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Lawn Care

The Dangers of Lawn Chemicals
Grass Types in Your Lawn
Watering Your Lawn.
Grass Mowing Done Correctly
Lawn Fertilizing
Perennial Weeds in Your Lawn
Broad Leaf Weeds in Lawns
Annual Weeds such as Crabgrass
Other Problems With Lawns
A New Lawn

Tricky Grass Weeds - Crabgrass and Other Annuals

Since annual weed grasses grow and behave as good grasses do, they are difficult to eradicate without harming your lawn grasses.

The annual sorts include crabgrass. These start from seed anew each spring, and the weakness in their life cycle is the seedling stage. Chemicals have been found which kill them at this time without injuring established grasses. These pre-emergence or preventer weed killers are applied to blanket the soil before the weeds germinate, and kill the seedlings as they appear.

Crabgrass is the most pestiferous annual grass in most lawns. Its seed lies dormant in the soil and only a small percentage of it sprouts in any given year. A big crop of it is almost sure to result if your lawn becomes weak. Seeds sprout when the soil warms to around 60 degrees. You will notice the seedlings first on south-facing slopes. In our area this may be as early as March near the Pacific Coast or as late as May- June in the colder mountainous area.

The seedlings look innocent enough-- two small spear-shaped yellowish-green leaves. But with hot weather and ample rain the plant expands rapidly, with its spreading stems rooting at the joints. By August a plant may be too big to be covered with a 10-gallon hat. from middle to late summer it produces wiry "crowfoot"- shaped seedheads. Then before frost, the plant turns an unattractive yellow. Pulling up dead plants or scratching them out in autumn accomplishes little more than the threshing of the seed, thus planting it for next year.

New pre-emergant chemicals come out almost yearly. Good preventers remain effective for months, controlling later sprouting seeds as well as early. Rather than dictate a particular brand or type, visit a local reputable nursery and ask the advice of the staff.

Caution: Most effective preventers decimate newly sown lawn seed, so are best used on established lawns where the grass is old enough to be mowed. If you are planning to overseed a lawn that is looking sparse, do it ell ahead of the time you apply a crabgrass preventer, or wait until autumn to do the new seeding.

The time to apply the preventer is before the first crabgrass seedling makes its appearance. But here is no sense in applying it much ahead of the sprouting season- which is about the time lilacs finish blooming- since it gradually loses its effectiveness. Most of the preventers are effective only a few months and in following years you will need to put on a booster treatment.

Spread the preventer uniformly over the lawn at the rate recommended on the product. The easiest way to do it is with granular materials dropped from the same sort of mechanical spreader you use to apply lawn fertilizer. You do not need to put any in shaded areas, for crabgrass will not grow in shade- as under trees.

If you miss out on killing annual grasses as they sprout, there are chemicals which will kill them selectively later. Sprays are ordinarily more effective for this, since the chemical is absorbed through the foliage, and it is easier to coat leaves with liquid than to make granular materials adhere. Ask your nursery for the best product to use. Usually 2 applications about a week apart are needed.

Next: Perennial Grasses are Hardest Lick