Crabgrass is actually the common name of Digitaria, which is a genus of almost 300 species of grass. Digitaria or crabgrass belongs to the family Poaceae, and is commonly found in tropical and temperate regions. Digitaria is a Latin word means finger, and this grass is also characterized by long finger-like cluster of flowers arranged on branches.
Crabgrasses are often termed as lawn pests, and they are quite difficult to get rid of once they start invading your lawn. Their seeds usually germinate in early spring or late winter, when the soil temperature reaches about 55°F. They produce seeds from mid-summer to fall. They are killed by autumn frosts.
Weeding Out Crabgrass
You can apply a pre-emergent herbicide to get rid of these lawn pests. As the name suggests, this type of herbicide prevents the emergence of weeds by preventing their seedlings from sprouting. So, it is important to apply a pre-emergent herbicide before the seeds germinate. For crabgrass, the timing of germination usually coincides with the blooming of the lilac shrubs.
Pre-emergent herbicides are available in both granular and liquid forms, and they form a protective layer on the surface of your lawn. This protective layer prevents the seeds from sprouting. Do not aerate the soil after applying a pre-emergent herbicide. However, you can water your lawn, as watering can help activate the herbicide. Sometimes, you may need to reapply the herbicide, as all seedlings do not germinate at the same time.
Post-emergent herbicides are also available that can kill weeds after germination. But it has been observed that they are mainly effective in destroying the young seedlings, which are quite difficult to distinguish from lawn grass. As the excessive use of chemicals is not safe for both humans and pets, you can consider the option of killing crabgrass organically. An effective organic pre-emergent herbicide is corn gluten, which not only inhibits the germination of this grass, but also increases the fertility of the soil.
To check the growth of weeds, it is important to not leave any bare spots in your lawn. A full and thick lawn can help get rid of these weeds by leaving no space for them. Maintain your lawn grass at a fixed height by mowing regularly. This can help prevent the flowering and seeding of crabgrass.
As far as irrigation is concerned, irrigate your lawn deeply but not frequently. Crabgrass is a shallow weed, and so, allow the ground to dry a bit to inhibit its germination. On the other hand, deep watering would benefit your lawn grass by stimulating the roots to grow deeper into the soil. Instead of applying fertilizers in spring, you should do it in fall, as this grass is killed by the hard frost of fall.
If your lawn is not overcrowded by crabgrass, then you can practice weeding, as hand pulling can also be effective to uproot them. While applying different types of herbicides, do not forget to read and follow the instructions mentioned on the label of the product.