20 Apr It’s Earth Day – So Get Out There And Plant Something!
April 16, 2018
It’s Earth Day – so get out there and plant something!
The only good thing I can say about snow right now is that it makes my garden look just as good as all of my neighbors. Almost three inches on Monday had me wishing I had not binged on those Girl Scout Cookies back in March. I could have used some to go with the copious amounts of wine involved in surveying my snow covered gardens on April 15th.
What better way to celebrate Earth Day than walking a community field dedicated to saving the pollinators! The Lunenburg Community Pollinator Habitat Earth Day event this year will be a getting together at the field this Saturday at 1pm. Follow them on Facebook to keep up with all their great work! https://www.facebook.com/Lunenburg-Community-Pollinator-Habitat-1501543599873475/
Knowing that spring will arrive eventually, I’ll give you some good things to look forward to! Art in Bloom is next weekend! For nearly two decades, the Fitchburg Art Museum, in collaboration with the Laurelwood Garden Club, has been celebrating the season with its Art In Bloom Festival, which runs April 26 through Sunday, April 28.
The museum galleries feature flower arrangements crafted by local florists, garden clubs and individuals, all interpreting the art in the museum’s collection. “Art in Bloom” attracts visitors from throughout the region, with programs and events that appeal to art lovers and floral enthusiasts of all ages.
Museum admission is free for members, $9 for nonmembers and $5 for seniors and students. The museum is located at 185 Elm St. For more information, call (978) 345-4207 or visit the Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/events/1188832297901127/.
Enough about what’s going on outside of your own garden, lets get back to the work of spring and no, I don’t mean shoveling! I like to think I’m an easy going garden girl. At my own garden of benign neglect you will be hard pressed to find big swaths of green grass – I like flowers too much! So, that being said, I’m very forgiving when I visit friends and families green areas. I love the look and smell of violets and dandelions make me smile, but crabgrass. NO – just No, I can’t stand it. It looks like an ugly green/yellow spider spreading its legs everywhere – it’s not even nice to walk on and let’s face it, if you’ve put that much time into the turf you should be able to walk on it!
Everyone with a lawn has done battle with this foe from time to time: that stubborn renegade form of weed grass that disrupts the smooth texture of your lawn and, unless battled, gradually overtakes it.
Crabgrass, a group of weedy grasses that belong to the species Digitaria. This vigorous annual weed grass can overwhelm lawns that are underwatered, under fertilized, and badly drained—which explains why we come to associate them with neglected lawns. But even well-tended lawns will have occasional problems with crabgrass, especially during periods of drought or difficult weather conditions.
I meet frustrated gardeners at both stores who bring in handfuls of crabgrass asking “Why?”. They’ve done everything they think they should have – used a control, watered, fertilized, but like a bad relative they just keep coming back. The best way to beat your enemy is to understand them. The only way to get away from a bad relative is to have the party at your brothers house next year (Woo Hoo Russ and Kelly are hosting!).
Crabgrass is an annual weed that spreads thousands of seed vast distances every fall. Because the plant itself dies every winter the best control is going to be preventing those seeds from germinating. Preventive (Pre-emergent) Treatments is the name our industry uses for products designed to stop germination. The most common pre-emergent herbicides are granular chemicals laid down before seeds even sprout. You might think all fertilizers with crabgrass preventers are the same – but not so. Older products contain Halts that only stops germination and doesn’t last the entire summer. Not calling anyone out here, but if you use a one that’s named after a guy and starts with a S and ends with TS you’ve probably had a mid to late summer crabgrass problem even after getting your control down early enough. Newer products contain Dimension and stop germination plus kill newly sprouted plants AND lasts for the entire summer.
There is an organic option for you to try! Corn gluten. The use of corn gluten meal to prevent crabgrass was experimental just a few years ago, but it now is an established organic method for controlling crabgrass. Corn gluten is a by-product of the corn-starch manufacturing process, and, when applied to a lawn, it not only prevents weed seeds from germinating but also supplies a healthy dose of nitrogen to the lawn. Be aware, though, that corn gluten will prevent all seeds from germinating—including grass seeds that you may have just applied to fill in bare spots. If you are seeding then the proper application is to lay down corn gluten after any new grass seeds have germinated and begun actively growing. Corn Gluten will break down after about 4 to 6 weeks so it will need to be reapplied again in early summer to prevent a “flare up”.
So now you know what to use, how about when to use it?
With pre-emergents, timing is critical. They work best applied early, so for us the month of April is the best time. These controls work by placing a barrier of sorts on top of the soil surface so you don’t want to rake or disturb the soil once it’s down. Make sure you’ve done all your other spring lawn work like raking, spreading fast acting lime or aerating prior to application.
And if all that wasn’t technical enough, imagine what I’m going to have to teach you if you need to seed your lawn at the same time! If that is the case you definitely want to come in and see us. Nothing is more frustrating than having spent the time and money to seed a lawn and not have it germinate because of the wrong fertilizer or control product!
So what happens if something goes wrong and you do end up with a crabgrass problem this summer? Don’t panic, we’ve got this covered!
Organic, Non-Chemical Treatments
Crabgrass is a tenacious annual weed that is very tough to control in poorly maintained lawns, partly because it produces thousands of seeds that easily germinate and take root in bare or thin spots in any lawn.
While chemical treatments are the methods of choice for most homeowners, there are also ways to deal with crabgrass without chemicals.
Physical removal – yes, hard manual labor but look at it as taking out some frustration on an ugly weed that deserves it!. It may sound like an impossible task, but crabgrass can be plucked by hand, especially if the weed has not yet completely overwhelmed a lawn. The best way to do this is to water the area around the patch of crabgrass very thoroughly, which will loosen the weed roots. Then, grab the weed close to the ground, and patiently pull up on the weed until it can be plucked free. The best time to do this is early in the season before the weeds have set seeds. Never put crabgrass plants in garden compost, because the seeds may survive and get spread around your landscape the next time you mulch with the compost.
Selective Chemical Herbicides Sprays
A selective herbicide is one that targets specific weeds—or specific categories of weeds—while leaving other plants unaffected. Most general lawn weed killers can be considered selective, in that they are intended to kill weeds while leaving your grass unaffected. But crabgrass falls into the category of narrow-leaved grass, so a great many all-purpose “weed killers” aren’t at all effective on crabgrass—unless they specifically have added selective crab-grass-killing properties. Bonides BroadLeaf Weed and Crabgrass Killer is the one we’ve found most effective.
It’s a lot of information I know! In addition, controlling crabgrass less a matter of killing it at all, but of establishing and maintaining a healthy lawn that will naturally discourage crabgrass from thriving.
These methods can include: Planting the right turf-grass species, watering correctly, proper fertilizing, regular dethatching and core aeration. Maintaining a healthy lawn might seem daunting and it certainly can be hard work at times, but you aren’t doing it alone, we are here to help!
All our best,
Michelle and Team Lakeview