CrabgrassRecently I’ve received several calls from concerned homeowners regarding what to do to control the dreaded crabgrass that’s been showing up in their yards.  I can still remember what one of my former instructors said they could do – “move, die, or eliminate having a lawn”.  Crabgrass is difficult to control.  It’s found everywhere, in fact here in Central Florida we have at least 6 different types.  You can’t control crabgrass by yourself, unless you have unlimited funds and time.  Unless all your surrounding neighbors participate in this endeavor, it’s a battle that few will win.

Crabgrass has been able to adapt to our environment and can grow where desirable grass won’t.  Furthermore, because we don’t always maintain our landscapes as we should, either because we don’t have the time (or needed funds), know what to do, or just don’t care, we end up with this dreaded weed.

So is there anything a homeowner can do?  My answer is yes!  The best thing we can all do is provide proper culture for our lawns by following IFAS guidelines, which you can obtain from the website.  Mowing our lawns at the proper height, watering and fertilizing correctly, and monitoring your lawn’s appearance should keep weeds to a minimum.

Other options: 

If only a few weeds are present, hand-pull them or spot kill them with Roundup.  Unfortunately by the time we realize we have crabgrass established in our lawns, it’s become a major problem.  If that’s the case, at least 2 or more applications of an IFAS recommended selective herbicide suitable for your grass type should be applied at the proper time, at the labeled rate, and using the appropriate application method.

Perhaps you’ve heard of pre-emergent herbicides, which prevent weed seeds from emerging.  While they are effective further north, they don’t work very well here because our soil temperature allows weed seeds to germinate at any time.  In our area I’ve seen crabgrass emerging in November.

Generally speaking, most weeds are best controlled if treated with the appropriate herbicide, when young and actively growing – not after seed head formation.  A yellowing of your entire lawn will usually occur after treatment, but in 2-3 weeks, color should be back to normal.

From my previous remarks, one should see that crabgrass control is not easy.  It’s costly and time consuming, and many homeowners usually give up and live with this pest.  If you truly want to overcome crabgrass, it will require a full time commitment by you and your neighbors.  And because of the dangers and cost of many herbicides, I suggest you consider using a licensed pesticide applicator as an option.  You will find however that many pest control companies no longer offer this service.

Good luck and sorry I can’t be more helpful.

About AskthePlantMaster

I have 50 years of horticultural experience, am currently a Master Gardener in Central Florida. In addition, I'm a Horticulture Instructor and retired Parks Manager and Arborist. I love plants and would love to help you with yours!
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