Crabgrass is one of the most problematic weeds plaguing our yards. From centipede to fescue, regardless of your grass type, crabgrass does not discriminate! Actually, there are over 35 species across North America. Based on your region of the country and grass type, the crabgrass species may vary, but the hatred we have is all the same!
Know Crabgrass’s Weakness
Crabgrass species are annuals, which mean they will only grow for one season and then die. Knowing this tidbit will help find the best way to manage this pest. It is important to begin prepping to manage early, for once crabgrass has seeded, it has already begun prepping for next year. For this reason, you’re wasting your money trying to treat crabgrass in late summer after it has seeded. The best option is to focus on preventing it from growing in your yard next year (pre-emergent) or catching it early in the spring (post emergent)
Crabgrass will begin popping up in your yard, flower beds or cracks in your pavement when the soil temperature reaches 55F and remains there for at least 4 days. It will die after seeding and the first frost in the fall\winter. Therefore, you need to apply your pre-emergent weed killer before the seeds begin to germinate. This is the best bet for a crabgrass free lawn. However, pre-emergents will typically only last 12-16 weeks. This means even with a pre-emergent application, you may see some late-summer germination. Lowering the application rate and staggering your pre-emergent treatment can provide longer control.
Use Post-emergent Herbicide on Established Crabgrass
If spring creeps up on you and crabgrass begins to establish, look to use a post-emergent to control quickly before it takes off. Young crabgrass will look like corn sprouting. As it gets larger, it will resemble its namesake. Blades will offshoot from the body and appear to look like crab legs. Also, blades of crabgrass will be easy to identify because they’re bigger than blades of lawn grass.
Larger patches can still be controlled with a post-emergent, but it could be more difficult. This is because a spot-treatment right on the plant might be needed to control the weed. Be careful of overspray with this type of weed killer.
Rake or pull the dead crabgrass out of your turf and fill in with sod, sand or peat moss. Live patches of crabgrass can be pulled up, but make sure you get the complete plant. After that you should prepared just in case some pops back up.
As discussed above, herbicide control is going to be your best route for a weed free lawn. Use what the professionals use and save money. Check out our quick reference guide below for our experts top pick on weed killer for crabgrass. Remember, apply pre-emergent herbicides in Spring before crabgrass begins to grow & apply post-emergent after crabgrass has developed.
Look at the type of turf grass you have, then see our recommendations for the best pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides.