I just moved into a house with a crappy yard. I want to get it going, but
don't know where to start. The grass is thin with some bare spots and loads
of crab grass and weeds. I don't know whether I should fertilize and weed
killer, or if I should ignore the weeds and fertilize and overseed.
Got any advice?
Exactly my dilemma. We have loads of crabgrass because the previous owner
didn't use a pre-emergent. MSMA and other crabgrass killers seem to kill
everything (darned near as effective as round-up), so we're trying to pull
the worst of the weeds. I figure 15 minutes a day for a couple of weeks
ought to make a real difference. After that, we'll have the yard aerated and
then I'll overseed.
Weeds are not a problem, you can spray them. Crab grass is more of a
problem, tough to kill it without killing eveything else too!
I had a couple of patches of crabgrass that would not go away, even with the
pre-emergance, no-halts you apply in the spring. Two summers ago I finally
sprayed it all with Round Up and killed everything in that area. I sprayed
it a couple times over a summer as grass and weeds would appear. Last summer
I tried to plant grass there and it would not go, too much Round Up? This
spring I tried it again and have a nice crop of grass growing that has been
going since early spring so I think it will make it! No crab grass as far as
I can tell.
So I guess if you have a few spots of crab grass I would Round Up the spots
and re-seed. The weeds I would just hit with a good broad leaf spray
repeating as nessasary. If you have alot of crab grass spray the whole yard
with Round Up and start fresh!
My problem appears that I cannot use weed killer and re-seed at the same
time. Most weed products say no seeding for 6-8 weeks. I need to seed in
the next month for good establishment. However, I have weeds everywhere--
lots of clover and creeping weeds and undesirable grass.
Do I work on the grass seeding this fall and worry about weeds next spring?
Do I spray weeds this fall and don't plant seed?
Wish I had the house earlier this year. I would have weeded in the
spring/early summer and seeded now.
I had a similar situation at a home we bought about 25 years ago. I
killed off the entire lawn with a DuPont product called Vapon. IIRC you
applied it as a spray and then put down a lot of water so that it sunk
into the ground and killed everything through its roots. It dissipated
quickly and you could reseed a week or so after application. It worked
great for me then.
If you can find it today or something like it, you'll have what you want.
Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
"As long as there are exams in public schools there will be prayer in
Good question. Actually as I renovate the lawns on our rental property I
don't mind a little crabgrass because it *is* something green and
doesn't look too bad unless you're up close.
Crabgrass is first of all a symptom of a problem lawn. That is, it tells
you that the real turfgrasses aren't healthy for some reason.
Second, it's not a turfgrass. It doesn't create a turfy root system, but
one more like a dandelion. It doesn't create the thatchy turf that makes
a great lawn fun to walk on.
Third, it's an annual, not a perennial. It only grows from May to
October, or so, and at first frost you have brown patches where the
crabgrass used to be. If snow is delayed you end up with mud, and you
get mud in the spring in any case, until the crabgrass decides to come in.
The soil is compacted already (crabgrass handles it better than turf),
and the lack of a strong root system means this will only get worse.
Eventually the soil won't retain water, and you'll get runoff and erosion.
Enough reasons yet?
The relevant questions are what state the soil is in and how much, if
any desirable grasses there are growing on the lawn now. If there is
at least 8 inchs of decent soil, but the lawn is a real mess, I'd kill
the existing lawn with Roundup, then aerate and use a slice seeder to
establish a new lawn. By doing this, you can use new high quality,
disease resistant grasses. I'd search online for seed suppliers, as
they have better choices than you're going to find at the local home
center. If you have undesirable, disease prone, or rough grasses in
the lawn now, weed killer isn't going to get rid of them. Also,
established crabgrass is difficult to get rid of this time of year,
unless you use a product like Aclaim, and you have to get rid of it to
effectively grow new grass.
I'd kill everything late summer/early fall, then reseed a week later.
Also, get the soil tested and adjust the PH as needed. Use a starter
fertilizer, and keep it constantly wet for the first few weeks.
