If you are looking for a few great ways to get rid of crabgrass and prevent it from taking over your lawn, there’s no better time than late summer to make it happen. And the biggest key to success is tackling it before it goes to seed!
Crabgrass is quite popular for giving property owners and landscapers alike frustration and headaches. No one wants to see their beautiful, tidy green lawn overtaken by fast-spreading crabgrass. And can it ever fast with crabgrass.
Crabgrass is able to grow and adapt to almost every growing condition and climate. It is drought-resistant and can often be seen thriving in a sea of dry, brittle grass, unfortunately staying green long into the fall months.
Crabgrass is an annual weed that germinates, grows, and produces seeds all in the same year. However, it’s what the plant leaves behind each year that is the real issue. Once established, each crabgrass plant produces tens of thousands of tiny seeds that fall to the soil.
And all of those seeds lie in wait to germinate the following season. It is exactly why just a couple of crabgrass weeds in your lawn this year can turn into an out-of-control mess next year. That is, if certain steps aren’t taken to prevent the crabgrass from taking over in late summer.
How Crabgrass Grows – Getting Rid Of Crabgrass
In order to know how to take care of crabgrass in late summer, you need to first understand how the plant grows and spreads.
Crabgrass seeds germinate around mid-spring once the soil temperatures rise and stay around 55º Fahrenheit. Even if you didn’t have a crabgrass problem last year, the seeds can also be easily brought in by the wind or passing animals.
Early on in the growing stage, tiny stems start to sprout up and branch out from a central location. As the stems grow larger, they also become heavier and end up falling to the ground.
Once on the soil, those stems establish roots along nodes, eventually producing secondary stems. This allows a single plant to spread out several feet in all directions. These low-lying stems stay close to the ground and are often passed over by mowers or trimmers.
They are also surprisingly tough and durable and aren’t affected by foot traffic like typical grasses are. In fact, they can even set seeds when they are less than an inch tall.
Once crabgrass plants are allowed to set seeds, the cycle continues. Thankfully, you can stop the cycle with a bit of work. And even better, there are a few simple and effective ways to get rid of crabgrass without resorting to harsh chemicals or sprays!
How To Get Rid Of Crabgrass Now!
When you have just a small issue with crabgrass, one of the best methods for removal is hand pulling. And while hand-picking might be a bit labor intensive, it works fast and is free. And can it ever be helpful to do before your crabgrass produces its seeds!
Hand pulling weeds is only really effective if you tackle the task before the crabgrass begins to produce seed heads. Walk your lawn regularly, looking for and removing any new plants or starts.
Crabgrass is very easy to recognize in yards, especially in the summer and early fall months. Thankfully, it’s also easy to remove as well by using a shovel or small weeding fork. Simply pop up the stems and roots from the ground. Avoid leaving any of the roots behind since they regenerate into new plants that will quickly come back.
After you pull the weeds, spread out a handful of grass seed and cover it with straw to avoid leaving behind any bare soil. This tip is huge! It will help to prevent any new weed seeds from finding empty soil and taking up residence.
Spot Treatment – How To Get Rid of Crabgrass In Late Summer
You can also try using spot treatments to get rid of the crabgrass in your lawn in late summer. Again, be sure to go after the crabgrass problem before they start to produce seed heads.
Use a natural post-emergent herbicide spray or powder to target specific crabgrass plants. Most of these products work using vinegar or sea salt to tackle tough weeds. Weeds like broad leaf, chickweed, and many other unwanted plants can be eliminated with spot treatments as well. (Affiliate Product Link: Natural Armon Weed Killer)
The thing to keep in mind about spot treating with natural post-emergent sprays is that while they are excellent at quickly killing weeds, they will also kill grasses as well. With this in mind, only use a small amount and only for spot treatments. Just as before, cover the bare areas with grass seed once the crabgrass dies off.
Proper Mowing In The Summer – How To Get Rid of Crabgrass In Late Summer
Another way to help keep crabgrass at bay in summer and fall is to mow your yard properly. While this tactic might not help with this year’s weeds, it will help prevent seeds from finding a place to germinate come next spring.
If your crabgrass has already started to develop seed heads, you want to remove as many of them as possible. You can do it by hand, but using a bagger on your lawn mower will help to save time and prevent weed seeds from spreading.
The bagger gathers up the seed heads and allows you to dispose of them in your city’s local yard waste facility. While grass clippings typically make for excellent organic mulch, don’t use these batches for your home or garden.
Since the seed heads are present in the clippings, using them will only help to “plant” the seeds wherever you use the mulch. Also, avoid adding the clippings to your home compost pile since most piles can’t heat up enough to kill seeds. (See “Where & How To Use Grass Clippings In The Garden“.)
In addition to using a bagger, don’t mow your grass short throughout the spring and summer months. Aim for a lawn height of around 3 to 3.5 inches during the growing season. The taller lawn will be thicker and help to block sunlight from reaching the soil, which seeds need to germinate.
Using Pre-Emergents In The Spring
In addition to helping to get rid of crabgrass in the summer and early fall, the best plan of attack to finally get rid of crabgrass for good is to apply an organic pre-emergent to the lawn in the spring.
An organic pre-emergent is not a herbicide. Instead, it’s a product that prevents seeds from germinating by sterilizing the seeds, usually with the help of corn gluten. But the key to using one successfully is to apply it to the lawn BEFORE the seeds start to germinate. Once the seeds germinate, a pre-emergent is useless. (Affiliate Product Link: Espoma Organic Weed Preventer)
Apply the pre-emergent in early spring, long before your grass starts to green up and grow. If needed, mow your yard short so the grass is nice and even. Use a broadcast or drop spreader early in the morning when the grass is slightly wet from dew. This will help the product stick better.
The great part about using corn gluten as a pre-emergent besides the fact that it works is that it is immediately safe for pets and children. It is best to limit foot traffic though for a few days to allow the product a chance to stick and start working.
When it comes to tackling crabgrass issues, be consistent with your approach and be patient. It might take a few years to completely eliminate crabgrass from your yard, but you will eventually win the battle!
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