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Spin off : Crabgrass for pasture ?

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  • Spin off : Crabgrass for pasture ?

    Ok...area is VA...Williamsburg. On another thread about good grass choices for the area, someone brought up how crabgrass thrives, and is a good grazing grass?

    Egads, the area around the farmette has exploded in crab grass...while the 'pastures' we've seeded/fertilized are not.

    I'd love to hear from anyone who has actually purposely seeded with crabgrass: Did this work well? Do you consider it a good grass for 'year round' or only a summer grass? If you considered it only a summer grazing grass, how/what do you overseed/add for spring/fall/(winter?)

    also...this crabgrass seems to thrive in this hot spell and remain beautifully green.....What I'd expect (!!) of it, is that wherever we DONT want it, it will appear so...but if we purposely pursued it (!!!) would it be ugly? (I ask because the 'pastures/paddocks' are also road frontage/yard areas.)

    "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
    --Jimmy Buffett

  • #2
    Haven't purposely seeded it (can you BUY crabgrass seed?) but it volunteers very readily around here and as you mentioned will grow and thrive when all the other grasses are gasping for water and cooler temperatures. It is durable, chokes out other weeds very well, and although the horses don't seek it out for grazing (preferring whatever else unless they have no option) it is edible and TOUGH, holds up to foot traffic really well.
    Click here before you buy.


    • #3
      Funny, I was thinking of doing that here too. I don't mind how it looks at all, and our horses eat it well.
      Shop online at


      • #4
        Love,love,LOVE crabgrass! My horses love it,too. I never could understand why people try to kill it. I wish you could buy it as a seed because this is what I would have in all my pastures. Heck I have it in my dog yard and even bleach doen't kill it so it always looks green and healthy. Who needs fancy??


        • #5
          You can buy crabgrass seed here

          Price has come down some since I sowed my paddocks. I really like the crabgrass - but it is just for summer. I'm afraid to overseed with anything for fear of shading the crabgrass so this year I am splitting paddocks and sowing two of them in fescue/rye just to have something in cool weather.

          I don't think the horses LOVE crabgrass but they do eat it. And since they both have grazing muzzles on I'm fine with them not loving it.


          • Original Poster

            Lucky Dog---where are you located?

            thinkrain--thanks so much for the link! Now, you said it IS only for summer---so..where are you located? And at what month(s) do you find it dying off and there for you must rotate them to your different paddock/grasses?

            Anyone in the Virginia area who DOES use the crabgrass year round, or who DOES seed something else into it successfully for the remaining grazing?

            "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
            --Jimmy Buffett


            • #7
              Hey Ayrabs,

              My small animal vet (well, small animal now, he used to do a lot of livestock back in the day) thinks the world of crabgrass He thinks every pasture should have it... it stands up to traffic, is palatable and is drought resistant.

              p.s. Hey, when are we going to meet up for sushi?
              \"For all those men who say, \"Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,\" here\'s an update for you: Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it\'s not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage.\"-


              • #8
                So the consensus is that crab grass is edible and safe but probably not a great source of nutrition?

                I can live with that...glad ayrabz asked.

                My lot is the land o' acidic soil. If I want grass...it takes mucho tonnage of lime and fertilizer and specific weather and the planets must align. And it takes constant work and is quite expensive.

                If I leave it alone I get a very healthy carpet of crab grass and clover with some moss thrown in in the deep shaded spots.

                This year I didn't feel like spending the $300 it costs me every spring to start the yard around my house and figured I'd let it go for a year and do what it wants and avoid the excess expense and work. I just keep it mowed so it's green, looks close enough to grass for me, LOL! (every single year I have to lime heavy in spring, seed heavy twice 4 weeks apart, aerate, fertilize and put down pre-emergent to have an actual lawn. It also requires one or two mid season treatments to kill off moss. In fall a lighter lime and more seed)

                This is the first year I've had my grass paddock fenced and it has a little of everything growing in there. Checked it for toxic stuff and am just letting the horses eat it down this year. Late fall I'm tearing it up, spreading manure, lime and a late seed. Not sure what I'll seed with though. Crab grass/anything low maintenance would be ideal. Don't want to have to water the paddock if it gets dry and the grass is for amusement more than nutrition.

                Anyone have any thoughts on zoysia? That stuff is pretty thick and I'm pretty sure it's impervious to even a nuclear attack. Completely drought resistant. Weeds can't grow through it. As far as I know the only issues with it are: It's invasive and spreads like crazy and it turns an uber-ufly dead yellow right after the first frost and stays that way until mid-late spring.
                But the rest of the time it's like having outdoor carpeting.
                Can horses have that? I can contain it to keep it from spreading.
                You jump in the saddle,
                Hold onto the bridle!
                Jump in the line!


                • #9
                  I am in central NC. The crabgrass comes up in May but is not really grazeable(is that a word?) until June. It will slow down in growth about September and be gone in Nov.

                  I'm set up to feed free choice hay in the winter but I really want some grazing in the summer. Crabgrass fills that spot.

                  The only thing I don't like is in spring when the horses are just dying for something green I can't let them on the paddocks. That is why I'm planting fescue and rye this fall so there will be a little something for them next spring.

                  I have zoysia in my yard. It is great yard grass because it doesn't grow very tall. It actually stays green longer than crabgrass. But the horses don't like it at all. They never graze on it when turned out to be lawnmowers.


