- Crabgrass Pictures: All Growth Stages
- A Photo Gallery To Help Identify Crab Grass
- Quackgrass, Don’t Call Me Crabgrass
- Identifying different types of crabgrasses
- 1. Reduce Seed Production
- 2. Prevent Seed Distribution
- 3. Suppress Germination
- 4. Solarize the Soil
- Crabgrass Varieties: Information On Types Of Crabgrass Weeds
- How Many Types of Crabgrass are There?
- Most Common Crabgrass Varieties
- Less Common Crabgrass Types
- What Is Crabgrass?
- Identifying Crabgrass
- How To Get Rid Of Crabgrass
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Common Lawn Weeds
- Need Help With Your Lawn?
- Grassy Weeds
- Plantain (also known as Plantago): Broadleaf and Buckhorn
- Dock: Broadleaf, Curly and Yellow
Crabgrass Pictures: All Growth Stages
A Photo Gallery To Help Identify Crab Grass
Crabgrass pictures can be found in many resources, but are not always helpful. What do you do when the weeds you want to identify are much younger or older than the photo of crabgrass you have available?
It is important to know for sure, if crab grass is the weed you need to get rid of, especially if you find it in your lawn.
Did you know that different growing conditions can cause amazing variations in plants, even those just a few feet apart? The following pictures offer a good cross section of samples to aid in crabgrass identification.
You will also find links at the end of this article that give a detailed description of how this troublesome weed grows. An explanation of how to kill crab grass should also be useful. Now let’s look at the crabgrass pictures.
Crabgrass Pictures 1:
Pictures of Crab Grass In Different Stages Of Growth
| Crab grass seedlings, compared to a quarter for size. At this stage, the seedlings may still be susceptible to some pre-emergent weed killers.
Click here for more info on When to Apply Preemergents.
Or see a Users Guide: PreEmergents for Lawns
|A young crab grass seedling already has a new side branch ready to shoot out.|
|The coin shows it is still a small plant, but this weed is already branching out in the typical crabgrass pattern. When crabgrass has room, it likes to spread.|
|The wide leaves, or blades, and dense growth are typical of crabgrass that has plenty of sun, moisture, and no competition.|
|This larger crab grass weed demonstrates the star shaped pattern often associated with crabgrass. You can be fooled when growing conditions are different than what this sample has encountered.|
|This is one crabgrass plant, though several weeds will often sprout together. Alone or in groups, they form a dense mat that smothers any competing weeds or grass.|
Crabgrass Pictures 2:
A Photo Of Crabgrass As It May Appear In Your Lawn
These pictures of crab grass show what the young seedlings look like when they first appear in your lawn. The manner in which the crabgrass then grows and develops will vary greatly. This photo collection should help you make the determination. Use the accompanying article at the end of this page for more description if you need it.
|The wide blades and darker color make this weed stand out. Lawn grass that has a wide blade will be cut off square from mowing. The wide crabgrass blades will come to a point when they have not been cut.|
|A light, emerald green color is common for new crabgrass seedlings. This color, and the wide blades, help identify the weed in some lawns. This group of crabgrass seedlings is competing with each other and the lawn. They grow tall first, trying to dominate, before they sprawl out in their typical pattern.|
|This crabgrass looks barely different from the lawn grass. From certain angles, it may blend right in with some grasses. Look for wider blades that come to a point. When you see a patch that looks suspicious, use the technique in the next photo.|
|Run your hand across the grass in order to spread the dense growth. If you find this star shaped center hub, you know it’s a weed. Lawn grass will not flatten out like this.|
|Crab grass compared to bermuda grass. Crabgrass (on right) sends out runners (stolons), but not as far as bermuda grass. Crabgrass usually has a thicker stem, and wider leaves, but there are many varieties which could be larger than this sample of bermuda grass.|
|Since a bermuda lawn is often mowed shorter than other grasses, crabgrass can get started quickly when bare ground appears, especially in areas that get a lot of activity or suffer the effects of inadequate irrigation.|
|As crab grass matures, it forms a clump or mat. This usually grows faster than the lawn, so it is very noticeable a few days after mowing. It will kill off any grass trying to grow through it, if left untreated.|
Crabgrass Pictures 3:
As Crabgrass Matures And Goes To Seed
Hopefully, these last photos won’t be the key to your crabgrass identification quest. If they are, then you have missed the best time to eliminate this weed. Still, try to prevent any more seeds from forming than necessary, because this is the source of next year’s crabgrass problem.
