How to Get Rid of Crabgrass in your Lawn
There’s nothing worse than seeing your beautiful green lawn spoiled by lumpy patches of crabgrass. Not only is it unsightly, but it can make it tough to build a healthy, thriving lawn into the future. While the easiest time to handle crabgrass is early in the spring, before your lawn begins to green up, you don’t have to wait a year to deal with problem patches. Here’s what you need to know about getting rid of crabgrass even during the summer months.
The Hands-On Approach
If you prefer to keep your lawn care routine relatively chemical-free, the best course of action for getting rid of crabgrass is to manually remove it. Yes, that’s right, getting out there and pulling those clumps out of the ground, roots and all. It’s a labor intensive technique, but for small patches of crabgrass, it’s highly effective.
The key to this technique is two-fold. First, make sure that you pull up the entire plant, not just the grass-like top. Otherwise, it’ll be back and bigger than ever in just a few weeks. Second, once you’ve completely removed the crabgrass, you’ll be left with a bare patch. Re-seed that area with the same variety as the surrounding turf, and make sure to water regularly. Healthy, vigorous turf makes it tough for crabgrass to find a foothold, so the healthier your lawn is, the more likely it is to stay that way!
For larger areas of crabgrass, or if the hands-on approach just isn’t working for you, it might be best to turn to herbicides. Unfortunately, these will often brown the surrounding lawn, so if you’re too late to use a pre-emergent herbicide (one that kills off crabgrass early in its growth), your lawn may get worse before it gets better. For particularly bad infestations, many lawn care experts recommend waiting until cold temperatures kill off the crabgrass and working starting fresh in the spring to avoid causing damage to your turf.
If you do want to treat crabgrass patches during the summer, look for herbicides that contain one of the following active ingredients:
These herbicides work best on young crabgrass plants, and should not be used near vegetable gardens or any other plants intended for consumption. Keep in mind that overspray may damage your existing turf, so always apply your treatments carefully and in accordance with local regulations and manufacturer instructions.
Plan for Next Spring
While you can certainly control crabgrass year-round, if you really want to start fresh, spring is your best bet. Crabgrass is an annual plant, meaning it dies back each winter and grows anew from the seeds that parent plants produced the year before. Unfortunately, those seeds can overwinter for three years or more, so you’re not going to get a clean slate just because of a good hard frost.
The best way to make sure your lawn gets a healthy start is to treat with a pre-emergent herbicide, which will keep crabgrass from sprouting. Look for granular applications containing one of the following:
If you plan to re-seed your lawn, wait until after your pre-emergent has worn off. Otherwise, it will keep your grass seeds from sprouting, too!
While controlling crabgrass should begin in the spring, you don’t have to give up on your lawn come summer! With a mix of careful herbicide application and a bit of elbow grease, you can keep your lawn looking lush and green