                  • #10
                    Some information about crabgrass as forage:


                    My horses seem to love the stuff, any that tries to grow in the pasture does not last long. And it fills in the bare spots in my lawn rather nicely. I tend to be a minimalist as far as the yard goes, if it is green and looks okay mowed down, it stays.
                    There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MistyBlue View Post
                      So the consensus is that crab grass is edible and safe but probably not a great source of nutrition?
                      On the contrary - crabgrass is actually quite nutritious Also makes great, albeit rather ugly, hay.

                      Crabgrass is treated the same way you'd treat bermudagrass. Either don't overseed in the winter and have another source of grazing/forage or overseed with a winter annual - ryegrass, rye, wheat, etc. If you overseed, keep the pastures mowed or grazed down close in April/May so that the crabgrass will not get shaded out as it's trying to germinate again. It also helps to allow the crabgrass to seed out at least once during the growing season to help it reseed itself. It's actually an annual grass but if treated nicely, it will reseed itself year after year.
                      "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

                      Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!


                      • #12
                        The problem with it is that it blows out the other grasses once it gets hot and dry, so that after it frosts you are without forage. At least that has been my experience.


                        • #13
                          SkipHiLad...it's not a perennial????
                          Huh, I did not know that! I spent a bloody fortune annually trying to make sure it didn't come up every year on my lawn, LOL! I just figured it was a perennial.

                          Hmmm, when I fix my grass paddock I might look into crab and winter rye. My paddoc is small so it's more of a snack/busy time for my two horses. They go out on it 2-3 hours per day or so only. So far I don't have to pull them off of it to let it regrow if I keep them to short times on it. Eventually I have a spot right next to it about the same size I want to clear, grade, fence and seed so I can have two grass paddocks and then I'll be able to rotate and can do slightly longer times on the grass. But that's way down the road...it'll be a ton of work.
                          You jump in the saddle,
                          Hold onto the bridle!
                          Jump in the line!


                          • #14
                            There are both annual and perennial varieties.
                            ... _. ._ .._. .._


                            • #15
                              We must have perennial varieties up here in New England. In fact, I am surprised it grows in the south in areas where bermuda type grasses grow. I was really surprised to see Munchkin mom's has it in florida. Without knowing, I bet there are the different varieities like equibrit said for nothern grasses and southern grasses.
                              Where is that line anyhow, where you can have northern grasses and southern grasses?

                              I have tons of crabgrass, and actually was kind of embarrassed at it all. I won't put down chemicals to kill it, and just resigned to the fact I have crabgrass.
                              save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                              • #16
                                Misty - It's classified as an annual (dies and reestablishes by seed every year) but it does a great job acting as a perennial
                                "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

                                Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!


                                • #17
                                  LOL...that explains it SkipHiLad. It must go to seed pretty darned fast because I mow it down the second I see it come up (on the year's I don't put the pre-emergent stuff down in time...it's a small window of time to get that stuff down!) but apparently it's already reseeded the ground.

                                  fivehorses...I was surprised the first time I went to FL in my teens and saw tons of crabgrass too. Looks just like our Northeast crabgrass, but then that stuff grows well in acidic soil and in sand. If I'm not mistaken, FL is pretty darned sandy. Although for some reason I expect to see more crabgrass where it's dry and FL isn't dry. Crabgrass does a pretty good job surviving dry weather here, but it does go bananas after rain too.

                                  Meanwhile here I've got stuff growing like crazy with the on and off rainstorms and on and off humidity and higher than normal heat. Some parts of my property stopped looking like typical New England woods and now looks like something out of the Jurassic period. Huge leafy stuff coming up, the few vine varieties we have seem to grow feet overnight and the other day I noticed the trees surroounding my manure pile are completely covered in wild grapes with huge clusters of grapes everywhere! WTH? Lots of the stuff that are thorny are exploding too. Twice a week I'm out there with the cutting attachment on the weed wacker cutting things back so I can mow without getting snagged off the mower! If I forget to cut the stuff back I have to perform gymnastics on the mower trying to avoid getting shredded or stuck.

                                  thinkrain, how do you like the zoysia as a lawn? I've toyed with that idea for a few years now and am on a property now where I don't have to worry about invasive grass attacking the neighbors. I had a huge patch of it at my last house that was contained between 2 driveways and have to say it only needed mowing half the time the rest of the lawn did. It never ever got a single weed (I don't think a weed could get through that stuff!) and it was like walking on high end heavily padded indoor carpeting! Best stuff ever to walk around barefoot on!
                                  I never use my lawn for grazing anyways and my lawn isn't remotely visible from the road so I don't care if it turns bright yellow for 5-6 months of the year. At least I don't think I care...not sure since I've never had an entire lawn turn that color. Think I should try it? Is it possible to only try it? Because from what I've read about it, once it takes hold of a lawn it's damned near impossible to get rid of it.
                                  You jump in the saddle,
                                  Hold onto the bridle!
                                  Jump in the line!


                                  • #18
                                    I really like zoysia in the yard. It turns brown around Nov. and starts to green up again in March. It is brown when everything else is so it doesn't bother me. It is very thick and does not allow mud to form easily. Wild onions will grow through it and it will not choke out fescue, bermuda or dallas grass.

                                    I don't find it spreads as fast as some people say - could be because I have a very old variety. I've sprigged it in different areas for the past 20 years and the yard is still not completely zoysia. But I've also not killed any competition or prepared the soil so I've probably gotten what I put into it.


                                    • #19

                                      Crabgrass really works for erosion control too and is self seeding & perennial in my world. Horses just love it and it takes overrgrazing & traffic well. Plays well with fescues imho. Needs less mowing.


                                      • #20
                                        Sounds like it is very common and even desirable in OK for horse pastures: