If you struggle to keep your lawn clear of pesky weeds like crabgrass, consider this your official guide to ensuring it looks its best all year long. Crabgrass, formally called digitaria sanguinalis, pops up in hot, dry environments, usually in the summertime, according to Martha. On her blog, our founder notes that it gets its common name from the leaves, which form a tight, crab-like circle. Seeds germinate from the weed as temperatures warm up around the spring and summer. From there, the crabgrass flourishes until it dies and leaves big, circular dead spots of grass. The weeds will come right back around the following year from the seeds embedded in your yard if not tended to properly.
Crabgrass is categorized as a low-growing annual that also spreads from rooting’s. As a result, colonies of this weed can form. You’ll see it thrive in almost every state across the United States and also in southern Canada. It is an annual, so crabgrass will die when the first frost appears, but by this time, new seeds may have scattered and are waiting to germinate the next year (seeds can remain viable for at least three years in the soil).
The best course of action? Take care of your yard and seed between the last week of August and the last week of September. This way, your turf won’t have to battle with the crabgrass when it thrives come spring. “Competition from pests is lower during the fall, especially from troublesome weeds such as crabgrass,” Bob Mann, lawn and landscape expert for the National Association of Landscape Professionals, says. “I recommend that homeowners perform some sort of cultivation like core aeration followed by overseeding each fall to keep their lawn vigorous and healthy for the long haul.”
Better yet, tend to crabgrass before it sets its seed and overwhelms your lawn. If it’s already embedded, mow often to keep it from flowering and producing more plants. If your garden is infested, mulch, dig, and hand-pull the crabgrass to combat its growth. Another pro tip? Consider pouring boiling water on the weed or spraying it with five-percent acetic vinegar. These tactics can burn the surrounding area though, so make sure to only use it on the spots with crabgrass; continue the practice repeatedly until the issue is resolved.
By Nashia Baker for Martha Stewart©