How to get rid of crabgrass

Crabgrass
by Scott Berkovich

Many proud homeowners aspire to have neatly manicured lawns and beautiful flower beds, but crabgrass can significantly hinder your progress. This warm-season annual weed can take up residence where it’s not wanted and can be incredibly challenging to remove once it takes hold.

However, with the right information and an arsenal of crabgrass killer products, you can be on your way to giving this weed its marching orders.

What is Crabgrass

Crabgrass forms part of the Digitaria genus and is a tough, hardy, and unwanted weed with flat blades, flower clusters, and seeds. Like crabs, crabgrass forms low to the ground with many legs reaching out in all directions. 

It germinates, grows, then dies all in a single year. However, during that time, each plant can produce up to 150,000 seeds. The germination cycle can then continue for many years to come. 

Crabgrass thrives in the toughest of environments, such as sidewalk cracks, along driveways, and in amongst your lawn. Given its low profile, even lawn mowing isn’t enough to take care of this pesky weed. It’s virtually indestructible without crab killer products and determination.

How does Crabgrass Spread

When you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of crabgrass, it’s essential to know how it spreads. Understand its growth cycle, and you can be proactive with keeping it at bay. 

This annual weed spreads by seeds. Tens of thousands of them are released during the crabgrass’s growth cycle. Once the weed dies off, germination begins, and an entirely new growth cycle of this pesky plant begins. 

Fortunately, unlike some perennials that spread via seeds and rhizomes, crabgrass has a single spread method. As a result, if you can prevent seed germination, you can ultimately avoid a new spread of crabgrass on your property.   

Crabgrass Control

There’s some good news for homeowners battling crabgrass on their property. You can control it. By using pre-emergent crabgrass herbicide, which we’ll cover in more detail below, you can have the upper hand and prevent it from taking up residence in the first place. 

However, timing is everything. Crabgrass preventer products must be applied before any seedlings push through the soil and before the germination cycle begins. Typically, this cycle commences when soil temperatures are ideal for growth between early spring and late summer. 

Guesswork may not be enough for you to get the timing right. Therefore, it may be worth investing in a soil thermometer. Once the soil temperature reaches around 13 degrees celsius for up to five days in a row, germination typically starts. 

Without a soil thermometer, nature may lend a helping hand. Generally, around the same time that crabgrass starts to grow, yellow-blooming forsythia shrubs reach full bloom

How to Kill Crabgrass

With such a narrow window of opportunity for crabgrass growth prevention, it’s easy to miss it. Once the germination process begins, pre-emergent crabgrass herbicide products are no longer suitable. Instead, post-emergent herbicides become a better option. These crabgrass killers target plants rather than their seeds. 

Pay careful attention to the type of product you use. Some are labelled as selective, while others are non-selective. 

A particular product will specifically target crabgrass and other weeds. In contrast, non-selective herbicides will kill all plant types – including those you’d prefer to keep. Follow the instructions for use on the packaging, as each product is different. 

There is more to the crabgrass eradication process than the application of a herbicide product. You may also see value in applying a generous helping of compost or fertilizer in the fall. These can not only provide much-needed nutrients for your lawn but keep weeds at bay, as well. 

If you have bare spots after killing crabgrass or where grass has died off, fill them in by overseeding with grass seed. Otherwise, crabgrass has a prime opportunity to take root.

Pre-emergent Crabgrass Herbicide

As previously mentioned, timing is everything when it comes to using pre-emergent crabgrass herbicide. Apply your product of choice before germination, and when steady rain is forecast. Water activates the herbicide. 

Follow the directions for how to mix the crabgrass herbicide, and make sure you wear gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants. You can then sprinkle or spray the herbicide over the affected area. 

Make sure to apply it uniformly to ensure even and thorough coverage. Within two to four months, you can reseed the bare earth and follow best irrigation and mowing practices to prevent any weed growth. 

Post-emergent Crabgrass Herbicide

Post-emergent herbicides for crabgrass become useful when young crabgrass weeds start to form. At this stage, you’re past the point of being able to use preventative products. 

Depending on the maturity of the crabgrass, more than one application of these products may be required to kill off the plant. Make sure you read through the instructions carefully to ensure you apply them at the best time of the day and with desirable weather on the forecast. 

These products work best on calm, sunny days, after the morning dew has disappeared, and with temperatures of between 18 to 30 degrees celsius. Make sure the soil is moist before applying if there hasn’t been any rainfall, water the affected areas before applying. 

Over the following days, watch out for signs of freshly-germinated crabgrass. You may have to follow up your initial application with a spot treatment. 

Preventing Crabgrass

Short of using pre-emergent crabgrass herbicide, there are other ways to prevent crabgrass from taking up residence on your property. We’ve included some general tips below. 

  • Mow at the appropriate height for your grass height to prevent germination.
  • Apply lawn fertilizer to promote a thick, lush lawn with minimal space for weeds to grow.
  • Water your lawns deeply at six to eight inches to promote long root growth for drought-tolerant grass.
  • Be proactive with over-seeding bare spots. 

Whether you require crabgrass removal or any other range of lawn care services like lawn mowing, spring clean-up, weed control, or lawn fertilization, you can rely on the friendly team at Yardly to get the job done. Get in touch today for a no-obligation quote. Your yard can be back to its former glory in no time. 

Image source: Rasbak

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