Thank you for visiting the Garden Counselor’s Gallery of Crabgrass Pictures.
NEED MORE INFO? Check out the links below to access additional articles with detailed information.
More pictures of crabgrass are provided, plus descriptions and control methods that will help you find and eliminate this pest.
Go to Top of page
Go to What Does Crabgrass Look Like – A detailed explanation to help you understand some of the differences seen in this photo gallery.
Go to Crabgrass Identification to compare with bermuda grass.
Go to Getting Rid Of Crab Grass
Go to How To Kill Crabgrass
Go to PreEmergent User’s Guide to learn about preventing lawn weeds and crabgrass.
Go to My Garden Needs: Crabgrass Preventer for selected products that prevent crabgrass and weeds in your lawn and garden.
Go to Lawn Weeds general info page, if crabgrass isn’t your only concern.
Go to Home Page of Lawn Care
Quackgrass, Don’t Call Me Crabgrass
Quackgrass is a weedy grass that probably gets its feelings hurt every time someone refers to it as Crabgrass. Crabgrass gets all the glory. It’s understandable to confuse Quackgrass for Crabgrass, as they have some similar characteristics. Both have a coarse leaf blade and are light green in color, causing them to look different than the rest of the lawn. See Quackgrass below.
If you see something that looks like Crabgrass in the early Spring in the Midwest, you can be almost 100% sure that it isn’t true Crabgrass. Old Fashioned Tall Fescue is another grass that commonly is confused with Crabgrass.
Who cares if you have Crabgrass, Tall Fescue or Quackgrass you ask? It’s still unattractive and you’d rather not have it, right? Well, if you don’t know what type of grass you’re dealing with, it’s difficult to know how to eliminate it. For example, let’s imagine you see Quackgrass in your lawn and assume its Crabgrass, You might decide to apply a natural pre-emergent Crabgrass product, or worse, a chemical Crabgrass pre-emergent to get rid of it. This will not get rid of the Quackgrass and you will have potentially used a chemical for no reason. Nobody wins in this situation.
What Exactly is Crabgrass?
Crabgrass is a Summer annual weed that sprouts in the Spring, flourishes during the Summer, and dies in the late Fall. True Crabgrass is only present in the lawn between June and October. I usually don’t see it sprouting until late May or early June in Ohio. At that point, it is young and not as noticeable. It doesn’t get big and ugly until later in the Summer. Below is a picture of Crabgrass.
The best way to eliminate true Crabgrass is by thickening your lawn. This can be achieved by seeding in the late Summer or early Fall, mowing high, and watering 1-2 times per week, instead of daily. You can also apply an organic fertilizer that contains corn gluten meal like our Earth Turf Spring Organic Lawn Fertilizer to help prevent new Crabgrass seeds from germinating. Read more about how to control Crabgrass naturally here.
How to Climinate Quackgrass?
Quackgrass is actually more difficult to eliminate than Crabgrass. Unlike Crabgrass, Quackgrass is a perennial that does not die each season. The best way to handle Quackgrass organically is to overseed the area with desirable grasses, mow regularly, and fertilize organically to encourage the healthy grasses to outcompete the Quackgrass. If it’s really bothering you, you can spray the Quackgrass with Roundup and reseed the entire area. Roundup contains chemicals and will kill any surrounding grass, in addition to the Quackgrass. Use sparingly if you decide to go this route.
When the name crabgrass comes to mind, you certainly think about one of the most invasive weeds. And this claim is well established: with its resilience, crabgrass is so hardy that it can sprout and grow well not only in gardens but also in beds and concrete.
Typically, there are quite as many types of crabgrass as you can find. On a general scale, there are at least 35 different species of crabgrass. However, the most common types of crabgrass in North America are the smooth crabgrass and hairy crabgrass.
Ideally, the types of crabgrass majorly differ in the naming, prevalence, and where they are located. While scientific classification may giver detailed differences in terms of biology, this article focusses on major distinguishing features and unique facts.
