How to Get Rid of Crabgrass

Date: 4/7/21
Estimated Read Time: 3 minutes

Crabgrass is not only unsightly—it’s also one of the most stubborn weeds you can come across. It thrives in warm temperatures and dry conditions, giving it an advantage over turf grasses that are more sensitive. This opportunistic plant will grow in the bare and thin parts on your lawn, reproducing and expanding until it’s taken over completely.

What is Crabgrass?

Crabgrass is an annual weed that is common in lawns across Maryland and Virginia. Even if you can’t see them, crabgrass seeds exist in your lawn year-round. Once soil temperatures reach 55 degrees, some of the seeds will begin to germinate. This typically happens in the beginning of spring, giving crabgrass the entire summer to grow and take over your lawn. After the first frost in the fall, most crabgrass plants die, but they’ve already dropped over 150,000 seeds in your lawn that can germinate next year.

Nutsedge vs Crabgrass

Nutsedge, also called nutgrass, is often mistaken for crabgrass. While the two plants may look similar in their beginning growth stages, they have several key differences. Crabgrass grows close to the ground, forming dense mats of organic material. It also reproduces by seed and has a hollow stem. Nutsedge, on the other hand, grows vertically and reproduces through tubers that grow underground.

What does Crabgrass Look Like?

Crabgrass is green with wide, flat blades that grow outward from a center point, sometimes creating a star pattern. Each blade is about the width of a pencil and can become up to five inches long if left untreated.

How to Prevent Crabgrass

While difficult to prevent completely, there are some steps you can take to discourage crabgrass from growing in your lawn. This includes maintaining dense, healthy grass that doesn’t give crabgrass the opportunity to establish itself. You can do this by:

  • Mowing at the proper height for your grass, not too short (ideally setting your blade height to 3 ½ to 4 ½ inches).
  • Fertilizing your lawn regularly to prevent bare patches.
  • Watering your lawn deeply to encourage stronger grass root growth.
  • Seeding bare spots and tending the grass until it’s mature.
  • Pulling the crabgrass by hand, ideally when the soil is moist to make the job easier.

How to Kill Crabgrass

While killing crabgrass is easier said than done, it’s not impossible! Some DIY options, like using boiling water or salt, can do more harm than good. Before you try any methods, make sure to do your research and consult your lawn care experts when in doubt.

Should you pull Crabgrass?

Pulling crabgrass can be effective, but it must be done as soon as possible to prevent the plants from producing seeds. Young plants are also easier to remove as their roots are less extensive, allowing you to pull up the entire plant instead of just plucking the blades. Make the weeding job easier by doing it when the soil is moist.

What kills Crabgrass, but not Grass?

Pre-emergent herbicides can target crabgrass before it germinates without harming your lawn. Post-emergent solutions are necessary if crabgrass has already sprouted. To kill crabgrass and not regular grass, you need a selective herbicide that targets crabgrass specifically. Read all product labels before use to ensure your grass is protected and won’t be harmed.

Getting rid of crabgrass professionally

Picking the right product, when to apply it, and where to put it can be overwhelming. If you don’t know where to start, consider a professional lawn care company. Here at Blades of Green, we offer comprehensive weed control that keeps nutsedge, dandelions, clover, chickweed, thistle, and crabgrass out of your lawn. We use EPA-approved products that are tailored to your property’s specific needs.

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