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Getting Rid of That Pesky Crabgrass

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

It's one of the biggest annoyances out there. It's ugly. It spreads quickly. It seems impossible to control. It's crabgrass.

Seeing your lovely green grass invaded by crabgrass is enough to make you, well, very crabby. Put a smile back on your face with these crabgrass-killing tips.
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Tip #1 -- A Healthy Lawn is the Best Defense

Crabgrass will have a harder time getting a foothold in your lawn if your grass is thick, lush, and thriving. A good watering schedule, the right fertilizer, and a good mowing regimen will help prevent crabgrass.

Tip #2 -- Crabgrass Preemergence Herbicides

If you've got crabgrass -- and sometimes it happens even to the best lawns -- a preemergence herbicide, sprayed in the spring two weeks before crabgrass germinates, is the best way to fight it. Crabgrass typically germinates between mid-March and mid-May, but you should check with your local extension office to find out the precise time in your area, since timing is critical.

Tip #3 -- Better Late Than Never

If you've missed spraying before crabgrass germinates, you'll have a harder time getting rid of it, but there's still hope. Unfortunately, herbicides have a hard time killing crabgrass without killing your lawn. But a little non-selective herbicide goes a long way. Spot-treat the crabgrass, then fill in the areas with seed or sod plugs. If you're careful, you can avoid damaging the surrounding lawn, and the crabgrass will be history.

Tip #4 -- Rake out Seeds in the Fall

Raking your grass in the fall will help get rid of some of the crabgrass seed that will otherwise lay dormant waiting to explode again in the spring.

Crabgrass may seem like a permanent unwanted houseguest, but with the right treatment (or mistreatment), you can send it on its way.

About the Author
Dawn West B.A. holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and teaches writing at Oregon State University.

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