Hello fellow readers,
Last week we spoke about the pesky Japanese beetle and I chuckle 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 declining as dementia takes hold. ‘She looks like Mary’ she said to one of the caregivers pointing to me on day-three of the visit. Bittersweet.
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 being inundated by crabgrass and were concerned it would take over their entire lawn.
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 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 be inclined to always be crabby so 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.
There are effective pre-emergent strategies to prevent crabgrass from sprouting but they need to be applied in the spring about 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 frankly they can impact the good grass and are not always effective. 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, no matter its composition, as long as nasty chemicals aren’t a part of it; one of the many wisdoms from Mom, so grateful. Garden dilemmas? firstname.lastname@example.org