How to Get Rid of Crabgrass

17 Aug '21

Crabgrass growing on the dead spot of a lawn.

Crabgrass is a clumpy, unattractive weed that thrives in bare areas of a lawn. If left alone, it will rapidly reproduce and spread to the point that it takes over the landscape. 

Best Ways to Get Rid of Crabgrass

Once winter arrives, the crabgrass will die off, but only after it has scattered seeds that keep the life cycle going. Getting rid of crabgrass now gives you many months of enjoying a healthier lawn.

Stop Them Before They Sprout

The one good thing about crabgrass is that it has a fairly predictable growing season. The seeds that have been dormant all winter will start to sprout as soon as the ground begins to warm up. 

Applying a pre-emergent spray around March through May is an effective way to get ahead of the issue before the plants spread.

Spot Treat Newly Emerging Crabgrass

Occasionally, you’ll see breakthrough cases of crabgrass after the initial treatment. Newly sprouting plants are often easy to remove by hand. You can usually tell if crabgrass is easy to pull by looking at the leaves. If it only has two to four sets of leaves, then it has likely not developed deep roots yet. 

Just use a garden tool that is designed for weeding to help you pull it up with the roots intact - leaving any roots behind can result in the plant popping back up. 

You can also spot treat a single crabgrass plant with natural weed killers. Pouring boiling water over the plant can kill it before it can grow more. A vinegar and dish soap solution is another option for using a homemade spray. 

Keep in mind that both of these methods could kill other plants within the area. Use caution when spraying, and continue to monitor the area for further weed growth. It is common for more weeds to sprout in an area that has been exposed to crabgrass seeds.

Pulling crabgrass manually with a gardening tool.

Set Your Lawn Mower to High

Being overly aggressive with your lawn maintenance can invite weed growth. A lush lawn makes it harder for seeds to reach the ground and plant themselves. 

Use your mower’s settings to make sure that you don’t take more than one-third of the blade of grass off. The taller grass will help to keep the sunlight from hitting the ground where it can stimulate weed growth.

Overseed Bare Spots In the Lawn

Overseeding works best in the early spring, but you can also put down seeds in the height of the summer. 

If you’ve been lax about watering or the sun hits hard in a certain area of the lawn, then you may have a few bare spots. Putting grass seed down in these areas can create less room for the weed seeds to sprout.

Use a Post-Emergent Spray for a Growing Problem

Extensive crabgrass problems require a more serious approach than hand pulling provides. 

Once multiple plants are growing, a post-emergent spray is the best solution for getting rid of them. You’ll also find that a broad spectrum spray can help with other types of weeds that are growing in the area.


Like other types of weeds, crabgrass control requires taking a multi-point approach. Proper lawn care combined with regular weed treatments stops its growth. 

Watch for signs of new grass that doesn’t look like the rest of what you already have in the yard. If you see these tell-tale clumps, then remember that being proactive stops it from getting worse.


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