From Dennis Patton:
The calendar states that spring has officially arrived. We’ve already had a quick taste of warmer temperatures. The results have been a pop of color with spring flowering bulbs and yellow waves of forsythia. The grass is starting to green up. And even a few insects are flying around the lights at night. This time of year holds so much promise for the growing season. These ideal spring conditions make growing grass seem easy. It is summer’s arrival that challenges us in maintaining that high quality look of spring.
One of the most common problems we face each year in the lawn is fighting with weeds. Crabgrass tends to be one of the biggest problems as it takes off under the stress of summer. Crabgrass, although a problem for most people, is one of the easiest weeds to eliminate, given that the right product is applied at the right time.
Crabgrass is best controlled with herbicides commonly referred to as preemergence or preventers. These chemicals kill the weeds as they are germinating before they have a chance to establish. They do not prevent germination, just establishment.
These products are available to homeowners in a granular formulation that is spread over the lawn. The timing of the application is important for success. The products should be applied just before the weed seeds germinate. That timing is between late March and mid-April.
There are several products available on the market for crabgrass control. The most widely used products are Barricade, prodiamine, and Dimension, dithiopyr. Only one application is needed.
When purchasing the product you’ll need to decide whether to buy it with or without fertilizer. Extension cautions against the use of a fertilizer in very early spring. Early spring applications cause excess top growth, which can deplete the root system of needed stored food for summer growth.
Fertilizers are normally not recommended if the lawn will not be watered during the summer months. Lawns that will receive summer irrigation are best fertilized with a slow release product in late April or early May.
Strictly follow the chemical’s label for application rates and requirements, including the need to water into the soil, and the removal of the chemical from paved or hard surfaces to reduce water contamination.
We don’t know what conditions will arrive come summer. It is always a guessing game here in the Kansas City area. Will it be hot, mild, wet or dry? We just don’t know. But we do know that a well-timed application of a crabgrass control will be appreciated no matter what weather patterns set in for summer.