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new lawn full of crabgrass

Posted by Crystal_T michigan (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 1, 11 at 21:31

Ok - I am far from a green thumb. I am horrible at lawn maintenance or gardening in general.

We just moved in to our house in April and I guess we made a huge mistake - we had our lawn put in at the end of June. We had the lawn in our last home put in the same time of year and it was fine, but this time - not so much.

We had lots of dirt put down and then had it hydroseeded by a very reputable company. 4 weeks later we now have a lawn with teensy weetsie sprouts of grass scattered amonst the crabgrass that is thriving! There is grass in there, but it seems like it's gettin choked out by the crabgrass at this point.

We are planning on mowing probably tomorrow which I'm hoping will help by letting the grass get more sunshine?

Should we fight with the landscaper and make them respray? should we wait til next spring and pray that a pre-emergent will at least tame it and see if the landscaper will do some repair work tehn? Any and all advice is greatly apprceciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

couple of notes:

I am in west michigan. Lawn gets pretty much all sun. have been watering 3x per day since it was hydroseeded - bumped the time a bit for this heat we've been having. lots on either side of us don't have lawns yet :( all weeds...

I really don't want to start over here, but there is so much cg. I don't think it's humanly possible to pull it all. I started to try a week ago but in what seemed like forever in this heat, I didn't even get the whole front yard done :(


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

unfortunately there is nothing you can do right now. you will have to reseed in the fall. this is why seeding in the summer is bad, you will have to fight the weeds and the weather being so hot your roots cannot establish. the crabgrass will thrive right now.
what type of grass did you seed with?


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

Mowing will only help reduce the seed heads on the CG. Don't expect your turf to excel the crabgrass with just mowing. The crabgrass has a huge advantage over the seeds you just planted.

Don't fight the landscaper. They did just what they were supposed to, it sounds. I would ask your landscaper to see if he can treat the crabgrass. After the crabgrass dies, overseed in the fall.


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

I agree about not fighting the landscaper. It was a little questionable even accepting a hydroseed job in June. Are you sure he did not warn you about poor results?

Crabgrass will die on its own in the fall, but it might be too late to do a decent seeding job. I would use a slit seeder, power rake, or vertical rake (basically all the same tool with different names) to chop it up right down to the ground level. Then sweep/blow it all away, and seed into the surface you have left. Do that when the summer heat breaks and the evening temps cool off.

Since the lawn is full sun, you have the opportunity to use Kentucky bluegrass in the seed. KBG is nice in that it forms a dense sod and should never need to be reseeded. On the down side, it normally becomes brown in the winter. Fescue is a good grass that stays green all year but often needs to be reseeded annually to keep the spring weeds out. Dense grass is your best defense against weeds.


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

NO I asked him about it. I asked because I thought I should wait until September and he encouraged me NOT TO! I was shocked and now am totally disappointed. That is why I think I should make him do any additional seeding necessary in the fall.

He used a 50/50 mix of KBG and Rye I think.

My thought is, since he pushed me in the wrong direction, he should have to fix this mess. We really have to tear it out and start from scratch? I doubt he will do that...


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

dchall_san_antonio - does the power rake grind the dirt up or just cut everything down the dirt level? We have a slopey yard and I don't really want to get rid of any root base that is actually holding our dirt in our yard at this point if I don't have to.

Could we just cut the grass down really really short and over seed it with a good seed mix? and then what? water 3x a day again? (oy vey my water bill!) We have a really good local grain/farm supply place very close by that has their own seed blends. Should I ask for a KBG/fescue mix? or a KBG/RYE/Fescue mix?

If all I have to do is cut it down and over seed in the fall I think I can handle that, but I'm worried that the CG will just come back with a vengence in the spring. Can I put a preemergent down before winter if I seed in early September (that would be the "right" time to seed and to put the pre-emergent down in my zone correct?)


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

Crabgrass is a summer weed. It usually isn't until June at the absolute earliest that it starts to come in - more like July. After your grass is established next spring you can apply a pre-em. You will likely have to spot treat post-emergent herbicide still to get rid of all the crabgrass next summer. Check with your local horticulture office for the best seed.


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

How do I overseed this fall if the cg is still there tho - even if it's dying off it's still occupying space that needs to be grass right? There is sooo much cg - my hubby just mowed and my father-in-law stopped by and said, "bah - it's green at least!" It's at least 50% cg. If i do the pre-em next spring I can't seed until fall next year right? Will the grass that is there spread during the summer months next year then without extra seed? Or will it just end up being a ton of weeds? This is sooo confusing...


