Just trying to get the lawn here in NW Ohio in better condintion.
The lawn has various bare spots and lots of crabgrass. The bare spots are
not big enough for sod - so I am thinking some type of patching mix might be
best. And there are a bunch of areas too. Is it possible to attack both
problems at one time? I know I need to apply a pre-emergent in the spring
for the crabgrass, but will I be able to grow grass at the same time? I
could start trying to patch this fall, but it's so mixed in w/crabgrass that
it seems like I will have bare spots in the spring regardless where the
crabgrass is heavy. Any suggestions on the best way to go about this
I've spent 2 years building a lawn out of a crabgrass patch, and it now
looks pretty good. So my advice comes from that experience.
You cannot reseed and use pre-emerge crabgrass preventer at the same time.
The best approach is to reseed this fall. You won't see all that much
grass, but a lot of what you plant will come back and grow strongly in
Put down the crabgrass pre-emerge preventer in the spring.
Then overseed again next fall.
If you have spots that are always bare, try loosening the soil and maybe
putting some more soil and compost in that area before you seed.
I also notice that I'm getting crabgrass in areas where I had killed
strangling amounts of invasive clover with weed killer. So I plan to
lime my lawn again this year to make the pH better for grass.
If you haven't checked your lawn's pH, do so now, and add lime this fall
(or add sulfur if you need to go the other direction.)
When you do overseed, be sure to keep the new seed watered for a few weeks.
Crabgrass likes sunny bare areas and grows as an annual. What you
need to do now is prevent it from seeding--the seeds can live dormant
for 10 years. Also pull out (by hand) what crabgass you see. In the
bare spots prep the soil with compost and add lime if your pH is below
6.8. Seed these areas heavily and overseed the entire lawn (after
mowing close). Apply starter fertilizer. Protect the bare areas with
straw and keep moist. Use high quality seed. Next spring your lawn
will be thicker and shade out most of the crabgrass. Use a
pre-emergence next spring, wait 90 days, and apply again. Overseed
again next year as directed above. A nice lawn takes time.
Also, bag (with mower) before the mother plant drops seed, usually in Feb,
Mothers Day and by Aug 10th here in Richmond,Va. Ohio might not be too far
behind that. Remember...If you see the crabgrass, its too late for pre-em..
Apply it in early Spring, then pay attention around Mothers day and see if
it is coming up again, if so, bag till dead again, and re-apply pre-em only
(not with fertilizer) again in the end of July.. Then watch your neighbors
cut their grass and blow their crap into your pretty yard...Fun I reckon.. I
usually wait until they cut, then I cut and blow it all back...Really, mine
is fantastic green and virtually weed free and theirs is patchy brown like
card board, and I think Ortho.com got all their weed pics in their weed
finder section from their yards...
Its not rocket science, just the right timing..Have fun with it!
No, don't do that.
If the crabgrass is really heavy right now, nuke it with something like
glyphosate. I'd suggest a lightproof mulch if you had more time, but
September is prime reseeding in your part of the world.
Scratch up the surface well -- anything from a bow rake to a rototiller,
depending on how compacted your soil is and how much elbow grease you
want to contribute. This is a good time to apply some lime and some low N
fertilizer. Seed the area with a good grade of lawngrass seed
adapted to your area, and roll the seed into the soil (or walk it in --
just make sure the seed is firmed into contact with the soil. Apply a
little mulch or compost over the top if you can.
Now water. And wait patiently. Most of the lawn grasses for your part
of the world take about 4 weeks to germinate, and they will look sparse
and patchy. You must keep the soil damp all the time... dried out
starting-to-germinate seed is dead seed.
You can get rid of your crabgrass with a bit of patience and some
better mowing techniques -- an old faq of mine:
Easy once you understand the biology of crabgrass, _Digitaria sanguinalis
or D. ischaemum_, annual species that germinate in bare soil in cool
temperatures, then doesn't grow much until the heat of summer comes. It
is intolerant of shade.
1) Fertilize and lime your lawn in spring and early fall, to help thicken
it. Best to get a soil analysis from your local master gardeners or
extension service, but you can probably wing it a bit with the help of
someone who knows the soils in your neighborhood well. If the grass forms
a nice, thick mat, it doesn't allow weed seeds to germinate. (Lime helps
correct the soil pH to 5.5 to 6.5, which allows the other grass plants to
take up nutrients easily.)
2) Obtain a wooden stake and put it in the ground someplace where you can
see it easily. If you've got the standard bluegrass/fescue lawn of most
of the northern states, make a mark at 3.5" and 4" from soil level. Set
your lawnmower blade to 2.75-3". When the grass hits the 3.5" stake mark
you should mow. At 4", you *must* mow. No cheating. If you remove more
than 1/4 to 1/3 the length of a grass plant in a single mowing, it weakens
the plant, possibly opening the soil for weed seed germination. Because
the grass stays comparatively long, it also shades the crabgrass seedlings
that have germinated and keeps them from developing.
Some times of the year, you'll mow a couple of times a week. Some times
(when it's hot), you won't mow for weeks.
The original research on this method of crabgrass control was done back in
the 40's or 50's -- the fertilizer used was chicken manure, and the
reported success was something like 70% reduction in crabgrass in the
first year, and 95% in three years. I tried it myself in a badly abused
lawn in a house I moved into... formerly a feedlot, more than 40 species
of weeds in the lawn. I used 10-10-10 fertilizer, the cheapest I could
find, a little glyphosate (roundup) on thistles and quackgrass (a
rhizomatous perennial) and some good quality bluegrass and fescue seed as
an overseeding in the fall.
I had virtually NO crabgrass in the lawn the following year, and, in
contrast to the neighbors who kept scalping their lawns "to avoid mowing",
I was down to 3 species of weeds within 5 years -- without major pain,
strain or suffering. The time I spent in the cooler months mowing was
certainly no greater than the time and effort the neighbors spent hauling
pesticides, spraying, cussing, digging, etc. And I was collecting
specimens for the weeds class I was helping with from their lawns, not
mine, because I had so few weeds, and so few species of weeds.
The lawn quickly reverted to a weedy mess after I moved out and the new
owners went back to scalping the lawn, opening up all sorts of bare soil
for weeds to flourish in.
Kay Lancaster firstname.lastname@example.org
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