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Managing Crabgrass Without Herbicides:
What Changes in Management and Budget Need to be Considered?

   Along with adjustments in mowing height, fertility can play a major role in the reducation of light that penetrates the turf canopy and reaches the soil surface. Fertilization programs should supply adequate nutrients to yield a dense turf. Avoid high levels of fetility during the summer months, although this may be difficult to accomplish with organic sources of nitrogen. If heavy infestations of crabgrass result in turf thinning, increase fertility levels in the fall as crabgrass dies in order to support turf recovery.

   An effective aeration program will relieve compaction and increase overall turf health and density. However, aeration methods that bring soil to the surface can reposition crabgrass seed, which was once too deep to germinate, to a location where germination and establishment are favored.

   Crabgrass and many other annual weeds are warm-season species. Warm-season species are capable of growing very well during the hot, dry periods that are characteristic of summer. Turfgrass species utilized in the northeast are cool-season species and, without adequate moisture from rainfall or irrigation, become dormant during the summer. During periods when the growth of cool-season turf species has slowed or ceased as a result of low soil moisture and high temperatures, crabgrass becomes very competitive in otherwise healthy, dense turf. In the absence of summer rainfall, irrigation should be applied to maintain turf growth and prevent summer dormancy. Special attention should be focused on areas that are prone to drought including elevated areas, south and southwest facing slopes and areas adjacent to sidewalks and driveways. These areas may be hand watered in lieu of running the entire irrigation system.

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Stow MA 01775
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