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How to Kill Crabgrass: Learn Pre-emergent, Hand-pulling, and Organic Methods (2023)

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Crabgrass is a common problem for many homeowners and gardeners. It can spread quickly, ruining flower beds and walkways. There are several methods you can use to get rid of it. We’ll look at the most effective ways of killing crabgrass. Understand its growth cycle, use selective herbicides, spot treat seedlings, and more to take back control of your outdoor space. Pre-emergent herbicides and hand-pulling plants are two options. Get rid of crabgrass for good and keep it out of your lawn!

Understanding Crabgrass

how to kill crab grass
To understand how to manage crabgrass in your lawn, it’s important to know its characteristics and growth cycle. The seeds sprout when soil temperatures reach 55F and it grows vigorously in hot, dry conditions. The life cycle of this weed is quite rapid, so it’s best to take preventative measures early on, like mulching techniques or proper fertilization practices.

Additionally, you should consider soil aeration and water regulation based on weather patterns. Weed removal can be done through hand-pulling, but you must include all parts of the root system. Pre-emergent herbicides are more effective at killing crabgrass before seedlings emerge, while post-emergent products are only effective against young plants already established in a landscape area. Corn gluten meal prevents germination from occurring until after frost kills off existing vegetation, including any remaining crabgrass plants that weren’t removed by hand first.

Preventing Crabgrass

Preventing Crabgrass
You can prevent crabgrass in your lawn by using pre-emergent herbicides, keeping your lawn healthy, spot-treating the seedlings that appear, and utilizing organic methods.

Pre-emergent herbicides should be applied right after winter snow melts to kill off any seeds before they sprout. Feed your lawn regularly with fertilizer and water deeply to discourage weed growth.

Spot treat any newly emerged seedlings with post-emergent herbicides or pull them out manually as soon as you see them.

If chemical treatments aren’t an option for you, add compost to the soil or reseed bare patches of turf grass. This requires more effort but is an organic option.

1 Use Pre-emergent Herbicides

To effectively combat crabgrass, pre-emergent herbicides can help prevent the weed before it even sprouts, making them an invaluable tool for keeping your lawn looking its best. Pre-emergence herbicides like Scotts Turf Builder Halts should be applied when the soil temperature reaches 55°F.

Mowing frequency, water quantity, overseeding, and mulching techniques should also be employed to make sure that any new seedlings are prevented from taking hold.

Aerating or dethatching the lawn prior to applying pre-emerge is important.

Using organic methods such as composting after hand pulling emerged plants will help.

Finally, a proper application of products like Scotts Spot Weed Control with a spreader will ensure you’re not left with any remaining crabgrass plants.

2 Keep Your Lawn Healthy

Keeping your lawn healthy is the best way to prevent crabgrass and ensure a beautiful landscape all year round! Regular watering, mowing at the right height, soil aeration, fertilizing on schedule with good quality lawn food and applying pre-emergence herbicide are important. Proper drainage is also vital.

Follow these steps to keep bad weeds like crabgrass away while allowing good ones to thrive. This’ll make your yard look its best throughout every season!

3 Spot-treat Crabgrass Seedlings

If you spot any crabgrass seedlings, take action quickly! Manual removal is generally best. Use a garden weeder tool and make sure to get all parts of the root system. Chemical solutions such as pre- or post-emergent herbicides can also help. Selective herbicides that target crabgrass are best – don’t use a broad spectrum weed killer. Fertilizing with nitrogen-rich fertilizers can help prevent germination. Soil aeration and good drainage promote healthy turf and discourage weeds. Spot treatments should be done immediately when creeping charlie is spotted – they’re more effective than trying to treat a large area at once. Most selective herbicides have limited activity range against crabgrass seeds’ short germination period and rapid growth cycle.

4 Use Organic Methods

You can use organic methods to take care of troublesome crabgrass, such as hand-pulling the plants and adding compost for a healthier lawn. Mulching helps protect soil from weeds and retain moisture. Overseeding with grass seed also helps keep crabgrass at bay, creating dense turf that’s difficult for it to penetrate.