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

OK. Summer is weed's hayday. Summer is also a low point for tall fescue - it merely struggles to stay alive. You must deal with the crab grass problem. I would do that by either trying weed-b-gon Max or calling a turf care company and getting them to spray something more effective.

You will want to wait to spray until thing cool off, though. If it is above daytime highs of 90 then it's too hot to spray. If it does warm up to 90 during the day, you will want to spray in the morning when the temperature is around or less then 80. A good turf company will know this and should be able to treat the CG very effectively using better products. Having professional's spray is my recommendation. Be sure to tell them that you plan to plant this fall. You can plant 4 weeks after you spray Weed-B-Gon Max, so your time is limited there.

The thing with the Weed-B-Gon is it may take more then one application and there isn't enough time for that.

After most of the CG is dead, you can seed. The crabgrass will die earlier then the rest of the turf in the fall but that may not be soon enough for overseeding.


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

I know I'm being a total pain asking more and more questions, I'm sorry.. I really REALLY appreciate all the help!

The lawn was just planted 4 1/2 weeks ago - everyone has told me it's too young to spray anything on to kill the cg? is that not true?

If it is too new - what then? Do I just do a pre-em next spring - use weed-b-gone or a pro to kill as needed during summer and then over seed NEXT fall?? I'm guessing if I do this option my lawn will look like total poop until spring 2013?


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

If it were me, I would spray Drive XLR8. I recommend having a pro apply it though as it is a strong product. Getting it could be a challenge but in calling around to different lawn companies you might find someone that would spray it.

Drive XLR8 won't hurt your existing grass and you can spray up until the time you plant basically. After one or two applications you CG should be completely gone. However, if the crabgrass isn't growing due to drought and/or excessive heat conditions, the spray may not work at all. If you have Drive XLR8 sprayed, you should start watering your lawn now (if you aren't already).


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

called a local place - it's going to cost about $200 for 2 applications - does that sound about right? I want to make sure I'm not getting taken.

He said he'd spray it in 2 weeks, after I've mowed 3 times. Then he'll come back (if necessary, he said it probably will be) 3 weeks later to do it again. He said then I can seed 2-3 weeks after that putting me late september.

Does this sound like a good idea/plan of attack?


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

Yes, Drive is expensive. That sounds reasonable. He sounds cautious which is good. Late September is pushing it but should still be OK.

Just so you know, if all the seed doesn't come up due to being a bit on the late side, you may need to repeat the process next year, for completely satisfactory results. However, I really don't expect that to be completely necessary. Pre-emergent and a good thick stand of turf should prevent it from taking over again, though.


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

Ok - I know it's been a couple days. Got another landscape company's idea of what to do, and here's what they said.

I mowed may lawn last tuesday BUT I was really only mowing crabgrass - the grass is still very short.. maybe 2 - 2 1/2 inches long. They said I have to mow the actual grass 3 times (cutting the grass itself to 3 inches having trimmed about an inch off) before drive can be applied because the new grass could potentially get killed off as well otherwise. They said that because of that we are looking at end of this month at the earliest for the 1st application of drive. They advised me to wait until next year - spread a pre-emergent and spot kill in the summer if needed.

I have one other company coming on monday - thoughts on what this guy said?


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

When I read the label on Drive online it doesn't say anything about waiting three mowings. It just says 28 days. Drive Label

If you have only tall fescue, when the seed was put down doesn't matter as you can seed any time before/after spraying. Bluegrass and Ryegrass are a little more restrictive but not much. Ask the landscaper why wait the 3 mowings before spraying. It is possible the label is different then the one on the package.


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass1

I meant to say the label on the actual jug may be different then the one online. The ones online are sometimes outdated.


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

I myself would not recommend you treat the new grass with anything, especially not in this heat. If the crab has gotten large, it is tough to really kill it anyway without really hammering it with chemicals, and your new lawn isn't going to like that.

The crab you're seeing now is likely from seeds sitting in the lawn from before it was seeded. It's expected.

Yes, the landscaper should have waited till Sept 1 to seed, or at least warned you, but not much you can do about it now. You would have still had to fight the crab and other weeds growing while you waited for Sept to come though. Just would have been easier to win without the grass also trying to grow.

