How to Get Rid of Crabgrass – Best Way to Kill Crabgrass
If you have a beautiful lawn, the last thing you want is crabgrass taking over. Crabgrass is an invasive weed that can quickly spread throughout your lawn if left untreated. Fortunately, there are several effective ways to get rid of crabgrass. In this article, we’ll discuss the most popular and effective methods to help you achieve a weed-free lawn.
Crabgrass is the common name of Digitaria, which is a genus of almost 300 species of grass. Digitaria or crabgrass belongs to the family Poaceae and is commonly found in tropical and temperate regions.
The Latin word, Digitaria, which means finger and crabgrass are also characterized by long finger-like clusters of flowers arranged on branches. They are often termed lawn pests and are quite difficult to get rid of, once they start invading your lawn. Before discussing the best way to kill crabgrass, it is important to throw some light on the life cycle of this annual grass, as this will help you take appropriate measures at the proper time.
The seeds of crabgrass usually germinate in the early spring or late winter, as the soil temperature reaches about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. They produce seeds from mid-summer to fall and then the plants are killed by the autumn frosts. Now, let’s have a look at some of the effective ways to kill crabgrass.
1. What is Crabgrass?
Crabgrass is an annual weed that grows in warm and dry climates. It is a low-growing grass that spreads rapidly, forming a dense mat of leaves and stems that can smother desirable grasses. Crabgrass can produce thousands of seeds, which can remain viable for several years in the soil, making it challenging to get rid of.
2. Identifying Crabgrass
Identifying crabgrass is relatively easy. It has a light-green color and a coarse texture compared to other grasses. The leaves of crabgrass grow in a rosette pattern and have a distinctive “Y” shape. Crabgrass stems are smooth and can grow up to 6 inches long. Crabgrass seeds are small, round, and light brown in color.
3. Why is Crabgrass a Problem?
Crabgrass can be a problem for several reasons. First, it is unsightly and can quickly take over a lawn, crowding out desirable grasses. Second, it can lower the value of your property if you are trying to sell. Third, crabgrass can attract other pests and diseases, which can harm your lawn further.
4. Best Time to Treat Crabgrass
The best time to treat crabgrass is in the spring when it starts to germinate. Once it has fully grown, it becomes much harder to control. In warmer climates, crabgrass can germinate as early as February or March. In cooler climates, it may not germinate until May or June.
5. Preventing Crabgrass from Growing
Preventing crabgrass from growing is the best way to keep your lawn weed-free. There are several ways to prevent crabgrass from growing, including:
- Mow your lawn regularly to a height of 2-3 inches.
- Water your lawn deeply and infrequently, rather than frequently and shallowly.
- Fertilize your lawn in the fall to promote healthy root growth.
- Aerate your lawn in the fall to improve drainage and reduce thatch buildup.
- Apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring before crabgrass germinates.
6. Manual Removal of Crabgrass
If you only have a few patches of crabgrass, manual removal may be the best option. To remove crabgrass manually, follow these steps:
- Dig out the crabgrass, making sure to remove the entire root system.
- Fill in the hole with topsoil and seed with the same type of grass that is in the surrounding area.
- Water the area thoroughly to help the new grass grow.
7. Chemical Treatments for Crabgrass
If you have a severe crabgrass infestation, chemical treatments may be necessary. There are several types of herbicides that are effective in killing crabgrass, including:
- Post-emergent herbicides, which are applied after the crabgrass has germinated and started to grow.
- Pre-emergent herbicides, which are applied before crabgrass germinates.
- When using herbicides, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, as overuse can harm desirable grasses and other plants.
8. Organic Alternatives for Crabgrass Control
If you prefer to avoid chemical treatments, there are several organic alternatives for crabgrass control, including:
- Corn gluten meal, which is a natural pre-emergent herbicide that can prevent crabgrass seeds from germinating.
- Vinegar, which can be sprayed directly on crabgrass to kill it.
- Boiling water, which can be poured directly on crabgrass to kill it.
