Crab Grass

Understanding Crab Grass Identification And Removal – A Guide To The Basics

Crab grass is one of the most common invasive weeds in America. Year after year, Americans find that their lawns are being overgrown by this weed in the spring. So, what can you do about it?

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the steps you can take to eliminate crab grass in your lawn, as well as some basics about the plant, and how you can identify it.

What Is Crab Grass?

First things first, we have to discuss what crab grass actually is. Crab grass is an invasive type of grass which occurs pretty much everywhere in the world. The most common types of crab grass in America are large crab grass and smooth crab grass.

These weeds tend to grow in lawns that are already thin, and are not being watered, drained, or fertilized properly. Crab grass is extremely durable and robust, and germinates in the late spring and early summer.

This means that it often outcompetes your lawn grass, destroying the surrounding area and sapping it of nutrients, causing the death of your grass. Typically, crab grass expands into circles that are around 12 inches in diameter. When crab grass dies in the autumn, it leaves behind large circular patches – and drops thousands of seeds into these areas, which will germinate the following season. A single crab grass plant can produce 150,000 or more seeds each and every season.

What Does Crab Grass Look Like?

Crab grass tends to grow in thick, dense, circular patches on your lawn. The growth usually takes on a “star-shaped” pattern, with wide leaves and blades that branch out from individual stems. Take a look at some crab grass pictures to see examples of this.

Crab grass is easy to recognize because its blades are much more broad than that of most lawn grasses. When it’s young, crab grass usually has a pale, emerald-green color, but older crab grass may match the color of your lawn.

From some angles, it may be hard to recognize crab grass, depending on the lawn grass you use. A good way to identify it is to run your hand across the growth, to spread it out. If you find a star-shaped central “hub”, you’re dealing with crabgrass – lawn grasses do not have any kind of central “hub”.

It’s often easier to spot large patches of crab grass if you avoid mowing your lawn for several days. It grows faster than your lawn, so you will quickly start to see “clumps” that are higher than your lawn’s surface. 

Is Crab Grass A Broadleaf Weed?

No. This misconception is often due to the fact that there are herbicides that are marketed as killing only “crabgrass and broadleaf weeds”. Crab grass is not a broadleaf weed at all. It is a type of invasive grass.

Broadleaf weeds are easy to identify. As the name implies, they have very broad leaves, and typically sprout flowers at least once in their life cycle. They do not look like a grass at all. Dandelion, clover, and chickweed are common broadleaf weeds.

How To Kill Crab Grass Naturally

Wondering how to get rid of crab grass without herbicides? Here are the best tips we have to kill crab grass naturally.

  • Prevention is key – The best crab grass killer is… avoiding crab grass altogether! Crab grass targets weakened, poorly-drained, thin areas of your lawn. Fertilizing and taking care of your lawn, and ensuring adequate drainage and growth is the best way to stop crab grass from taking root, and destroying your lawn.
  • Pull out plants before they seed – Crab grass plants drop thousands of seeds. By removing the plants from the root before they drop these seeds, you can reduce the number of crab grass plants that will sprout next growing season.
  • Adjust your lawn care techniques – Don’t mow your lawn too short. Keep it around the high-end of the recommended height range. This makes it harder for crabgrass seedlings to get light, and outcompete your lawn.In addition, water your lawn less frequently – but more deeply. Crabgrass has shallow roots. As the surface of the soil dries out, crabgrass will be sapped of moisture and killed.

How To Kill Crab Grass With Herbicide

If you’re going to use herbicide to kill crabgrass, you have two different options:

  • Pre-emergent herbicide – Pre-emergent herbicides are the best crab grass preventer. They attack only crab grass, and prevent the seedlings from germinating and sprouting. It’s best to use it in the late autumn or early spring, before crab grass has a chance to take root and grow.

Often, you can use a “weed and feed” product which includes an anti-crabgrass herbicide, and a nitrogen-rich fertilizer which will help ensure healthy lawn growth. This is the single best way to prevent crab grass infestations.

  • Post-emergent herbicide – Didn’t catch that crab grass in time? No problem. You can also use post-emergent herbicides, which are applied directly to crab grass plants to kill them.For best results, apply in the morning, when temperatures are between 60-90° F, and make sure that your soil is moist. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying the herbicide.You may need to apply crab grass killer herbicide twice – once on the grown plants, and again on newly-sprouted or germinated crab grass patches. Reseed your grass as soon as you can, and make sure to treat your lawn with a pre-emergent herbicide before the next growing season.

Follow These Tips – Eliminate Pesky Crab Grass Infestations

If you’re interested in keeping your lawn happy and healthy, and avoiding invasive weeds like crab grass, these tips are sure to help. Know how to identify, remove, and prevent crab grass from forming – and enjoy a picture-perfect lawn all summer long.