What Kills Crabgrass? 5 Proven Methods to Eliminate It.

The most effective method to kill crabgrass is by using a selective herbicide, such as quinclorac or mesotrione. These herbicides will only target and kill the crabgrass, leaving the rest of your lawn unharmed.

Crabgrass is an unsightly and invasive weed that can overtake your lawn if left unchecked. Fortunately, there are ways to control and eliminate it. One of the most effective methods is the use of a selective herbicide. These herbicides target the crabgrass without harming the rest of your lawn.

It’s important to choose the right herbicide for your specific situation, as some may be more effective than others depending on factors such as the severity of the infestation and the type of grass in your lawn. Additionally, there are natural methods for preventing and controlling crabgrass, such as proper mowing and watering techniques. With the right approach, you can successfully rid your lawn of crabgrass and ensure a healthy, vibrant lawn.

What Kills Crabgrass? 5 Proven Methods to Eliminate It.

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Understanding Crabgrass: Introduction To The Problem

Definition Of Crabgrass

Crabgrass (digitaria sp. ) is a type of grass that grows aggressively in lawns and gardens and can quickly take over the entire area. This weed is known for its ability to occur in just about any type of soil and can grow in both hot and cold weather conditions.

Crabgrass is considered an annual grass, meaning it dies after the growing season and appears from seed again next year.

Characteristics And Identification Of Crabgrass

  • Crabgrass typically has a light green color and coarse texture, making it noticeably different from surrounding turfgrass.
  • The leaves of crabgrass are wider than most grass species and have flattened tips with a slight fold or crease down the middle.
  • The stem of crabgrass is long and hairless.
  • Crabgrass flowers in the summer months, producing small, finger-like seed heads that can quickly spread throughout the lawn.

The Spread Of Crabgrass

Crabgrass can spread quickly and easily, making it a frustrating problem for homeowners.

  • Seeds: Crabgrass produces a tremendous amount of seeds each season, which can easily spread throughout your lawn and garden area.
  • Poor lawn health: Weak, thin lawns are more susceptible to crabgrass invasions, as crabgrass can quickly take over areas where there is less competition.
  • Climate: Crabgrass tends to thrive in areas with hot summers and mild winters.

Negative Effects Of Crabgrass On The Lawn

Crabgrass can be a nuisance, causing significant problems for your lawn and garden area.

  • Competes for nutrients: Since crabgrass grows quickly and aggressively, it can outcompete nearby turfgrass for nutrients, water, and sunlight.
  • Root depth: Crabgrass has shallow roots, allowing it to be easily uprooted or dried out during hot, dry periods, leaving bare spots in your lawn.
  • Unsightly appearance: Crabgrass detracts from the appearance of your lawn and can be an eyesore for homeowners who take pride in their home’s curb appeal.
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By understanding the characteristics of crabgrass, identifying its appearance, and knowing how it spreads, homeowners can take proactive steps to prevent and eliminate crabgrass in their lawns and gardens.

Natural Ways To Control Crabgrass

Introducing Organic Methods

Crabgrass can be a pest, and while many herbicides are available in the market to control its growth, they can be harsh on the environment and harmful for other plants as well. Luckily, there are natural and organic ways to control crabgrass that you can employ.

Proper Lawn Maintenance To Prevent Crabgrass Growth

Taking good care of your lawn is an essential first step towards controlling crabgrass. A healthy turf will crowd out crabgrass seeds and prevent them from germinating.

  • Mow regularly and keep the grass height not less than three inches.
  • Irrigate your lawn deeply and less frequently, to encourage deep root growth.
  • Aerate your soil occasionally, to allow air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots.
  • Fertilize your lawn with a slow-release organic fertilizer to help build soil fertility.

Mulching And Using Weed Mats To Prevent Crabgrass Growth

Mulching is an effective method to stop crabgrass from getting a foothold in your lawn. Mulch helps to retain soil moisture, prevent soil erosion, and suppress weed growth.

  • Apply two to three inches of mulch over your planting bed or lawn, taking care to keep it away from the base of plants.
  • Use organic mulch such as straw, leaves, or grass clippings instead of inorganic material such as landscape fabric or plastic.
  • Use a weed mat to cover the soil in areas where you want to plant flowers or vegetables. This will help to suppress the growth of crabgrass.

The Use Of Corn Gluten Meal

Corn gluten meal is a by-product of the corn milling industry and can be an effective pre-emergent herbicide to prevent crabgrass growth.

