If you are considering crabgrass control this spring, consider solving the real problem as an alternative spring time lawn project. If you have a crabgrass problem, you have more than just a crabgrass problem. The root of the issue is likely unhealthy soil, compaction, and low organic matter; all of which contribute to an inferior lawn. Most folks will focus on the symptoms of a poor looking lawn such as dead patches or crabgrass and not the underlying issues. Most lawn issues can be directly attributed to bad soil. Can there be bad soil? Well, in a manner of speaking yes, there can be bad soil or at least soil that cannot successfully support good turf growth. Healthy turf does not occur by accident; it takes a healthy soil to support a green, lush lawn. Let’s take a closer look at why good soil is so important and why bad soil really can only support crabgrass or nothing at all.
Soil is supposed to be filled with micro-organisms in various percentages, nature’s way of supporting plant life through root systems. A healthy soil will contain soil particles of various sizes (clay through sand), air spaces, and water. An ideal soil will also contact organic matter and many micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, like in high school biology class (wicked cool). Turf really appreciates a soil which has a higher bacterial count. Now you know why grass is always so green over the septic system, an ideal environment for lots of bacteria, organic matter, and moisture.
Poor soil will have a low population of these micro-organisms; in fact, it may not have much, if any at all. Low organic matter is another issue which takes away from a healthy lawn. Compacted soils don’t have the air spaces necessary for roots to grow successfully because roots need air to survive. Add a low soil pH and now you have locked up vital nutrients necessary to support healthy turf growth.
The bottom line is that a good lawn must be rooted in healthy soil. Without moving forward with proper techniques to improve your soil, your lawn is destined to be a field of crabgrass and blowing dust each and every year. Growing a lawn is just like growing corn or any other crop – it has basic needs. Crabgrass is much less fussy and will gladly move in without an invitation and stay all summer long, thriving in high heat with minimal rainfall. Crabgrass is not the enemy; crabgrass is just an opportunist which seizes its ideal growing environment. The real villain is bad soil that is devoid of air, organic matter, and micro-organisms.
Your real hope lies in compost teas rich in bacteria, fungi, and other “good guys” who helps improve a sterile and almost lifeless pile of dirt. Sea kelp adds lots of organic matter plus a host of nutrients, proteins, and minerals. Core aeration breaks up compacted soil, providing air pockets and the opportunity for rain to penetrate a hard surface area. Organic fertilizers provide more organic matter and a plentiful helping of nutrients, not only the grass, but the living community below! While crabgrass suppression can be helpful, the real cure lies in improving your lawn’s soil as a basic rule towards creating an outdoor living space that can be enjoyed instead of being cursed.