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Crabgrass Prevention & Control

Jul 13, 2019

How to Identify & Manage One of the Most Common Grassy Weeds

Crabgrass, sometimes confused with Quackgrass, is a troublesome weed grass with a coarse texture and unsightly color. It can turn a homeowner’s lush, green lawn into a thin, weak, patchy one if left untreated.

Fast-moving Crabgrass infests lawns and re-establishes from seed every spring. Since many different types of weedy grasses resemble Crabgrass, proper identification is key. The sooner you act against Crabgrass, the sooner you will see favorable results and the greater your chances of preventing its spread. 

Crabgrass Facts

The following are several facts homeowners should know about Crabgrass, the conditions that cause it, and what can be done to help stem the tide if an infestation occurs. It should be noted that control measures for annual and perennial weed grasses differ and controlling Crabgrass can take several seasons of work.


  • Crabgrass is an annual weed that is very difficult to identify early in spring since only plant skeletons are present at this time.
  • Crabgrass favors sandy, sunny locations in a weakened condition. Areas damaged by insects or along sidewalks and driveways are prime targets for crabgrass attack.
  • Crabgrass cannot be controlled with broadleaf weed control products.
  • Pre-emergent control applications are the most effective way to keep crabgrass from sprouting.
  • A strong, healthy, properly fertilized, mowed and watered lawn provides the best defense against crabgrass.
  • Thick, lush, insect and weed-free lawns allow few open sites for crabgrass to establish.

How to Identify Crabgrass


  • Crabgrass has wide, pointed leaves that grow from a shared stem.
  • Smooth crabgrass – the most common summer annual grass problem in managed turf – can be identified by its light green appearance and swollen, zig-zag nodes.
  • Crabgrass germinates when soil temperatures reach 55ºF. 
  • Crabgrass favours sandy, sunny locations in weakened conditions. Areas damaged by insects or along sidewalks and driveways are prime targets for a crabgrass attack.

Preventing & Controlling Crabgrass


1.Use Pre-Emergent Control: Because germination occurs when soil temperatures reach about 55 degrees Fahrenheit, an application of crabgrass control material in the fall or very early spring before crabgrass seeds have had the chance to germinate is important. Weed Man’s pre-emergent control product forms a barrier to stop crabgrass seed roots from germinating. Keep in mind that this barrier must not be broken by raking or digging.


2.Feed Your Lawn: Fertilizer will provide your lawn with the nutrients it needs to remain thick and healthy throughout the growing season. Regular applications will ensure a denser turf structure that can help keep undesirable growth at bay.

3.Maintain the Health of Your Lawn: Ongoing proper maintenance is also an important step to help rid your lawn of crabgrass. One of the easiest maintenance steps is to remember not to mow your lawn too low. Taller grass will shade the soil and make it less hospitable for many weed seeds, like crabgrass, to develop. Most grasses do well at a mowing height of 2 inches to 3 inches, and some varieties even higher. 

Weedy Grasses Often Mistaken for Crabgrass

Goosegrass:A summer annual that grows in exposed areas with high traffic. It germinates about two weeks later than smooth crabgrass, and can be identified by whitish, flattened stems at the base of the plant.    


Poa Annua (Annual Bluegrass):A short, light green winter annual with many variations. Although it mimics the appearance of desirable turf grasses, it is one of the most troublesome and widely distributed grassy weeds in the world.


Quackgrass: Similar in appearance, it tends to grow in taller patches and has stronger roots, called rhizomes, which make it nearly impossible to dig out.  


Tall Fescue: A clumping, perennial cool-season turfgrass that has a coarse texture and an aggressive growth cycle. It has larger blades than crabgrass and can grow almost half an inch wide and up to two feet tall. 

Crabgrass control doesn’t have to be an uphill battle every lawn care season. Your local Weed Man professional can apply a special pre-emergent material that will stop crabgrass seeds before they germinate. This treatment, combined with a regimen of watering and mowing at a height of 2 to 3 inches, can give your lawn the makeover it needs.



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