Once temps get to 67 degrees in Utah, crabgrass begins to sprout. Typically, crabgrass starts rearing its ugly head around late June. Most people confuse crab grass with Tall Fescue or another type of grass. If you think you have crabgrass in March, April, or May it’s more than likely Tall Fescue - which is just as tough to deal with.
What Is Crabgrass?
Crabgrass is a weed that shares many of the same characteristics as grass. As a matter of fact, that’s why crabgrass likes your lawn so much. It feels at home there. Crabgrass preys on the vulnerable spots of your lawn. By homing in on the bare or dry spots, crabgrass able to spread very quickly with little interference from your desired grass. Before you know it, it has spread across the entire lawn.
What Does Crabgrass Look Like?
Crabgrass is easily identifiable in all stages of growth. As seedlings, crabgrass looks very much like miniature corn plants with a husk-like appearance. Once crabgrass starts to mature, the blades of crabgrass are a minimum ¼ inch wide. The blades angle out from the base of the stem and grow in bunches that typically extend wide while staying low to the ground.
There are few simple tips to keep in mind to help your lawn defend itself against crabgrass before it happens. While nothing is foolproof, it is manageable.
- There’s a Right Way to Mow Your Lawn: First and foremost, it’s important to know what type of grass you have. Mowing at the correct height for your type of grass means you know how high you can mow, maximizing the height of the blades and shade they provide. Since more shade means cooler soil, crabgrass is less likely to take root. For Kentucky Bluegrass, we like to see mowing heights of 2.5 to 3 inches. Typically the 2nd highest setting on your lawn mower will get you there.
- Soak Your Lawn Well: Crabgrass thrives in conditions where the grass is dry or dead. Therefore, the deeper you water your lawn, the more optimal growing environment for the grass. Healthier grass means it’s less susceptible to infestation of crabgrass and other weeds. For easy watering instructions, go to our Lawn Watering Guide.
- Careful Use of Herbicides: Since crabgrass germinates in the spring, applying a pre-emergent herbicide before germination begins creates a barrier on the soil that makes it extremely difficult for crabgrass seeds to grow. Timing is crucial with this type of herbicide, though. If you apply it too early, it effects will wear off. When applied too late, the crabgrass grows right through it.
Best Way to Get Rid of Crabgrass
One way to get rid of crabgrass is to dig it up and replace the area with new sod. If the remaining bare areas are small enough they will fill in over time. Once crabgrass begins to grow, you cannot stop it with common selective herbicides. Sure a non-selective herbicide like Round Up will work, but WARNING, we don’t recommend this method due to the potential for collateral damage to the grass you love. There are some specialty ‘selective’ products on the market, but they can be very expensive on a DIY level.
Remember: You can prevent crabgrass from growing in your lawn by keeping the seeds from sprouting. Big League Lawns does this for you by applying pre-emergent at the right time of year to stop crabgrass before it pops up and ensures your lawn will look its best.