How To Get Rid of Crabgrass

Crabgrass (Digitaria spp.) is one of the most pervasive, opportunistic weeds that homeowners will face. It likes to grow in thin areas and bare spots but will also appear in even the healthiest of lawns too. And let’s face it, crabgrass is ugly. Worse, it can harm other plants, so it must be dealt with immediately. FACT: Crabgrass is a prolific annual weed that produce over 150,000 seeds per plant.

HOW TO GET RID OF CRABGRASS

There are many aggressive herbicides that will kill crabgrass, but there are also non-chemical methods that can be effective. After you’ve plucked up any young crabgrass shoots, here are a few things to try:

  • Smother the crabgrass. – Cover the crabgrass with a brick, tile or any object such as a large black tarp in order to block the weed from getting sunlight. Wait 4 to 6 weeks for the crabgrass to be smothered to death. When the weed is dead, remove it. Then rake the ground’s surface where the crabgrass was and reseed with quality turf seed.
  • Pour boiling water on the weed. – Just like with bindweed or any other problematic plant, you can kill this unwanted weed by pouring hot, boiling water on and around it, up to a 3-foot radius in order to address the root system. Be aware, though, that boiling water will harm and kill other plants around the crabgrass.
  • Spray the crabgrass with vinegar. This all-natural method to kill crabgrass is a great option that won’t cause lasting soil damage. Simply spray the vinegar (5% acidity or higher) on the weed until it’s drenched. Repeat a few times over the course of several days to a couple weeks, or until the crabgrass dies. Afterwards, remove the dead weed, patch and reseed as needed.
  • Treat with conventional herbicides. Depending on if you have a small area of crabgrass or a larger infestation, you’ll spray individual plants or the entire affected area with the weed killer of your choice. We recommended OMRI listed options. Once treated, wait for the plants to fully die and the herbicide to dissipate. Then you can clean up the area and reseed as needed.

HOW TO PREVENT CRABGRASS

The number one way to ensure crabgrass does not take over your lawn is to make sure the seeds cannot germinate. That boils down to following lawn care basics that will create a healthier, strong lawn that resistant to weeds.

  • Mow high – Keep grass healthy and thick by mowing high, removing no more than ⅓ of grass blades at any one time. Mowing high will reduce space for weed growth.
  • Be proactive with weeds – Early in the growing season during the spring, weed early before crabgrass gets the chance to spread. Use a weeding tool (even a screwdriver will work) to pull the crabgrass out with its root, and discard in a compostable or plastic bag to prevent seeds from spreading.
  • Overseed – This important landscaping technique is key to crowding out crabgrass and other unwanted weeds. Depending on where you live, you’ll overseed your lawn in the fall (for North lawns) or spring (for South lawns) so that desirable grasses grow thicker.  
  • Water deep – Watering less frequently but deeper will promote longer, healthier root growth for your lawn and can dry out more shallow-rooted weeds like crabgrass.
  • Aerate – To reduce soil compaction and weeds from taking root, aerate your lawn as it’ll ensure your lawn’s soil is getting enough oxygen and nutrients to be healthy.

Bottom line, the best way to get rid of crabgrass and prevent it from coming back is to keep your lawn healthy and strong. And a healthy, strong lawn starts with soil.

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