Identifying different types of crabgrasses
Some of the different types of crabgrass include:
Short, smooth crabgrass
Although it is common in North America, this weed is native to Europe and Asia. It only rises above the ground up to about 6 inches in height. Its stems are also smooth and broad.
The grass is very common, especially in the summer months. The statistics are quite amazing: it is estimated that about 90% of all the crabgrass in Michigan lawns is smooth crabgrass.
Its leaves are rolled in the bud and it has no auricles. It has compressed sheaths with a characteristic tinge of the color purple.
Long, hairy crabgrass
This weed comes with a variety of names. Some call it the large crabgrass yet others have also named it the common crabgrass. Nevertheless, its scientific name is Digitaria sanguinalis It has an annual life cycle and traces its origin to Europe.
Hairy crabgrass thrives well in rich clay or sandy soil. However, it is so versatile that you can find it on many lawns, sidewalks, roadsides, cracks, railroads, and even waste areas.
On average, this weed grows to a height of about 1 to 3 feet. Its flowers are arranged in finger-like arrays of 2 to 15 spike-like clusters, which are organized in 1 to 3 whorls. It has alternate leaves that measure 2 to 10 inches long and about 2/3 inches wide.
Asian crabgrass is scientifically known as Digitaria bicornis. This name may mislead you somehow. This plant is native to the southeastern part of United States, West Indies, and South America – contrary to what the name may suggest.
While some farmers consider Asian crabgrass a pasture grass, other people see it as a mere lawn pest. Those who find value in it grows it in gardens and lawns.
It can thrive well in a variety of climatic conditions, from tropical to subtropical as well as temperate climates.
The facts about southern crabgrass are quite impressive. Its growth pattern is similar to smooth and large crab grasses. However, the major difference is that it has a prominent midvein.
Its leaf blades can also have either no hairs or just a few hairs close to the base of the blade. Just like the large crabgrass, its leaf sheath also has long hairs.
The botanical name for southern crabgrass is Digitaria ciliaris. It is believed to have originated from Asia, though it nowadays exists all over the tropical belt including the temperate regions.
It is an annual plant that can grow to a length of 1m tall. Its leaves are somewhat well organized, forming a linear-ovate narrowing at the tip.
Despite having a botanical name of Digitaria serotina, this plant native to North America also comes with a variety of names. It is commonly referred to as the rabbit crabgrass or the dwarf crabgrass.
Blanket crabgrass is a short-lived perennial plant thriving mostly in warm climates. The major form of propagation is via seed, though the plant can easily spread by forming roots at respective nodes.
Mature plants of blanket crabgrass characteristically remain prostrate in the ground as their stems run along the soil, though its flowers rise off the ground erect.
It has relatively short leaf blades – usually not more than an inch long. Its leaf sheath and blades are also noticeably hairy and it has short flower stems.
While these are not the only types of crabgrass, they are the most common. Other types are also named based on their places of origin or where they are commonly found.
For instance, Carolina crabgrass is abundantly found in North Carolina. Madagascar crabgrass is found in Madagascar and Queensland blue couch mostly thrives in Queensland.
Besides naming based on locality, quite a number of these weeds are given colorful names that conveniently suit their characteristics.
Some of them include cotton panic grass, naked crabgrass, and comb finger grass.
Crabgrass is a common occurrence, especially in lawns. While some people may plant some of them for their nutritious value. Most of these grasses are considered weed which damage lawns and should be removed.
To effectively remove these weeds, you may- need to talk to a professional agriculturalist who better understands the life cycle of these weeds and can help you with any strategy you apply to either remove or grow them.
– While crabgrass is, perhaps, the most hated grass in the Western World as most dread lawn invader, in parts of Africa it is used as a nutritious staple grain and as forage. It is one of the fastest growing cereals, producing edible seeds in six to eight weeks, 150,000 seeds per plant, a whopping 17 tons per acre.
