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close up of crabgrass on lawn near sidewalk

Timing Crabgrass Pre-emergent Applications in Spring

As the old saying goes, "Timing is Everything!" In this article, we discuss the best time to apply crabgrass pre-emergents in the spring to have a lush lawn all summer long!
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Fresh green grass sprouts at the start of spring officially shedding winter’s dreary frost.

However, grass does not always make its debut alone; crabgrass sometimes attempts to steal the show. After spending the winter lurking in the earth, this coarse-textured, yellow-green weed begins to germinate.

The most effective way to prevent crabgrass from taking over your lawn is to prevent it from growing at all! Continue reading to see how this is done using crabgrass pre-emergents.

Controlling Crabgrass in Spring Using Pre-Emergents

What is the Purpose of Pre-Emergents?

Usually around late April, or when the earth’s temperature reaches around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, plants and weeds will start to germinate. This is the ideal time to use products like crabgrass pre-emergents to prevent germination. The advantage of this one-time treatment is that you’ll be ahead of the game, making certain problem areas easier to handle. You should be able to spot treat with post-emergents for the remainder of the year rather than having to fight your entire lawn.

The hardest to eradicate are grassy weeds. You may be able to get a head start on them by applying a pre-emergent. This is crucial if you don’t want to destroy good lawn grasses along with weeds in subsequent treatments. Crabgrass and foxtail are two grassy weeds that are controlled using certain types of pre-emergents. In addition, it can assist with a few broadleaf weeds. There isn’t a foolproof strategy to keep all weeds at bay but pre-emergents will definitely give you the upper hand. 

When is the Best Time to Apply a Crabgrass Preventer in the Spring?

Pre-emergents are one of the first lawn care treatments that happen in the spring. It kills annual grassy weeds like crabgrass and foxtail. In late spring or early summer, these weeds can be hard to get rid of if not treated early. 

The key is to kill the weed root systems before they grow and kill them while they are emerging. When the soil temperature is in the mid-50s for a few days, crabgrass starts to germinate. In Pennsylvania, that’s usually around late April. Mother Nature doesn’t always follow the same calendar as we do, though.

Here are some of the ways you can set up the scheduling:

  • Use A Calendar Reminder: Set up a reminder on your calendar for Mid-April. For most people in Pennsylvania, this will get close to that treatment time and will give you the chance to schedule your service if you use a lawn and turf care company.
  • Check the Soil’s Temperature: Soil thermometers are fairly inexpensive and easy to get at most home improvement stores or online. Measure the temperature in the part of your lawn that gets the most sun. The application should be applied when the temperature is in the upper 40s.
  • Use Web Data: You can use the Internet to figure out how hot the soil is so you know when it’s time to apply the products. It’s good to use websites like GreenCast to learn about your area. You can zoom in and get a good picture of your neighborhood.
  • Use Indicator Plants: This is the classic farming method. Several plants blossom at a certain temperature every year, such as forsythia and lilac. They correct for the curves Mother Nature tosses at them each spring.

When Can I Seed After a Pre-Emergent Application?

Pre-emergents can’t the difference between a weed’s seed and grass seed. There will be no grass seed germination if you plant them close to the time the application happened.

If you want to re-seed, you should wait two to four months. Each pre-emergent is different, though. You should follow the instructions on whatever products you are using, or if you are considering hiring a professional, ask them for their advice.

How Can I Ensure The Effectiveness of My Crabgrass Control?

Try these general lawn care tips:

  • Keep the grass about 3 inches tall while mowing to keep weeds at bay. Crabgrass can’t grow because the shade and the cool soil will make it hard for the weeds to grow.
  • Don’t remove more than one-third of the grass blade height at a time. You’ll weaken the grass.
  • Leaving grass clippings on your lawn in the spring will help it grow better. They’re full of nutrients that your lawn needs.
  • Water your lawn well at least once a week

If you would like expert advice on how to effectively manage your lawn or are in the market to find a professional to help manage your lawn to get you the best results, contact a Turfcor Lawn & Tree Care professional today to set up an appointment. 

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