Monday, August 15, 2011

Green, green and more green

My pastures look fabulous. Fabulously fabulous, actually. Thick and green and...well, surprisingly nice considering the heat and lack of rain.

What IS that grass that the horses nor heat nor lack of water can seem to kill? Not orchardgrass, not brome, not fescue, not Bermuda nor Johnsongrass. Those I knew. And this was none of those.

I had no idea what this stuff greening up quickly and beautifully in my pastures was. The horses seemed pleased with it, but still, what was it?

So, I checked it out. Examined the leaves, the stem, the growth pattern, found a few stalks that had started seed heads.

Still no idea so a Googling I went.

And...the verdict?

It's crabgrass. All over the place the crabgrass is running rampant, defying the lack of water, thriving in the heat and standing up to horse hooves daily.

At first, I panicked. Oh. Crap. We've all heard that crabgrass is bad bad bad! GET RID OF IT! It's a horrible weed and no self-respecting homeowner would be caught dead with as much crabgrass as I have. I kind of like it, though. While the other grasses in my lawn are brown and crunchy and dormant, the crabgrass thrives and is a beautiful shade of green and when it's mowed, it's thick and springy and soft on bare feet.

Well, yes and no. I researched and researched and researched. Is it bad for my horses? Because honestly, I can't afford to have all my pastures tilled and replanted just to have the crabgrass move back in again.

I learned something fabulous! Apparently, only those living in subdivisions who desire a beautifully, perfectly manicured lawn hate it and go to great lengths to get rid of it. Farmers love it. Many plant it for their cattle as it's highly nutritious and a great producer. It's excellent for horses, too. It's a bit more fibrous than other grasses, which is actually GOOD for horse guts, so it's not something they'll choose over say, clover or brome, but it's not inedible or nasty, either. But the good thing is is it's a later season grass, so all my other grasses (the orchardgrass, brome, clover and fescue) come up early in the season and go dormant when it gets hot and dry. The crabgrass THRIVES in the heat.

Given it's tolerance of heat, drought and heavy traffic, I'll keep it and be grateful for it. The only downside is it's an annual so I have to let it grow up nice and tall and go to seed this fall so I'll have more this spring. I hate letting the grass get that tall, it's hard to mow later!


  1. We've got the crunchy grass scenario going on here too, except for the crabgrass. Val loves it - and it makes a really nice snick snick snick sound as he mows it down. ;)

  2. Who knew crabgrass was good for livestock? While it's been hot here, we have heavy dew every morning, and the pastures are thriving. Too much clover for my liking though.

  3. I love that they enjoy it..and I love even more that it's good for them AND it's still growing like crazy. I had NO idea it was good for livestock. As for clover, I'd like a little more in my pastures. All the bare spots used to be clover, the horses ate it all down to absolutely nothing!