Early action needed to control crabgrass

Early action needed to control crabgrass

Use preventive measures before these weeds
start spring growth.

Do you have a crabgrass problem in your lawn? You'll recognize the symptoms in the fall, especially if you've noticed patches of coarse purple grasses in your lawn.

Crabgrass can spread particularly quickly around the edges of the
lawn, and along driveways and paths. The problem is most prevalent in Ontario.

It's an ugly grass weed that invades weaker areas of the lawn, and gradually takes over, creating thin, off-colour patches that detract from the lawn's overall appearance. In late spring the plants are a light, lime green colour with wide, short blades. If such plants appear in the lawn as soon as the snow disappears, they are not crabgrass, and wont' be controlled by a crabgrass preventer.

A healthy lawn: The best defense.

A lush, healthy lawn provides its own best defense against crabgrass, because it allows few areas for the weed seeds to germinate and establish new plants. Regular fertilization is the key to a healthy lawn ... making sure the grass gets the complete nutrition it needs to fight weed competition and resist stress from winter drought or other environmental conditions.

A typical "four-step" lawn fertilization program might look like this:

1. Early Spring, either with a regular lawn fertilizer or a fertilizer with crabgrass control blended in.

2. Early summer, regular fertilizer or "weed & feed" to control broadleaf weeds.

3. Late summer, regular fertilizer or a combination feeding/insect control if lawn pests are suspected.

4. Fall fertilizer, a special blend to fight winter stress and encourage fast spring green-up. (This may be the most important, but often overlooked lawn feeding.

Be sure to use high quality, "controlled-release" fertilizers: They provide consistent feeding over several weeks, without risk of burning the lawn.

Crabgrass control strategies

Crabgrass is an annual grass weed that must re-establish itself from seed each spring. This is the secret to effective crabgrass control ... getting the preventer onto the soil early enough (before May 15) to keep new seeds from germinating.

The easiest way to apply a crabgrass preventer is to spread it on with your early spring fertilizer application, around the time the forsythia blooms. Mow the lawn once before applying the preventer, so it can easily get down to the soil surface.

Vigoro makes a crabgrass preventer/fertilizer blend that works very well, controlling the germinating seeds while it greens up the lawn. They also offer an alternative granular crabgrass control without fertilizer, in case you've already applied fertilizer separately. The control ingredient (chlorthal) only affects crabgrass, and not other weeds or most grasses. Avoid spreading crabgrass preventers on newly seeded lawns, bentgrass lawns or vegetable gardens. The soil must be left undisturbed after application to allow the grass to work on the ungerminated seeds. Be sure to read the product label carefully and wear protective clothing.

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