Soil aeration can be done in the spring or fall with an aerator machine. This removes plugs of soil, allowing oxygen and water to reach deeper into the root system of existing grasses, giving better conditions for new ones.

Natural fertilizers like apple cider vinegar or corn gluten are best applied directly after mowing, rather than chemical fertilizers. Natural fertilizer provides slow release nutrients over time, rather than quick bursts chemical fertilizers require.

A proper soil test should be done prior to applying any type of fertilizer, to get good results long-term. Wood chips, finger grass and layer weed-free straw can also help.

Spraying a solution of mostly apple cider vinegar and some soap will kill off young plantings. But it won’t work on mature plants, so action must be taken early.

Layering weed-free straw over established areas works well as a smothering agent against weeds like Crab Grass. Make sure there isn’t enough sunlight penetrating through so no seeds germinate under them.

Killing Crabgrass

Killing Crabgrass
If you want to get rid of crabgrass, you have several options. You can use selective herbicides that will target the crabgrass without harming your other grasses. Hand-pulling is also an option if the infestation isn’t too severe; just make sure you pull out all parts of the root system.

For larger areas, a commercial herbicide may be necessary. And for those looking for more natural solutions, there are products available made from plant oils and extracts that can help with control.

1 Use Selective Herbicides

You can effectively control crabgrass with selective herbicides, such as those containing the active ingredient quinclorac; studies show they eliminate up to 95% of weeds.

When using commercial herbicides for weed control on lawns, it’s important to know the best time and techniques:

  1. Aerate soil before applying pre-eminent herbicides.
  2. Fertilize according to a schedule tailored for your specific grass type.
  3. Mow at a high setting and only when necessary.
  4. Water deeply but infrequently – no more than twice per week during dry spells or periods of drought stress.
  5. Apply post-emergent weed killers on young plants immediately if needed.

Following these steps will help you achieve successful crabgrass eradication while maintaining healthy grass growth!

2 Hand-pull Crabgrass Plants

You can take a more hands-on approach to controlling crabgrass by hand-pulling the plants out of your lawn. The best way to do this is with a garden weeder tool, as it allows you to remove all parts of the root system.

Start at one end and work in sections towards the other end until all plants are removed. Look for seed heads on each plant which will appear yellowish-green in color – these should be picked off and discarded away from your lawn area.

Before replanting grass or overseeding methods into that space, use mulching techniques, reseeding lawns or fertilizing tips.

Fill any large hole created by removing weeds with soil before planting seeds so they don’t wash away when you water. Then water multiple times daily until new grass has been established throughout the area again!

3 Use a Commercial Herbicide

Take control of your lawn and eliminate pesky crabgrass with effective commercial herbicides. Post-emergent herbicides are the most common and effective way to control established crabgrass plants. These products can be found in many turf products such as Scotts Turf Builder Halts, Spot Weed Control, Triple Action, and EZ Seed Patch & Repair.

When using these treatments, remember to read all instructions carefully before application for best results. Mulching benefits should also be considered when controlling crabgrass: mowing at a high height or considering fertilizer alternatives give weeds less opportunity to take hold.

Water management through cultural practices such as deep, yet infrequent watering encourages deeper root growth, which helps prevent weed removal problems overall.

4 Use a Natural Product

For an organic approach to controlling crabgrass, try using a natural product like Scotts Turf Builder Triple Action. It helps prevent weeds, feeds the lawn regularly and prevents stress. Mowing at the proper frequency is also important, as it discourages crabgrass growth in hot temperatures.

Soil amendments such as compost can help too; its benefits include providing essential nutrients for new grass establishment while discouraging unwanted bare spots due to weed competition from hairy or smooth crabgrass varieties respectively.

Applying fertilization rates according to manufacturer instructions with products like Weed Barrier Fabric will ensure existing patches of crabs are kept under control without damaging the soil underneath them long-term.

