Crabgrass, other weeds thriving more than usual this summer

Published: Aug. 5, 2019 at 4:50 PM EDT
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Chances are you've had some weeds mounting a hostile takeover bid on your lawn in the last few months. While some weeds garner a bit more attention than others -- a certain holiday happenstance at the corner of Alexis and Secor last year springs to mind -- many fields and lawns have been overrun more recently with crabgrass.

Steve Kurivial, certified arborist and president of New Century Tree & Lawn, says the "first week of July, we saw what happened: light green all over the place and in people's yards... that was their crabgrass coming in."

The Wauseon-based company specializes in weed control. Despite spraying specifically for crabgrass months ago, Kurivial says it's done little to slow growth on most of his clients' lawns this season.

Crabgrass typically thrives in hot, dry conditions -- certainly our July heat wave saw to that -- but there's another weather factor to consider, and you've probably guessed it by now: rain, and lots of it. It helps break down and wash away the chemical barrier set up by any lawn treatment.

More rain led to less mowing, which likely allowed crabgrass to flourish even further.

"People mowed a little shorter this spring," says Kurivial, "because we had so much rain and they only had certain opportunities to mow. By doing that, and mowing below 3.5 inches, you're exposing that soil to the sunlight, and that breaks that crabgrass barrier down even quicker."

Of course there's pre-treatment in the springtime which can keep those seeds from germinating later... but as for taming your lawn's current rampant growth, there's very little that can be done without constant reapplication. Kurivial offers that "you would have to go at such a high rate, you would damage your lawn or brown it out for a good period of time. Keep that grass taller and you'll be much happier with your lawn. You'll have to get used to a bit more shaggy look, but it's the answer."

As we head into the dog days of summer, it might just be another case of cutting your losses and hoping for a better spring next year.