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Crabgrass: Problems and Prevention

Clever Tips for the Prevention of Crabgrass Problems

When it comes to lawn weed problems, crabgrass tops the list. Here are some methods to control and prevent the growth of this weed.
Sonia Nair
Last Updated: Nov 28, 2018
Crabgrass is among the most common grass weeds. Many people do not recognize this plant and often refer to any grass weed as crabgrass. Hence, it is necessary to distinguish it from other types of grass, in order to eradicate crabgrass successfully.
This weed is usually found in the warm temperate regions, and is characterized by stems that lie on the ground, with their tips growing in an ascending manner. Their light green leaves are wide and the long inflorescence has spike-like branches. The name 'crabgrass' is derived from the appearance of the stems that spread like the legs of a crab.
There are around 300 species of crabgrass, the most prominent among them being large crabgrass and smooth crabgrass. These two species are commonly found as weeds in lawns and gardens. Crabgrass can be easily distinguished by its manner of growth, which interrupts the uniform growth rate of lawn grass.
Normally, the seeds of this grass germinate during the end of spring or at the onset of summer. Each plant grows in a circular manner and can reach a diameter of 12 inches. As they die in the fall, crabgrass may leave gaps in the lawn, where seeds may germinate the next season. They can cause undergrowth of other plants or grass growing in its vicinity.
Preventive Measures
As it is difficult to eradicate this plant from your lawn or garden, it is very important to prevent their emergence and eliminate them at the earliest, as soon as they appear. Here are some measures that can be employed to prevent the emergence of crabgrass.
  • Crabgrass needs sunlight for its growth. So make sure that your lawn is very healthy and thick enough to prevent any other grass from taking roots.
  • Another preventive measure is to keep the mowing heights between 2½ to 3 inches. A very low mowing height means more sunlight on the ground, which can favor the growth of crabgrass.
Lawn Sprinkler Spraying Water
  • Water or moisture is necessary for the emergence and growth of crabgrass, so avoid frequent watering or sprinkling.
  • If all these measures fail, use herbicides. A pre-emergent herbicide should be used to prevent the grass seeds from germinating. The best time for the application of this herbicide is from late April to early May, because the seeds need warmth to germinate. Ensure the time of herbicide application does not coincide with the seeding period of the lawn grass.
These preventive measures are very important in fighting crabgrass emergence, because it is difficult to control or eradicate it, once it has spread in your lawn.
Control Measures
  • One of the simplest ways is to pull out the plant the moment you notice it. As the root system of crabgrass is shallow, it will come out easily. To ensure complete removal of the roots, you have to water the area before the task. The water can loosen the soil and facilitates easy removal of the plant.
  • Mulch the area from where the crabgrass has been removed, to prevent regrowth of roots, if some are left behind.
  • Post-emergence herbicides or weed killers are usually used to get rid of crabgrass spread in a large area, but this may leave brown patches on the ground.
Never allow crabgrass to spread in your yard. Take immediate measures to get rid of them. It is always advisable to take preventive measures rather than fretting over the emergence of this weed in your lawn or garden.