Proactive, Reactive Ways to Control Crabgrass

Crabgrass is the common name for a genus which contains roughly 300 different species of grass. In certain parts of the world there are species of crabgrass which are grown as livestock forage, or even as a staple crop for humans.

For most of us though, it’s nothing more than an insidious, invasive weed. And here’s how to get rid of it.
To kill crabgrass, you must first learn where and why it thrives. In lawns, is is often able to gain a foothold due to the grass itself suffering from a less than ideal environment.

Anything from a lack of water to poor drainage can allow it to gain a foothold; anywhere that the grass is growing poorly will invite crabgrass to set up shop. Crabgrass is often able to continue germination throughout the entire growing season, so it’s easy to see how it can take hold and not let go. It can also be a pest in gardens, as it is able to cause a reduction in yields by robbing nutrients from intentionally planted fruits and vegetables.

Methods for controlling crabgrass include both proactive measures and reactive methods.

If your lawn or garden has already been overrun, there are herbicides which will allow you to get the situation under control. The effective type of herbicide is known as a “pre-emergent” because it affects the germination cycle of the crabgrass, interacting with an important enzyme. With this method, however, it is very important to use the herbicide just as germination is taking place: too early and the reagent will be unable to affect the necessary enzyme, too late and the enzyme will have already done its job. Remember that if you’re using such a product in a vegetable garden it is important to locate one specifically for that application and to closely follow any instructions.

The best way to control crabgrass is to take proactive measures to prevent it ever taking hold. In a lawn this means assuring the lawn gets the right amount of water and fertilizer. It also means making sure that the lawn is properly drained. If there are parts of the lawn in which water will naturally pool and saturate the topsoil, this will create an unhealthy situation for the grass and crabgrass can take advantage. In gardens a good mulch can help control weeds, or you can consider planting things such as clover or daylilies.

These simple methods can help you kill crabgrass if it has managed to take hold, or better yet cut it off before it even becomes a problem. Crabgrass is a terrible nuisance to anyone with a lawn or garden, but luckily it doesn’t have to be.

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