Crabgrass Control 101
If you are a long-time subscriber to these weekly email tips, or a long-time listener to the GardenLine radio program, I sort of hope this message is falling on deaf ears (so to speak). That's because this week's email tip is all about Crabgrass Control, the pesky summer weed that normally only infiltrates weak lawns. Thus, if you follow my weekly advice in words or on air, you probably haven't seen a crabgrass sprout in years, right?
However, my work email is overflowing with crabgrass questions of late. And in most of those cases, a simple question back to them of , "Are you following my schedule?", almost always comes back with a timid version of "No." Because, quite honestly the best way to control crabgrass is to keep a healthy yard, plus extremely healthy soil and follow a pre-emergent herbicide regiment (in my schedule) to the letter.
Ta-Da!!! There you have it the best way to "control" crabgrass is to "prevent" it from ever being a problem.
Yeah, I know, the emails are mostly "how do I control it?" If you do listen consistently to the radio program, you probably already know the answer to this. But before I get specifically to that product that I have promoted for a few years now, grant me this small opportunity to kind of tell you what not to use as well.
Actually, if you don't care what you kill in conjunction with killing the crabgrass, you can use any number of herbicides on the market that are ready to spray, ready to use and ready to mix. And boy, do they work on the crabgrass. The problem is they also work on every other grass that the crabgrass is usually mixed with. The bottom line is this other than the organic version I'm going to recommend shortly there isn't a herbicide out there that targets crabgrass alone.
Yep, that means that spray bottle you have that has the words "crabgrass control" or "crabgrass killer" on it, will also kill your St. Augustine, Bermuda, Centipede or Zoysia lawns. I take that back, to a small degree, there are some herbicides that will allow you to spray it on Bermuda, but they are few and far between. Whereas, something that is Glyphosate-based (Roundup, Eraser & Killzall are good examples) will also kill the turfgrasses surrounding the crabgrass.
Having said all that, and again, if you don't mind killing the area, then by all means spray whatever you darn well want. In fact, I've even made the recommendations for years on the air, that if you kill the area, once it's dead and you dig it out, then throw down some good soil and level it out. Finally, you can either re-sod the area with a small cut-up piece of turf or encourage the grass to fill back in on its own.
There is a small catch
you will also need to apply a pre-emergent herbicide over the repaired area, because if it's left with only fill dirt/compost, other weed seeds including more crabgrass will opportunistically sneak in.
Plus, you may not have Crabgrass at all. Did I hear some yippees out there? Don't get too excited. While Crabgrass is the most notorious of the grassy weeds during the summer months, you could have Goosegrass, Dallisgrass and in some cases Johnsongrass. They too are all by definition "grassy weeds" that are best prevented with better care practices in the turf and soil, and they too can be killed with any of the "crabgrass" herbicides available. They too can also be selectively killed by the one organic herbicide originally designed for Crabgrass. And you'll probably agree, that even with the pictures provided, it's hard to tell the difference between them.
And that product is: Garden Weasel AG Crabgrass Control. Please take the time to read the website and the label information, and you will first be wowed by the amount of weeds it does control. You will also be impressed by the wonderful smell of this product. It's made from a combination of Cinnamon Bark and Cumin powders and really does smell like Cinnamon Toast. It is available at a number of nurseries and garden centers in the Houston area, but by all means you should order it on-line if you can't seem to find it in a store near you. However, I can assure you that you won't find this product at a big box store or a mass merchandiser of gardening stuff. It is only at independent nurseries and garden centers that often times specialize in organic products.
Okay, for those who now know how to kill the crabgrass et.al., but obviously would rather keep it from being a problem in the future, here's the checklist to follow that will get you a healthy lawn/turf and ultimately a healthier soil the best
So how do you get to a healthy yard/healthy turf and ultimately healthy soil.
Follow the Schedule:
Pre-Emergent Herbicides are Critical (see the schedules)
Mow Tall -- on St. Augustine and Centipede specifically
Have a Good Irrigation System.
Aerate -- at least once a year (Twice is better)
Top Dress with Compost, Enriched Top Soil or Humates
Until next issue, here's to Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard exclusively, 6-10 a.m. Saturdays and 7-10 a.m. Sundays, only on NewsRadio 740 KTRH.
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