As the snow and cold start to disperse and spring gradually emerges, so do those dreadful weeds. Here in Latrobe, we have a fair share of unsightly lawn invaders ready to put blemishes upon otherwise healthy turf. Some of the most common weeds we deal with in Pennsylvania include:
- Black Medic
- Shepherd’s Purse
- Common Chickweed
And crabgrass. Crabgrass is one of the most common and challenging weeds that come back to annoy us year after year. Even in the best growing conditions, crabgrass can grow out of control. While crabgrass is actually considered grass, it is not turfgrass like those we use on our Latrobe lawns. It has a coarse texture, appears unsightly, and is tough to walk on. Read on to learn more about this unappealing weed, why it’s a nuisance, and how you, as a Latrobe home or business owner, can help prevent and control it.
What Does Crabgrass Look Like?
Keeping a low profile to the ground, crabgrass is stiff, has many legs, and often looks like a crab. It has wide, flat blades and produces long clusters of flowers. There are several varieties, including those with hair and those without. Generally, you are more likely to find hairless crabgrass in your lawn or growing inside of sidewalk and driveway cracks.
When Does Crabgrass Rear Its Ugly Head in Latrobe
Crabgrass sprouts from seeds dropped the previous summer and fall. In Pennsylvania, it starts to germinate in early spring. When the soil reaches around 55 to 60 degrees consistently, seeds will begin to grow. While spring arrival varies from year to year, typically, this means late April to early May.
What Makes Crabgrass Such a Problem?
Most people find the look of crabgrass unappealing. It’s lighter than the color of grass, making it stand out. It’s an opportunistic plant growing wherever it can find space, often in the open bare spots of your lawn. Once it sprouts, it takes the much-needed nutrients and sunlight your grass needs crowding out the good grasses that are weakened by other weeds, diseases, and insects. Because it grows so close to the ground, it is not caught with the lawnmower making it even more challenging to get rid of. And while it is a summer annual that dies once winter comes around, the seeds it produces can lay dormant for years, suddenly growing out of nowhere in spring, making it almost impossible to eradicate fully.
Prevention of Crabgrass Is Crucial
Prevention is vital when it comes to crabgrass. This annoying weed establishes itself quickly, often growing in patches of your turf that insects or diseases may have damaged. Open spaces can rapidly be taken over by crabgrass stopping new, healthy grass from growing. The first step in prevention is to ensure you have a healthy lawn. Investing in a lawn care program that includes fertilization can go a long way in providing your turf with the macro and micronutrients it needs to stay strong enough to resist insects and diseases. Some lawn care plans include weed and insect control to ensure more strength and resistance. Other tips for preventing crabgrass include:
- Proper mowing. Mow your Latrobe lawn at two to three inches in height. Crabgrass seeds do not germinate in cool conditions, and taller grass helps to shade the soil and keep it cool. Of course be sure to adjust your height according to your turfgrass species and when in doubt, always ask a professional.
- Water once a week deeply and avoid frequent light irrigation.
- When seeding new lawns, do so in late summer.
Use of Pre-Emergents Herbicides
Pre-emergent herbicides can control seedlings as soon as they germinate but with crabgrass timing is everything. The ideal time varies depending on soil temperature. Crabgrass preventer is best applied when the soil temperature reaches between 55 and 60 degrees, but this can be tricky because this is also when it starts to grow. When using a pre-emergent, never apply to grass that is already wet or when the forecast calls for rain. And never seed your lawn at the same time.
Can You Get Rid of Crabgrass Once it Has Started Growing?
Remove by Hand
Once crabgrass has started growing, using a pre-emergent will no longer work. You can try removing this vile weed by hand. To do so, first, use water to loosen up the roots, then pull by hand and water again. But, if that sounds tedious and time-consuming, a post-emergent may help.
Post-emergent herbicides are used to attack weeds after they have started growing. They come in sprays or granular formulas, and the amount and type you should use vary depending upon your turf type. As crabgrass matures, post-emergent control can become more challenging. Multiple applications are needed and must be spaced out accordingly. They can also kill the healthy grass surrounding the weeds, so use caution when spraying.
Prevent Crabgrass From Invading Your Latrobe Area Lawn With Lawn Care Services From LawnRx
Why take chances? Hire the professionals at LawnRx and invest in a healthy, weed-free lawn. We offer a complete, comprehensive five-step lawn care program designed to give your Latrobe area turf the nutrition it needs to stay healthy and the weed control necessary to keep it well-manicured throughout the year. Locally owned, we know the current climate and unpredictable weather patterns. We know just when to apply crabgrass pre-emergent and will stop this nasty weed before it has time to germinate. Sign up now, and you can even save money with our prepayment plan.