– Crabgrass was cultivated by Stone Age dwellers in Switzerland. It was an important food crop in China by 2700 BC, and a traditional food in India and Africa. Imported by the U.S. in 1849 as forage for cattle, later, various immigrant populations also relied on it as traditional grains. (4)
Crab grass is a annual, fast-growing to a height of 1 to 3 feet, with branching culms at the base. Roots are fibrous, sometimes forming from the nodes of the lower culms. The lower branches of the culms sprawl across the ground, while the upper branches are more erect. Culms are light green, teret, and glabrous, mostly covered by sheaths. Sheaths are light green, finely ribbed, shiny or dull, and hairy. Leaves are soft and smooth, hairy neary the base, 4 to 8 millimeters wide and an open hairy sheath around the stem. Leaf blades are 4 to 15 centimeters long, 4 to 13 millimeters wide. Leaf blade is green to purple, with silky, shiny hairs. Central stalk of each raceme is light green, flattened, and about 1 millimeters across, with many pairs of one-flowered spikelets along the length of each raceme. Lemmas (the lower bract of the floret of a grass) are flat and enclose a single developing grain. Each grain is ovoid and flattened. (5)
– Ubiquitous lawn and garden invader; waste areas.
– Leaves might be cyanogenic.
EdibilitY / Nutrition
– Seeds may be ground up and used as flour. The fine white flour can be used for semolina.
– Compared to other grains, it has relatively high protein content.
– Decoction of plant used in treatment of gonorrhea.
– Used as folk remedy for cataracts and debility. Also, said to be emetic.
– Fiber: Fiber from the plant can be used for making paper.
– Forage: Has excellent quality and palatibility.
• Nutritive Analysis: Of the subtropical grasses, summer grass yields highest nutritive value. It was also notable as having the lowest NDF level (44-52% DM) and highest OMD (71-76% DM), indicating it would have the least effect on pasture nutritive value. (see constituents above) (9)
• Digestibility / Mineral Analysis: Study on digestibility (IVDMD) and metabolizing energy (ME) study yielded 59.3% and 7.99% at early bloom, respectively, and 42.6% and 5.52% at maturity, respectively. (see constituents above) (10)
Crabgrass — the bane of many homeowners — is a troublesome plant. Not only does it outgrow and outcompete more polite lawn grasses, it can actually poison other plant competitors, according to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Its numerous seeds lurk on and in the soil for up to three years, germinating whenever the temperature rises above 55 degrees and sunshine reaches the moist soil. And even though the Digitaria genus are annuals, the bare spots they leave behind in your lawn provide perfect places for germinating more seedlings the following spring.
Before you reach for the pesticides, try these four other ways to remove the weed.
1. Reduce Seed Production
Pull out as many plants as possible early in the season before they can set seed. Mowing can buy you time to remove plants. If there are large patches, you can naturally kill midsummer weeds using an herbicide containing ingredients such as clove oil and citric acid. Just remember it will kill any plant it touches.
2. Prevent Seed Distribution
Bag any plants or clippings and immediately discard them (don’t throw them in the compost pile or use as mulch!) in the landfill. Another option is to tie the top of the bag and leave it in a sunny place for four to six weeks, which will let the heat kill any seeds. After that, it’s safer to compost.
3. Suppress Germination
A thick, healthy lawn is the best defense against crabgrass. When the ground is densely shaded, the seeds can’t germinate. There are a number of ways to improve the health of your grass, but here are a few initial suggestions:
- Set your mower at the top of the recommended height range for your type of lawn. Quicker-growing crabgrass will have a harder time outcompeting the rest of your lawn.
- When watering, do it deeply but infrequently. This will allow the surface of the soil to dry out, killing the shallow-rooted crabgrass.
- Fall is a good time to plant lawn grass in areas with cold winters, as frost will soon kill any crabgrass seedlings.
If your lawn is thin, you can spread corn gluten (20 pounds per 1,000 square feet) in the spring or before the beginning of the rainy season. Corn gluten inhibits the germination of seeds and breaks down rapidly, leaving nitrogen to feed established grass.
4. Solarize the Soil
Wulf Voss / EyeEm/getty
If you’re still having trouble killing seeds, you can try this nifty trick: In the warmest, sunniest part of the year, mow the plants as short as possible, water generously, and then cover the area with a sheet of clear plastic.
Seal the edges all the way around by digging a shallow trench and covering the perimeter of the plastic with soil. Take care not to puncture the sheet and leave it in place for four to six weeks. The plastic will heat up the ground enough to kill all seeds underneath. You can then reseed the ground with the grass you want afterward.
