In praise of crab grass

If someone told you he had discovered a new lawn grass that grows well in all types of soil, requires no fertilization, stays lush throughout the summer, is drought resistant but also tolerates heavy rain, and forms a low, thick turf, you’d think it was a miracle grass.

But it’s no miracle. It’s crab grass. Why do we hate it so much? It does everything we say we want our lawn grass to do, and more.

Maybe it’s the more part that we don’t like.

I just spent the morning pushing my mower through the part of my lawn I call the lower 40. It’s the section farthest from my house, and the part I’ve been unable to keep the crab grass from taking over completely. The stuff spreads regardless of the chemicals I put on it. It’s so thick it’s hard to mow. But once it’s mowed, it’s beautiful — thick, green, interwoven blades form a nicer carpet than any of the fescue varieties I’ve tried to grow.

And it’s self-renewing. I’ve never put out a single seed for the crab grass, unlike the bags of improved fescues I overseed every fall, with limited success. In fact, the crab grass seeds itself into flower beds, natural areas, and even the cracks in my driveway, with no help from me.

I talked to my neighbor today. He’s had the same problem, and we’ve both decided it’s not the crab grass that’s at fault, it’s our attitude. So we’re both going to try to maintain our front yards as “proper” lawns, and declare victory on the rest of our property. We’ll mow the crab grass and admire its amazing ability to survive any conditions nature or we might throw at it.

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