As spring rolls in, many homeowners are faced with the return of a yard’s greatest menace: Crabgrass. Crabgrass, or digitaria, is named for the long leave structures that resemble the legs of a crab. Crabgrass is a prolific warm-season weed that begins to appear during spring and remains throughout the summer and warmer period of the fall. As a sun loving weed, crabgrass is often a major problem in sun drenched areas of the yard and will smother other grasses or groundcovers in the vicinity. Fortunately, crabgrass preventers do exist and this is likely the reason you are here. We will briefly delve into the lifecycle of crabgrass and then review the best crabgrass preventers on the market today. What if you already have crabgrass in the yard? Crabgrass preventer will not help in those cases, though it will prevent any additional infestation. Nevertheless, there are a number of fantastic crabgrass killers and tools that will help you quickly resolve your crabgrass woes.
The Lifecycle of Crabgrass: When to Apply Crabgrass Preventer
Crabgrass is a warm season weed that propagates by seed. When the temperature of the soil reaches 55-62 degrees F, crabgrass seeds will begin to germinate. Unfortunately, these seeds, which are produced during the middle of summer and early fall, are not destroyed by the cold of winter as the live plants are. Therefore, if you had crabgrass last summer and fall, there is a strong likelihood that the seeds are already in place and ready to sprout upon warmer temperatures. A crabgrass preventer will halt this process in its tracks. Crabgrass preventers are typically pre-emergent herbicides that act as an invisible barrier to prevent the crabgrass seeds from germinating. Because germination occurs at specific times during the year, a crabgrass preventer must also be applied at specific times. It is best to apply a crabgrass preventer when the soil is approximately 50-55 degrees, as this will typically coincide with a period of just a few weeks before the seeds germinate.
The Best Crabgrass Preventer
Scotts Halts Crabgrass Preventer
$19.99 Est. Price
Scotts Halts Crabgrass Preventer is especially formulated to combat crabgrass all year long. This strong pre-emergent herbicide not only prevents germination of crabgrass seeds, but also oxalis, foxtail, spurge, and other broadleaf weeds without harming your lawn. One bag will treat approximately 5,000 sq feet of lawn. You can click to the left to buy Scotts Halts at Amazon for less than at the big box stores, and with free shipping!
Green Light Crabgrass Preventer 2
$26.99 Est. Price
Green Light's Crabgrass Preventer 2 utilizes an advanced formula to control crabgrass, black medic, ryegrass, sandbur, spurge, and dallisgrass for up to 4 months. This product is a selective pre-emergent herbicide that not only kills crabgras and weed seeds, but also prevents roots development. Reviewers say that when used in the spring prior to germination, the product is strong enough to prevent crabgrass for the entire season. Covers 5,000sq ft. May be purchased at Amazon via the link to the left for less than the big box stores are charging.
Bonide Crabgrass Preventer
$26.99 Est. Price
Bonide's Crabgrass Preventer is a strong pre-emergent herbicide that prevents germination of weed seeds, including crabgrass and other grassy weeds. This product includes also includes a fertilizer component that slowly releases a 20% solution of Nitrogen, a vital nutrient for your lawn. One bag covers approximately 5,000 square feet.
Crabgrass Control Tips
Crabgrass is an enemy to lawns everywhere! Not only does it grow at an alarming rate, but it is typically a different texture and shade of green than the rest of your lawn, making for a major eyesore. In fact, after the first frost of the season, the edges of crabgrass typically brown, creating an even greater unwanted contrast. While crabgrass does die during the fall and winter, it can come back with a vengeance once the temperature rises. Aside from using one of the crabgrass preventer products above, following the tips below can help you make great strides toward a better lawn:
1) Apply crabgrass killers sparingly, and if possible, use a weed extraction tool (Click here for a list of recommended tools) to remove visible crabgrass infestations. After removal, add some top soil and new grass seed to the scar.
2) Use a crabgrass preventer at least 3 to 4 times per season. Pre-emergent crabgrass preventers can break down after a few months, and therefore reapplication is necessary to maintain effectiveness.
3) Maintain a vigorous lawn. When you mow, cut to a length lower than you normally would. You will have to mow more often, but the turf will be healthier, and the additional shade from the longer blades will inhibit some crabgrass growth.
4) Don’t water too much. Some crabgrass species, such as nutsedge and dollarweed will grow vigorously when given plenty of water.