You work hard to have a beautiful lawn of green grass. Nothing can ruin walking barefoot through soft blades of grass than discovering that your once lush lawn has been taken over by crabgrass. We’ll show you how to get rid of crabgrass and restore your yard to a healthy lawn of grass.
Digitaria, otherwise known as crabgrass, is a warm-season weed that grows low to the ground. It has a center grass clump with leggy stems that branch outward, resembling a crab. Because they have a grass-like appearance, they can blend into your yard if there is just a couple of them growing, but don’t let this fool you.
The phrase, growing like a weed, was coined for a reason. Crabgrass is an opportunistic weed that can take over just about any lawn given the right circumstances.
This annual weed can start in small patchy areas and bare spots but will consume an entire yard in no time at all. What was once a single crabgrass plant in the fall can turn into a yard full the next spring through the germination of crabgrass seeds.
Easy Ways to Get Rid of Crabgrass
Getting rid of crabgrass can be a difficult task if left untreated for too long. An essential step in eliminating crabgrass is through proper lawn maintenance and weed prevention. Eliminating existing crabgrass and preventing crabgrass germination is the key to strengthening desirable lawn grasses.
Crabgrass and other weeds will have a difficult time thriving in a healthy, vigorous lawn. There are two steps in proper lawn care. First, eliminate weeds in their entirety. Second, make your lawn as healthy as you can to prevent crabgrass seedlings from being able to take root.
The following sections show you the best way to get rid of crabgrass, whether you plan on using herbicides or want to remove them naturally. You’ll also learn how to use proper crabgrass weed control strategies by maintaining a healthy lawn so that desirable grass can thrive.
Prevent Crabgrass from Growing
Winter is finally over, and your lawn is coming back to life. Unfortunately, your lawn grass may not be the only thing being reborn during early spring. There are several things you can do as part of spring lawn maintenance to prevent the emergence of crabgrass, dandelions, and other lawn weeds.
Springtime Lawn Care
The first thing you’ll need to do in the early spring is to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn to prevent crabgrass from sprouting by killing the seedlings as they germinate. The following is a general method of application, but read the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular herbicide.
Knowing when to apply the pre-emergent herbicide depends on your regional weather. Once the soil temperatures have risen above 60°F, apply the herbicide. Determine this by taking note of the shrubs and trees in your area. Once they begin blooming and budding, you can use the herbicide.
Do not use this method if you already have existing crabgrass or have recently laid sod. Wait up to four months before reseeding a lawn after applying herbicide. If you have newly seeded your lawn, you need to wait until you have mowed the grass three times before applying any herbicides.
There are two different manners of herbicide, and they include granule and liquid formulas. Apply the pre-emergent herbicide evenly across the entire lawn using a spreader. If you are using the granule type of herbicide, water the grass after application to allow the active ingredient to penetrate the soil.
Prevent Crabgrass through Proper Lawn Care
Even though you may have prevented an early infestation of crabgrass by performing pre-emergent prevention, you need to do several things to your lawn throughout the summer months to ensure that the grass remains healthy. A healthy and robust lawn is an excellent crabgrass preventer.
Lawn Care and Maintenance
Varying weather conditions may cause the grass growth to speed up or slow down, so mow your lawn when it needs it rather than on a strict schedule. Crabgrass enjoys lots of sunshine, so keep your lawn full to prevent crabgrass growth.
Use a mowing height setting on your lawn mower that is recommended for your particular type of grass, whether it is bluegrass, Fescue, or another variety of grass. While mowing your lawn, do not remove more than one-third of the grass blade length.
Watering your lawn should also be done at irregular intervals, depending upon your current weather. While watering, provide long intervals of water rather than short ones. A fully established lawn only needs about one inch of water per week to promote deeper roots and a healthy lawn.
Getting Rid of Crabgrass in Small Areas
For areas in the lawn or flower beds that have only a couple of crabgrass plants, you can use one of the easiest and cheapest methods to kill weeds.
Bring a pot of water to boil and carefully pour the water into a watering can. Once you’ve located the crabgrass, pour the hot water directly onto the weed, making sure to saturate all parts of the weed from its stems and leaves to its roots.
Repeat daily until the crabgrass is wilted and brown. We recommend pulling the roots of the weed out of the ground to ensure that it does not grow back.
Best Way to Get Rid of Crabgrass
You can use an organic pre-emergent herbicide for preventing an infestation of crabgrass in your yard. Corn gluten meal is a result of the corn milling process and can be used to control crabgrass and other weeds while also providing nutrients to your lawn. For this method to work, apply it in the early spring months.
Organic Pre-emergent Herbicide
The standard application of corn gluten meal is approximately 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Use a spreader to spread the corn gluten meal through your lawn in even layers. Timing is vital during this process.
Water the grass after application or plan it according to incoming rain. After watering the lawn, it needs to remain dry for one to two days to inhibit germinated weed seed root production.
Kill Crabgrass without Harming Other Plants
Our best way to get rid of crabgrass in flower beds without damaging the surrounding plants is to remove the plant manually. This method works best if you only have a few crabgrass plants.
Begin by watering the area and then let it sit for about half an hour so that the water can soak in and loosen the soil. Use a weeding tool, spade, or shovel to dig down around the root area of the weed. If the crabgrass is young, you may be able to remove it fairly quickly.
However, it may take a lot of digging, twisting, and pulling to remove a larger weed. After you have removed the crabgrass plant in its entirety, fill the hole with fresh soil and cover it with mulch.
Kill Crabgrass Naturally
Here is another weed killer recipe that will eliminate crabgrass from your lawn in a few simple steps. This method is ideal for removing small patches of weeds.
