Our biggest enemy in the pursuit of a healthy organic lawn is crabgrass. It shows up in summer, almost out of the blue when the weather is hot and dry and unaddressed will gradually start to take over. A single plant is capable of producing 150 to 700 tillers and 150,000 seeds.
What is Crabgrass?
Crabgrass is native to Europe and can now be found worldwide. It was introduced into the U.S. in 1849 by the U.S. Patent Office as a potential forage crop. It thrives in lawns, golf courses, athletic fields, gardens, orchards, and more.
It is easy to spot crabgrass in yards. You can easily see the grass as it fans out in its coarse, greenish-yellow color. The grass usually has a lot of stem showing and branches out from its roots, pushing out the turf grasses that we prefer in our yards.
“The first leaf is only about twice as long as it is wide. It is tinged light purple and has a white stripe running down the center. Both sides have silky, shiny hair. Leaves are 2/5- to 1/2-inch wide and 1/3- to 1-inch long. The leaf sheaths of large crabgrass seedlings are tinged purple and are covered with long stiff hairs. The ligule is large, membranous, and toothed. A ligule is a thin membrane or row of hairs at the top of the junction of the leaf sheath and the leaf blade. Auricles are absent. Auricles are the appendages projecting around the stem from both sides of the collar.” (https://ag.umass.edu/)
A single plant is capable of producing 150 to 700 tillers and 150,000 seeds. Crabgrass prefers warmer temperatures and thrives under stressful conditions that may otherwise kill off the turf grasses we want. The surface temperature of the soil has to be 55°F for 4 to 5 days for the seeds to germinate. Crabgrass will germinate from early spring through fall depending on your location/temperatures. Once crabgrass is hit by a frost it will die and disappear in due time.
How to get rid of Crabgrass Naturally
Cover the Crabgrass
- Depending on the size of the crabgrass infestation, you can cover it with plastic or bricks. Anything will work that can stop the plant from getting sunlight. Leave the covering over the area of crabgrass for 4-6 weeks to be sure the plant is completely dead. Remove the covering, rake the area and dispose of any remnants. Reseed the patch of dirt than water, and fertilize.
Raise the height of cut: To produce thick, dense grass and get a deep root system, raise the height of cut to 3 to 3-1/2 inches. Some direct benefits that we get from a longer height of cut.
- The taller leaf shades the soil surface and keeps weed seeds from germinating.
- Taller grass cools the soil surface during summer stress periods and is effective at out-competing weeds.
Salt or Baking Soda
- These common household items can alter the pH balance in your soil, which can cause the crabgrass to die. When mixed with vinegar this can create a very potent combination to kill crabgrass. Simply put a generous amount of either over the grass and water the area down, repeat every few days if necessary.
Utilize An Organic Pre & Post Emergent
- While pre-emergent herbicides work to prevent weeds from ever-growing, post-emergent herbicides work on weeds that have already grown. They utilize a mixture of natural chemicals to kill the crabgrass and ensure that it does not grow back. At Pure Solutions, we continue working with distributors to fine-tune an organic approach to help decrease crabgrass populations. These treatments will help decrease populations between 40 to 50% yearly.
Keep Your Lawn Healthy
- This is not a way to get RID of crabgrass but this is the #1 easiest way to keep crabgrass from becoming an issue so it bears reinforcement. Crabgrass thrives on hot, dry, and stressed lawns/yards. By keeping our yards healthy with early consistent watering, mowing, and fertilizing, you can help stop the emergence of crabgrass. Once crabgrass takes hold it becomes a much bigger problem (sometimes requiring the lawn to be completely replaced) so having a lawn management program in place is a must.
The key to removing crabgrass from your lawn naturally is having a plan. Once you remove the crabgrass make sure you are ready to seed the area and promote growth so the crabgrass does not reestablish itself. If you have any questions, want to talk to an organic lawn care expert, or are interested in learning more about Pure Solutions organic lawn care programs please contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or (781) 899-7873.