The 10 Best Crabgrass Killers
10. Espoma Organic Preventer
9. Ortho Weed-B-Gon Max
8. Scotts Halts
7. Bayer Advanced All-in-One
6. BASF Drive XLR8
5. Ornamec Over-The-Top
4. RM43 Total Vegetation Control
3. Primesource Quinclorac
2. Compare-N-Save Concentrate
1. Syngenta Tenacity Turf Herbicide
Why Is Crabgrass Such A Problem?
Crabgrass. The name even sounds ugly. If you've ever had it in your lawn, then you know how quickly it can take over, and how hard it is to get rid of. But have you ever wondered why it's considered so bad, anyway?
Crabgrass is what's known as an opportunistic annual grass, and if that phrase conjures up images of sleazy salesmen looking to rip you off, it should. That's basically how crabgrass operates — it sees its opportunity and moves in with a vengeance, spreading like wildfire over any available terrain.
An important thing to know about this plant, however, is that it's not actually harmful. It won't crowd out your existing grass, and it's not considered a weed. So, if you're fine with how it looks, there's no reason to worry about it taking over.
People who are especially proud of their lawns will argue that it's extremely ugly, though, and that's hard to dispute. By the late summer, a yard overrun by crabgrass will look pretty ragged, especially if it's mixed in with more attractive species.
It will die off in the winter, but before it does so it will disperse seeds all over your lawn. In fact, a single crabgrass plant can produce 150,000 seeds each year. If my math is correct, that is a lot of seeds. This is why it's so important to be proactive about controlling crabgrass if you're not a fan of how it looks, because it can easily get out of hand.
Simple Ways To Supplement Your Crabgrass-Killing Efforts
While a dedicated crabgrass killer is a good way to keep the plant at bay, there are simple lawn maintenance techniques you can use to ensure that your herbicide is as effective as possible.
An easy way to keep it controlled is by simply letting your lawn grow a little longer than usual. If you allow your grass to grow to about four inches, it can help prevent sunlight from reaching the shorter crabgrass, choking it out. This is also why it's important to fill in any bare spots in your lawn, because an open spot of soil is like sending crabgrass an engraved invitation.
Also, whenever you do mow, leave the clippings on the lawn. This will simultaneously nourish the soil while helping to block light from reaching the crabgrass.
Keeping your lawn fertilized is another great way to prevent the pest from gaining a foothold. When your soil is well-nourished, it's better able to resist unwanted growth. Mixing fertilizer with a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring is a sound strategy for nipping the problem in the bud, so to speak. If you're trying to stay as organic as possible, corn gluten meal can help as well.
Consider changing the way you water as well. Turning the sprinklers on for a few minutes every day provides the crabgrass with more opportunities to germinate, which just means that it will spread faster. Consider watering for a longer period of time, but less often, such as 20 minutes twice a week. You want to give the water a chance to penetrate deep into the soil, giving grasses with stronger root systems a better ability to dig in.
How To Keep It Away Once It's Gone
Getting your lawn crabgrass-free is only half the battle — now you have to keep it that way. Luckily, most of the best strategies for preventing its reemergence are the same ones you used to eliminate it before, so this shouldn't require a drastic lifestyle change. There are a few small changes you'll have to make, however.
First off, you have to immediately remove any new crabgrass as soon as you see it. Pull it up by the roots, if possible. It's much easier to prevent it from taking hold then it is to remove it once it's taken over, so don't be lazy if you spy new growth.
After removing it, mulch the soil where it was growing. This helps prevent any seeds from germinating, so you don't have to worry about angry crabgrass children coming back for revenge. Again, this is about depriving the bad grass of light, so you're literally trying to bury it alive here.
Your timing is critical when doing any of this. You need to start your offensive in the early spring, after the temperatures have started clearing 55 degrees. This is when the plant will start germinating, and this is when you must show it who's boss. Apply fertilizer and pre-emergent herbicide to any spots where it's been a problem before, and do your best to bring your bare spots to life.
Ultimately, the most powerful weapon against crabgrass is a healthy lawn. Letting your yard go is a great way to invite weeds and other pests, and crabgrass can quickly become the least of your problems. If your grass is lush and healthy, however, it's significantly harder for invasive species to gain a foothold.