Crabgrass!

chrisstlMarch 18, 2009

Ok, I've done my share of searches on how to prevent/get rid of crab grass. I'm going to use a pre-emergent herbicide (scott's brand).

My problem is this: I have one very large spot in my yard that has a lot of crabgrass. We're not talking a couple little patches, we're talking maybe 15 square feet or so, if added up total, of dead crabgrass at the moment.

If I apply the herbicide and successfully keep the crabgrass from growing again this year, I will have these big bare, dead crabgrass spots. That's not desireable. The herbicide states that you should not seed or sod for 3-4 months after applying. So, the option is not there to apply the herbicide to prevent crabgrass from thriving again and then replacing the dead area with seed/sod after the fact.

My other plan was to rip up the section of yard that holds these big patches, lay down sod, and apply the herbicide to the rest of the lawn. I'm just not sure if that's the best solution, and it's a lot of work, so I'm looking for advice before I take any action.

Any help is appreciated! (yes, I'm a lawn newbie, I didn't even know what crabgrass was as it was running rampant in my yard last summer)

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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

Its hard to say without seeing those big crabgrass spots. What kind of grass do you have in your lawn. If there is any kentucky bluegrass surviving there, then it may well fill in. Do not rip up anything because you still have a ton of crabgrass seeds lying there. Do spread your crabgrass preventer according to the directions of the package. Keep reading the forums here and learn about proper cultural practices. Water deeply but infrequently. Most importantly, mow you grass long. Strengthen you lawn as much as possible this summer. Proper mowing and watering goes a long way towards inhibiting weed growth. Spot treat broadleaf weeds with weed-be-gone or similar product using a pump-up sprayer according to the label directions. Read twice, spray once. Be careful with lawn chemicals. Feel free to post follow-up questions here.
Bill Hill

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 11:22AM
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andy10917(NY 6a)

You could consider a pre-emergent with Siduron as the active ingredient. It is more expensive than other active ingredients, but allows you to reseed at the same time. It might be cheaper than resodding. I hear people say that it is not quite as effective as other products, but it worked well for me. Like you I had an area that was pretty solid, and when I killed it the previous year, I got a big crop of broadleaf weeds that took advantage of the bare soil.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 11:25AM
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chrisstl

Thanks for the input - I will try to get a couple of photos and repost later this evening or tomorrow. If there were just a couple small spots, I'd just follow most of the advice I see here or on the 'net in general. But since these spots are much larger, I just don't see them filling in with grass. I have seen many suggestions on prevention, which all make sense to me. I guess I'm trying to avoid having a couple of big nasty bare/dead spots this summer.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 11:49AM
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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

Chrisst1, Can you please tell us what kind of grass you have in your lawn?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 12:00PM
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chrisstl

Honestly, I don't know! I'm really new to the lawn scene, I've owned my home for about 4 years, but have never really gotten into the lawncare stuff outside of mowing my lawn regularly. I just never had any issues. With the emergence of this crabgrass from last summer, I'm obviously taking a different approach now. How can I determine my grass type? I know it's not zoysia, outside of that, I'm not sure.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 12:17PM
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andy10917(NY 6a)

You probably should get a good soil test and see what the issues are underneath the grass, so that fertilizer/weed control/etc is moving toward a thick lawn that won't allow later sprouting crabgrass the opportunity to get going. Typical cost is about $5 for a basic test from your cooperative extension and $12-$15 for a comprehensive test. You'll save that much in knowing what products you DON'T need in the first three months. Once you know what kind of grass you have (the green side of the grass) and what your soil is up to (the brown side of the grass) you'll be way ahead of where you are now.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 12:26PM
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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

Well, I'm guessing that you lawn is a mixture of cool season grasses (bluegrass, fescue, and rye) It is amazing how resilient turf grasses are especially when cared for by proper mowing, watering and fertilizing. If you have any good grass at all living in those crabgrass infested areas, then there is a very good chance that those grass plants will fill in. I have a vacant lot next to my house. The grass gets cut regularly but every year it's totally overgrown with crabgrass. Every year the good grass comes back only to be over-run with crabgrass again. Of course Missouri lawns may be different than Michigan lawns. I can tell you that Spring seeding will have low probability of success (my opinion of course) mostly because of hot dry weather and watering requirements. Fall is the optimum time to seed. Rest assured, you are in good hands here and you can have a nice lawn by the June 1.
Bill Hill

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 12:44PM
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iforgotitsonevermind(♪☺♫)

Improve the drainage. I'd be willing to bet that if you have a crabgrass problem, it's an area where the soil stays excessively moist. Add some topsoil, add a drain, change the grading. Do something about that and you won't need to do pre-m, post-m or any m because you won't have any m.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 12:14AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Sounds like you need to start with the basics. Here they are.

