Yard & Garden Report


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Bumper Crop of Crabgrass

Crabgrass loves the heat. It has thrived over the past two summers and is everywhere now. Here's how to control it.

Crabgrass growing on sidewalk
Crabgrass thrives in hot spots.

Do you love summer? Crabgrass does. Crabgrass loves the heat. That’s why it grows near driveways and sidewalks.

Last year was great for crabgrass. While our home lawns turned gold and crispy during the drought, crabgrass grew strong and produced lots of seeds.

These seeds germinated this spring and grew well during our unusually warm summer. Crabgrass can be seen everywhere now. Its seedstalks are shooting out like fingers reaching for the sky.

Crabgrass a.k.a. fingergrass, may be thriving today, but not for long. Every crabgrass plant in your yard today will die from the first hard frost.

The key to controlling crabgrass is to prevent it from dropping its seeds before the frost strikes. The plants can be easily pulled out or you can mow off the seedstalks.

To prevent crabgrass from being a problem next year, you can use a herbicide that kills it before it emerges. Lawn fertilizers sold in spring often include a crabgrass preventer (for example, Scotts Turf Builder with Halts Crabgrass Preventer). These types of fertilizers need to be applied before the crabgrass emerges, which is in early May.

Crabgrass seedhead
The finger-like seedheads of crabgrass are showy now.
Another option is to use a broadleaf weed killer that contains quinclorac (for example, Weed B Gon Plus Crabgrass Control). It will kill young crabgrass plants as well as dandelions and other broadleaf weeds.

Written by Tom Kalb, Extension Horticulturist, North Dakota State University. 

Photos were made available under Creative Commons licenses specified by the photographers: Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org; Steve Dewey,Utah State University, Bugwood.org;

The information given herein is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products or trade names are made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by North Dakota Extension is implied.

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