All about Crabgrass Preventer image

What is Crabgrass? How Crabgrass Preventer works?

This guide is all about Crabgrass Preventer. Before knowing that let’s see What is Crabgrass? Crabgrass, botanically called Digitaria, is an annual summer weed that grows in residential as well as commercial lawns across the country. It is a type of weed that is so frustrating and very difficult to control. It sprawls across the lawn area amongst the desired grasses and other plants and competes with them for nutrients. Some of them might even grow up to 3 feet in height, making your lawn look ugly and terrible in a few weeks.

All about Crabgrass Preventer

These weed sprawls from a central root and spreads across your lawn. Although they die during the fall season, a single weed can easily spread across thousands of seeds, thereby enabling the weed to germinate in spring. They are opportunistic and usually start growing in wet and bare areas of the yard. It usually thrives in areas with abundant sunlight and high salt content in the ground.

Even well-maintained lawns can have crabgrass. However, regular maintenance and usage of certain crabgrass preventers can help solve the problem.

All about Crabgrass Preventer image
All about Crabgrass Preventer image

How does Crabgrass Preventer Work?

More than 60 different types of crabgrass species exist around the world. Some of these species were also grown as fodder for livestock. In some places it was also grown as a cereal crop, for its seeds are highly nutritious and can be used to make bread and porridge.

However, with the advent of other major cereal crops, the usage of crabgrass has dwindled down and now it’s been considered as a weed. Without proper and effective control methods, these weeds take over the entire yard and give a terrible look to your home.

Crabgrass doesn’t go away on its own. It is important to identify the crabgrass and treat them with necessary crabgrass preventer.

How to identify Crabgrass?

Crabgrass might look like regular grass, however, on close observation, there are stark differences between the two. For instance, a newly grown crabgrass leaf is usually light green in color when compared to other normal grass. Crabgrass is always lighter in color than surrounding turf, even when it matures. It grows in clumps and has broad leaves. Additionally, crabgrass grows in lateral on your lawn, unlike the regular grass which grows upward.

There are two common species of crabgrass viz. smooth grass and large grass.

Smooth crabgrass as the name suggests, has a smoother surface and sparse hairs near the auricle. They usually grow up to quarter inch wide and about 5 inches in length.

Large crabgrass looks similar to smooth ones, but they grow taller and have long hairs on the leaves and sheaths. A mature plant usually has flat leaves with a prominent midvein. They can measure up to 8 inches in length and usually grow around agricultural sites and roadside ditches.

All about Crabgrass Preventer

The most common method of crabgrass preventer used in lawns is an herbicide. There are different types of herbicides available in the market.

Selective herbicides

These herbicides target only crabgrass. They are called selective because they target a selective group of grass without harming other plants and grasses. So, you need to seek for products that contain the active ingredient dithiopyr, which works effectively on crabgrass.

Nonselective herbicides

Nonselective herbicides are not restricted to a specific group of herbicides. They usually target all the plant life in the designated area. Any weed or grass growing in the area of application will be killed by this type of herbicide. This method is effective if you have crabgrass well established in your lawn and then the only option is to clean out the vegetation and reseeding the lawn.

Pre-emergent herbicides

Pre-emergent as the name suggests targets the weed before they emerge from the soil. It prevents the seeds from germinating and can be used without any harmful side effects to the lawn. However, it is essential that you use them strictly according to label instructions to prevent accidental overuse.

Post-emergent herbicides

Post-emergent kind kills crabgrass, dandelion, and other nuisance weeds after they are out of the soil. They are good at removing young weeds. They contain chemicals that disrupt the growth cycle of young weeds and cause them to die within a period of 3 days. They are highly effective for weeds that grow from cracks in the driveway.

How to apply crabgrass preventer?

Remember always that the best time to treat the lawn is before the weed shows up. The effective way to use the herbicide is by applying them at the right time. Young weeds usually appear during May and continue till June. So it is advisable to use pre-emergent herbicides in early March or April.

Prior to applying herbicide, water your lawn and mow it evenly. Do not apply herbicide on a rainy day, as the rains will wash away the entire weed killer. If after application of pre-emergent herbicides, you still find some weeds cropping up, use the post-emergent herbicide and remove them.

Always go through the label instructions carefully and spray the herbicide on the plant. Drift and runoff might cause damage to other plants and vegetation in the area, especially if you use a non-selective herbicide.

Tips to prevent Crabgrass

Although the application of herbicide might kill the crabgrass, it is essential to do some regular check to prevent crabgrass. Our guide below will give you some useful tips, using which you can prevent crabgrass from occupying your lawn.

Tips to prevent Crabgrass image
Tips to prevent Crabgrass image

Choose the right grass for your lawn

If your lawn has thin grass with bare spots, then crabgrass will be a big-time problem. Thin grass will not provide enough soil shade to prevent crabgrass from growing, for crabgrass thrives in abundant sunlight. Leaving bare spots in the yard also allows crabgrass growth, so it’s better to seed any barren area in the lawn.

The key is to plant the right type of grass. If you have a shady lawn, plant grass seed that can easily take root in those conditions. Plant the type of grass that can withstand heavy traffic, if you have children and pets. Grow thick, healthy grass that will provide enough soil shade to prevent crabgrass from rooting.

Watering frequency

You should always water your lawn on a regular basis; however, you should take care not to water in excess. Crabgrass survives both moist and parched lawns. So it is better to water the right amount to keep the good grass healthy. If your grass is healthy, it will grow well and block out crabgrass and other weeds.

Mow your lawn regularly

Mowing the lawn regularly will keep the grass at the proper height and prevent crabgrass seeds from germinating. Maintain the grass at a height of about 4 inches; it will give a thicker and healthier look to your lawn. At this height, the grass will also provide enough soil shade and prevent the seeds from receiving the required amount of sunlight for growth.

Dethatch the lawn at the right time

Thatch build up on the lawn over time and this may suffocate underlying grass and stop their growth. Remove the thatch and aerate your soil regularly; this will allow the desired grass to grow as they will receive the required amount of water and nutrients.

Remove crabgrass for good

A little bit of additional effort on your part to prevent crabgrass can help you in the long run.

  • Apply pre-emergent herbicides at the right time in your lawn and also spread them around driveways and pathways.
  • The moment you spot a twig of crabgrass, uproot them immediately.
  • Apply a light coat of post-emergent in your lawn during weed season. This will prevent the weed from producing seeds.
  • When you find a barren area in your lawn, reseed them as soon as you can to prevent the growth of crabgrass in the area.
  • If crabgrass has taken root already, you shouldn’t be afraid to kill patches of your lawn and grow them again.

Final thoughts

With preparation and proper application of pre-emergent herbicides, you can easily prevent crabgrass. Always remember that a small amount of preparation in winter will help you tackle these weeds in summer. For more information, keep visiting

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