Lawn Invasion: Crabgrass and Japanese Stiltgrass

Feb 26, 2016 | Blog, Seasonal Lawn Care and Information

Crabgrass and Japanese Stiltgrass are both invasive grasses that threaten native plants and natural habitats–aka: weeds. Both of these pesky plants germinate in the spring, and will continue to sprout until the first frost arrives. So, how do you deal with crabgrass and Japanese Stiltgrass throughout the growing season? Since spring is just around the corner, here’s what you need to know.

What is crabgrass?crabgrass

Crabgrass is a warm-season annual grassy weed, meaning it complete its lifecycle in one growing season. It germinates in full sun, when soil temperatures reach 55° for 5 days in a row, where there is little competition (frequently near curbs, patios, streets, driveways). It continues to grow aggressively and produce seeds until the first frost, especially in thin, lightly-watered, poorly-drained, and under-fertilized lawns. Each crabgrass plant can produce up to 100,000 seeds! So, the longer you ignore the problem, the worse it will be the following year.

How do you control crabgrass?

It’s important to think of your overall strategy to get rid of crabgrass as long-term. That way, your lawn won’t face the same problem year after year. So, what can be done to control it?

  • While it is often believed that frequent lawn mowing is the solution, that is not the case. Improper mowing can actually make crabgrass worse. Mowing does not get rid of it, it only conditions the weeds to grow flatter, rather than upright.
  • The best strategy is to stop crabgrass before it germinates. Pre-emergent plays a big role in stopping crabgrass from germinating, up to 80% or higher reduction.
  • Proper mowing, watering, fertilization, seeding and aeration are the key ingredients to a lawn free of crabgrass.

Japanese StiltgrassWhat is Japanese Stiltgrass?

Microstegia vimineum–aka: Japanese Stiltgrass–is an exotic invasive annual grass species. It was likely introduced to the U.S. through packing material from Asia nearly one hundred years ago. It made its way to our area only about 15 years ago, and has been spreading rapidly ever since. This invasive weed now takes over forests, parks and even our home lawns.

Japanese Stiltgrass is similar to crabgrass in that it completes its lifecycle from spring to fall, producing many thousands of seeds for the following year. However, it can be even more stubborn, since it is shade tolerant. It requires as little as 5% available light. So, it can survive even in the shadiest places on your lawn.

How do you control Japanese Stiltgrass?

Japanese Stiltgrass can be a difficult nemesis to control, but there are ways to tackle it. Early control is your best bet, and to eliminate it, you have to prevent seed production. It is best controlled on home lawns by crabgrass pre-emergent in the spring, before germination. But, if it has already germinated, it can be controlled with selective post-emergent grass herbicides. Just like crabgrass, the best rivals to Stiltgrass are proper mowing, watering, fertilization, seeding, and aeration.

A thick, healthy lawn is the best way to prevent these invasive grasses. Your best bet to banish crabgrass and Japanese Stiltgrass is through professional lawn care services. Complete Lawn Care can help you maintain and restore your lawn to truly bring it back to optimum health. Through proper preventative measures, Complete Lawn Care rids your lawn of crabgrass and stiltgrass infestation, ensuring your lawn is the healthiest it’s ever been. Contact us today for a free analysis and estimate!

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