  • It is an organic fertilizer that contains high nitrogen content and can provide your lawn with essential nutrients.
  • It works by inhibiting the germination of weed seeds, including crabgrass.
  • It is non-toxic and safe for humans and pets when used as directed.

Companion Planting As A Means Of Crabgrass Suppression

Companion planting is a method of growing plants together that benefit each other. In the case of crabgrass control, companion planting can be effective in suppressing its growth.

  • Grow plants that have a dense canopy that shades the soil and prevents crabgrass from germinating. Examples include sweet woodruff or creeping thyme.
  • Plant plants that have strong root systems that help break up the soil and compete with crabgrass for resources. Examples include white clover or alfalfa.

Use Of Boiling Water

Boiling water is a simple and effective way to kill crabgrass.

  • Boil water in a kettle or pot.
  • Carefully pour the boiling water over the crabgrass, making sure not to burn yourself or the surrounding area.
  • Repeat the process once a week until the crabgrass is dead.

By adopting these natural methods to control crabgrass, you can save your lawn from the harmful effects of chemical herbicides and enjoy a healthy, green lawn.

Traditional Chemical Control Of Crabgrass

Crabgrass is one of the most stubborn weeds that gardeners confront in their lawns. Although it is true that some prefer an organic approach when battling crabgrass, a majority of gardeners resort to traditional chemical control methods to rid their lawns of it.

The most effective way to eliminate crabgrass is by preventing it from germinating.

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Use Of Pre-Emergent Herbicides

Pre-emergent herbicides are the most widely used chemical treatments to prevent crabgrass growth. The herbicide is applied before the crabgrass seeds germinate, making it an effective way to stop crabgrass growth. Some popular pre-emergent herbicides that gardeners use include dithiopyr, prodiamine, and pendimethalin.

Effectiveness Of Pre-Emergent Herbicides

Pre-emergent herbicides are highly effective in controlling crabgrass growth, especially when used in the early spring. The herbicide application should be coordinated with weather conditions and based on crabgrass’s life cycle. Effective herbicide applications require proper timing, application rates, and good soil coverage.

When used correctly, pre-emergent herbicides can offer up to 95% control of crabgrass.

Concerns Over Typical Chemicals Used For Eradication Of Crabgrass

Some chemicals present in pre-emergent herbicides can endanger the environment and harm animals. These chemicals may stay in the soil for a longer duration, poisoning the earth in the process. When choosing a pre-emergent herbicide, it is crucial to choose products that are safe for pets, children, and the environment.

Use Of Post-Emergent Herbicides

Post-emergent herbicides are used to eliminate crabgrass after it has sprouted. Some of the popular post-emergent herbicides include quinclorac, mesotrione, and fenoxaprop-p-ethyl. Post-emergent herbicides require multiple applications since they only target existing weeds/ crabgrass. Gardeners need to be vigilant since post-emergent herbicides work best when applied to younger crabgrass.

Combination Of Pre- And Post-Emergent Herbicides

The combination of pre- and post-emergent herbicides can deliver the best results in controlling crabgrass. Gardeners can use pre-emergent herbicides in early spring, and then follow with post-emergent herbicides in late spring and summer. However, the overall effect of chemical control of crabgrass may vary based on your landscape and climatic conditions.

Traditional chemical control of crabgrass is an effective way to get rid of a persistent lawn weed problem. Whether you choose pre-emergent or post-emergent herbicides or combine both, you need to follow proper timing and application steps to get maximum results.

Understanding the effectiveness and potential hazards of these herbicides can help you choose the best treatment options for your lawn.

Mechanical/Physical Control Of Crabgrass

Crabgrass is a stubborn weed that can quickly take over your lawn if left unchecked. While chemical treatments are effective, they can be harsh and expensive. Fortunately, there are several manual methods of crabgrass removal that do not require the use of harmful chemicals.

Manual Methods Of Crabgrass Removal

  • Hand pulling: The simplest way to remove crabgrass is to pull it out by hand. This technique is most effective when the weed is young, and the soil is moist. Grab the base of the plant near the ground and gently pull it out, making sure to get all of the roots. Dispose of the plant in a trash bag to prevent spreading seeds.
  • Digging: If the crabgrass has spread over a large area, you may need to use a shovel to remove it. Dig around the weed, making sure to get as much of the root system as possible. Dispose of the plant and roots in a trash bag.
  • Weed trimmer: A weed trimmer can also be useful in removing crabgrass. Trim the weed as close to the soil line as possible, making sure not to damage surrounding grass. This technique is not recommended for large areas as it can damage your lawn.

