How to Permanently Kill Crabgrass

Joseph Gilpin
By Joseph Gilpin • Last Updated: June 15, 2022
How to Permanently Kill Crabgrass

Crabgrass seeds are weed seeds that grow in harsh and extreme conditions.

The seeds are extremely bad for homeowners who aim to grow thick, healthy, and green lawns because the weed can kill and overtake the entire lawn!

The most effective method to get rid of crabgrass is by applying a selective post-emergent crabgrass killer that contains Quinclorac. The Quinclorac ingredient is what will kill lawn weeds without killing lawn grasses.

You can safely apply Quinclorac for the following grass types: Bermuda, Zoysia, and Fescue. However, do not use Quinclorac on lawn grass like St. Augustine and Floratam.

Read more to learn methods, tips, and tricks on dealing with these nasty seeds, as well as learning how to do proper lawn care!

Best Overall

Syngenta Tenacity Turf Herbicide

🔥 Top Pick

BASF Drive XLR8 Crabgrass Herbicide

Budget

Celcius WG Herbicide 6666194

The Best Products to Treat Crabgrass

Do you want to know the products to use to kill crabgrass right off the bat? DON’T WORRY! You’re in luck!

Here are some of the best products to treat the crabgrass issue your lawn suffers from!

Best for Cool-Season Grasses

Syngenta Tenacity Turf Herbicide

The Syngenta Tenacity Turf Herbicide is a pre-emergent herbicide and a post-emergent herbicide crabgrass killer!

The product allows you to kill many other weeds, especially those tough grass weeds that are difficult to kill, and control crabgrass.

Not only is it powerful, but it is also STRONG enough that it kills weeds to the root!

Alternative Product

Spectracide Weed Stop for Lawns

The Weed Stop is an excellent alternative to the Syngenta due to its similar properties in being both a pre-emergent and post-emergent!

However, if you plan to use this as a post-emergent, we HIGHLY RECOMMEND its liquid form because its granular form is not the best compared to other post-emergent herbicides.

Best for Bermuda, Zoysia

Drive XLR8 Herbicide

The Drive XLR8 Herbicide is the MOST effective selective crabgrass killer in the market right now!

One of its most beneficial features is that it is rainproof within 24 hours, meaning there is NO NEED to worry about the rain or water washing it off.

Due to its effectiveness, you will see results as short as a week!

Best for St. Augustine Grass & Centipede Grass

Bayer Celsius WG

The Bayer Celsius WG is one of the best products, permanently killing crabgrass and ensuring a healthy lawn for you.

Its ingredients ensure that it kills weed seeds to the ROOT.

Not only does it kill crabgrass effectively, but it also has the capabilities of killing DOZENS of other weeds as well!

One of the best, if not the best, features of this product is that it does NOT affect lawn grass at ALL. It is completely safe to use on your lawn!

Best Time to Get Rid of Crabgrass

Crabgrass looks and acts like other grasses on your lawn. Due to that, something as simple as applying a combination of herbicides won’t kill crabgrass.

What’s important in obtaining crabgrass control is to find the PERFECT timing.

Crabgrass preventers work BEST before crabgrass seedlings emerge through the soil.

The timing is KEY if you want to permanently get rid of crabgrass off your lawn.

Before that, it is important to distinguish the difference between controlling perennial grass and annual grass.

Annual and bi-annual new grass weeds have dormant periods while crabgrass thrives all year, hence why it is perennial.

How to kill crabgrass in your lawn naturally and without killing lawn grass.

Seasons to Maintain

Here is the life-cycle of the lawn weed, crabgrass, so that you will have a better understanding and timing on how to kill crabgrass for good, as well as up your lawn care!

NOTE: Crabgrass thrives during the spring and summer seasons, specifically March-October.

Early Spring

During early spring, apply any pre-emergent herbicides! It will prevent crabgrass germination on your lawn.

It is best to do this during the spring season because the soil temperature, at that time, is roughly around 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is when crabgrass seeds germinate on the lawn. Applying a pre-emergent herbicide will PREVENT germination from happening.

If you do not want a crabgrass seed to overtake your lawn, apply crabgrass pre-emergent IMMEDIATELY.

Mid Summer – Early Fall

When you start seeing crabgrass sprouts during that season, it’s the PERFECT time to use any potent crabgrass post-emergent herbicides to kill existing weeds in your lawn.

