Spring weather in Ohio is never an exact science, and this year is no different. We all know the jokes - "Ohio is the only place where you'll run the A/C and the furnace in the same day", "Ohio - the only place where the forecasts are made up and the seasons mean nothing ". And trying to plan your Spring lawn care projects can seem like a shot in the dark! But there are some things to know about how and when to apply crab grass preventer (also known as pre-emergent) and if you keep these tips in mind, your Summer lawn will be lush, green and weed-free.
WHEN TO APPLY - There is a very specific science dedicated to tracking "Growing Degree Days" based mainly on soil temperatures, and if you care to read more about the technical details, check out this article. But if you're looking for an easier indicator, many scientists agree that when the local Forsythia bushes begin to bloom, it's go-time! And my own Forsythia blossoms have just begun to open, so it is time to bump crab grass prevention to the top of your Spring to-do list. Kevin Frank, of Michigan State University's Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences says,
"If you have already applied a pre-emergence... or are still planning on making applications in the next week[s], the applications will still be effective but you’ll just want to be on the lookout for any late spring/summer crabgrass germination...that would require post-emergence control."
HOW TO APPLY- This type of herbicide is "non-selective", meaning it is not able to pick out ONLY the crab grass seeds and prevent them from germinating. It will prevent ALL seeds from germinating, including turf grass seeds. So, if you have bare spots in your lawn, and you need to reseed, do not immediately follow the crab grass pre-emergent with grass seed. Your grass seed will not grow, and the bare areas of soil will be prime real estate for more weeds to grow after the pre-emergent has washed away.
Pro Tip #1 - courtesy of MSU's Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences Department- if you are worried about applying crab grass preventer too early in the season, or if you have already applied it, you may follow-up with "a 'booster shot' second pre-emergent application at half the label rate in approximately 30-45 days after the first application".
Pro Tip #2 - In addition to the use of a pre-emergent, some practices that encourage a healthy, dense turf grass are mowing high, fertilizing well, and not bagging your grass clippings. All these efforts will work together to form effective crabgrass prevention strategy.
Pro Tip #3 - Make sure you don't track the crab grass preventer into your garden or your flower beds. Follow all label instructions, be mindful of warnings and wash your hands!
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