How To Manage Crabgrass: The Weed With Many Unfriendly Faces

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Ted Lare Design & Build How to Manage Crabgrass in Iowa -removal of crabgrass with tool

It’s unattractive; it’s clumpy; it doesn’t leave you alone: it’s crabgrass. Weeds like these are so intrusive that even thinking about them can make your mind tense. At first, crabgrass can be relatively hard to identify, but once you find it, you’ll be looking for every opportunity to get rid of it! The good news is that we have the solutions you need. Learn everything you need to know about crabgrass in this blog and how to manage it accordingly so that you never have to worry about it again. 

Ted Lare Design & Build How to Manage Crabgrass in Iowa -crabgrass clumb growing

What is Crabgrass?

Crabgrass wears many different faces, and none of them are friendly. As mentioned, it blends so well with your lawn’s grass that it is sometimes difficult to identify. In terms of crabgrass’ life cycle, crabgrass seedlings look like mini corn stalks when they are young, with the leaves spreading out as the weed grows. The blades of crabgrass become thicker than your lawn grass when they reach maturity, forming from a star-shaped growth habit that attacks your lawn. Luckily, we know how to manage it.

Ted Lare Design & Build How to Manage Crabgrass in Iowa -crabgrass growing in the lawn

How to Get Rid of Crabgrass

Crabgrass is one tough cookie, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the ammo to manage it and send it packing right out of your backyard. Getting rid of crabgrass at this early stage is remarkably effective, but you’ll likely need to do a little more than this to ensure it’s gone. Best practices for managing crabgrass include: 

  • Pluck out crabgrass as soon as you notice it. The root system of young plants leaves only a tiny hole in your lawn, which will fill with new, healthy grass. 
  • Mow your lawn frequently and keep grass clippings in bags to manage seeds.
  • Reduce the amount of sunlight reaching dormant crabgrass seeds by allowing your lawn to grow at least 3 inches tall; this will protect the soil from getting too hot and keep your grass thick and lush, which means no room for crabgrass to grow!
  • Vinegar is a great natural substance that kills crabgrass! Apply to crabgrass growing on hard surfaces, such as an interlocking tile or stone.
Ted Lare Design & Build How to Manage Crabgrass in Iowa -mowing the lawn

How to Prevent Crabgrass

Crabgrass spreads like wildfire and continues producing seeds until you kill it or cold weather arrives, so it’s best to have a preventative measure in place before it becomes a problem that you need to manage. The best way to rid your lawn of crabgrass and other weeds is to keep your lawn healthy:

  • Mow high by cutting your grass to a height of 3 inches. Longer grass protects the soil from evaporation, which means healthier roots.
  • Feed your lawn with fertilizer, compost or worm castings to ensure it receives proper nutrients.
  • Use a pre-emergent herbicide—these work by creating a protective barrier in the soil that keeps new seeds from germinating. 
  • Manage your watering schedule to allow the surface to dry out in between waterings to promote strong root development. Of course, you’ll need to increase watering during the hottest parts of the summer. 
  • Each year, our lawns get compacted by precipitation, foot traffic, and thatch. At the beginning of each season, hit up your local nursery or Iowa gardening center and discuss how to manage your specific lawn care needs with us.  
Ted Lare Design & Build How to Manage Crabgrass in Iowa -healthy front lawn

Encouraging a healthy lawn to keep it from returning is the best way to manage crabgrass and keep it permanently out of your backyard. For more tips on combatting this deadly weed or other expert gardening advice, visit us at Ted Lare Design Build & Garden Center in Cumming, Iowa. We can’t wait to help you!

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