Spring lawn care may include crabgrass control

It's best to spray for dandelions in the fall.

alicia harstad
Alicia Harstad

By Alicia Harstad, NDSU Extension, Stutsman County

Spring is here which means our lawns will be greening up soon. NDSU Extension commonly gets asked questions about weed control, fertilizing and watering lawns.

Depending on what lawn weeds you have, spring may or may not be the best time to control them. Tough to control perennial weeds such as dandelion are best controlled in the fall. While it is tempting to spray for dandelions in the spring when we see the yellow flowers, we should spray for them in the fall. Crabgrass is a common annual grass weed in lawns. A key characteristic of crabgrass is the hairy stem and leaves. Since crabgrass is an annual, spring is a great time to control newly emerging crabgrass seedlings with a crabgrass preventer. Crabgrass seedlings start to emerge when the soil temperature gets to 55 degrees for three to five days with the majority emerging when soil temperatures are 60 to 70 degrees.

Ideally, crabgrass preventer should be purchased separately from fertilizer. While it may seem more convenient to buy an all-in-one crabgrass preventer plus fertilizer, the timing for these applications is not the same. Fertilizer should be applied after mowing the lawn a few times in the spring (mid to late May time). This allows the grass to focus on root establishment early in the spring rather than producing green leaves. A good root system is important for grass to withstand different stressors and for overwintering.

If the drought continues throughout the growing season, irrigation may be needed. It takes about one inch of moisture per week to keep a lawn green. If a lawn goes dormant (slows growth and/or turns brown) during the growing season that is OK. The grass crowns (the growing point) need about one-third to one-half inch of moisture every two weeks to survive and grass can stay dormant for four to six weeks before the lawn will start to thin.


For more information, contact Alicia at the Stutsman County Extension office at 701-252-9030 or

What To Read Next
Get Local