I am not a weed
vigilante. I do not obsessively seek to control the weeds in my yard
. "Live and let live" is usually my philosophy.
Some weeds, however, are just begging for a fight. They spread everywhere and are super-tough to eradicate. Crabgrass
) has to be one of the top weeds on most gardeners' lists. It's pretty harmless-looking, pretty even. But it spreads relentlessly by seed
, taking over patches of lawn
and spreading into garden
Got a crabgrass problem? Check out the following tips and reign it in!
1. Grow a healthy lawn. A thick, healthy lawn means that weeds -- not just crabgrass -- can't grab a hold. What? Lawn not thriving? Crabgrass can only spread where it can get a toe-hold. If your lawn is not thriving in a particular area and crabgrass (or other weeds) are starting to take over, consider planting something else in that spot.
Remember to pamper your lawn if it is struggling. Add a little fertilizer in the fall, and over-seed bare spots to stop weeds from getting established. Water less often, but when you do crack out the hose, give it a deep soaking to encourage strong roots.
2. Consider the location
. Often the problem is too much shade
. Consider replacing the grass with some other low-growing groundcover such as ivy. If the problem is too much sun -- perhaps on a tough, dry slope
-- consider heat-loving perennials such as daylillies
or ornamental grasses
low. It's recommended that lawns be mowed fairly high to prevent stress to the individual grass plants. If you can, however, mow areas of crabgrass really short over summer
. This prevents flowering
4. Hand-pulling. It's not high-tech, but it works. Wear gloves, grasp each plant at the base, as close as possible to the soil, and pull slowly but firmly. Always wait until right after a generous rainfall before hand-pulling weeds. That way you can coax the entire plant, roots and all, out of the ground.
The only problem is, some weeds are easier to get out of the ground than others, and crabgrass is one of the tough ones. You can try grasping them with a pair of pliers
for better leverage.
5. Try herbicides
. Crabgrass can be chemically controlled with pre-emergent herbicides applied in late winter, before new growth begins in spring. "Weed-and-feed"-type products often contain pre-emergent herbicides for crabgrass control. The website About
has excellent, detailed advice for using pre-emergent herbicides on crabgrass
If it's already spring or summer and you're staring at a big sprawling patch of crabgrass, you might want to use a regular herbicide such as Roundup. Just be careful where you spray it, because this stuff will kill your lawn, too!
For more weed control tips, check out Gary's step-by-step guide to removing tough weeds
. While you're at it, click over and read Dan's post on DIY weed killers