Crabgrass Varieties: Information On Types Of Crabgrass Weeds
Crabgrass is one of the more invasive of our common weeds. It is also resilient and hardy, as it can grow in turfgrass, garden beds and even on concrete. There are many different types of crabgrass. How many types of crabgrass are there? There are nearly 35 different species, depending upon whom you ask. The most common forms in North America are smooth or short crabgrass and long or hairy crabgrass. Several introduced species, such as Asian crabgrass, have also taken hold in many of our regions.
How Many Types of Crabgrass are There?
These tough plants may be confused with many other weeds and even turfgrass but they bear some identifying characteristics that point to their classification. The name refers to the plant’s rosette form where leaves radiate out from a central growing point. The leaves are thick and have a vertical folding point. Flower stalks appear in summer and release numerous tiny seeds. In spite of this plant’s similarity to lawn grass, it is an invasive competitor that will outgrow and outperform your average turf over time.
Crabgrass is in the Digitaria family. ‘Digitus’ is the
Latin word for finger. There are 33 listed species in the family, all different crabgrass varieties. The majority of the types of crabgrass weeds are native to tropical and temperate regions.
While some of the varieties of crabgrass are considered weeds, others are food and animal forage. Digitaria species span the globe with many indigenous names. In spring, many of us curse the name as we find our lawns and garden beds being taken over by this tenacious and hardy weed.
Most Common Crabgrass Varieties
As mentioned, the two varieties of crabgrass most often seen in North America are short and long.
- Short, or smooth, crabgrass is native to Europe and Asia but has taken quite a liking to North America. It will grow to just 6 inches in height and has smooth, broad, hairless stems.
- Long crabgrass, which may also be called large or hairy crabgrass, is native to Europe, Asia and Africa. It spreads quickly by tillering and can achieve 2 feet in height if not mowed.
Both weeds are summer annuals which reseed prolifically. There’s also Asian and southern crabgrass.
- Asian crabgrass has seed head branches that stem from the same place on flower stems. It may also be called tropical crabgrass.
- Southern crabgrass is also common in lawns and is one of the different types of crabgrass actually native to the Americas. It looks similar to long crabgrass with wide, long hairy leaves.
Less Common Crabgrass Types
Many of the other forms of crabgrass may not make it into your area but the plants versatility and hardiness mean it has a wide range and can even skip continents. Some of these include:
- Blanket crabgrass has short, hairy leaves and spreads by stolons.
- India crabgrass is a tiny plant with leaves of less than one inch.
- Texas crabgrass prefers rocky or dry soil and hot seasons.
Crabgrasses are often named for their locality such as:
- Carolina crabgrass
- Madagascar crabgrass
- Queensland blue couch
Others are more colorfully named to suit their characteristics. Among these would be:
- Cotton Panic grass
- Comb Finger grass
- Naked crabgrass
Most of these weeds can be controlled with a pre-emergent herbicide, but you must be vigilant, as crabgrasses can sprout from spring until fall.
Crabgrass can invade and conquer your lawn if you give it a chance. Little tufts of quick-growing wild grasses can create trip hazards, and it’ll spread like wildfire wherever there’s any open space. So what’s the best way to get rid of crabgrass? Is there a good crabgrass treatment?
Today, I’ll tell you everything that I know about this annoying weed. If you’ve been asking how to get rid of crabgrass in your yard, this piece is meant for you. It may take some time, but you can have a crabgrass-free lawn!
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Good Products To Kill Crabgrass
- Espoma Organic Weed Preventer
- Agralawn Crabgrass Killer
- Scotts Halts Crabgrass & Grassy Weed Preventer
- Bonide Weed Beater Plus
What Is Crabgrass?
Crabgrass is opportunistic and will readily grow in any soil, whether in the lawn or on the driveway. Source: wintersoul1
The Digitaria genus of grasses is widespread, with different individual Digitaria species around the world. Typically, they can be found in warm, temperate regions.
In the United States, the most common crabgrass variety is Digitaria sanguinalis, also known as large crabgrass, hairy crabgrass, purple crabgrass, and a few other names.
Digitaria sanguinalis was originally not native to the United States, but was brought here as a forage crop by immigrants. For a grass, it’s surprisingly protein-rich, and makes a reasonable animal fodder.
