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I know all the recommendations are to NOT bag the lawn (assuming a mulching mower), however, given a crabgrass-infested lawn (approx 50% surface coverage is crab grass), is it better to bag the clippings and dispose of them rather than let them cover the ground? Our community has a weekly grass pickup.

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3 Answers 3

Adding on to "winwaed's" answer:

  • Crabgrass is an annual weed (dies at first frost) and lives year-by-year by self seeding itself.

  • Therefore if you cut your lawn "regularly" enough so that the crabgrass doesn't grow large enough to form seeds-heads, you can:

    • Leave the grass clippings on your lawn.
  • The problem with the above is, crabgrass thrives in the heat, and you really don't want to be out there cutting your lawn (for the overall health of your lawn) when temperatures are above 90°F (32°C).

  • Video: Will the REAL Crabgrass Please Stand Up? from University of Illinois Extension

You way also wish to take a look at this, "What's an organic way to discourage crabgrass from a large “lawn”?" question here on SE.

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Good info, but there doesn't seem to be a clear "Yes" or "No" response. I am taking away that it probably isn't a good idea to leave the clippings as they could leave seeds for next year because I only cut once every 6-8 days in the summer. If I go any longer than this, the crab grass really gets out of control. In fact, I mowed Sunday (it's currently Wednesday), and the crag grass should already be mowed again. –  Brian Jul 27 '11 at 15:33
    
@Brian, from my experience fighting crabgrass, you can control crabgrass, but you can't totally eliminate it (I use an organic approach to lawn care). –  Mike Perry Jul 27 '11 at 15:49
    
I understand I will never totally eliminate it, but I feel I can definitely do better than what I've got. I see many lawns in the neighborhood that are not nearly as infested with crab grass clusters as my own. I am just looking to get it to a point where I can walk the lawn once a week and manually remove the stuff within about 30 minutes of work (I have about 1/3 acre). I am looking to "control" whats there now so that I am battling less of it next year. –  Brian Jul 27 '11 at 15:54
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@Brian, this year you might be best to cut regularly (every 4 or 5 days) & bag the clippings (during July & August). Keep in mind, cutting regularly during the heat of summer isn't good for your lawn (wanted grass), but to gain (some) control & to get ready for major lawn care maintenance in early September you might be best to bite the bullet this year (during July & August) & cut regularly (every 4 or 5 days) & bag. –  Mike Perry Jul 27 '11 at 15:58
    
@Brian, then I suggest you read the approach I have taken (during the last 5 cutting seasons): What's an organic way to discourage crabgrass from a large “lawn”?. I'm not saying my approach is perfect, it's just the approach I've taken & continue to refine as I learn more... –  Mike Perry Jul 27 '11 at 16:02

From what I've read it propagates by seed rather than suckers/creeping, so you probably want to bag it if there are seed heads present. If there aren't, you are probably going to be okay.

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This is what the crabgrass seed head looks like (photo from about.com):

Before you mow, patrol your lawn. Do you see crabgrass seed heads?

If yes:

  • Pull out each one and dispose of the seed heads, or
  • mow with the bagger.

If no:

  • Mow with the mulcher.
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