Crabgrass is one of those pesky weed-like plants that you do not want taking over your yard. Many people wonder "what does crabgrass looks like?" - a crustacean made out of grass? Or maybe a lawn that looks a little dried out and crabby? We know for sure that it is something that we do not want taking over our beautiful lawns. Crabgrass comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors. It is a very adaptive pant that can be pretty sneaky.
The good news is that there are many ways that you can prevent crabgrass from invading your lawn. The key is early attack. You can get rid of crabgrass by taking good care of your lawn too. With a proper lawn treatment plan, you will have a prettier lawn and almost no crabgrass! Use preventative measures in the spring, and if you see crabgrass, get rid of it quick.
What Does Crabgrass Look Like?
What does crabgrass look like? Sometimes crabgrass can be hard to identify because it blends in so well with the grass in your lawn. It has many masks. It may look different from lawn to lawn because of its ability to adapt to the surrounding environment and growing circumstances. In the beginning stage, the crabgrass seedlings represent a miniature corn stalk. Then, the leaves start to branch out. When the crabgrass starts to mature, the plant has thicker blades than grass. These blades are attached to a stem that spread out like a star.
Crabgrass can look smaller with smooth blades and can grow up to 6 inches, or crabgrass can look taller and grow up to 48 inches with hairy blades. When the crabgrass starts to attack and claim more territory, it spreads out with long branches that turn in angles, making the plant look like crab leg (hence the name)! The coloring can vary immensely, ranging from light green to deep dark green, so the color cannot really help you identify the weed. The truth is, crabgrass can be hard to identify because of the variety of forms it can take on.
Barnyard Grass vs. Crabgrass
Crabgrass's second cousin twice removed is barnyard grass. Barnyard grass enjoys high heat with dry weather so this weed arrives around August, while crabgrass pops out of the ground in May. This grassy weed has long thin stems with leaves that protrude off the main stem. The seed head is 2 to 3 inches long. The seed heads and the base of the plant are the tell tale signs of barnyard grass. The base of barnyard grass is a dark maroon color so it is very easy to indicate the weed. Both plants love to pop up in bare spots in your lawn. They take advantage of a weak and damaged lawn. It is important to take care of the pesky weeds in your lawn, taking preventative measures and keeping your lawn healthy can keep them both out.
When Crabgrass Begins To Grow
If you are wondering, “what does crabgrass look like in the spring,” I can tell you it depends! Crabgrass does not follow a calendar. It begins to germinate based on daily average temperatures. In Ohio, we can have snow until mid April, even after the daffodils have bloomed, so judging when exactly germination begins can be very difficult. When the daily average soil temperatures reach between 57 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit, the crabgrass seed will begin to germinate.
Why is Crabgrass So Bad?
Crabgrass is a very invasive weed. If left untreated, it will spread all throughout your lawn taking over your grass. Crabgrass is an annual, as well. This means that when the cold weather comes and kills the grassy part of the weed, crabgrass seeds lay dormant in the winter and regrow the next spring. This means the crabgrass will come back year after year, bigger and stronger. The crabgrass steals the nutrients from your lawn and will take over the grass with its large roots and long branches.
Crabgrass Killers: Pre Emergent and Post Emergent
The most common way to rid of crabgrass is pre emergent herbicides. Pre emergent is to be applied when the crabgrass seed starts to germinate. The time for applying varies because, like stated before, the soil temperature has to be right before the seeds germinate. Pre emergents are meant to stop the crabgrass in its tracks before it emerges from the soil. If you apply the pre emergent too early, the crabgrass will not be controlled throughout the whole season. This is why it is important to wait until the crabgrass begins to germinate to put down the pre emergent.
There are products out there that contain both pre emergent and fertilizer treatments all in one. Use these to help you out in the spring by saving some labor on two separate treatments. Unfortunately, there will be some weeds that survive the pre emergent herbicide from the initial treatment. Touch up your lawn throughout the summer with post-emergent. Applying post emergent herbicides to weeds that pop up on your lawn will take care of the crabgrass. Try to jump on any crabgrass growth you see ASAP because weeds that are actively growing are easier to kill than those that are more mature. Check your lawn for growing weeds during mowing to ensure you catch the actively growing weeds early.
Keep Your Lawn Healthy
Keeping your lawn in tip top condition will keep crabgrass out of your yard. Crabgrass likes to attack dried out and unhealthy lawns. By keeping your lawn healthy and happy, you can more easily avoid crabgrass and other weeds. What does crabgrass look like in a healthy lawn? Trick question - a healthy lawn doesn't have crabgrass!
Feed your lawn with fertilizer to ensure your grass has the nutrients it needs to fight off weeds. Be sure to perform other treatments on your lawn like aeration, proper mowing, seeding to fill the bare spots in your lawn, and watering. Treat your lawn right to keep the crabgrass and other weeds out of your pretty grass.