Crabgrass self-seeds easily (and can produce up to 150,000 seeds per plant during its growing season!), and has become an invasive grass in most temperate states. It’s adapting to cooler climates as well. Commonly seen springing up on lawns, it also forms in pavement cracks or planters. And it can be hard to kill.
Some crabgrass is raised as a grain crop for humans, with seeds harvested throughout the summer months. These small seeds are highly nutritious. Both Digitaria sanguinalis and others, including Digitaria compacta (commonly called raishan), Digitaria iburua (black fonio) and Digitaria exilis (white fonio) are grown as food crops.
For now, we’re going to focus primarily on Digitaria sanguinalis, simply because that’s by and large the most common weed variant in the United States and is found abroad as well. But Digitaria is quite widespread.
An area taken over by crabgrass. Notice the clumpy grass masses, instead of nice, straight blades. Source: pollyalida
Take a close look at your lawn. Is it made up of nice, straight, single grass blades, or does it seem to all be connected? The connected grasses are often crabgrass, and that’s a major problem.
Generally, most crabgrass varieties found in the United States grow in a round clump. Sometimes these are ragged clumps, and in other situations they’re quite full and broad. In fact, that’s how it got the name crabgrass — the clumps resemble a crab’s shell, with occasional extensions in lieu of the arms.
When you discover it in your lawn, you’ll readily be able to identify this persistent plant, especially Digitaria sanguinalis. There’s a central point from which stems and leaves grow in all directions, often with tall seed stalks from its center.
Most of the time it will be sprawled on the ground, although there are some varieties (such as Digitaria cognata, the Carolina crabgrass) which can grow upright.
Digitaria sanguinalis forms a very dense mat that can mature to be a really thick clump about 2-3″ tall. The more established the grass is, the more likely it’ll spread. Remove this before it can seed.
Crabgrass also provides its own “mulch”, as dead portions of the plant will act as a self-sustaining mulch beneath the live portions. This means it can protect its moisture supply and continue to grow.
If you have bare patches of ground, you may find this plant appearing on its own. It’s quite opportunistic, and will take any available space it can get!
How To Get Rid Of Crabgrass
Due to its tendency to regenerate if the roots remain in the soil, this can be a difficult plant to completely eliminate. However, it can be done. Let’s go over the best solutions for crabgrass and how to keep it at bay.
Early signs of crabgrass in the spring, when it’s easier to remove. Source: Wylbur
Knowing when to kill crabgrass is almost as important as how to kill it.
Ideally, it’s best to kill crabgrass in spring, as early as you can. Since this grass will grow from prior seed once the soil temperature reaches 55 degrees Fahrenheit, young patches will appear in the late winter and early spring months. This is when the plant is easiest to remove, because its roots will not be as deep and it can easily be dug out by hand.
Removing crabgrass should be quickly followed by re-seeding of your intended lawn. The quicker you can get the dead patches filled in by healthy lawn growth, the less likely that your crabgrass will return!
Seed with lawn grasses that grow naturally in your area. You can occasionally use a lawn “patching” product that provides quick-growing grass to fill in lawn holes. Some patching products may contain grass varieties that aren’t native to your region, so be careful to get the right kind. Most local stores carry products appropriate for that region.
As much as I hate to say it, the best way to eliminate crabgrass is to get it out, roots and all. The more you can remove before it produces seed, the less likely it is to reappear. However, crabgrass seeds can remain in the soil up to three years, so this is a long-term project and requires some dedication.
Be vigilant along edges of sidewalks, driveways, and walkways. As concrete or blacktop surfaces heat up quicker in the early part of the year, they provide a great location for early crab grass growth.
Use a good lawn edger and provide a slight gap between paved surfaces and turf to knock back weed growth.
Organic Crabgrass Solutions
Crabgrass seed head in full bloom. Don’t let these seedheads form! Source: BlueRidgeKitties
Once you have gone through the backbreaking effort to remove crabgrass by hand, you can use a pre-emergence weed inhibitor product. Corn gluten meal is the most popular organic choice.
Available as a large 25-lb bag of granulated meal as Espoma Organic Weed Preventer, this cornstarch byproduct will slow or completely stop the growth of most weeds such as crabgrass and dandelions.
