Spring Lawn Care Tip!
Crabgrass – it is every lawn enthusiast’s worst nightmare.
Spring has finally arrived and it is time to prevent this pesky weed before it invades your lawn. Want a Healthy Lawn? Stop Crabgrass! Like any other weed that can develop in your lawn (broadleaf weeds, grass-like weeds, sedges, etc.), crabgrass will deprive the individual grass plants that make up your beautiful lawn of the things necessary to survive. Nutrients and water that are critical for the survival of your lawn are consumed by weeds. When there is a major breakthrough of weeds, particularly crabgrass, the individual grass plants will die off from starvation or crowding out and the the crabgrass plant will flourish leaving your lawn full of voids and bare spots, particularly after the crabgrass plant has established itself grown in size. The best defense is to prevent this problem before it becomes a major issue affecting the health and appearance of your lawn.
Crabgrass plants germinate from seed when soil temperatures reach approximately 55ºF (approximately April – May). Once germinated, the plant will grow very quickly and as it matures, it will branch out into “tillers”. Science has been helpful in providing us with products that will stop the plants from ever taking root in your lawn. The best time to do this is in the early weeks of the Spring season and there are a number of products available to control this weed (among other grass-like weeds).
If you have experience fertilizing or applying lawn chemicals you can take a ride over to the local hardware store and pick up granular or spreadable crabgrass pre-emergent (aka “preventer”) and apply the product at the manufacturer’s labeled rate to keep this pesky weed under control. Alternatively, you can hire a professional for this service and they will ensure that it is applied correctly. Either way, some examples of the best active ingredients that you can look for in a crabgrass pre-emergent are: prodiamine (Barricade) or dithiopyr (Dimension). Note: Unlike Barricade, Dimension can be applied later in the season as well and it will have some post-emergent control qualities for any crabgrass that has developed, but the plants must be small.
Should you decide to venture out and apply the product on your own, now would also be a great time to apply the first round of fertilizer to your lawn. You can purchase a bag of a balanced fertilizer WITH crabgrass pre-emergent together in the bag. This will provide a feeding and defend against crabgrass. Again, read the label and only apply at the recommended rate. Also you should know that as of 2011 the State of New Jersey (and many other states) have adopted laws that regulate the use of fertilizer (See http://www.nj.gov/dep/healthylawnshealthywater/) in an effort to help with the problems of the waterways. Always clean up any product that has spilled or was left behind on sidewalks or driveways. Not only will some products stain concrete, they will wash away with the rain directly into the storm drain.