The midsummer to early fall season is usually warm weather, meaning soil temperatures will be higher, and crabgrass blooms and produces crabgrass seeds.

Once the crabgrass sprouts, pre-emergents are useless, and you need something stronger to prevent further weed growth.

It is the best time to apply a post-emergent crabgrass killer this season!

Winter

Winter is the season when crabgrass seeds become DORMANT. The cold season will make soil temperatures lower, preventing crabgrass from growing.

You can say that winter is a WONDERFUL crabgrass preventer!

It is best to prepare pre-emergents during the winter so that your green lawn will be safe from young crabgrass!

weeds that look like grass - crabgrass

Methods in Killing Crabgrass

The most effective and natural way to kill crabgrass and perennial weed grass is to DIG THEM OUT rather than using post or pre-emergents of your choice.

Although, if you do NOT want to do the labor-intensive way, there are other options and methods for you to choose how to kill crabgrass!

Here are the different methods for killing crabgrass, and you can decide which suits you best!

1) Pull Out the Crabgrass (Hand or Tool)

The process of using a herbicide or other sprays to kill crabgrass is NEVER enough to fully get rid of the weeds!

Using chemicals to kill crabgrass can be effective, but we don’t recommend it due to its detrimental effects after usage.

To achieve complete removal of crabgrass, you need to DIG IT OUT to get rid of crabgrass plants completely. It includes removing the grass seed and everything around it.

If you want to dig crabgrass out properly, here are simple steps to follow for you to accomplish this feat:

  1. Water the spots with crabgrass for 30 minutes to soften the soil
  2. Use tools like a claw weeder or a pitchfork to uproot crabgrass. If you do not have said tools, it is safe to use your hands for a handful of infested spots.
  3. Add lawn fertilizer or organic manure to the spot.
  4. Reseed the bare spots in your lawn with good grass seed to grow grass again.
  5. Maintain and care for the new grass.

During the growing season, particularly SPRING, young crabgrass is still short. It is during this time that it is EASIEST to control crabgrass.

If you see them grow this early, pull them out!

A normal crabgrass plant and crabgrass seed have a CRAB-LIKE root system.

To uproot crabgrass properly, we recommend using a claw weeder or any good weeding tool to make the job much easier to do.

While digging and uprooting are the most NATURAL way to have proper crabgrass control, it is always a good idea to be safe around the tools because it can damage your lawn!

2) Apply a Crabgrass Killer Herbicide

The first thing to always consider before doing this method is to identify what grass you have so that you know if the herbicide can be safely used or not.

For example, the product above (the Primesource Quinclorac) is best used for grassy weeds and other broadleaf weeds.

Editor's Choice
Primesource Quinclorac 1.5L Select (Drive XLR8) Liquid Crabgrass Killer (64 Ounces)
  • Selective, post-emergent herbicide that can be safely applied to many types of turf to control a variety of broadleaf and grassy weeds
  • Residential Turfgrass & Non-Residential Turfgrass
  • Quinclorac 18.92%

The Primesource Quinclorac is one of the BEST post-emergent herbicides to get!

Once you’ve identified your grass and herbicide, you can now add a surfactant product.

Additional Steps to Consider Doing for Maximum Treatment

However, if you want MAXIMUM effectiveness and treat other issues aside from crabgrass, you can mix Quinclorac with T-Zone. You will treat all weeds from this!

Another effective method is to mix the herbicides, spray the chemical to the areas infested with crabgrass and weeds, and let it do its work for a day.

NOTE: Treat crabgrass in the spring with a PRE-EMERGENT HERBICIDE! It makes weed control much easier and makes for an excellent crabgrass preventer, especially germination.

3) Sponging With Roundup

If you want a method on how to kill crabgrass WITHOUT damaging your lawn and lawn grass, then sponging with roundup is the METHOD for you!

Here are the steps on how to kill crabgrass by sponging with roundup:

  1. MOW AROUND the crabgrass for 2 weeks, allowing the weeds to grow taller than your lawn.
  2. Apply Roundup herbicide in a bucket and MIX with a surfactant or sticking agent for an effective chemical barrier.
  3. Dip a SPONGE in the mixed product and lace the top part of the crabgrass (2-3 inches of the grass blades).
  4. Repeat these steps 2 to 3 times in two weeks to fully utilize the herbicide’s capabilities in killing entire weeds.

