Something green in my yard is making me crabby: A conversation about Crabgrass

Crabgrass is an annual opportunistic grass, and it is now early spring. If you think you are seeing it already and you live in Eastern Washington, you are more than likely mistaken.

Crabgrass is killed by the cold winter, but the seeds remain for next year. It begins sprouting in late spring. LATE spring (because it bears repeating.)  If you think you are seeing crabgrass now, in March… it’s some other kind of grass. And no, it isn’t too late to get that pre-emergent down. In fact… this is the perfect time, right now, at this very moment. Relax. We have time.

Here at Colonial we use a product called “Dimension.” It is more than a preventative application; it actually kills the crabgrass after germination.  So even if the weather seems like spring is going crazy on us, we’ve got you covered.

So the first thing you may be asking is: Why do I have it? There are a several reasons that Crabgrass has chosen your lawn as its host.

1) Bare spots.

Once again, it’s an opportunistic grass. If it can find space to grow with nice sun, it will grow there. Solution: Seed those bare areas in the fall and in the spring to fill them in so that Crabgrass won’t have any space to germinate.

2) Mowing too short.

I know, the shorter you mow it, the less times you will need to mow it, right? I know that personally, I do not get as much exercise as I would like. So for me, making time to mow kills two birds with one stone. I like the way my lawn looks and I get some much needed exercise.  Mowing once a week is good for me; or even once every other week depending on how slow/fast it grows.

I understand that some people like it short for the aesthetic value, but University studies have shown that mowing your grass tall (3.5 – 4 inches) will prevent more crabgrass than any chemical on the market. The tall grass makes shade for the surface of the soil and Crabgrass is not particularly fond of shade. It needs the light to grow! So if you are fighting with Crabgrass, you might want to attempt to build a love affair with the shag carpet feel and leave the short stuff for the golf course.

3) Watering too frequently.

It gets hot in Eastern Washington. But it isn’t hot yet. You may think you need to water daily. You really don’t. Understand here that different soil may require different watering styles. However, to control Crabgrass consider watering only a few times per week for ground penetration versus light frequent watering, which can promote Crabgrass growth. A good rule of thumb to check your water levels is to put down an empty tuna can in the lawn and when it is full, turn off the water. Now you know how much time to water each session. Wah-la!

4) Weather conditions.

Mother Nature loves all of her creatures, even the ones that you don’t care for. A rainy spring will help Crabgrass to germinate and a hot summer will help it to thrive while other grasses take a nap. You may not be able to fight Mother Nature, but if you keep your lawn thick and plush (mow it high!), you will find the effort worth it.


All of the above suggestions can help you to have a beautiful lawn along with the application of a pre-emergent for Crabgrass control. At Colonial, we are here to help you with all of your lawn care needs. Crabgrass is one of the many lawn issues we deal with for our clients and for our own lawn. We strive to make sure we are using the best products we can find to help you have a beautiful landscape. If you have any questions, let us know! We are happy to talk with you and happy to help.