Crabgrass is a common, albeit annoying, problem. Luckily, because it’s so common, there are a number of remedies that will work quickly and efficiently. Whether it’s a soccer field, baseball field or golf course, keeping crabgrass at bay should be a top priority for both field owners and maintenance workers.
Because crabgrass has the ability to adapt to changing environments, it can be difficult to identify. It starts out as a seedling and resembles a small corn plant. The leaf blades are about the same width as a pencil. The blades then angle out, but new stems continue to grow from the center. This gives it a star-like appearance. As the stems get larger they can fall to the ground and can spread quite easily. Ultimately, this creates a mass of thick weed and will continue to grow until it is mowed.
There are a number of store-bought chemical applications that can be used to kill crabgrass and prevent it from coming back. It’s extremely important to read labels carefully and use the recommended mix of product vs. water. A mixture that is too weak will not be as effective. Price should also be a consideration. The products that work extremely well are usually more expensive. Look for ingredients such as prodiamine, dithiopyr or pendimethalin. Some products can be used to both kill crabgrass and germinate grass, saving time and money.
To meet consumer demand, there are a number of brand-name products that are considered organic and environmentally friendly. These will be clearly displayed on the package. A popular ‘home brew’ method of killing crabgrass involves using baking soda, mixed with water. This may work on small fields, but may be an inconvenience for larger areas. Borax should never be used to kill crabgrass, because it could cause damage to the soil and grass.
When to Apply
When it comes to crabgrass pre-emergent products, timing is everything. It’s important to apply treatment before seeds have set; seeds can keep growing for up to 3 years in soil. Applications that are made too late will not kill all of the seeds; applications made too early will not affect the crabgrass at all. Generally, spring is the best time to apply pre-emergent products, but it may depend on your specific area and climate.
For large fields and warm climates, it may be necessary to apply pre-emergent products more than once a season. Industry professionals can be consulted on when and how often to apply these products.
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