Crabgrass is a common nuisance in lawns, especially during the hot, dry summer months when it is strongest but your lawn is stressed the most. As a summer annual weed, each year crabgrass will germinate, mature, produce upwards of 150,000 seeds (!), and then completely die away with the first hard frost. This makes crabgrass a particularly aggressive weed which is why it is impossible to maintain a thick and healthy lawn unless you can keep it in check.
To minimize the amount of crabgrass on the properties we service, Mainely Grass actively takes steps to help ensure your lawn is not a desirable environment for crabgrass germination. The best defense against weeds—or pests of any kind—is a thick, healthy lawn, so we start there.
Test the soil
Soil biology is the foundation of turf management. Weeds, like grass, grow because the environment is conducive to promote their growth. At Mainely Grass, we always like to start with a soil test to make sure we have a complete picture of what is going on underneath your lawn. The results give us great data on readings for pH, Buffer pH, Organic Matter, Cation Exchange Capacity, and Macronutrient saturation to identify any major deficiencies in your soil.
Amending the soil
If your soil is deficient in any of these key readings, the whole ecosystem is out of balance. The growing environment will be less conducive to a healthy and hardy lawn and likely more conducive to unwanted pests. Getting it back into balance should be the #1 focus.
The first thing to focus on is soil pH—the foundation of essentially all soil chemistry. When soil pH is too low‒as is the case for many New England soils‒the acidity inhibits the lawn’s ability to take in important nutrients. Optimal pH, on the other hand, helps your grass more effectively mine the soil for the nutrients it needs to be healthy and hardy.
Next is Organic Matter and Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC). Together, these soil properties reflect the ability of the soil to store—and hold onto—water and nutrient molecules in the root zone. If you think of the soil as a sponge, these properties tell you how absorbent the sponge is.
Just like your diet needs to be balanced, so does your lawn nutrition. Luckily, no raw kale needed for this diet. Instead, we custom formulate our fertilizers—and blend special additives in—to make sure your lawn gets exactly what it needs. There is a lot more to lawn care than Nitrogen, and we make sure your lawn gets everything it needs.
Program enhancements and cultural practices
Sometimes lawns need a boost from time to time, which is why we offer enhancements to add on to our Lawn Care programs to address issues like hot spots, environmental stress, and compaction. From biostimulants and wetting agents to core aerations and slice seedings, these services aren’t always needed. But when they are, we are ready and waiting.
Once we have our environment as hospitable to grass as possible, it will naturally be very resistant to pests of all kinds, including crabgrass. Pre-emergent controls add an extra layer of defense by creating an invisible barrier in the soil to inhibit the maturation of crabgrass seeds lying dormant in the soil. We apply this barrier in the early spring which allows your lawn to wake up from winter dormancy and gain back its strength without having to compete with crabgrass along the way.
Post emergent control
The final line of defense is post emergent control, where we spot treat any crabgrass that is able to break through before it has a chance to go to seed and cause problems next year as well. Our Technicians are always on the lookout for crabgrass when on your lawn for service but be aware that the products we use are specifically formulated to target crabgrass specifically without harming the surrounding grass. Because of this, it can take 10-14 days to see the effects on crabgrass.