If you can get any of the crab up now, tear it out. If not, wait till it dies, then reseed with a pure kbg mix. The kbg will fill in anyway through the fall and spring. Just be SURE to use a pre-emergent (preferably dithiopyr) in your fertilizer in April before the crab germinates, and again 2-3 months later. One application is really not enough.


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

thanks for the advice dave11.

I was just about to add something here. I guess my thinking is this - I really don't care what the lawn looks like this year if i can get it to hopefully look nice NEXT year. So, if I seed this fall, it will still take even though there is lots of dying/dead CG (over 50% of my lawn is CG) hanging around in the lawn?

I was thinking more of a kbg/fescue mix? Really pure KBG? I thought KBG was a little too finicky and fescues were nice to have? The mix they hydroseeded with is 50/50 KBG and Rye.

So, how does this plan sound: I just laid starter fertilizer the other day. I will wait til Sept 15th (ish), hopefully when the CG has started to die, and lay a seed down (thinking like 25 lbs for 7000 sq ft). Next year I will put down a good pre-em down twice. Will that hopefully work? Do I put the 2 pre-em applications down in a row? or should I do one Application of pre-em in April then fertilize/weednfeed may then pre-em in June?

thanks again for all the help with this frustrating problem!


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

Ow. Did you really put starter fertilizer on top of the crab?

That will make it go explosive. But if you did, you did.

Stick to the same plan. You said your lawn gets all sun, so a mixture of KBG cultivars would be best. You could use 10% of fescues or PRG if you wanted, but KBG regenerates, while the others need reseeding when they are damaged, so KBG makes the best lawn in general, in full sun.

As soon as the crab starts dying, try raking or pulling it up, or start even now in spots if you can. If there are really bad patches, you could spot spray with crab killer, though try to spare the new grass. Then reseed with KBG starting September 1. Use a light layer of straw over any bare patches. Keep the surface moist for 3-4 weeks till you see good germination. Use dithiopyr in your fertilizer as a pre-em in late March, before you see any crab starting to appear. You'll need to treat again in middle June, though fertilizing then can stress the lawn. Keep it well watered in the weeks that follow that application. Make sure you fertilize the lawn properly in late September, and again in late October/early November.


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

Really bad patches? You mean my ENTIRE front lawn? LOL I'm really not kidding when I say it's better than 50% CG - it's probably more like closer to 75% CG.

That's funny about the starter fertilizer... :( A lawn and turf place told me to do that while i waited to apply the drive. I am so stinking confused :( Another turf company came today and told me I should have laid weed'n'feed.... Everybody's got their own ideas I guess.

I will do my best. I will get KBG cause I understand what you and others say - it makes a nice dense turf and that is what I want to choke this poo out of my lawn. Should I get any Rye in it at all, since the original had rye in it?

I was thinking more like Sept 15th (I'm in West MI)- let the temps cool and let some of the CG start to die before I try to plant. There is literally no way I can pull the CG from my front yard... It's totally everywhere - it would take me days solid. I have two small kids - I ain't got that kinda time ;)

I was planning on using the rest of the starter fertilizer I bought when I seed in september and then use a winterizer type fertilizer in late oct?


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

Yes, people learn lawn care in different ways, hence the different opinions. However, there is no one fix-all to any particular lawn problem, so having multiple opinions can be a really good thing.

I think KBG is a good choice for your area, seeing as you are quite a ways north. Fescue lawns are really nice as well, though. Either type, fescue or bluegrass will choke out MOST weeds when they are cared for correctly, but the flip-side is true in that both will allow weeds to take over if it's not a healthy stand. I recommend checking with your local horticulture extension as to the best cultivar(s), and even the recommended type for your area. They are often very helpful.

I think the reason they told you to fertilize while waiting to apply the Drive XLR8 is twofold. First, it gets the crabgrass really going so when it is sprayed it takes in a lot of the herbicide - consequently killing it more readily. Also, it would get whatever grass you have currently growing faster so that it could be sprayed sooner. If you chose to go with the Drive XLR8, be sure to keep it all watered, otherwise you grass will certainly die. Also, I'm sure you already know this, but dry fertilizer doesn't become active until it's watered in.

Just a guess, but I'm thinking that the crabgrass will die only after the first freeze. I don't remember exactly when it did other years, but it very well may not die until then. When the temperatures cool off it will grow less, though.