Sponging with Roundup is one of the most ensuring methods of killing crabgrass and other broadleaf weeds in your lawn, but it comes with a COST.

With the method, the glyphosate ingredient travels to the roots of the grass seed of old and young plants alike, killing it to the root.

However, it does NOT discriminate, meaning it will kill any plants so long as it reaches the roots.

Do NOT apply too much Roundup if you want your lawn and other lawn grass to stay healthy!

4) Naturally Kill Crabgrass Using Baking Soda

Baking soda is a PHYTOTOXIN that damages any plant, from weeds and grass, that comes in contact with it. It is usually because of the sodium content that kills the plants.

Even at LIMITED concentration, baking soda still kills crabgrass in your lawn. When using baking soda, instead of using the solution, it is better to use powdered baking soda!

Here are the ways how to naturally kill crabgrass using baking soda:

  1. Spray a small amount of water on the crabgrass and other lawn weeds in your lawn.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda powder on the weed or single crabgrass plant you want to kill.
  3. Let the baking soda do its job for a few days!
  4. Once it has done the duty, uproot the dead weeds and replant your lawn by planting seeds in the spots.

NOTE: Baking soda will KILL any plant it comes in contact with. Be careful when applying the product to your lawn! We HIGHLY RECOMMEND applying it on patches of crabgrass instead of as a whole.

5) Use Corn Gluten

Corn Gluten is one of the most highly recommended organic crabgrass preventers available to get! It also functions well as a lawn fertilizer because of its HIGH NITROGEN content.

According to the Iowa State University, corn gluten meal is a wonderful PRE-EMERGENT to prevent crabgrass seeds and other weeds from germinating during the early spring.

However, according to the University of Maryland Extension, corn gluten does NOT prevent the germination of crabgrass.

The product only CONTROLS the weed by feeding lawn grass with sufficient nitrogen. The lawn grass will grow faster, allowing it to choke out crabgrass.

6) Use Organic Methods (Ex. Vinegar)

Vinegar is one of the best organic solutions to kill crabgrass and other broadleaf weeds.

To properly use vinegar to naturally control crabgrass in your lawn, apply at least 20% vinegar on the weed. However, for the tougher weeds, use 30% of vinegar!

When we talk about vinegar, we DO NOT talk about the one used for cooking!

The vinegar we are talking about is the organic solution that affects the cell membranes of weeds, causing a rapid breakdown of foliage tissue on contact!

Here’s how to use vinegar to kill crabgrass:

  1. Add vinegar, salt, and dish soap to a plastic mixing cup.
  2. Stir the mixture with a plastic spoon for proper mixing.
  3. Pour a MODERATE amount of the vinegar solution into the crabgrass.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 on all the weeds affecting your lawn.

You want to use a HERBICIDAL vinegar and not the HOUSEHOLD vinegar.

Herbicidal vinegar is an organic concentrate that will kill any plant to contact the solution. It will kill broadleaf and grassy weeds effectively!

Due to its non-discriminatory nature, it will even kill the plants you want to keep alive. Be careful when applying the solution to your lawn.

use a weed burner to kill crabgrass

7) Burn Lawn Weeds

This method is not preferred by many, but it is still effective nonetheless. You can burn crabgrass by using a heat gun, a blow torch, or a weed burner.

It exposes the weed and other unwanted weeds to EXTREME temperatures that kill cells in leaves and stems.

The high soil temperatures from the burners will destroy the weeds!

Because crabgrass does not spread through underground roots, it is a walk in the park to remove them through burning them, thus EASIER weed control.

We recommend this method to anyone that prefers using natural means over chemical means. Burning is one of the best ways to kill weeds without chemicals!

The ash from the burnt weeds can go straight to the soil for the plants to feed on.

How Do You Control Crabgrass?

As emphasized in the article, the essential key in preventing crabgrass is TIMING.

If you’re too early, you can affect your healthy lawn over nothing. If you’re too late, weed will take over your lawn.

Your timing needs to be PERFECT.

Here are the most EFFECTIVE ways of controlling crabgrass in your lawn:

Use Crabgrass Pre-Emergent on Time

Applying a crabgrass preventer during the early spring is the perfect time to do so!