Fill a spray bottle with white or cider vinegar and make sure that you label it for future use. Put the spray nozzle on stream to prevent over-spraying surrounding grass or plants. Spray a steady stream of the vinegar onto the entire surface area of the weed.
Doing this during the hottest time of the day will be most effective. After the crabgrass plant begins to wilt, pull the plant from the ground to ensure that it does not grow back from any healthy roots.
Killing Crabgrass with Baking Soda
Baking soda has many uses, and killing crabgrass is yet another one of them. This alkaline powder will eliminate crabgrass from your yard.
Baking Soda Crabgrass Killer
Water the areas infested with crabgrass using a garden hose. Sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda onto the weed and around its root system. Once the crabgrass begins to wither, use a spade or shovel to pull the weed out of the ground.
When all of the root systems of the crabgrass are removed, fill in the hole with dirt. Sprinkle the area with grass seeds, and water to fill the bare spot with new grass.
How to Kill Large Patches of Crabgrass
If you have an area of your yard that has been completely taken over by crabgrass with little to no healthy grass left, you can solarize the area and reseed for a healthy lawn.
The following process works best if done on the hottest and sunniest days of the year. Begin by mowing the weedy area using the lowest blade setting on the mower. Next, use a garden hose to spray the area generously with water.
Finish by laying clear plastic over the weedy area and secure the edges down with stones or bricks. Leave the plastic in place for about six weeks. Remove the plastic and reseed the area with grass seed for your area.
Make a Crabgrass Killer Solution
This method is perfect for killing crabgrass that sprouts up in the cracks of sidewalks, in the driveway, alongside your garage, or for any other isolated clumps of weeds.
Mix the salt and water in a pitcher or small watering can. Pour the salt solution directly onto the weeds growing in isolated areas. This solution can be harmful to other plants, so avoid using this solution in flower beds or the lawn.
Eliminate Crabgrass Using Citric Acid
The citric acid found in many citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, grapefruits, and limes can be used to eliminate crabgrass naturally from your lawn.
Combine the lemon juice and cider vinegar into the spray bottle and shake well to mix. On a hot and sunny day with little wind, spray the lemon solution onto the crabgrass.
To avoid spraying desirable plants nearby, put the nozzle onto the stream setting. If the plants have not died back within one week, apply the solution one more time.
Kill Crabgrass by Smothering
For small patches of isolated crabgrass, you can smother the weeds for easy removal. Doing this will prevent the crabgrass from getting the sunlight and oxygen that it needs to thrive, causing it to die.
Place a brick, heavy piece of wood, large rock, or any other feasible object onto the crabgrass plant. Leave the smothering object in place for four to six weeks and then remove it. Use a spade to dig up the dead plant and fill the hole with dirt and grass seeds.
Remove Stubborn Crabgrass
If you tried everything else and you still have stubborn crabgrass growing in your yard, you can bring out the big guns and try a conventional herbicide.
There are a variety of postemergent herbicides available at garden centers, and some of them are more harmful to the environment than others. You can choose either an organic herbicide or an herbicide that contains stronger chemicals to eradicate those crabgrass weeds.
Whichever brand you chose, they typically have the same application process, but you should still read the manufacturer’s instructions. There are also two different types of herbicides, selective and non-selective. Non-selective herbicides kill anything that they come into contact with, and that includes your favorite garden plants and grass.
Selective herbicides are designed to target specific types of plants, such as broadleaf weeds. For crabgrass, choose a selective, post-emergent herbicide to eliminate the weed without harming your grass. You should also check the product label for information about approved grass types.
There are many types of grass, such as the St. Augustine and centipede grass, that are susceptible to certain herbicides that other grasses are not. While spraying the herbicide onto your lawn, wear rubber boots to protect your legs and feet from getting soaked with the herbicide solution.
Depending on the product, spray the herbicide directly on the crabgrass or in a thin layer across the yard. Be sure not to apply herbicides on windy days to prevent the spray from traveling.
If you have children or pets, keep them off the yard and away from the herbicides. Check the product label for the amount of time needed before children and pets can safely play in the yard after herbicide application.
Prevent Crabgrass from Coming Back
While the cooling temperatures and shorter days may signal your lawn to slow and stop its growth for the coming winter months, you still have a job to do when it comes to lawn care to ensure that it is healthy and prevent future crabgrass growth.
Autumn Lawn Care
It may seem as if your grass has ceased growing, but it will not stop until winter’s first frost. Continue mowing the lawn as needed during this time to keep the grass blades at a proper and healthy length. During the autumn months, there is less evaporation, so your lawn will probably not need much watering.
However, keep tabs on the amount of water the grass is receiving. Make sure that you rake your lawn regularly during the autumn months. Falling leaves that cover your grass will block out the sunlight that they need for food, and damp leaves on the grass may promote fungi growth.
Summer months can be hard on grass and soil due to heat stress and compacted soil. Autumn is the best time to aerate your lawn. Doing this will remove soil plugs from your lawn, which frees up passageways, allowing nutrients to reach the grassroots.
Aerating in the fall ensures that your lawn has healthy growth the following growing season. Fall is also a great time to give your lawn fertilization to ensure that the grass gets proper nutrients throughout the winter months and resulting in a healthier lawn next spring. You can also take this time to do any reseeding to bare spots in the yard.
Utilizing pre-emergent herbicides to prevent crabgrass from germinating and removing crabgrass using a natural weed killer or post-emergent herbicides removes those unwanted intruders from your lawn.
Using proper lawn mowing techniques and providing your lawn with the nutrients and nourishment it needs can help to control crabgrass and prevent it from taking over your lawn next year and years to come.
Now that you know how to get rid of crabgrass and prevent it from coming back, we hope you’ll share these crabgrass control tips with your friends and family on Pinterest and Facebook.