How to Control Crabgrass - Monmouth County, NJ

Don't let pesky weeds ruin a perfectly good lawn!

Crabgrass can take over a lawn before you know it. Affecting both warm- and cool-season grasses, it's a prolific weed that puts out thousands and thousands of seeds over the summer. While freezing temperatures will kill the weeds, the seeds will lie dormant until the soil warms up in the spring.

Crabgrass seeds germinate in the spring when soil temperatures rise above 50 degrees or higher for a few days. A good indicator is blooming shrubs or budding trees.
Here are some tips for application:

  • If you've recently seeded a lawn, wait until you've mowed it three times to put down a pre-emergent. If you plan to re-seed, wait two to three months after application.
  • Do not de-thatch or aerate lawns following an application since it will break down the chemical barriers of the herbicide.
  • Be sure to apply thoroughly and evenly. If you miss a spot, the seeds may germinate and spread throughout the lawn.

But if you've seeded a lawn, wait six weeks to ensure that the turf won't be damaged. Or, wait at least three months after you've applied a pre-emergent.

If your area has started to warm up and you're seeing crabgrass seedlings, pre-emergents won't be the solution. The first step is identifying the plant. Crabgrass will appear in shorter or thinner grass, or near concrete areas since they warm up faster. Look for matted areas and broad leaves.

If your customers' lawns do have crabgrass, look for products with any of the following ingredients:

  • Bensulide
  • Oryzalin
  • Pendimethalin
  • Dithiopyr
  • Prodiamine

If you see the weed later in the season, be sure the weather isn't too hot before making a post-emergent application. The stress on grass when it's hotter than 85 degrees may leave customers with damaged or dead lawns. Here are a few more tips:

  • Don't mow grass before you apply post-emergents to ensure maximum absorption by the weed's leaves.
  • Don't water lawns for about a day after spraying and don't make applications if rain is in the forecast.
  • Don't let the chemical mixtures sit around too long since they may lose their potency.

And be sure to pay extra attention to the bare spot that will be left when the crabgrass is gone. That area will be more susceptible to weed pressure.
Even though a winter freeze will kill crabgrass, the seeds mature plants put out will germinate the following spring. So the following spring, a pre-emergent is a good idea to stop the cycle from repeating.

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