9. How to Repair Crabgrass Damage
If your lawn has suffered from a severe crabgrass infestation, you may need to repair the damage that it has caused. To repair crabgrass damage, follow these steps:
- Remove any dead or dying grass from the affected area.
- Loosen the soil to a depth of 4-6 inches using a garden fork.
- Add topsoil to the area and mix it with the existing soil.
- Seed the area with a high-quality grass seed that matches the type of grass in the surrounding area.
- Water the area regularly and keep it moist until the new grass has established.
Getting Rid of Crabgrass
The best way to kill crabgrass is to apply a pre-emergent herbicide. As the name suggests, this type of herbicide prevents the emergence of weeds, i.e. they prevent the seedlings from sprouting. So it is important to apply pre-emergent herbicides before germination. The timing of crabgrass germination usually coincides with the blooming of lilac shrubs.
Pre-emergent herbicides are available in both granular and liquid forms and they form a protective layer on the surface of your lawn. This protective layer prevents crabgrass seeds from sprouting. Do not aerate the soil after applying pre-emergent herbicides. However, you can water your lawn, as watering will help in activating these herbicides. Sometimes reapplication of these pre-emergent herbicides may be required, as all the crabgrass seedlings do not germinate at the same time.
In addition to pre-emergent herbicides, post-emergent herbicides are also available that can kill this unwanted weed after germination. But it has been observed that they are mainly effective in destroying only the young seedlings of crabgrass, which are quite difficult to distinguish from lawn grass. As the excessive use of chemicals is not very safe for both humans and pets, you can also consider the option of killing crabgrass organically. An effective organic pre-emergent herbicide is corn gluten, which not only inhibits the germination of crabgrass but also increases the fertility of the soil.
To keep your lawn free from crabgrass, remember not to leave any bare spots on your lawn. A full and thick lawn will help you get rid of crabgrass by leaving no space for their growth. Besides this, maintain your lawn grass at a fixed height, ideal for that specific species by mowing regularly. Mowing your lawn at regular intervals will help you prevent the flowering and seeding of crabgrass. As far as irrigation is concerned, irrigate the lawn deeply but not frequently.
Crabgrass is a shallow weed, and therefore, allowing the ground to dry by watering irregularly would inhibit the germination of crabgrass. On the other hand, deep watering would benefit your lawn grass by stimulating the roots to grow deeper into the soil. Instead of applying fertilizers in the spring, you should do it in the fall, as the crabgrass plant is killed by the hard frost of fall.
If your lawn is not overcrowded by crabgrass, then you can also practice weeding occasionally, as sometimes, the hand pulling of crabgrass can be effective in eliminating this weed before it gets the chance to produce seeds. While applying different types of herbicides, it is important to read and follow the instructions mentioned on the label.
These instructions will give you a proper idea about the time of application and also the precautions to be taken for getting rid of crabgrass without producing any adverse effects. Thus, by following some simple lawn care tips along with the judicious use of herbicides, you can make your lawn more attractive and free from weeds.
Crabgrass can be a frustrating problem for any homeowner. Fortunately, there are several effective ways to control and eliminate crabgrass, including chemical and organic methods. By following the tips in this article, you can achieve a beautiful and healthy lawn free of crabgrass.
- Is crabgrass harmful to humans or pets?
Crabgrass is not harmful to humans or pets. However, it can attract other pests and diseases that may harm your lawn.
- Can I use vinegar to kill crabgrass?
Yes, vinegar can be an effective organic alternative for killing crabgrass. However, it may also harm desirable plants, so use it with caution.
- How long does it take for crabgrass to die after applying herbicide?
It can take up to two weeks for crabgrass to die after applying herbicide. Be patient and continue to monitor the affected area.
- How can I prevent crabgrass from growing in my lawn?
To prevent crabgrass from growing in your lawn, mow regularly, water deeply and infrequently, fertilize in the fall, aerate in the fall, and apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring.
- Can I manually remove crabgrass without harming my lawn?
Yes, you can manually remove crabgrass without harming your lawn. Just be sure to remove the entire root system and seed the area with the same type of grass as the surrounding area.