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Proper Crabgrass Management: Is Timing Everything?

Science tells us timing is everything if you’re going to win the battle against crabgrass. But this tenacious weed has other survival skills to plan for, as we’ll discuss.

You can defeat crabgrass if you understand the growth stages. Playing catch-up won’t work because applying pre-emergent is the only way to get the upper hand. That means getting ahead with a spring application and then another treatment shortly after. One crabgrass control treatment isn’t enough to carry your lawn through the summer – for several reasons.

This Crabgrass Article Breaks Down:

Crabgrass Management Timeline 

How do you know the best time to schedule your spring crabgrass pre-emergent? Sadly, you can’t mark a specific date on your calendar. The good news is you can rely on Mother Nature for a clear sign. It’s crucial to have the first of two treatments applied before the bright yellow blooms on forsythia begin turning green. This is when our company does The Spring Crabgrass Flush, which scores a “round one win.”

However, that win can be erased by skipping round two’s treatment, The Summer Crabgrass Flush. This follow-up application once again coats the soil to prevent crabgrass from rearing its ugly, ever-expanding, head. 

We guarantee this is the best strategy for managing crabgrass because we’ve been battling these pesky weeds since 1983. It can’t be overstated how vital it is to notice spring changes versus a fixed date so you don’t get caught unprepared.

The Water and Nitrogen Balance

As a homeowner, you’ve likely seen how some lawns pop early with a bright green color but fade quickly. This can often be attributed to over-fertilization by “one-size-fits-all” fertilizing companies. This makes for unhealthy lawns, but worse, contributes to crabgrass growth – a scientifically proven double whammy!

  • Excess nitrogen: Too much of a good thing promotes crabgrass growth, especially in thinning lawn sections.
  • Watering best practices: We recommend heavier watering two to three times weekly instead of daily watering (aeration helps with this).

You can count on our summer crabgrass control to be an exact, measured treatment, making it super-effective.

What Factors Can Affect the Timing?

If you take our two-step approach, then you have provided your lawn with a shield against crabgrass. 

Make no mistake, though, this weed won’t go quietly into that good night because it looks for any opening. Those openings include little mistakes like the grass being mowed too low. Yes, this hurts turf health, can lead to thinning, and allows crabgrass to get a foothold.

It’s not only mowing that matters. Bad practices with string trimming and edging can harm your turf and invite crabgrass to spring up. How? The edges of your lawn are prime real estate for this weed to flourish. Also, crabgrass seeds can even be carried along to your turf from a neighbor’s yard – via their shoes, a lawnmower, or the wind.

Consequences of Poor Timing

Now, picture this. You missed your window of opportunity to choke out crabgrass, and now it’s invading your property. This is a reality for folks who get busy with life and then only notice weeds once they are popping up everywhere. Missing the spring window for applying pre-emergent means playing catch-up the rest of the year. 

Miss the summer treatment, and you’ll find efforts in the spring were effective only for that period. Half-measures won’t carry you through the warm season. Plus, your turf will not be in the best condition overall to push grass roots down come fall, which preps your lawn for winter. That’s why we always suggest homeowners invest in a comprehensive turf care program, whether they choose us or another highly-rated landscaping company.

And here’s what you’re facing if crabgrass gets momentum:

  • Hand-pulling weeds or heavier use of herbicides
  • Massive amounts of viable seeds lying in wait
  • It can take several seasons to make up lost ground

Science-based Tips for Effective Crabgrass Management

The best way to get out of a hole is to stay out in the first place. We don’t need an experiment to test that theory, right? This is the mindset you need to defeat crabgrass. Start by noticing what’s going on with your lawn. Just one patch of unhealthy grass is a sign that can alert you to deeper issues ahead.

The sad part is that many homeowners are vigilant, but they get let down by poor service from their weed-control provider. Or they get hoodwinked by “DIY solutions in a bag” that only provide sporadic success. Why? Because these solutions are mass-produced for every yard on the block, every yard in the country, even! They aren’t made for a specific lawn with unique soil challenges that vary between each street address.

It takes a consistent, focused approach to manage crabgrass and keep it from coming back. We weren’t kidding about this plant’s tenacity. It can thrive in nearly any environment on Earth. In Connecticut, we are also dealing with multiple types of crabgrass. Varieties include Summer grass, Southern crabgrass, and Crowfoot grass. Worse, we have the “Frankenstein of Weeds” called Large crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis), which can come to life and reach heights of three feet!

Proper Crabgrass Management Conclusion

While the crabgrass struggle is real, rest easy knowing it isn’t hopeless. Winning this battle will take persistence and commitment to get this invasive plant and opportunistic seeds under control. So, the best time to start controlling crabgrass was 12 months ago – the next best time? Right now.

The key is to avoid setting pre-emergent application dates in stone. Instead, let nature tell us when it’s time for the spring treatment. Pay attention to the blooming shrubs, particularly the forsythia, as it turns from yellow to green. Then, it’s crucial to make the second treatment part of your summer plans so you don’t lose the leverage you gained during spring. Complacency breeds weeds.

Fortunately, science has shown us for over 35 years that weeds can’t survive if we give turf and soil the nutrients needed to thrive. Healthy grass with strong, deep roots can choke out the majority of invasive weeds. All you have to do as a homeowner is ensure your turf care company uses a scientific approach and a tailored program for your unique property. 

A top-notch lawn takes patience and perfect timing. Choose one of our proven lawn care programs to get a jump on crabgrass today.

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