However, you’ll need quite a bit of corn gluten meal. A 25-lb bag will cover 1250 square feet, and you’ll need to use it in both spring and fall to prevent weed growth.
Trying to find out how to get rid of crabgrass in the summer? It’s already probably there. You’ll need to use some form of crabgrass spot treatment.
One good option is Agralawn Crabgrass Killer, a powder made mostly of cinnamon bark and corn gluten meal. Wet the crabgrass and sprinkle this on, thoroughly coating the grass clump. This post-emergence crabgrass treatment will kill off the weeds without impacting your lawn grass.
Make sure that your lawn stays thick, avoid bare spots that could develop crabgrass, and cut your lawn at the right height for your grass variety. For most typical lawn grasses, the appropriate height is 2-3 inches. If you maintain it at that height and keep it regularly mowed, it’s unlikely that more crabgrass will grow.
If you’ve a shady spot which grass has a hard time growing in, consider removing the grass in that area and replacing it with mulch or stone chips with landscape fabric underneath. This reduces watering needs, and it can be a visually-appealing addition to your yard. And you don’t have to mow it!
A closeup of a crabgrass seedhead. While those can look like black specks on the seed head, they’re actually tiny flowers. Source: BlueRidgeKitties
I don’t like using chemical alternatives. But if crabgrass has infested most of your lawn, you may not have a choice. You can go through and remove the top layer of your lawn and reseed, but will that get all the roots? Can you keep it from returning long enough to get your new lawn thick enough to repel weeds?
Pendimethalin weed preventer, such as Scotts Halts Crabgrass & Grassy Weed Preventer, is a good solution in these cases. This pre-emergence crabgrass treatment is meant to be applied early in the spring, before soil temperature gets above 55 degrees.
Don’t seed, rake, or aerate your lawn for four months after application to make sure that the weed preventer does its job.
In warmer climates, you’ll need to use pre-emergence treatment twice per year. Use it as soon as the soil temperature reaches 55 degrees in the early spring, and then in the fall to prevent winter weed growth. Once the soil temperature dips below 50 degrees consistently, pendimethalin treatments are less effective.
If you just have a persistent clump that won’t die by any other means, opt for a crabgrass spot treatment like Bonide Weed Beater Plus. Spot treatments will typically eliminate reappearing plants with ease.
You can use more volatile chemicals if you want, but I prefer products that will eventually go inert, which Bonide’s formula does. Only use it where you absolutely need it!
Frequently Asked Questions
One final look at crabgrass. Notice the individual good lawn grass blades behind the crabgrass patch. Source: tyx88820
Q: Does crabgrass die in the winter?
A: Well-established crabgrass has tolerance to light frost, but generally won’t take constant frost-and-thaw cycles. It won’t survive hard frosts and freezes. If you live in the southern half of the US, it might survive year-round. Northern dwellers will see their crabgrass die off during cold months, making use of pre-treatments easier.
Q: Can you plant grass seed with crabgrass preventer?
A: Since most preventative crabgrass treatments reduce germination, it’s not recommended. Wait four months at the minimum before reseeding. If that puts you in the hot summer months, wait until late summer or early fall to seed again.
You can overseed to repel crabgrass, too. In the fall or the early spring, heavily seed the area instead of using preventer. The good grass will take over the lawn, and then you can simply remove any stray clumps of crabgrass that might appear.
Ready to conquer the crabgrass now? I know I am. In fact, I’m going to go dig a persistent clump out of the yard as soon as I finish writing this! Do you have any preferred solutions for your crabgrass growth? Share your tips in the comments below.
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Common Lawn Weeds
Nothing says summer like an expanse of emerald green lawn. It’s a place for children to play, dogs to romp and you to practice your putting skills before heading out to the golf course. Can’t you just feel your blood pressure dropping?
Unfortunately cultivated turf is easily colonized by other plants in addition to the grass seed you so lovingly nurtured. Weeds are a major lawn annoyance. Their seeds often lie dormant in the soil for years; when that soil is disturbed – by heavy rain, by insect activity or by trauma — they seize their chance to germinate. Choosing the right turf for your climate conditions, watering regularly to maintain growth, and mowing to just the right height will go a long way toward maintaining the kind of vigorous grass cover that is resistant to weeds.
