Have you nursed your lawn or flowers all summer, only to find them riddled with brown patches after autumn's first frost? In all likelihood, those unsightly spots aren't dead areas, they are crabgrass. Here's how to prevent and kill crabgrass, and give your lawn and garden the healthiest environment you can.
What is crabgrass?
Crabgrass is actually a annual grass weed and is a universal problem to homeowners in the United States.
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What does crabgrass look like?
Crabgrass pops up in spring, and develops into large, flat grasslike clumps that spread widely. It smothers grass and plants. It is found either in smooth or large varieties, with seedheads that differ in width. Crabgrass loves hot, dry weather and is typically about 2-5 inches long.
When does crabgrass die?
Because it is an annual, crabgrass dies after autumn's first killing frost. It leaves behind dead patches; if untreated, those bare spots will fill with crabgrass the next spring as dormant crabgrass seeds sprout.
What is the best crabgrass killer?
The best crabgrass killer is a crabgrass preventer: a lush, thick lawn and well-mulched, well-tended fruit and vegetable beds. Healthy landscapes -- lawns that are dethatched regularly and mowed to a not-too-short height, flower beds that are watered well and mulched -- are less likely to be stressed and more likely to overcome any weed invaders such as crabgrass. Avoid overwatering, too, which can stress plants.
Learn how to fix an unhealthy lawn.
What's a good crabgrass herbicide routine?
If you spot crabgrass, treat it early and regularly. In the spring, two weeks before your last expected frost, apply a preemergent weed killer with corn gluten meal. This will help kill the crabgrass seed before it has a chance to take root. However, do not use any preemergent products when you are planting other seeds; they will prevent all seeds from germinating. Crabgrass also can be killed with a product labeled as a crabgrass killer, which should contain acetic acid; follow all label and safety precautions. If you find crabgrass in vegetable or fruit gardens, pull the offending weed and throw it away, but do not toss it in the compost pile where its seeds can spread.
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