How to Identify and Get Rid of Crabgrass

I have often wondered why I can’t get my grass to grow like crabgrass. Crabgrass does well in the heat, it doesn’t need a lot of water to grow, it fills in all the bare spots in my lawn, and it’s always a bright lime green color year round. For these reasons, it’s hard to get rid of crabgrass unless you prepare for it year round. When first trying to get rid of crabgrass the process tends to destroy your yard by leaving large brown spots. This is normal if you use a spray or a granulated fertilizer with a crabgrass killer. The other alternative is to dig the crabgrass out of your lawn, but this approach still leaves brown bare spots in your yard. Having dealt with many lawn issues here are some tips on identifying and eradicating crabgrass from your lawn.

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How to Identify Crabgrass

There are over 300 species of crabgrass (Digitaria) that can be found throughout the world. The species of crabgrass I have the most experience getting rid of are the Hairy Crabgrass (Sanguinalis) and the Smooth Crabgrass (Ischaemum) mainly found in North America. Crabgrass has a long germination period and to make matters worse crabgrass spreads by seed and rooting from the joints called culm nodes which lie on top of the soil. Another example (maybe not the best example, but easy to relate too) of this type of growth is how the everbearing strawberry grows/spreads by off shoots. Crabgrass seeds have been known to be viable up to 3 years in the soil. Some sources have also reported crabgrass producing up to 150,000 seeds.

How to Get Rid of Crabgrass

I wish there was a quick and simple way to get rid of crabgrass. Given the seeds can last up to three years and the volume of seeds crabgrass produces it takes awhile to get it under control. The key word here is “under control”.

Step 1: Start off your lawn growing season with a turf builder fertilizer with a crabgrass preventer. This will help prevent a majority of crabgrass growth before it happens. For an added extra measure apply this once yourself (in granular form) and then have a company like Scotts or TruGreen apply their liquid crabgrass preventer.


Step 2: For the small patches of crabgrass that pop up around your yard try sprays that target only crabgrass. I like to use Ortho Weed B Gon Max Plus Crabgrass Control which is a weed preventer including crab grass that is formulated not to kill your lawn.



Step 3: During the height of the crabgrass season don’t edge around your sidewalk and driveway as well as weed-eat around your gardens. This causes the ground to be void of grass growth which crabgrass will be the first to take this empty space over.


Step 4: Let your grass grow longer during the crabgrass season. A thicker and longer lawn will help to suffocate any other growth including crabgrass.

Step 5: Water your lawn so that is doesn’t dry out and die.

Step 6: If you have thinning grass or any bare spots in your lawn be sure to over seed those areas. This will help to crowed out possible crabgrass growth.

Step 7: Spread a granulated turf builder with crabgrass prevention using a broadcast or drop spreader at the end of the growing season. This will help the spread of crabgrass before the start of the growing season and will lessen the burden if you forget to fertilize for the next year.



Step 8: Repeat and be aggressive for the next 3 to 4 years. Remember crabgrass seeds can remain viable for around 3 years.

Crabgrass can be tough to get rid of especially if you have neighbors who don’t take as much time as you to make their lawns look nice. It’s not a losing battle, but it’s a battle that takes a little time to win. Give yourself the extra boost by using the steps above as well as trying different lawn techniques like, aerating, dethatching, grub kill, etc.

What are some of your tips and tricks for winning the war against crabgrass? Our readers would like to know!

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About Jeremy

Jeremy represents a husband and wife team working together to establish a quick, visual guide to assist others in ordinary tasks. Together they are the founders and editors of this site. In short, with their experiences combined, they are a jack-of-all-trades. For further information visit His and Hers DIY | About.

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