How to Kill Crabgrass
Trying to kill crabgrass can be a frustrating and daunting task. As its name suggests, crabgrass is a variety of grass with a growth pattern that resembles a crab’s body and legs. This plant grows from one root and spreads out in all directions. Because of this trait, crabgrass can easily choke out the healthy grass in your lawn. While this type of plant can appear attractive and lush while it is green, in the cooler seasons it turns an ugly brown color and can leave one’s grass looking splotchy and unattractive. This is the main reason why crabgrass is so undesirable. Crabgrass is a notoriously difficult lawn pest to get rid of because many gardening products such as weed killers are only able to kill the plant itself—not the seeds. Many people wonder why crabgrass keeps returning the next year, as crabgrass is an annual plant, and it is because the seeds remain long after the plant itself dies. Although the fight may be long, the following are a few ways that you can try to kill crabgrass in your own garden.
Chemical Crabgrass Sprays
Many garden supply stores carry chemical sprays specifically designed to kill crabgrass. Many of these sprays will not harm the healthy grass surrounding the crabgrass plant, but you may want to do a test patch somewhere on your lawn jut to be safe. Spray the chemicals directly on the center of the plant so that the majority of the plant—including the roots—can absorb all of the pray. Try to do this a few weeks before the first frost hits your area. You may have to do two or three applications in order to really see any progress. If the plant doesn’t seem to be dying off within about a week, then it may be necessary to move on to something a little stronger, such as an all-purpose weed killer.
All-Purpose Weed Killer
All-purpose weed killers, such as Roundup, will basically kill everything it touches. Yes, even your lawn’s healthy “good” grass. This is something that many of us try to avoid as it can leave bare patches in the lawn, especially if the crabgrass has managed to consume a large portion of the lawn (which can happen quickly). Spray the weed killer directly onto the crab grass. Try to avoid hitting the surrounding healthy grass if you can. Leave the solution to work its magic. When the crabgrass has turned brown, it’s time to remove it. Use your hands to pull up the brown dead plants and take the time to survey the area to spot any living crabgrass which you might have missed on the first treatment. You may have to loosen the soil a bit with a trowel or rake in order to get the entire plant up. Yes, this will leave a bare spot, but that’s the price one must pay to truly kill crabgrass! Don’t worry, though. All you need is a bit of grass seed to place in the bare soil about two days after removing the crabgrass plant. Give the seeds a good watering and play the waiting game as your new grass sprouts up.
Hand removal is the least desirable and most difficult method of removing crabgrass, but it is definitely an alternative to killing off all of the healthy grass in your lawn. Hand weeding is probably best suited to a lawn that has a small case of crabgrass, although if you have the time you most certainly can hand weed a large area of lawn. Wait until you are a few weeks away from the first frost of the autumn/winter season before weeding. When you are ready, take a trowel or small gardening shovel and cut into the soil around the crabgrass using a V-shaped digging method. Jiggle the base of the plant until you feel the ground give around the roots. Pull upward while using your trowel to work at the soil. Discard the plants in a trash bag or lawn sack so they cannot spread anymore seeds over your lawn. After all of the crabgrass has been removed, give the lawn one more trim before the cool weather moves in. In the spring, just after the threat of frost has gone, treat your lawn with fertilizer or “grass food” that advertises the prevention of crabgrass and other weeds. This is the most important step in preventing the return of crabgrass and it must be done every year!