How to Kill Crabgrass: Tips for a Lush Lawn

Did you know that a single crabgrass plant can produce thousands of seeds? That’s right. This hard-to-kill annual weed has the potential to turn a perfectly manicured lawn into a sea of unsightly grass.

With its ability to thrive in hot, dry conditions, crabgrass can quickly take over your yard, choking out your desired grass and ruining the aesthetic appeal of your landscape.

But fear not! This article will share practical tips and strategies for preventing and killing crabgrass, ensuring your lawn stays lush and beautiful throughout the year. From targeted treatments to proactive prevention methods, we’ve got you covered.

Key Takeaways:

  • Crabgrass is an opportunistic annual weed that can quickly spread and take over your lawn.
  • A single crabgrass plant can produce thousands of seeds, leading to a recurring problem if left untreated.
  • Preventing crabgrass in the spring is easier and more effective than eliminating it later in the season.
  • Effective methods to kill crabgrass include targeted treatments and manual removal.
  • Proper lawn care techniques, such as mowing at the correct height and regular feeding, can help prevent crabgrass infestations.
Crabgrasses (Digitaria spp.)

Midwestern lawns are home to various annual grassy weeds, including crabgrass, quackgrass, and barnyardgrass.

Crabgrass weeds have wider leaf blades and yellowish-green colors, which are undesirable compared to traditional turfgrasses like Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescues. Crabgrass forms patches that crowd out desirable grasses, leaving bare patches when it dies in the fall.

It can invade lawns that become thin and less competitive due to drought, disease, insects, low nitrogen fertility, or improper cultural practices. Crabgrass is a warm-season annual grass germinating seeds during hot weather and dry conditions, but summer heat reduces growth rates for cool-season turfgrasses.

Accurate identification of crabgrass is necessary for effective management.

The plant gets its name because the stems grow low to the ground and resemble crab legs radiating from the center of the grass clump. When they first emerge, leaves grow upright; they will grow parallel to the ground as they mature.

Look at the image below and correctly identify crabgrass around your lawn.


How to Kill Crabgrass

If you have only a few crabgrass plants in your lawn, there are effective methods to eliminate them. One option is to use a ready-to-use product such as Scotts® Spot Weed Control—For Lawns.

This spray is specifically formulated to kill various weeds, including crabgrass, right down to the root without harming your lawn. Apply the product directly to the crabgrass plants, and you’ll start seeing results quickly.

You can manually remove crabgrass from your lawn if you prefer a more hands-on approach.

All you need is a hand trowel or a digging knife. Make sure to tackle the problem early in the season before the plants can produce seeds. Carefully dig around the crabgrass plant, loosening the soil and exposing the roots.

Then, firmly grasp the plant as close to the ground as possible and pull it out, removing all of its roots.

kill crabgrass

How to Prevent Crabgrass in the Spring

Preventing crabgrass in the spring is crucial to avoid a summer infestation. Crabgrass seeds can start germinating once the soil reaches 55 °F, so applying crabgrass preventers is essential for effective crabgrass prevention. One recommended crabgrass preventer is Scotts® Turf Builder® Halts® Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food.

If you also deal with broadleaf weeds like dandelion and clover, consider using Scotts® Turf Builder® Triple Action. This product not only prevents crabgrass but also kills various common weeds.

In addition to using crabgrass preventers, there are other steps you can take to enhance spring crabgrass prevention:

  1. Mow at the proper height: Maintaining your lawn at the correct mowing height can help discourage crabgrass growth. Most grass types have an ideal mowing height of around 2-3 inches.
  2. Feed your lawn regularly: Providing your lawn with a high-quality lawn fertilizer will help strengthen the grass, making it more resistant to crabgrass invasions.
  3. Deep watering: Watering your lawn deeply and infrequently promotes deeper root growth in your grass, helping it compete against crabgrass.
  4. Repair lawn damage: Fill in bare patches in your lawn promptly to prevent crabgrass from taking advantage of open spaces.

By following these tips and incorporating crabgrass preventers like Scotts® Turf Builder® Halts® Crabgrass Preventer or Scotts® Turf Builder® Triple Action into your lawn care routine, you can effectively prevent crabgrass from taking over your beautiful lawn in the spring.

spring crabgrass prevention

How to Get Rid of Crabgrass by Hand

If you have a small crabgrass infestation, manual removal is an effective method to eliminate it from your lawn.

By hand-pulling the crabgrass, you can ensure its complete removal and prevent regrowth. Below are the steps to manually remove crabgrass:

  1. Use a garden weeder tool designed explicitly for removing crabgrass roots. The tool should have a sharp, pointed end to penetrate the soil easily.
  2. Identify the crabgrass plants in your lawn. They typically have low, spreading stems and wide leaves.
  3. Position the weeder tool near the base of the crabgrass plant, ensuring it reaches beneath the roots.
  4. Apply pressure with the tool’s handle to drive it deep into the ground.
  5. Gently pull the tool back towards you, lifting the crabgrass plant and its roots out of the soil.
  6. Inspect the removed crabgrass to make sure the entire plant, including the roots, has been extracted.
  7. Dispose of the removed crabgrass in a sealed bag to prevent the spread of seeds.

When manually removing crabgrass, it’s crucial to be thorough, as any remaining roots can lead to regrowth. Regularly inspect your lawn for new crabgrass plants and repeat the hand-pulling process as necessary.

How to Treat Poa Annua Weeds

Poa annua is a typical winter weed that can cause bare spots in lawns. This weed produces hundreds of seeds and can stay dormant for several years before sprouting again.

To effectively treat poa annua, it is recommended to apply a pre-emergent herbicide during the winter and early spring. This treatment will prevent the seeds from germinating, helping to control the spread of poa annua.

In addition to using herbicides, implementing proper lawn care practices can also help prevent poa annua.

Avoid over-irrigation, as excessively watering the lawn can create favorable conditions for poa annua to thrive. Maintaining the proper mowing height and regularly aerating the lawn will also help reduce the occurrence of this winter weed.

By combining the use of pre-emergent herbicides and adopting good lawn care practices, you can effectively control and prevent the spread of poa annua weeds.

Taking a proactive approach to winter weed control will help you maintain a lush and healthy lawn throughout the year.

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