How to kill Crabgrass and Prevent Them from Growing Back?

It is common to see gardeners refer to removing crabgrass as ‘the fight against crabgrass.’ Removing crabgrass from your yard is a real battle as this is a combative grass that starts out looking innocent.

Don’t be deceived; crabgrass is a real menace.

What is Crabgrass?

Crabgrass (Digitaria) is an annual warm-season grass that got its name from the way its stem spreads from the center, resembling a crab’s legs. They are usually found in clusters and reproduce from seed.

Crabgrass is one of the most common grass weeds you’ll encounter in your journey to a perfect landscape design. You’ll begin to notice crabgrass in spring, but it is during the summer months its growth truly explodes.

What is Crabgrass

The summer is when that innocent-looking green grass flips on you and takes over your garden.

Crabgrass is not all doom and gloom. Before you go ahead to kill them, check if you’re among these 3 sets of people.

Three Sets of People Who May Want to Leave Crabgrass in Their Garden

Crabgrass is combative and resilient, but perhaps those are the attributes that make them useful to these three sets of people.

  • Environmentalists trying to tackle oil spillage: research has proven crabgrass can reduce the contamination from oil spillage. Not many plants can grow in areas where there has been oil spillage. Crabgrass will not only grow but also reduce the oil spillage contamination in the ground. So if you’re dealing with oil spillage, you may want to leave that crabgrass in the ground.
  • Farmers growing livestock forage: if you’re a livestock farmer growing forage for your cattle, crabgrass is an excellent addition to your collection. Its combativeness and vigorous growth would be an advantage to you.
  • Homeowners looking for added green in their yard:homeowners may need to add some green plants to their yard to liven the space. If this is you, then you can allow the crabgrass to grow as long as it is not encroaching areas you wouldn’t want it to grow.

Crabgrass Growth Circle

get rid of Crabgrass

Although crabgrass is an annual grass (it grows and dies in one year), the fight against crabgrass lasts several years.

During its growing season, crabgrass produces over 100,000 seeds per plant; these seeds will turn out to be the cause of your many weed problems. The seeds will germinate the next spring, and the circle of torment continues.

Grab grass terminates in spring but thrives and produces seed in summer.

Because of how low crabgrass can grow, even when cut as short as the lowest recommended mowing height, crabgrass can still produce seed. Can you see why they wear out many gardeners?

Knowing this crabgrass circle is your first step to preventing them from growing and removing them from your yard.

Preventing the Emergence of Crabgrass

The best way to tackle crabgrass is to stop the germination of the over 100,000 seeds waiting in the ground.

Sounds daunting, right?

Don’t get discouraged yet; doing this is not that difficult. It is easier and more effective to prevent the seeds from germinating than getting rid of already growing crabgrass.

1. Use Pre-emergence Products

You can prevent crabgrass seeds’ germination by using crabgrass pre-emergence products. These products are called pre-emergence because they inhibit the seed’s growth and stop them from germinating in spring.

Consider a pre-emergence product with fertilizer in it and one with slow-releasing nitrogen to protect your lawn.

Getting the right timing for crabgrass preventers is of utmost importance.

Apply pre-emergence products before seeds germinate. From the crabgrass cycle, germination typically occurs in spring when the soil temperature reaches 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Overseeding

Weeds multiply when there are bare patches on your lawn. By overseeding your lawn, you’re eliminating any open space where crabgrass may want to germinate.

overseeding lawn

An overseeded lawn will not only be pleasant to the eye but will also create an unconducive environment for different weeds.

3. Mow High

The recommended mowing height is not more than 1/3 of the existing grass. This will ensure you don’t chop off more than required. Leaving the grass full will leave no space for weeds to grow.

4. Aerate

Crabgrass likes to grow in compacted soil. Compacted soil will also limit your lawn’s growth, which will mean more bare patches for crabgrass to take over. Aerating the ground will allow nutrients to reach the grass roots and boost your lawn’s growth in the process.

How to Get Rid of Crabgrass?

The best time to start your fight against crabgrass is early in the spring when the grass is still tender and unable to produce seeds. During the summer months, it experiences a boost to its growth where it becomes challenging to handle.

As stated earlier, the best time to tackle crabgrass is before germination. If you miss that period, the next best time is before crabgrass produces seed.

Crabgrass will hardly be affected by common weed and feed herbicides. But not to worry, I’ve got many solutions for you.

There are several ways to rid your garden of crabgrass.

1. Pull Crabgrass from the Ground

kill crabgrass

 The manual process of pulling out crabgrass by digging depends on the crabgrass amount present in your garden.

When dealing with a small amount of crabgrass, you can afford to pull it off one after the other, but once you’re dealing with a larger area, then this would no longer be a feasible idea.

Regularly weeding your lawn, although tiring, will keep crabgrass away from your yard. Do this in spring when the grass is still tender.

2. Apply Post-emergence Chemicals to Kill Crabgrass

Common herbicide may do little or no damage to crabgrass because it is a grass and not a broadleaf weed. You need a more specific killer that will affect crabgrass in particular and not harm your lawn.

These chemicals come in both liquid, and granular options, so check if you have a calibrated sprayer or a spreader before choosing the best time to buy.

Here are a few ingredients these post-emergence killers should contain for the most effective result.

  • Oryzalin
  • Dithiopry
  • Prodaimin

You May Also Read: 8 Best Crabgrass Killer And Preventer To Buy

3. Baking Soda to Kill Crabgrass

baking soda to kill crabgrass

How to kill Crabgrass? Here another solution. Baking soda is a phytotoxin, which means it kills plants. You need to be careful using this method, as baking soda will kill anything it comes in contact with, including your lawn.

Ensure your lawn is not close to where you’ll be applying the baking soda.

A baking soda solution may not be as effective, so using the powder is your best shot. First, spray a little water on the crabgrass, then pour baking powder on it. This will make the powder stick to the grass.

After a few days, the grass will dry up and die.

4. Apply Vinegar Solution

A vinegar solution will kill crabgrass alongside other weeds. A concentration of between 25-30% vinegar will kill most of the toughest weeds.

Mix vinegar, salt, and dish soap in a container and spray on the crabgrass.

Herbicidal vinegar and not homemade vinegar is what you would want to use as they are more effective. Be extremely careful when using this solution as it can kill your lawn, just like using baking soda.


A healthy lawn is key to keeping crabgrass and other weeds away from your garden.  For crabgrass, prevention and early detection are vital as once they produce seed, you have a whole lot to do to prevent them from showing up next season. By this far you may have got a fair idea on How to Kill Crabgrass and Prevent them from growing back.

The use of pre-emergence and post-emergence chemicals will tackle crabgrass, but more organic methods are advised.

About Jennifer Igra

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City known for it’s green gardens. Jennifer, a 30 year old gardener and green living fanatic started Igra World to share her gardening journey and increase gardening awareness among masses. Follow Igra World to improve your gardening skills.

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