Crabgrass and broadleaf weeds will be coming to your lawn early this year.  This year we saw one of the earliest onsets of broadleaf weeds that I can remember.  We were treating lawns in April that normally wouldn’t get treated until the first part of June.  We had a mild winter that was near record breaking in some areas, which helped get us off to an early start this spring.  By now most weeds are actively growing, including the onset of crabgrass. 

Weeds can be classified in three categories:  broadleaf, grassy and sedges.  Proper identification of weeds will help you establish proper treatment.  We got quite a few calls in early April, of customers wondering why they had crabgrass.  Knowing that most crabgrass will start germinating towards the end of May when weather conditions are optimal, we knew that the weed in their lawn was another species of grass. 

Crabgrass in turf grass.

What most people call crabgrass is usually quack grass or large fescue.  To the untrained eye quack grass or large fescue might look similar, but to the trained eye they are easy to tell apart.  There are several types of crabgrass found in eastern Iowa lawns.  Most newly forming crabgrass will be lime green in color as compared to a forest green color in quack grass or large fescue.  The grass blades in large fescue are firmer and larger, while quack grass has narrower blades that are not as erect.  Crabgrass at its mature state grows in circular clumps with the blades protruding from the reddish center.  Goosegrass which looks similar to that of crabgrass, has a silver to white center instead of a reddish center.  It is important to stop grassy weeds from spreading as soon as possible, because these plants can produce thousands of seeds which will remain in your lawn for many years to come.  The best place to start fighting crabgrass is with a pre-emergent product containing dimension or barricade.

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