Well   that didn’t take long.Did it? It seemed as though we were looking at   rain every day and wondering if summer would ever come.  The past few   weeks have been a reminder of the old adage about Long Island weather:   “Don’t like it? Wait a minute or two.”

With   the sudden rush of heat and humidity, our lawns are suddenly headed in   the wrong direction. Lush green lawns danced in the rain. Now they are   stressed, turning brown and giving way to weeds…especially crabgrass.

In   my travels, I see untreated lawns that are sometimes 100% covered in   crabgrass. That’s an incredible amount – but not really all that   surprising given the spring weather.

How could this be?  My lawn looked awesome a month ago.

The biggest factor is   the one we have no control over whatsoever – the environment. July and August are the hottest and most humid months of the year, when   temperatures both in the air and soil are consistently above the optimum   for the growth of the cool season turf grasses that make up our lawns.   These cool season turf grasses respond to these conditions by going into   dormancy – what we view as the lawn turning brown.

Conversely,   the very conditions that cause our cool season turf grasses to go into   dormancy are the perfect conditions for the crabgrass.  Instead of going   into dormancy, crabgrass responds to this kind of weather with explosive   growth. It has to grow this rapidly because it’s an annual plant that   will die with the first frost. It must grow to maturity and set seed   before the season is over, so it’s in a big hurry.

But you applied something for crabgrass in the spring! Why isn’t it working?

Pre-emergent   applications are the best tool for crabgrass control, but it is not an   eliminator. This is an important distinction, as there is nothing that will provide 100% crabgrass control.  Pre-emergents   stop more seeds from sprouting than ever in the past, but crabgrass is   tenacious.  It just keeps coming, even from cracks in the pavement.   Pre-emergents are designed to break down over time so that they allow   the cool season grasses in the fall to germinate.  This rainy spring did   not help matters.

Every   lawn has a different number of crabgrass seeds in its soil. This is a   function of how successful previous generations of crabgrass have been   in setting seed. The old guys from Farmingdale used to say, “One year’s   seed is seven years of weeds.”  Seeds can lie dormant in the soil for a   very long time –  waiting for just the right opportunity of light, warmth   and moisture to germinate. Every day that you allow that crabgrass to   invade your lawn, you are opening the door for thousands of seeds to   germinate in your future lawn.

OK, you’ve explained what’s going on. Now what?

You can apply a   post-emergent crabgrass control this weekend. There are new products   that are both safe and effective.  We recommend either Ortho Weed-B-Gone   in the spray bottle that’s ready to use or Bayer Crabgrass Control, if   you like to use a hose end sprayer for application.  It will stop the   crabgrass (and other weeds) from growing. This is a selective product – while it kills the weeds, it will not kill your grass.

Then   it’s time to renew and restore your lawn.  In 2-3 weeks, as the days get   shorter and the nights get cooler, your soil temperature will be perfect   for over-seeding and rejuvenation. The seed we sell today is more   drought and disease tolerant than the seed people put on your lawn 10   years ago.  Your lawn will be thicker and greener next year and less   vulnerable to crabgrass.If you overseed in the fall and apply a good   fall fertilizer you will see a pronounced difference in the spring.

From the garden center,

Joe Dee

Dees Nursery & Florist   Oceanside NY