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

Thought I'd give you all a laugh. I went outside today - during naptime - pulled CG by hand. Spent about an hour out there. I got a spot about 3 1/2 x 5 pulled LOL! - well not really :(

So bassplayer - are you telling me that if I don't kill of the CG first (or pull it all) that the seed I spread will not take as well? cause if the CG doesn't die until after the first frost, the grasseed won't be growing much after that either right?

I don't really want to pay to spray drive, plus it will screw up being able to seed at the right time because no one wants to spray it on my lawn until end of august which means I'd probably only be able to do one application anyway and still not be able to seed until almost the end of september. PLUS we're putting a playset up for my daughet and i know she'll be out there alot once it's up and i think of her running around in poison.....

I'm still leaning toward just putting the seed down around the 2nd-3rd week of September - hoping for some results with that. then putting down a good pre-em twice next spring to hopefully catch most of the CG next year. Spot pull/kill as it comes in next year and then seed again if necessary next fall.

I've backed down to one watering session early morning about 1/2 hour a station. When I seed I was going to go back to 2 per day for about 15 min per station.

Is this plan stupid or will it hopefully make a semi decent lawn for next year and a hopefully pretty decent lawn in 2013?


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

Sorry, I don't think I was very clear on the Drive in my last post. I mostly didn't want you to be disappointed on the timing in the results that you get. I have found things to sound great on paper, but implementing them can be different. ;-)

In thinking about it, I would recommend going with your current plan. Plan on seeding in September and the pre-emergent next year. I think with patience, you should have a nice lawn. It is likely that the seed will not take quite as well, but hopefully, well enough. Unlike crabgrass, cool season grass actually does continue to grow even after the first frost. My lawn stayed green well into December and finally went dormant after there was snowpack on it for several weeks. I often have to put a coat on for the last couple of mowings. :) From that stand point your grass will have a big advantage there (it just won't look like it when you seed).

You may decide to put a coat of Drive next year, but your lawn will be more established, and you should be able to pull that off much easier. Then again, if you spot pull, that may not be necessary.

Great job! You can do it. :)


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

Ok, I hope I am not late on this. I would recommend that you would kill of everything that you have for now, wait for the season and then but in fertilizer, then over-seed and aerate using a mechanical aerator, you can rent one from a tool rental. Once done wait for the grass to grow, water daily and see the results, its all abouve mainting what you sow :)


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

Wow. I know this is an old thread from last Summer that Nick dredged up, but I disagree with almost everything Nick posted above.

"Wait for the season"

The best season for seeding is from late August to mid-September. Spring is the second worst time to seed, unless its Bermudagrass - which I'm sure Crystal isn't growing in Michigan.

"and aerate using a mechanical aerator"

Aerators are the single biggest source of waking up long-buried weed seed. A very light topdressing of peat moss or soil on top of the seed on undisturbed bare ground is best.

"Once done wait for the grass to grow, water daily"

2X - 3X a day until germination for watering, and then a slow move to watering deeply and infrequently is the best way to healthy grass. "Deeply and Infrequently" means as close to once a week at 1" as your soil will tolerate - even less frequently if it will take it.


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RE: new lawn full of crabgrass

I'm just a novice with only 8 months experience, but crabgrass is one weed I almost never pull. Being an annual, it will die on its own after dropping thousands of seeds in late summer / early fall.

So instead of pulling it, what I like doing is spraying the tops of crabgrass patches with 5 percent white distilled vinegar. The vinegar will destroy the seedheads and, I think I've found in almost all cases, will prevent the seed heads from returning for the rest of the season. But keep an eye on it to be sure.

I was able to get rid of a big 5-foot by 2-foot patch of crabgrass exactly that way, and smaller patches too. As the weeks passed, I then noticed healthy grass growing in those ground areas where the once-vibrant crabgrass had initially shaded over; the crabgrass patches were receding in a big way.

I had tried pulling and mowing crabgrass seedheads, only to see the seedheads re-grow after a short amount of time. The vinegar did the permanent trick though. I didn't see re-growth of seedheads after spraying with vinegar.

Even a single crabgrass plant occupies a large amount of space in the soil, so if you pull the plant, all you're left with is bare soil. Bare soil is a blessing for every other weed seed species that's occupying that spot of soil--and it amazed me to see how many tons of dormant weed seeds are lurking in every inch of bare soil--they're just waiting for the sun to smile on them - Lol

And some of them are far worse than crabgrass.

I think it's better to have crabgrass to deal with than the perennial warm-season quack grass, or the annual cool-season henbit. Much harder to reign in those weeds I think. And they *love* bare soil.


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