Crabgrass is the most common type of weed found lawns, although it is often misidentified with other types of grasses, like the Bermuda grass. Less experienced gardeners often have many questions about crabgrass, regarding its appearance, its growth and how it can be prevented, or its usefulness. These are all things you need to know in order to take an informed decision about the proper treatment of crabgrass on your own lawn.
What is Crabgrass?
Crabgrass is considered both a grass and a weed. The biological name is Digitaria sanguinalis and it is an annual plant that germinates in the spring, seeds during the summer and dies off in late autumn. Crabgrass plants do not survive past a single year but the seeds do and this is how crabgrass propagates. It is a fast spreading plant that can overrun an area within a season.
What Does Crabgrass Look Like?
Crabgrass is a plant that grows close to the ground. It has multiple stems forming flat clumps that spread out, rooting along the stems at the joints. Crabgrass has coarse, pointed, stubby blades. The blades have a lighter green color than other turf grasses.
How Does Crabgrass Get Into Lawns?
Crabgrass can travel using various methods. Birds eat the seeds left behind by plants and then deposit the seeds in other locations--this is the most common method for crabgrass to get into a lawn. Lawn mowers that have not been cleaned can also have seeds attached to debris caught on the blade or under the mower deck. A single seed of crabgrass can be the beginning of thousands of plants during one season.
How Is Crabgrass Growth Prevented?
Yearly treating of areas can avoid a buildup of seeds. Edging along driveways and walkways clears out any areas where crabgrass seeds can gather and germinate. You can also try deep watering during dry periods, which helps turf grass grow, crowding out crabgrass. Another good idea is to keep turf grass mowed to a minimum height of 3 inches, to maintain shading underneath that will starve crabgrass shoots of sunlight.
Is Crabgrass Useful?
Crabgrass can be useful in various farming and conservation applications. Crabgrass is grown for animal foraging or grazing, double cropping with perennial grass and legumes, ground cover and dust control for orchards and mud control. Crabgrass is also present in conservation projects such as restoring vegetation of eroded areas, ponds, roadsides and old fields. Crabgrass can also be used for wildlife cover, food and nesting.