Here in beautiful, sunny Sarasota, summer is here, even as most of the country remains in much cooler temperatures. That means plenty of opportunity to enjoy the beach, time on the water, and those wonderful sunsets along the Gulf of Mexico. It also means it’s time to get back into the pool, host cookouts, hike or bike along winding trails, get out on the links or the tennis court, or just relax outside with a cool pitcher of lemonade.
It’s also time to give your landscape some attention. A few new plants, flowers, and a trim here and there to make everything look just right is in order. Perhaps installing a new fire pit or adding a deck is on your to-do list. What’s probably not on your want-to-do list is to battle crabgrass, that unsightly and unwelcome weed that thrives on the warm Florida sun and doesn’t ever seem to go away no matter what you do.
You’ve tried yanking it out of the ground, pulling it up by the root, even raking it until none of it remains, yet it comes back to threaten the beauty of your yard, year after year. The only good thing about it is it makes for a nice variety for livestock grazing, which isn’t of much condolence. Fortunately, there are a few different ways that you can win the battle over crabgrass.
Why Crabgrass is a Problem
Crabgrass, also known as tropical crabgrass, summer grass, and southern grass is actually an annual called, “digitaria ciliaris.” It’s thought to have originated in Asia, but now can be found in many places on the planet, and Sarasota is no exception. It spreads by seeds, making it difficult to contain. The roots are actually located at the nodes and its stems produce long runners which allow it to grow fast and aggressively.
Warmer spring temperatures bring your landscape to life. Unfortunately, tenacious crabgrass also comes to life. With a little preventative action, you’ll keep crabgrass from taking over your lawn. If crabgrass has already established itself, you can control and remove it from your lawn. —Lowes
The reasons it’s harmful are twofold: it competes with your lawn for nutrients and sunlight, and can be a danger to pets, especially dogs. Like other weeds, crabgrass spreads at the expense of your lawn, taking in valuable nourishment from the sun and soil, leaving less for your lawn to thrive upon and therefore, suffer shortages. The more crabgrass creeps throughout the yard, the more damage it does and treating it with herbicides poses a danger to household pets.
DIY Ways to Kill Lawn Crabgrass
If you have battled crabgrass in the past, you know that it isn’t an easy weed to kill off permanently. Like other species, such as Brazilian pepper and other invasive species, it is hard to rid a yard of because of the way it grows. Fortunately, there are a few ways to kill crabgrass effectively:
Pull it up by hand. If you’re yard only has a few patches of summer grass, then water each spot lightly to loosen the soil around it. Using a firm grip, slowly pull the weed out of the ground completely. This can be a quick fix and it might or might not regrow.
Try solarization. You can harness and direct the power of the sun to kill crabgrass, as well as other weeds. This method works best for small patches, where southern grass is contained in a small area. Moisten the weed lightly with a garden hose, then cover it with clear plastic. Weigh down the edges with rocks or bricks to keep it in place. The process generally takes between four to six weeks and will also have the benefit of killing off pests, harmful bacteria, as well as nematodes.
Use pre-emergent herbicide. Timing is everything when it comes to controlling and killing crabgrass, so striking before it become a problem is key. This comes in liquid or granular form and can be quite effective in killing this type of stubborn weed.
Use post-emergent herbicide. If you already have crabgrass sprouting up in your yard, then you can use a post-emergent herbicide to get rid of the weeds. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.
Some homeowners have had a bit of success in controlling crabgrass using household items such as corn gluten meal or baking soda. Mixing a half-cup of baking soda with a teaspoon of cinnamon in a gallon of water creates a homemade herbicide that can be applied to tropical crabgrass to kill it off.
In addition to these controls, you can also prevent crabgrass from growing and/or spreading by maintaining your lawn, keeping it healthy. The less weeds have to feed on, the weaker they become and cannot spread. By properly mowing, watering, and fertilizing your lawn, you can keep weeds from overtaking the grass.