Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Crabby about Crabgrass

Garden dilemmas Ask Mary Stone, crabgrass

Hello fellow readers, A visit with my dear Mom leads to a story about how to overcome being crabby about crabgrass.

Last week we spoke about the pesky Japanese beetle, and I chuckle at how many of you shared your intense aversion towards the bothersome bug. What is there to like about them other than the 5 cents a jarful good old Mom offered up when we were kids? Speaking of Mom, I just returned from visiting my beloved gardening motivator in Virginia; her condition is declining as dementia takes hold. “She looks like Mary, “Mom said to one of the caregivers, pointing to me on day three of the visit. Bittersweet.

Garden Dilemmas Ask Mary Stone

In Mom’s Hand

Dear sister, lovingly in charge of Mom’s care, had a few garden questions to ask Mary. She and her husband sodded much of their newly established lawn and seeded the rest, portions of which are inundated by crabgrass, and were concerned it would take over their entire yard.

Crabgrass versus Turf Grass

Unlike turf grass that spreads from nodes on underground stems called rhizomes or on aboveground stems called stolons, crabgrass spreads by seed and thrives in full sun and high temperatures, especially where bare soil prevails.

The good news is crabgrass is an annual and dies with the first hard frost. The bad news is that it produces a vast amount of seeds if allowed to run amok, and the seeds can remain dormant for years before germinating. So once you are crabby, you’ll always be inclined to be crabby, so it’s best to remove crabgrass before it goes to seed. Then re-seed the area ideally when the weather changes to cooler nights – say late August here.

Garden Dilemmas Ask Mary Stone, Crabgrass


Crabgrass Remedies 

There are effective pre-emergent strategies to prevent crabgrass from sprouting, but they must be applied in the spring when forsythia is in bloom. Corn gluten is an organic pre-emergent, and there are non-organic alternatives I’d rather not mention. Post-emergent applications on crabgrass run the gambit, and they can impact the good grass and are not always practical. So like anything else, prevention is best. Most important is mowing at the optimum height of 3-inches or higher to increase turf grass vigor and reduce the germination of crabgrass and other weed seeds.

“I feel better about my crabgrass,” Sister shared after learning it’s an annual rather than a fierce competitor to her sodded investment. As for me, a green lawn works- “Green is Good” no matter its composition, as long as nasty chemicals aren’t a part of it; one of Mom’s many pearls of wisdom. So grateful. Garden dilemmas? and your favorite Podcast App.

Related stories: Japanese Beetle Time 

And it would be an honor if you’d like to visitEmma Stone Preferred Roots 

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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