  1. Water deeply and infrequently. Deeply means at least an hour in every zone, all at once. Infrequently means monthly during the cool months and no more than weekly during the hottest part of summer. If your grass looks dry before the month/week is up, water longer next time. Deep watering grows deep, drought resistant roots. Infrequent watering allows the top layer of soil to dry completely which kills off many shallow rooted weeds.

  1. Mulch mow at the highest setting on your mower. Most grasses are the most dense when mowed tall. Bermuda, centipede, and bent grasses are the most dense when mowed at the lowest setting on your mower. Dense grass shades out weeds and uses less water when tall. Dense grass feeds the deep roots you're developing in 1 above.
  1. Fertilize regularly. I fertilize 5 times per year using organic fertilizer. Which fertilizer you use is much less important than numbers 1 and 2 above.

I'm not buying the 'vacant lot next door' excuse. There are people here who live next door to vacant lots and crummy neighbors but they still have immaculate lawns, all without Herculean efforts or expensive treatments. If you follow steps 1 and 2 above, most of your weed problems go away. Now it could be that you have no Kentucky bluegrass in your lawn. If that is true, then you are in trouble. When fescue gets a disease and dies, it does not fill back in. KBG does.

Sod of any kind would probably work for you if you kept it tall. Without a starter amount of KBG in the lawn, you are going to have to do some work either now and/or in the fall. Often grasses seeded in the spring do not live through the heat of June and by August have been replaced by crabgrass. Fall is the best time to renovate because crabgrass is an annual plant and will not even germinate when the temps cool off after summer.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 12:43AM
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andy10917(NY 6a)

DCHALL's post got me to thinking that since the grass type has not been identified, there might be a lot of perennial rye that is reaching the end of its life. PR is not truly perennial, but is a multi-year plant that dies off slowly over 3-7 years. Crabgrass loves to fill in the thinning areas. I had a beautiful PR lawn but got tired of the winter kill/dieout and moved to KBG.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 10:03AM
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chrisstl

I appreciate the tips and will surely take them into account this sprint/summer. Will try to get some pics of my problem areas. After inspecting them again last night, the actual square footage of the crabgrass area may not be as large as initially thought, though it's much more than a small spot or two that could be just removed by hand pulling.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 11:05AM
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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

Do get your pre-emergent herbicide down early enough to prevent this years crop of crab. Usual application time is when the yellow forsythia is in bloom.
Bill Hill

Here is a link that might be useful: Spring Cleanup

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 2:19PM
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chrisstl

Here are a couple pictures of the patch in question. The gray stuff on the left portion of the yard is the dead crabgrass.

http://img6.imageshack.us/img6/9181/yard1.jpg

http://img6.imageshack.us/img6/4118/yard2.jpg

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 5:49PM
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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

First use a leaf rake and gently remove the dead gray and brown grass. Then get your pre-emergent crabgrass preventer down ASAP. There is enough living grass there to give you a descent lawn this summer. Use pre-M every spring for several years. Follow dchall's advise on the basics.
Bill

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 6:16PM
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chrisstl

I'm not sure a leaf rake will do the trick. That dead gray crabgrass there does come up pretty easy, but I think I'd have to pull it up vs. a rake. And, should I not be concerned with the seeds when removing it?

This is what I referred to in my original post, that I was leaning toward 'ripping' the dead stuff out. But what will be left in that large spot is bare dirt.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 10:29AM
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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

Seeds are not a concern because that's what the pre-m does. It prevents germination of seeds. Looking at you pictures, there seems to be small patches of green grass, and it looks like living crowns of viable grass. Just rake lightly, getting some of the dead debris off the lawn. What's left will grow into a lawn. By June 1, it will look much better. Use a crabgrass fertilizer combo product (Scotts halts) I don't know where in MO you live but get the pre-m down when soil temps reach 50 degrees or when the forsythia is in bloom. If you miss that opportunity, then you will have crabgrass again. Any solitary crabgrass plants the sprout despite the pre-m application can simply be pulled by hand or treated with post emergent crabgrass herbicide.
Bill

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 12:46PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Here are your pictures

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 12:53PM
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chrisstl

Thanks, I'll take to it this week. Is the Scotts Halts a grass fertilizer/pre-emergent herbicide all in one?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 1:24PM
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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

Yes it is. Although Scott's makes a product containing halts pre-m without the fertilizer, it is pretty hard to find so just read the bag carefully to be sure has fertilizer in it.
If your bare spots do not fill in fast enough for you, there is another technique available after the grass is growing well. It consists of taking pieces of sod from less conspicuous places and planting plugs in the bare spots to speed the filling in process. To be considered after the first of June.
Bill

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 4:12PM
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mmqb

If this was my front lawn, I'd RU that spot, rake it out with a steel rake, and sew some KBG/TTF mixture, then cover it with some wheat straw. Wait 2 weeks and use some starter fertilizer on the grass when it grows out.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 1:20PM
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fredriccuthbertson_gmail_com

I have the same problem with crabgrass....I have been using Rebels brand seed but will switch to KBG this spring

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 10:50PM
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