The Q&A Archives: My front yard has been taken over by crabgrass!!! I need some help.

Question: I am a new homeowner and my lawn look horrible compared to my neighbors. I live in Nebraska and have Kentucky Blue Grass. It's covered in crabgrass. I hired a service to come out and spray and now the lawn is green with brown spots. They told me to water only in the morning. I don't have a sprinkler system so I do that everyday. I mow the lawn once a week. Can you please help me out with when to water/how much and when am I supposed to mow.... and if I am supposed to do something else?


Answer: If a lawn service came out to spray, I imagine whatever they sprayed killed off some weedy growth - maybe the crabgrass - and that's why you're seeing brown spots. You can rake the dead grass out of those brown spots and reseed to help the lawn green up. Watering in the morning is a good practice. If you water in the evening and the grass remains wet all night it can develop disease problems. Watering every day, though, is not a good idea. When you sprinkle the lawn rather than setting a sprinkler out to deeply soak the lawn, the roots will remain close to the surface and the grass will dry out quickly. On the other hand, if you water deeply once or twice a week, the ground will remain moist and the roots will go deep, protecting the lawn from drying up too quickly during the hottest months of the year. So, I suggest you invest 5-10 dollar in a sprinkler and use that to water your lawn. Allow the water to run for 15 minutes, then move the sprinkler to a different spot and run it for 15 minutes there, moving as needed to water the entire lawn.

Hand pulling the crabgrass is the best strategy for now. There is a corn-gluten based herbicide that acts as a pre-emergent against crabgrass and can safely be used in established turfgrass, but it is most effective when applied in the spring.

Mow your lawn as often as necessary to keep it from getting out of hand (you don't want to have to bale the cuttings!). The rule of thumb is to remove only one-third of the height of the leaf blade each time you mow. Growth rate is determined by the weather - Kentucky blue will grow faster in the spring and will need to be mowed more frequently at that time. I'd mow it down by a half inch every time it reaches 3 inches in height.

For a healthy lawn you'll want to feed it in June, September and November. Luckily, garden centers usually have just the right fertilizer on sale at just the right time for application in your growing region. So, watch the ads and pick up a bag of fertilizer when it goes on sale.

Best wishes with your lawn!

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