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Prevent Or Eliminate Crabgrass In Your Lawn

(HIT) - Crabgrass is such a persistent problem that many homeowners think this weed is impossible to prevent or eliminate in their lawns. In fact, crabgrass is actually a warm season annual, which means that every crabgrass plant in your lawn dies as cold weather sets in each year. With that in mind, here is some information that can help you prevent or eliminate the crabgrass in your lawn.

How Crabgrass Invades Your Lawn

Crabgrass is a sun-loving, moisture-preferring annual that "goes to seed" quickly and frequently throughout the growing season. Airborne crabgrass seeds inevitably find their way to lawns within their range, and will quickly germinate if favorable conditions exist in your lawn. Favorable conditions for crabgrass germination include soil temperatures in the 60 degree or higher range for several days, sunlight and a bit of moisture. Avoiding these conditions is the only way to prevent and control the crabgrass problem.

Prevent Conditions Favorable To Crabgrass Growth

You can’t prevent sunlight, obviously, but you do have a say in how much of it is available to the crabgrass seeds that want to take over your lawn. One of the best measures you can take to control mid-season crabgrass propagation is to cut your grass at a higher setting than is typical for many homeowners. A lawn mower setting of 2-1/2 to 3 inches is ideal for controlling crabgrass, as the taller leaves of lawn grasses will block sunlight that might otherwise reach the crabgrass seeds that are trying to germinate. Conversely, crabgrass "loves" a buzz cut lawn.

Dull lawn mower blades also contribute to conditions favorable to crabgrass growth. When you cut your lawn with a dull blade, the grass plants are damaged and must use considerable amounts of the energy they convert from sunlight and water to repair existing leaves. Little energy is left to support root growth, which is needed for a thick, healthy lawn to form. Thin and bare patches in your lawn are magnets for crabgrass plant propagation. With little competition for sunlight and water, crabgrass seeds that find their way to thin or bare spots in your lawn will establish themselves very quickly.

Preventing Crabgrass Germination

Knowing that crabgrass dies each year is the secret to keeping the problem from getting out of control. Crabgrass seeds will lie dormant over the winter and early Spring, waiting for the 60 degree temperatures and direct sunlight needed for germination.

Certain preemergence herbicides—applied in early Spring before temperatures reach germinating conditions—are very effective at controlling and preventing crabgrass growth. These herbicides, or weed killers, are found in many common lawn fertilizers, so a regular preseason fertilization regimen can be used to feed your lawn and eliminate crabgrass problems simultaneously. When buying fertilizer for this purpose, however, it’s important to make sure the product contains Siduron and is recommended for early Spring use. Unlike other preemergence herbicides, Siduron will effectively prevent crabgrass seeds from germinating without harming desirable grass seed as well.

Courtesy: Home Improvement News and Information Center

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