Had major crabgrass outbreak last year- what do I do now?

Last summer my yard, seemingly overnight, became overgrown with crabgrass. A neighbor said it was because it was so hot, apparently crabgrass likes that, or perhaps the desirable grass just hates it. Anyway, I tried putting some stuff on it but nothing worked. So I was planning to get a jump on it this spring, as I understand you have to nip that shit in the bud, so to speak.

So what should I do to make sure that crabgrass doesn’t come back this year? Pre-emergent? Aerate the lawn? I’m worried that without the crabgrass, the yard will be bare, since last September it seemed like that’s all there was, so I’ll probably throw some grass seed down too. Is there a kind of grass that can stand up to a bunch of kids running around on it while it’s just starting to grow?

Pre-emergent is the only practical answer. Aerate? That will benefit desirable grass, but… You don’t aerate or disturb soil after applying pre-emergent. Crab grass does better in compacted/hard soils, so aerate for the desirable lawn and then use pre-emergent. Most pre-emergents prevent ALL seeds from germinating (like your lawn seed that you want to grow). There are some that won’t stop most lawn seeds. You have to go to the local, knowledgeable nursery center and ask.

Where do you live? Tall fescues tend to be toughest. Depends on where you live. Could be something else.

The long-term solution is to get your lawn off the drugs it has become addicted to.

Ideally you apply pre-emergent before crabgrass germination season in your area, in the spring (check online). Then if you want to seed you do it in the fall - again look online to find out when to start (approximately). Scotts sells a seeding fertilizer with the pre-emergent that doesn’t stop grass pre-mixed in it, but you are better off with regulalr pre-emergent now and seeding in the fall (and more pre-emergent in the fall anywhere you don’t seed).

I haven’t had much luck with pre-emergents. MSMA kills it, but the EPA severely limits its use.

I rid my lawn of it by hours and hours of hand pulling.

According to wikipedia link, crabgrass is a symptom of an unhealthy lawn. Can you return the grass clippings when cutting? Also chop/mulch leaves in the fall, let the particles filter into lawn is recommended - will do more wonders for a lawn soil than chemical fertilizers ever could - esp during times of excessive moisture and drought. Leaves and plant debris, as long as it does not contain weed seeds, works like magic for soils.

Since crabgrass is an annual, not letting it go to seed is the key. If your yard isn’t too large, maybe you can weed it out with one of those forked pokers, esp when individuals are large enough to go to seed.

In any case, good luck to you…

I’m mixing hot, dry grass seed with white clover seed and overseeding my lawn this spring - I’ll let you know how it goes. :slight_smile:

this may seem crazy_ but it works.

I put baking soda in a nylon sock and dust the tops in the morning dew. Smack the soda filled nvlon over your hand and the dust will settle on the crab grass. It will turn black and die in due time.
No morning dew…mist them from a bottle.

What does that do to the regular grass?

The OP needs to tell us where she lives.

Some remedies for crabgrass won’t kill a southern lawn, but will kill a northern or transition zone lawn.

Last summer was tough on lawns in a lot of the country.

Although you can plant grass seed any time, the best time is in the fall – the new plants use their energy forming a deep root system in preparation for winter instead of putting their energy into growing green stuff. Fertilizing works the same way – if you don’t plan to do it throughout the season it’s better to do it in the fall than in the spring.

Since you didn’t seed last fall, you now have to deal with the fact that most pre-emergent crabgrass control will also prevent any new grass seed from sprouting and that you shouldn’t aerate after putting down the crabgrass preventer.

What I would do is aerate and put some seed down early this spring. If you want to fertilize be sure to use something appropriate for spring … less nitrogen than summer fertilizers … you want to promote root growth in spring, while the grass is wanting to send up lots and lots of fresh green sprouts. The idea now is to get the lawn, particularly the roots, healthy and dense to make it harder for the crabgrass to thrive later on.

When the weather gets hot and the crabgrass starts to appear, get a bottle of something like Ortho Weed B Gone Plus Crabgrass Control and spray it as it appears. You’ll pretty quickly learn to spot the crabgrass from a distance by the distinct color. Just walk the lawn once or twice a week and spray the buggers; it won’t die overnight but you will likely find great satisfaction is watching them shrivel over the course of a few days.

And then, if/when the crabgrass really starts to pop up all over the place, look for the hose-end sprayer for the Ortho or whatever brand you’ve chosen (just be sure it mentions crabgrass) and cover the whole lawn. I find the sprayer much more effective than the granular stuff you put down with a spreader. The stuff will likely say not to do more than two applications per season, so spray when you start to see heavy infestation and then again about 10 days or so later. That should get it under control. Continue with spot spraying for any stragglers.

If you think you don’t want to do all the chemical treatment and would prefer to dig them out, keep in mind that if you miss half an inch of the root you have only delayed the plant, not killed it. And the spray will also whack out your dandelions and most other weeds, too.

Then in the fall aerate and overseed again. Exactly when depends on where you live; in the northeast, around Labor Day is right – and then next spring, put down the pre-emergent about the time the forsythias are dropping their flowers.

Bingo, the two year plan for crabgrass control. Your kids will love the lawn. :slight_smile:


I’m in Indiana, too. I have some info, some good news, and some bad news. Last year was ideal for crabgrass. The stuff grows flat until it’s ready to grow seed heads. That happened when we were mowing once every 2 weeks, so crabgrass seed joyfully scattered on the breeze. So, in some years, the crabgrass wins, no matter what you do.

If you want to be organic, first adjust your goals. The monoculture bluegrass lawn is unnatural. Nature wants you to grow a variety of lawn plants, and when you have a long dry spell, brown lawns are “green” and natural.

There’s a way to organically control weeds and crabgrass. It’s corn gluten meal.

The first year, it’s 70% effective, the second year, 85%, and so on.

Now here’s the bad news, and I just found this out today. It’s very expensive. For my 10,000 sq. ft. lot, it would cost over $600.00 a year! That’s when I decided “organic” is much too dear for me.

Pre-emergent crabgrass killers are best applied before the stuff sprouts. Crabgrass is entirely annual.

Chemical weed killers are best applied with a hose-end sprayer. If herbicide has ever caused you problems, wear long sleeves and long pants, and change clothes immediately after the spraying. Wear a serious filter mask while spraying.

Some folks are able to apply sprayed herbicide with no problems. I can’t.

I used a dandelion bar on my yard a couple of years ago and it made me puke - and I NEVER puke. I am very careful messing with herbicides now.