Crabgrass 101

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Crabgrass is the pesky summer weed that normally only infiltrates weak lawns. If you follow my weekly on-air advice, you probably haven't seen a crabgrass sprout in years, right?

Are you following my schedule? The best way to control crabgrass is to keep a healthy yard, extremely healthy soil, and follow my pre-emergent herbicide regimen to the letter.

Ta-Da!!! There you have it – the best way to control crabgrass is to prevent it.

So how do you kill it if you've got it? Well, before I get to the specific product that will do it, let me tell you what not to use.

If you don't care what you kill while killing the crabgrass, you can use any number of herbicides that are ready to spray, ready to use, and ready to mix. And boy, do they work on the crabgrass. The problem is they also work on every other grass the crabgrass is mixed with. Yep — that means that spray bottle you have that says "crabgrass control" or "crabgrass killer" on it, will also kill your St. Augustine, Bermuda, centipede or Zoysia lawn. Okay ... there are some herbicides that will be okay to spray it on Bermuda, but they are few and far between. But, for sure, anything glyphosate-based (Roundup, Eraser & Killzall are good examples) will also kill the turfgrasses around the crabgrass.

If you don't mind killing the whole area, then by all means spray whatever you darn well want. If you kill the area, just dig all the dead material out, throw down some good soil, level it out, and either re-sod the area with a small cut-up piece of turf or encourage the surrounding grass to fill back in. Also, apply a pre-emergent herbicide over the repaired area, otherwise weed seeds — including more crabgrass — will opportunistically sneak in.

Now, here's something to consider: you may not have crabgrass at all. (Did I hear a 'yippee' out there? Don't get too excited.) While crabgrass is the most notorious grassy summer weed, you could have goosegrass, Dallisgrass or Johnsongrass. They, too, are "grassy weeds" best prevented through better care of the turf and soil. But it's hard to tell the difference between them and crabgrass.

So here's the product you need: Garden Weasel AG Crabgrass Control. Check out the label and you will be wowed by the number of weeds it controls (including goosegrass, Dallisgrass or Johnsongrass). And, you will be impressed by the product's wonderful smell. It's made from cinnamon bark and cumin powders, and really does smell like cinnamon toast! It's available at a number of nurseries and garden centers in the Houston area, but you can order it online if you can't find it in a store near you. I can assure you, though, that you won't find this product at a "big box" store or a mass merchandiser. It is only at independent nurseries and garden centers, usually those that specialize in organic products.

So now you know how to kill crabgrass. But if you'd rather keep it from being a problem in the future, follow the schedule to get a healthy lawn, strong turf and, ultimately, a healthier soil:

Pre-emergent herbicides are critical. Mow tall, especially on St. Augustine and centipede, have a good irrigation system, aerate at least once a year (twice is better), and top-dress with compost, enriched topsoil, or humates.

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