MID to LATE-SUMMER CRABGRASS CONTROL TIPS (from the Red Hen FAQ Vault – The 2019 Update)

Crabgrass Photo by Michigan State University Extension

Crabgrass Photo by Michigan State University Extension

Getting right to crabgrass … it’s looking to be bad this year! From site visits and talking to quite a few landscapers and customers, with the sporadic weather / precipitation patterns this year, I believe that non-irrigated lawns are seeing the most dramatic turf-decline this year, and on a related note, the brunt of crabgrass germination. We have definitely seen a lot of customer photos this year of grass-type weeds in general.

The best way to control crabgrass is to maintain a dense, healthy turf. That way, your grass is more likely to out-compete crabgrass (and other weeds), preventing weeds from establishing. On the other hand, crabgrass tends to have rigorous survival and reproductive capabilities.

So, for lawns, it may be unrealistic to expect a crabgrass-free lawn (BUT YOU CAN TRY!)

It may be that, in the end, you will have to accept a few crabgrass plants.

Are you dealing with crabgrass at this point in the year?

Do you want to get this weed under control?

If so, we recommend following of these 2 Options to hopefully put you in a better position by next spring:

Option 1. Let the crabgrass go for now, and wait until fall and let Mother Nature kill it off. After mid-July, crabgrass plants are usually too large to control effectively. Crabgrass begins flowering and setting seed in July and will die out with the first major frost. It will take a while for these plants to decay, but at least you won’t see any in the spring. That is, unless you have allowed the crabgrass to go to seed this year, in which case you will be dealing with those seeds germinating next spring.

Option 2. As Purdue Extension points out, “Proper fertility, mowing, and irrigation is essential for crabgrass control; consider herbicidal control only if necessary.” If you are not able to tolerate the crabgrass in your lawn, we specifically recommend using a product that we carry called Q4 (CLICK HERE to read the label). Here at Red Hen Turf Farm, we really like a product called Q4 because it covers all 3 major types of undesirable weeds all in one bottle — grassy weeds, broadleaf weeds, and sedges. If there was only one herbicide product that I could use on my lawn, it would be Q4.

8/29/20 UPDATE:  You might also give Tenacity a shot (as long as the crabgrass is at the earlier smaller stage of no more than 3-4 tillers), and can read more about that option HERE.

For better crabgrass and broadleaf weed control next year, you’d really need to do some strategizing over the next few months.

For example, by adding 25-0-10 fertilizer to your lawn two times from now until winter, this should make your lawn much less weedy going into the 2020 growing season.

WHY IS THIS? The thicker and stronger your grass is grass is, the better your grass can out-compete weeds. Regular fertilizing is one of the important steps towards making that happen.

Have you ever wondered why is it that we don’t see a lot of fertilizer commercials in the fall, like we do in the spring?

My guess is that the marketing teams for the big name brands do not use turf science, but are instead driven by the purchasing habits of homeowners (for better or worse).

Our job at Red Hen Turf Farm is always to strive to save our customers time, money, and/or both. So, let’s use some turf science and feed your lawn when it needs it the most.

If you told me that you only wanted to fertilize 1 or 2 times each year, you might expect I’d recommend doing it in the spring, but actually that’s not the case.

In fact, you would get the most bang for your buck by fertilizing in September and then again in November. Are you surprised? We wrote a blog about this very topic that you might want to check out by CLICKING HERE. We have also written quite a bit about crabgrass in the past, which you can read by CLICKING HERE.

And guess what? It’s all based on turf science, with Purdue Extension as a major source that we consult, and we always recommend that our customers do the same.

5 thoughts on “MID to LATE-SUMMER CRABGRASS CONTROL TIPS (from the Red Hen FAQ Vault – The 2019 Update)

  1. Thanks info has been very helpful I have a larg yard 5 acres but it is beautiful will do more work in the fall thanks

  2. Thanks for the info, but since I live in Central Florida, we may not get the necessary frost to kill the crabgrass. We do have a lawn service to fertilize etc. but not sure why we got so much crabgrass this year.

  3. Can you dig up crab grass and dispose of plant and dirt around it. Put new loam and new seed. Will crab grass come back?

    • Good question. So, first I’ll defer to the experts at Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station who write the following about manual removal of crabgrass:

      Mechanical Removal
      Minor infestations common along sidewalks or other areas where the lawn is thin can often be managed by hand removal rather than herbicides. It is important to remove plants before seed is produced. Crabgrass and foxtails have a fibrous root system and the plant crowns (basal growing point) can be easily removed by hand or an upright weeding tool when the plants are small. Plants will not regrow if the crown of plants is removed. As crabgrass matures it can root at nodes on stems growing along the ground. Goosegrass can be removed mechanically when it is immature, but as the plant matures and the central taproot develops it becomes more difficult to remove. Since seeds can germinate through the summer months, hand removal several times during this period may be necessary. SOURCE: https://njaes.rutgers.edu/fs1308/

      As our regional experts at Purdue University Extension point out:

      One of the best ways to control crabgrass is with a dense, healthy lawn. You can do this by maintaining a lawn that is about 3 inches high. When you mow too short, you promote an environment for crabgrass to thrive in. Additionally, you should apply between 2 and 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet each year. You should apply the nitrogen in two applications in the fall. It is important to realize it can be hard to get a dense, healthy lawn, especially in years of severe weather conditions. SOURCE: https://extension.purdue.edu/news/county/putnam/2022/03/controlling-crabgrass-in-home-lawns.html

      As far as the part of your question about whether the crabgrass problem would return after the efforts you describe… well, hopefully not, but with Mother Nature, one never can tell … perhaps rogue seeds will return from lower in the soil profile or via wind? Best of luck to you!

      — Lisa, Red Hen Turf Farm

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