Crabgrass is a very common grassy weed in many lawns. It is frequently confused with other weeds or can even be mistaken for turfgrass.
What does crabgrass look like? The blades of this weed grow out from the middle of the plant and resemble the legs of a crab. Crabgrass blades are wider than other grasses, and light green as they sprout. They can darken in color as they grow, sprouting laterally instead of upwards. These weeds appear in clumps, staying low to the ground.
Crabgrass is an eager weed that can spread across your lawn, but it can’t grow just anywhere.
The seeds of crabgrass germinate in early spring and grow mid-Spring. You will start to notice crabgrass weeds in the heat of the summer, as crabgrass needs sunlight to thrive and doesn’t grow well in the shade.
If you’ve had a crabgrass problem in your lawn, a two-step approach of both pre-emergent herbicides and post-emergent herbicides is needed to effectively prevent and control crabgrass in your lawn.
You can prevent crabgrass by applying a pre-emergent weed preventer that’s labeled for use on crabgrass before the seeds have a chance to germinate in the early spring. Crabgrass germination begins soon after soil temperatures reach 55 degrees, so you should apply a pre-emergent before your soil temperature warms to 55 degrees. Some recommended products include the active ingredients Prodiamine or Dithiopyr.
Make sure to do a split application when you apply your pre-emergents. This will help ensure your entire lawn is treated, getting the herbicide to any spots that may have been missed during your initial treatment. Follow the label’s recommendation on when to make your second application to get the widest coverage and best results.
To get rid of crabgrass that has already started to grow in your lawn, you’ll need to use a post-emergent herbicide weed killer. Treat crabgrass plants early in their growth cycle, since young plants are much more easily controlled. Once plants get too large, usually near the middle of July, they are much harder to kill. Some post-emergent products require a surfactant to be effective.
Quinclorac is a popular active ingredient for this type of treatment. Quinclorac products require a type of surfactant called a Methylated Seed Oil, or MSO, to be effective.
Other post-emergent herbicides require the use of a non-ionic surfactant or oil concentrate. Read your label to determine if your post-emergent requires the use of a surfactant and if it is labeled for your turf type.
You should read the label of any herbicide you use to be sure the product is labeled for your grass type and appropriate for your area of application.
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