Editor's Choice
GreenView 2129193 Fairway Formula Spring Fertilizer Weed
  • Pro-grade, professional DIY results
  • Kills 200+ tough lawn weeds; proprietary formula kills dandelions and seedling crabgrass at the same time
  • Covers 15,000 sq ft

The best time to apply the preventer is usually during the early season, when the second mowing is scheduled, or when the weed is ABOUT to grow.

We highly recommend using a crabgrass pre-emergent with fertilizer proponents in it.

Overseed Your Lawn

Overseeding your lawn is a favorite amongst many because it leads to a thick and luscious lawn and is a great way to control weed!

How do you overseed? The technique is simple!

All you need to do is plant grass seeds directly into the existing turf without doing your usual preparation procedures for your lawn.

The result? An overseeded lawn with thick, dense, and filled bare spots, making your lawn look AMAZING and green!

The question now is, how does it control weed?

  • The dense lawn chokes out existing crabgrass, blocking its way of receiving oxygen, eventually killing it.
  • An overseeded lawn prevents germination.

We recommend overseeding your lawn during the fall or spring season.

It allows grass to grow long enough to choke out crabgrass before it even has a chance to germinate your lawn.

Grow and Maintain a Healthy Lawn

A lawn with the perfect soil temperature, healthy plants, and proper maintenance will always be for the best in avoiding crabgrass growth!

A PROSPEROUS lawn will choke weeds out, especially if it is a thick lawn, and it can prevent weeds from taking over! But how do you accomplish such a feat?

Here are ways to achieve the said goal!

  • Water your lawn only once a week. Watering any more than that will make your roots WEAKER, making germination more likely to occur.
  • Mow your lawn higher for your healthy grass to grow and for it to choke out existing crabgrass.
  • Aerate and dethatch your lawn at least ONCE A YEAR. Lawn aeration improves oxygen circulation and makes your plants healthier.
  • Fertilize your lawn enough for your plants to receive better nutrients.
  • Reseed or overseed to prevent the growth of crabgrass.

Treat your lawn like a child! A healthy child is UNSTOPPABLE!

Conclusion

Crabgrass is an extremely invasive weed that is difficult to remove, and it can kill nearby plants and take over gardens and lawns if NO ACTION is done.

After reading this article, now you know how to kill crabgrass PROPERLY and EFFICIENTLY!

We hope the article proved helpful in understanding crabgrass as a whole, from its life-cycle to its function.

Thank you for reading, and we hope that your thick lawn and lawn grasses are safe and glowing with health!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do you still have concerns regarding the topic, and do you want to learn more about the topic other than how to kill crabgrass?

You’ve come to the RIGHT PLACE!

Here are the most frequently asked questions about the topic! We hope that you find your answer in this section of the article.

  • How Many Times Can You Apply Pre-emergent Herbicides?

    We HIGHLY RECOMMENDED applying pre-emergent herbicides at least 2 times in a 5-6 week interval!

    The timing of each application is crucial because it gives the user FREEDOM of anxiously thinking whether or not they need to do more in preventing crabgrass from germinating.

    If you only apply pre-emergent herbicides once, you allow crabgrass seeds, crabgrass plants, and actively growing crabgrass to grow at extreme speeds.

    The 2-time application ensures that pre-emergent herbicides will protect your lawn!

  • Is It Ok to Kill Crabgrass by Pulling Its Roots?

    As mentioned in the article, manually pulling crabgrass roots is the MOST EFFECTIVE method in killing crabgrass!

    Crabgrass dies because its roots will be pulled off, compared to using a spray where the chemicals might not reach the essential system of the weed.

    When doing this method, you have to be careful because you may affect your lawn grass and other grass seeds in your lawn that may be affected.

    NOTE: If crabgrass seeds germinate, be careful when pulling them out as they are dangerous!

  • Do Crabgrass Die During the Winter Season?

    You can say that winter is one of the best crabgrass preventers because the crabgrass seedlings and crabgrass plants become dormant during the season.

    It is usually during the winter, wherein people HEAVILY apply pre-emergent herbicides.

    Because of the cold soil temperatures during the winter season when crabgrass is at its weakest, applying pre-emergents at this time is the PERFECT time for it.

    Mixing both winter and pre-emergent herbicides make for a highly reliable crabgrass preventer!

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