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Sunday, September 21, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 4/2/2013

Crabgrass is a welcome sign of spring

BY KELLY HEIDBREDER
IN THE GARDEN

I never thought I would be so happy to see crabgrass. The gray days of late winter and early spring are wearing on my last gardener’s nerve. I am ready for spring.

On a recent trip for spring break, I was lucky enough to spend a day in Cozumel, Mexico. The squawking parrot, palm trees, sand, and clear blue ocean were more than enough to recharge my batteries and get my mind back in the groove for spring chores. And when I saw a huge patch of crabgrass at one of the resorts, I just about got on my hands and knees to kiss it.

Crabgrass is one of the sure signs of spring. It is one of the first of our turf weeds to show up. It sprouts when the soil is around 60 degrees and a single plant can throw off more than 150,000 seeds from spring to fall.

Large crabgrass has a bunch of different names like hairy grass, finger grass, and crow foot grass. Most of those names come from the way it looks. It has wide blades and a yellowish-green color, making it easy to spot in a lawn of fine-textured turf. Another dead giveaway is that it will grow out instead of growing up like more desirable turf.

It is time

Get a jump on the crabgrass germination time by stunting it before it has a chance to sprout. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide before the soil gets to the sprouting temperature of 60 degrees.

Look for name brands such as Balan, Pre-M, Pendulum, Team, and Team Pro that contain chemicals like benefin, pendimethalin, and trifluralin. These can all be applied before the weeds take a hold of your rye, fescue, and bluegrass.

Another common pre-emergent is Dimension. Its active ingredient is dithiopyr and is a good crabgrass stopper. Other products like Betasan contain bensulide and work well on bentgrass lawns. Ronstar G contains oxadiazon, but shouldn’t be used if you have bentgrass, fine fescue, or are planting a new lawn.

The rest of the turf

Don’t forget about the rest of the lawn. Rake up all of the debris like twigs and leaves and then give your lawn its first cut of the season. Mow it a little lower than your usual two and a half inches. Take the blade down to about an inch and a half. This will cut out any disease starting to form over winter and encourage your lawn to green up quicker.

Toss some seed on those bare spots. If you don’t need to do any seeding, you can try to control the weed seeds by applying a pre-emergent herbicide. This doesn’t allow the seeds to start germinating. If you need to prevent crabgrass seeds from growing and still need perennial turf, try a product called Siduron. It is a crabgrass preventer that can tell the difference between weed seeds and grass seeds and is safe to use on a newly seeded lawn.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at: getgrowing@gmail.com



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