Normally what happens in the lawn is "not my department." The seemingly endless diversity of flowers and shrubs with new introductions all the time are much more fascinating to me. But still always being curious when I notice something "horticulturally" unusual I decided to track down the why and the how. And so it was with the question, "Why is last year's beautifully re-sodded side lawn now a hotbed of crabgrass?"
The answer is that first of all the side lawn ended up being next to a construction site of sorts (actually more of a destruction site). Crabgrass seeds love open soil to take root in. The second part of the answer is this year's weather.
The summer presented the perfect conditions for extreme crabgrass growth. Crabgrass sprouts when the soil gets to between 50-60 degrees. But it was really the hot, dry July and August that set off later season spreads. Apparently my sod must of consisted entirely cool season grasses. The hot weather forced the grasses into dormancy and left more open areas for the crabgrass seeds to quickly sprout. So what to do now?
Some people talk of the home remedy using vinegar on lawn weeds but I would caution against this as store bought vinegar is not acidic enough and industrial vinegar is likely to damage the soil and kill beneficial insects and organisms in the soil.
Since children play in the lawn, I prefer a more organic approach. So I was pleased to discover that Williams' carries a line of both Dr. Earth and Jonathan Green organic lawn products, including Jonathan Green's Crabgrass Preventer Plus Green-Up Tm.
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Right now the focus should be on preventing the crabgrass from going to seed. Mowing short with a grass collection device on the mower is recommended if the seeds are not too evident. Clippings should go in the trash and certainly not back on the lawn. If the seeds are already abundant the next step is to pull the crabgrass up. Not a particularly pleasant task but a drastic situation calls for drastic measures.
Then reseed to help give the crabgrass seeds less room to flourish in the spring. Look for grass seed mixtures that offer a combination of grasses, including rye grass, as these will stand up better to hot, harsh weather conditions. A soil test, either through a kit or by contacting the local Rutgers Cooperative Extension Office (in Union County) will help determine what our soil's true nutritional needs are. Mulch the grass seeds.
In the spring around the time the forsythia bloom, apply Jonathan Green's Crabgrass Preventer plus Green-Up to suppress the remaining crabgrass seed growth. It won't hurt to get a bag now so that you have it on hand. While Jonathan Green's can be applied later than other types, timing is really critical in catching the seeds before warm weather causes them to germinate. Which is probably another reason why our crabgrass is so bad, the critical window as missed this last spring because we did not have any on hand at the right time.
________Sincerely, Your Loving Wife____________________
Posted on 10/04/2010 at 12:00 AM