The Best Strategy for Crabgrass Control

The Best Strategy for Crabgrass Control
Take control of your lawn by employing the best strategy for crabgrass prevention and removal. Apply pre-emergent herbicides before sprouting, like Scotts Turf Builder Halts. Hand-pull existing weeds, making sure all parts of the root system are removed. If you have a large area that’s infested, invest in organic post emergent herbicides like Scotts Spot Weed Control.

Cover bare spots in your turf grass lawns with compost or mulch. Aerate soil to reduce compaction and encourage deeper roots. Fertilize during peak months of growth (March-October). Overseed at least once per year to thicken the lawn and help crowd out invading weed species.

Water regularly and add compost to the soil. This will help prevent new crabgrass seeds from taking root. It will also promote healthy, vigorous growth, and crowd out crabgrass itself.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it possible to prevent crabgrass from coming back after it has been killed?

You may be wondering if it’s possible to prevent crabgrass from returning after you’ve killed it. The answer is yesu2014with the right strategies in place, you can keep a tenacious crabgrass infestation at bay for good.

Mulch, fertilize, enrich the soil and manage water properly. Aerate the lawn annually or as needed.

Start early in the spring before seedlings emerge and use a pre-emergent herbicide for best results.

Add compost post-pulling to make sure no new seeds have been left behind. Follow up with seeding the area with grass seed immediately after applying pre-emergent herbicides. That’ll give you an even more effective way to eliminate any chance of reoccurrence.

What is the most effective way to get rid of crabgrass?

Controlling crabgrass can be a challenge for any homeowner, but it doesn’t have to be. The most effective way to eradicate this weed is by using pre- and post-emergent herbicides, hand-pulling with a garden weeder tool, adding compost or soil amendments, controlling moisture through proper watering, and using natural liquid form sprays. Mowing at the correct height (2 1/2 – 3 inches) will help prevent it from taking over your yard.

With these strategies used consistently in combination throughout the U.S., you can finally get rid of crabgrass once and for all!

Can I use a lawnmower to kill crabgrass?

Mowing with a lawnmower can help control crabgrass. Mulching and overseeding the area to create healthier turf is an effective strategy, as is using a product like Scotts Turf Builder Halts for pre-emergence weed control. Aerating and fertilizing your lawn will also boost its health, making it less vulnerable to grasy weeds like crabgrass.

If hand weeding is necessary, make sure you remove all parts of the plant’s root system so it doesn’t return later in the season. A lawn mower alone can’t completely eradicate annual weeds such as crabgrass; however, when used with other methods like mulching or overseeding, it can be an important part of controlling them over time.

How long does it take for pre-emergent herbicides to take effect?

Preventing crabgrass is the best way to keep your lawn weed-free. Applying pre-emergent herbicides before the soil temperature reaches 55F can stop seedlings from emerging and help protect your turf.

For an even more effective result, overseed with a grass species that is well adapted to your area after applying pre-emergent herbicides; this will choke out any remaining crabgrass plants.

Natural fertilizers, mulching techniques, and healthy soils are also important for preventing weeds like annual grasses such as crabgrass.

If you choose chemical control methods, make sure to wear protective clothing when handling toxic chemicals or applying them directly onto the lawn surface, to avoid any potential health risks.

Is it safe to apply herbicides around children and pets?

When applying herbicides to your lawn, consider the safety of children and pets. Pre-emergent herbicides should be applied before crabgrass appears in spring. Post-emergent herbicides can be used on young plants, but use caution around kids and pets. Selective post-emergent products are safer than nonselective ones, which can harm other vegetation and grasses you want to keep alive, like wildflowers or ornamentals.

Regular mowing, overseeding lawns in fall, using mulch cover planting methods and aeration will help reduce the need for chemical control measures, if possible.


Your battle against crabgrass doesn’t have to be a losing one!
With the right strategy, you can beat this pesky weed and keep your lawn lush and green.

Pre-emergent herbicides, hand-pulling, and selective herbicides are all great tactics to employ.
But the best strategy is to invest in a healthy lawn in the first place.
Feed and water it regularly, repair bare spots, and mow high.

With this approach, you’ll be able to keep your lawn looking like a million bucks-without spending a dime.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.