clover vs crabgrass


Old 09-03-02, 08:46 AM
Ms Greenejeans
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Question clover vs crabgrass

We've been living in our house in CT, USA, for almost 4 yrs now. I try to not use chemicals as much as possible. My neighbor's yard looks like a park - his lawn has no weeds. He also feeds the birds, so says he only uses pre-emergent broadleaf weed killer every other spring. He also uses Grub-X, so has no mole problem.
I wound up dusting my Rose of Sharon and roses this yr. due to Jap. beetles.

I've discovered that white clover stays low (cuts down need for mowing - I'd rather be gardening!) and is more traffic and drought resistant than grass. I'd like to keep sowing white clover seed every fall, but I also have a lot of crabgrass moving in. There is a sizeable crop of dandelions (fine with me - good food for my tortoise) But there's also this other kind of aggressive grass, shiny leaves, blooms at about 10" tall - witchgrass?

Anyway - my question is this - if I try a pre-emergent crabgrass control, will it kill the clover too? Any hints on this? THANK YOU!
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Old 09-04-02, 04:36 AM
howiek's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Acton, Ontario, Canada - Zone 6b
Posts: 413
Hello Ms Greenejeans and Welcome to

Witchgrass is not consistently affected by the pre-emergent Dacthal, but crabgrass is. Also, there are a number of Genera which Fall Witchgrass is used as the common name. And to further confuse, witchgrass and crabgrass are annuals while most of the fall witchgrasses are perennial... The good news is that White Clover isn't listed on the plants affected by Dacthal, so it should survive treatment if label directions are followed...

White clover tends to thrive in conditions of less fertility (adjusting the Nitrogen available to turfgrass is one of the methods of controlling it when it is not desired in a lawn), as do crabgrass and annual witchgrass; also it does not form a thick cover, leaving spaces for the weed grasses to germinate and establish - so by maintaining conditions favourable for clover, conditions are also ideal for the undesired grasses.

Couldn't find a lot of information on a short search of how the pre/post-treatment for crabgrass 'Dimension' will affect clover, but I suspect it might have a limited, but noticable effect on the clover, so I'd be inclined not to use it for the weed grasses.

There are some monocot (grass) post-emergent herbicides available that would likely control your grasses without permanently affect the clovers, but their use may be restricted to professional applicators where you live. Also you would have to treat before the annual grasses flowered as the seed tends to mature even after the plants have been killed by the herbicides.

Of course, there is the tried and true method of physically removing the undesired grasses before they drop their seed - reliable, but backbreaking...

You could try asking your local County Agent to see if they have a solution for your slightly unique situation. Here's a link to the Connecticut Cooperative Extension: (You'll likely have to copy the address to your browser address bar as the vB codes don't seem to be working).

Hopefully, someone else here will have a more helpful answer...

Good Luck

Old 09-04-02, 06:35 AM
Ms Greenejeans
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Question crabgrass vs clover

Thanks Howiek -

Perhaps it might be easier to just start scratching with a rake and reseeding lawn grass? I don't fuss for the back, as our dogs are on it all day (fenced in). The front does not get much foot traffic, and I am working on reducing every year the area I have to mow (made a bed under our beautiful red maple and planted myrtle this year).

Anyway - if I do use the Grub-x and the pre-emergent, how long should I water it (or let it be rained on) before my dogs or my granddaughter (age 6) can walk or play on it? Occasionally my granddaughter and I play in front so my dog doesn't steal the ball we're playing with!

Thanks for your research - ps - I noticed you need another moderator - is this a paid position?

Ms Greenejeans
Old 09-04-02, 07:27 AM
howiek's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Acton, Ontario, Canada - Zone 6b
Posts: 413
Hello again Ms Greenejeans

Dacthal retains its viability for up to 2 months, Dimension up to 3 months. Not sure what the active ingredient in Grub-x is, but generally speaking, insecticides are more harmful to humans and pets than herbicides (although cautions should be observed with ANY chemical) and if it contains products like Diazinon, the products' half life is something like 6 months or longer... (There is serious talk of hanving Diazinon use discontinued in the USA, it's already been taken off the shelves here in Canada) There should be some sort of directions and warnings on the packaging with information about when it would be safe for kids to play or if you are having the product applied for you, the applicator should have this information if (s)he knows what (s)he's doing - if (s)he doesn't, I don't think they should be spraying...

If you decide to start trying to re-introduce turfgrass into your environment, remember that any pre-emergent will also affect this seed, so you'll have to allow anything you apply to discipate first (and you'll still have the crabgrass problem)... I have a neighbour a few blocks away that was trying to do the white clover lawn thing for a few years - finally gave up on it and sprayed Roundup to eliminate everything, rototilled and regraded and seeded with turfgrass - not sure what their reasons were (bees or the weed problems you describe), but the new lawn looks fine now...

You didn't really say that you have a grub problem - I'd tend to stay away from the insecticide unless you are sure you have grubs - apply only in areas where you suspect grubs - especially at the margins of groundcover dieback where they are actively feeding. If you do a general broadcast without confirming the presence and locations, you are just wasting product, time and money. Be sure to pre-soak the ground first and then water in well after you apply the insecticide. Newer products like Merit are much safer around children and pets, but caution is always advised.

Please remember with all chemicals, be sure to read and understand the label, including warnings and pay particular attention to mixing and application rates.

Lastly, yes, we are looking for a few more Moderators over in the Lawn (and other) forum(s), specifically a Sprinkler specialist and a Warm Season Turfgrass expert. It is a volunteer position (no pay) - all of the Moderators on all of the forums are doing this to help out fellow members (and maybe learn some new stuff, too! ) For more information, please read Tom Bartco's post at the top of the Lawn Forum or anywhere else he's posted for Moderators Wanted...

Hope this helps


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