main concern with Crabgrass, besides its ugly and undesirable appearance, is that it will also compete for water and nutrients with your existing turf, which will cause stress and problems over time.
Here, we’ll tell you a little more about the weed itself, and give you tips on how to prevent the growth of crabgrass in your lawn, as well as how to manage a current crabgrass infestation.
What is Crabgrass?
Crabgrass is a grassy weed that has been invading Texas lawns for the last 50 years and is one of the toughest weeds to beat. It is an annual weed, meaning it germinates from seeds each spring, dropping more seeds as it matures and leaving those behind before dying in the summer heat. These seeds are easily swept up by wind, and spread to the rest of your yard, or even neighboring lawns. They will lay dormant in your turfgrass long after the weed has been killed by the summer heat, and then begin to germinate again as temperatures fall back into the 50s and 60s in the fall months.
Why is Crabgrass a Concern?
Once this weed appears in your lawn, it will spread quickly, and easily dominate your turfgrass. It is one of the fastest growing weeds, so beware – it will grow even faster than your actual turf grass. As previously mentioned, crabgrass will be soaking up the water and nutrients intended for your lawn, so its ability to spread and grow rapidly makes it an aesthetic and health hazard to the turf, since it will dominate a lawn very quickly.
Where is My Lawn Most Vulnerable to Crabgrass?
A crabgrass infestation will typically appear in the weakest and thinnest area of your lawn. Areas that have been thinned by heavy traffic, or damaged by drought stress, insect infestation, or fungal infection will be most vulnerable to this aggressive weed. In fact, it thrives in stressful growth conditions such as drought, low fertility, and extreme temperature, so these weaker areas in your lawn are not only susceptible to the weed but they present favorable growth conditions that will allow the weed to flourish. When targeting crabgrass seedlings, pay attention to these more vulnerable areas of your lawn, as well as along sidewalks, driveways, and other edges in your lawn.
How Can I Prevent the Growth of Crabgrass in My Lawn?
1. Maintain a thick, full lawn
Crabgrass is an extremely resilient weed, but it does have one large weakness-it requires light and space to germinate and grow. Because of this, a thick, full lawn that leaves little room for soil exposure is the best defense against this weed. A properly mowed, watered, thick and maintained turfgrass is less vulnerable to a crabgrass infestation.
2. Apply pre-emergent weed control
The next step in prevention will involve the application of a pre-emergent herbicide to your turfgrass. This is an important step in prevention for all lawns, but especially for those that have a history of crabgrass infestations. A pre-emergent weed control program will create a barrier on your lawn to prevent the growth and spread of crabgrass, as well as many other weeds. The best time to apply this herbicide is in the early spring, before temperatures rise to the mid 50’s. Once the temperatures have warmed your soil to over 55 degrees for 72 consecutive hours, any crabgrass seeds that remain in your lawn that haven’t been treated with a pre-emergent herbicide will begin to germinate and grow.
At Gecko Green, our complete lawn care program includes the regular and appropriately timed application of these pre-emergent herbicides, customized for the Northern Texas climates. This will ensure we keep the crabgrass populations to a minimum season by season.
How to Get Rid of Crabgrass?
Don’t worry, if your lawn already shows signs of this weed, it can still be managed and with the application of a post emergent weed control. These products will be applied after the weed is visible, under the correct conditions. For example, it is more effective to apply this herbicide on a warm sunny day, when temperatures are between 60-90 degrees, which will allow the herbicide to absorb most effectively. Make sure not to apply the product before rainfall, or directly before watering. This will ensure that the product is absorbed into the weed before it is washed away. If temperatures are too low, or there is a dense cloud cover, the product will not be as effective. Also note that more than one application of a herbicide to any specific area may be necessary. If you notice any damage to the grass surrounding the treated area, you may have applied too much. In this case, be sure to water your lawn healthily to ensure that extensive damage is not done to your surrounding turfgrass.
What If I Can't Do It Myself?
If you do not feel comfortable applying these products yourself, or are unsure of which products to use, Gecko Green can help! Part of our regular lawn care program is dealing with the prevention and the management of crabgrass, as well as any other weeds you may notice in your lawn. Call us to schedule a free consultation with a lawn care specialist.