Regular Mowing As A Preventative Measure

Regular mowing is an effective preventative measure against crabgrass. When you mow your lawn frequently, you cut the crabgrass before it has a chance to produce seeds. Aim to mow your lawn at least once a week, making sure to adjust the blade height so as not to scalp the grass.

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Additionally, keeping your lawn at a longer length will help to shade out any crabgrass that tries to grow.

Lawn Renovation Techniques

If crabgrass has taken over a large area of your lawn, renovation may be necessary.

  • Sodding: If the crabgrass has completely taken over your lawn, sodding may be the easiest and quickest solution. Remove the existing grass and weeds, add topsoil if necessary and lay down new sod.
  • Seeding: If the crabgrass has not taken over the entire lawn, seeding may be an option. Remove the existing weeds and aerate the soil to allow for better seed growth. Spread seed over the lawn and water regularly.
  • Organic herbicides: If you want to avoid traditional herbicides, there are organic options available. These herbicides use natural ingredients such as vinegar or corn gluten meal to prevent weed growth.

Mechanical/physical control of crabgrass does not require the use of harmful chemicals. Hand pulling, digging and weed trimming are all effective methods of removal. Regular mowing and lawn renovation techniques can prevent crabgrass from taking over your lawn. With a little bit of effort, you can have a healthy and crabgrass-free lawn.

Final Thoughts: Best Practices And Additional Considerations

Importance Of Pre-Planning And Continued Ongoing Maintenance

One of the best ways to prevent crabgrass from taking over your lawn is by implementing a pre-planned weed control program.

  • Timing is crucial when applying crabgrass preventer. It should be done well before the first seedlings begin to emerge.
  • Regular mowing, watering, fertilizing, and overseeding are essential tasks for maintaining a healthy lawn.
  • Keep in mind that crabgrass seeds require warm and moist soil to germinate, so plan to apply weed control even before the beginning of spring.

Tips And Tricks For Keeping The Lawn Healthy And Crabgrass-Free

Here are some tried and true tips to help you maintain a healthy lawn, free of crabgrass:

  • Mow your lawn regularly and at a high setting. Taller grass shades soil, reducing the probability of weed growth. Make sure not to cut more than one-third of the grass blades’ length.
  • Water your lawn deeply and less frequently. This encourages deep root growth and helps develop drought-resistant grass. Watering in the morning minimizes evaporation and gives time for the grass blades to dry out.
  • Fertilize appropriately at the correct time and in the appropriate amount. Over-fertilizing can burn the grass, while under-fertilizing weakens it and makes it more susceptible to weed growth.
  • After raking or aerating, overseed the lawn when the temperatures are between 60-75 degrees. This will provide a head start for grasses such as kentucky bluegrass.

Long-Term Considerations

Although immediate crabgrass control is essential, there are more long-term considerations to keep in mind:

  • Investing in the appropriate equipment will make lawn maintenance more manageable, including a proper mower, sprinkler, and weed control program.
  • Instead of a traditional lawn, consider alternatives like microclover, clover, or wildflowers, which require less maintenance and are better for the environment.
  • Soil testing and amendments improve soil health, providing an ideal environment for healthy grass growth.

Weighing The Pros And Cons Of Different Crabgrass Control Methods.

According to a report by the environmental protection agency, chemical crabgrass control methods pose environmental hazards, raising questions about their sustainability. Implementing a pre-planned weed control program, maintaining a healthy lawn, and implementing long-term considerations refer to eco-friendly solutions to crabgrass infestation, giving you a lush lawn and a healthy environment.

Remember, the best solution varies according to your preferences, budget, and needs. Whatever method you choose, always prioritize safety, sustainability, and effectiveness.


After learning about the numerous methods of killing crabgrass, it’s clear that prevention is the key to success. Maintaining healthy soil, seeding in the fall, and mowing at a proper height can all prevent the growth of this pesky weed.

For those who already have crabgrass, there are a variety of options available, including herbicides and natural remedies. It’s important to choose the method that works best for you, considering factors such as cost and environmental impact. Whatever the method, it’s important to stay consistent and vigilant with your crabgrass control efforts.

With patience and persistence, you can eliminate crabgrass and enjoy a healthier, more attractive lawn. Remember, the battle against crabgrass is ongoing, but with the right tools and knowledge, victory is within reach.