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How to Identify Crabgrass and Grassy Weeds

What is Crabgrass?

Crabgrass is an annual (only lives 1 year) and it has light green, wide-bladed leaves. It grows low to the ground, forming a mat; choking out the good grass. The plant is most widely noticed mid-summer to fall. It will die from a frost, but all the seeds it throws down will over-winter and sprout the following season.

Closeup on crabgrass.

When Does Crabgrass Germinate?

It germinates when the soil temperature has warmed to about 60 degrees for a few days in a row. In our area that means it germinates sometime after the lilacs are done blooming.

Where Does Crabgrass Germinate?

It is most likely to germinate in poor soil, such as boulevards or in hot spots, such as beside driveways and along sidewalks where the heat from the sun radiates off the cement. If the conditions are right and there is plenty of water, it can germinate anywhere though.

How Do You Kill Crabgrass?

The best answer on how to kill crabgrass is to prevent it all together. We can apply a pre-emergent herbicide applied during the lilac bloom in the spring time, preventing a large number of seeds from sprouting. As the name suggests, preemergent herbicides kill the seed before (pre) it emerges (emergent).

What Should I Expect If I Didn't Put the Pre-Emergent Down?

If you didn’t make it in time for the pre-emergent, then you should expect to have crabgrass sprouting in the spring time, turning into dense mats by mid-summer. This is an invasive plant that is hard to kill; however we do have special products that can kill the plant itself. It may take 2-3 applications but once dead, we recommend raking up the dead plant & reseeding or sodding that area. Then plan on applying the pre-emergent the following spring!

What is Perennial Wide Bladed Grass?

Perennial wide bladed grasses are more of an upright, fast growing, spiky, and hardy plant. They include varieties such as Tall Fescue, Brome Grass, and Quackgrass. They have the same life cycle as our lawns. Meaning, they survive the winter and live year after year.
A section of wild perennial wide bladed grass.

When Does Perennial Wide Bladed Grass Germinate?

Perennial wide bladed grasses survive harsh conditions and grow throughout the entire growing season. If you have grassy weeds in April and May, they’re not going to be crabgrass; they’re going to be one of these grasses.

Where Does Perennial Wide Bladed Grass Germinate?

Unfortunately, these grasses are prevalent in our prairie region. They are made for our weather conditions, thus making them very hardy. They can and will germinate almost anywhere, but are most likely to turn up in thinner lawns, bare spots, or stressed areas like boulevards.

How Do You Kill Perennial Wide Bladed Grass Germinate?

Because they have the same life cycle as our lawns, there’s nothing on the market that specifically targets them without killing the rest of the lawn, too. It is recommended to use a nonselective weed killer like Round-up, to kill them. Round-up kills everything, so you must be very careful not to spray your good grass. Wearing chemical resistant gloves, you can try dipping a foam paintbrush into some Round-up and “painting” the weedy grass blades. This process may take some time, but it’ll reduce your risk of killing off your good grass. Pulling or digging these grasses up is not ideal, because if you leave a portion of the root system, it has the chance to resprout and grow again. We then recommend raking up the dead plants and reseeding or sodding that area.

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