But even the most vigorous turf will sprout weeds occasionally. Below is a list of common lawn weeds and some suggestions about how to get rid of them.
Dandelions would be such a useful plant, if only they knew their place. (Not your lawn!) They have more vitamins and minerals than most vegetables, and the flowers and the leaves are tasty additions to salads. Dandelions have been used in both traditional Native American and Chinese folk medicine as a natural diuretic in the treatment of liver and kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and stomach upset.
They make your lawn look unkempt and overgrown though, and can become part of a personal vendetta for even the most mild-mannered homeowner.
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There’s more to the dandelion than meets the eye. Specifically, beneath that cluster of flowers and leaves sits a very long taproot. Mowing may remove the cluster but it won’t have any affect on the taproot.
The taproot must be either removed in its entirety (weeding) or poisoned (herbicides) in order to prevent the flowers from springing back again. Commercial weed killers like Weed-B-Gon (a popular weed killer designed to be used on a lawn) or Weed-n-Feed (a combination weed killer/fertilizer) are absolutely useless in the fight against dandelions because they never touch the taproot. Nonselective herbicides like Roundup will kill dandelions – but they will also leave ugly brown craters on your beautiful grass. You don’t really want that, do you?
The most effective way of controlling dandelion growth is to dig the taproots out by hand with the help of an inexpensive, fork-like gardening tool called a weed digger, and then to sprinkle a little herbicide in the hole you’ve created to kill any portions of the taproot you didn’t succeed in removing.
Call it crabgrass, call it finger grass – its official name is Digitaria and it’s characterized by spiky clumps of a different color and texture than the rest of your gorgeous green lawn. Crab crass is an annual, and a single plant is capable of producing 150,000 seeds in a growing season if it is not checked.
The most effective means of controlling crabgrass is by applying a pre-emergent herbicide like Dimension or Tupersan that will kill its seedlings as they germinate. Of course you will need to read the label carefully and follow its instructions exactly. This may require measuring your lawn so you know how much to use.
You may apply a pre-emergent herbicide more than once, but never apply it proactively to new sod. You will need to water your lawn immediately after applying the herbicide as water activates its ingredients.
Determining when to apply a crabgrass pre-emergent herbicide is an art rather than a science, and will depend upon climate conditions where you live. Generally the rule of thumb is to apply it when soil temperatures have been greater than 60 degrees Fahrenheit for ten days in a row.
Plantain (also known as Plantago): Broadleaf and Buckhorn
Another weed with a respectable folk medicine heritage, these purplish dark green leaves push out from your lawn giving rise to rattail-like seed heads that are often ten inches high.
Hand-weeding is the most effective way of controlling small patches of these plants as their root systems are not particularly deep. They can also be controlled through the application of a post emergence herbicide in early fall, but be careful here to choose a pesticide that is compatible (i.e. will not kill) the turf grass that you’ve planted.
Seems almost a shame to get rid of clover – after all if you find one with four leaves, it’s almost as good as winning the lottery, right? Nevertheless there’s no getting around the fact that clover is not what you planted when you laid out your lawn.
Of course white clover was actually once an ingredient in most commercial lawn seed mixes. The distinctive white blossoms are pretty, and it does help fix nitrogen in your soil. The problem is that its growing season is much shorter than your lawn’s, and when it begins to go dormant in mid-summer, your grass is left with ugly brown patches.
To remove clover, apply a post emergence herbicide in early fall. (See the section on Plantains above.) An herbicide containing either triclopyr or mecoprop +2,4-D + dicamba works best, and make sure to choose a windless day for the application.
Dock: Broadleaf, Curly and Yellow
Curly dock can be unsightly, and dangerous to the household pets – the ASPCA lists yellow dock as being poisonous to dogs. Before it flowers, it’s a spiky green plant with serrated leaves close to the ground; its flowers shoot up on long narrow spikes arising from the center of the plant. Like dandelions, curly dock has a long tap root so the most effective way of getting rid of it is to dig the plants out by hand, removing as much of the root as you can, and then to sprinkle a little bit of herbicide into the hole.
Carpetweed is an annual that grows close to the ground, sprouting rapidly as the summer grows hotter. Its root system is very shallow so it can easily be weeded out by hand.