I was in the same boat this spring, since my house was a repo. I
manually removed all the dandilieons. I literally went after them
every day for about two weeks. Haven't seen one since. The weed
killer I used after that got any remaining dandilieons and cloves. To
get rid of the crabgrass I used Roundup. After it was dead I pulled
it all out, even the root system. I did a lot of digging! Think of
Crabgrass as the Viet Cong with an elaborate underground maze and
you'll get the idea of what your up against. If you miss a spot,
crabgrass grows back from a piece of root, so you have to kill it
first! The other weedy grasses (goose grass
is also something I am still trying to get rid of. Nothing works
particularly good on it except Roundup. In fact, I'm reasonably sure
that I have some of all of the weedy grasses shown on this webpage:
They are just about the hardest things to get rid of because they are
the same color as your lawn and so far don't respond to chemicals that
attack just them real well.
Areas that I killed off, even several times over during the summer
with roundup (as many as 3X in places) I've replanted and in some
places it's regrown just fine, and others not. The places where it
didn't I'll probably try again next spring. I know your not supposed
to turn around and plant grass a few days after Round up, but if the
weeds can grow right back, I figure that grass can too.
Also, I pull all killed weeds, and till the soil before I replant. I
suspect this is why it is able to grow back in some places pretty good
as I've not been drenching the lawn with Roundup, rahter using it
Deapite years of neglect and nobody living in the house, parts of my
yard actually look pretty good now. It took a lot of work though.
Actually no. If you understand that crabgrass dies off in the winter,
and appears the next year from seed, then applying a pre-emergence
(possibly two applications based on your summer length), crabgrass
should not be a problem especially for thick lawns. Crabgrass seeds
can remain dormant for 10 years, so it is important not to allow this
grass to reseed itself.
I don't know your location. If in the US, overseed in the fall. Use
weed killer in the spring when weeds are small and actively growing.
Be generous with seed and use the highest quality you can find, as you
will have fewer weeds to deal with next spring. When overseeding make
sure you use a starter fertilizer. Do not use weed killer 8 weeks
before seeding, nor 3 months after. Identify your weeds.
Why is everyone using chemicals? Doesn't that also ruin the groundwater and
eventually end up in our water supplies and swimming areas.
A current problem here is "Cinch bug", which apparently thrives on
'Bluegrass' which I understand from gardening experts on local radio
programs to tend to be common in 'store-bought' seed mixtures !
To counter the brown areas caused by cinch bug problems a lot of people
rushed out and bought, in some cases, the wrong sprays then phoned in to
these radio programs about how they killed all of their grass etc. having
bought the wrong chemical instead of one to kill cinch bugs!
Fortunately our grass which has never been especially sodded, coddled or
treated with anything chemical except a couple of applications of lime in 30
odd years is just native species and clover and it hasn't been affected by
A neighbour, now owning a building lot we once did, is bemoaning that he
hasn't got any grass, only a mixture of various low growing weeds, yet his
'lawn' is one of the greenest around during an unusual dry spell! They had
a busy yard sale recently and it had no impact to whatever he has growing,
which appears to be mainly just local low growing native plants with just
very little grass in it. I've told him not to mess with success!
I do know that now (although we were the second house built on this street)
we can't use our original water supply, a well for potable water because
other neighbours have used herbicides and insecticides.
There are now a great many municipalities banning the use of these
chemicals. However even the so-called 'Lawn Care' companies do not follow
the rules and one can't know if they are just spraying water, old stocks of
now illegal chemicals and/or are spraying chemicals with wind speeds in
excess of 25 miles per hour! In one case, chemical spraying involved the
three corners of a road intersection and within feet of several restaurant
and take-out food establishments; complete with "Notice. Sprayed area. Keep
pets off grass!". !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I try not to shop there.
Seems like the natural and native species of grasses and plants work best
and are least affected by insect pests? Using chemicals may destroy this
balance and then seeding introduces grass species which are not native and
therefore less suitable for local conditions?
I do agree that when one gets grass to grow it crowds out many of the weeds
and a little bit of judicious hand weeding and cutting off the dandelions
early allows the grass to take over and predominate.
I don't recommend excessive use of chemicals, however the OP has a
lawn full of crabgrass and other weeds that he wants to straighten
out. Using Roundup, which is a relatively safe agent and then
reseeding involves minimal chemicals and is the fastest, cheapest, and
easiest way to handle this. Once you have a good lawn established,
the use of chemicals should be minimal.
If you're afraid to shop at stores simply because they had their lawns
treated, I think you're overly paranoid.
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