Skip to Content
Crabgrass Control West Palm Beach

Getting to the Root of Crabgrass: Causes and Prevention

Crabgrass, a widespread nuisance for gardeners and homeowners alike, is an invasive species of weed that can quickly overtake lawns, walkways, and gardens. By addressing the root causes behind crabgrass growth, homeowners can keep their lawns healthy and attractive. Read on to learn how you can curb the spread of crabgrass and minimize its impact on your yard.

Key Takeaways

  • Crabgrass thrives in specific climates and soil conditions.
  • Effective prevention and control strategies are necessary for managing crabgrass.
  • Sustainable lawn care habits can minimize the impact of crabgrass on landscapes.

Everything You Need to Know About Crabgrass

Crabgrass is a summer annual grass that can be invasive in lawns and gardens. Its rapid growth and ability to thrive in various conditions make it a challenging weed to control. To effectively manage crabgrass, you also have to understand its lifecycle and habits.

The lifecycle of crabgrass begins with the germination of seeds in the spring. The seeds can remain dormant in the soil for several years before germinating, making it difficult to eradicate. Once the seeds germinate, crabgrass develops quickly and produces more seed heads throughout the summer months. 

You can identify crabgrass by identifying its branching stems that spread out from a central point, kind of like a crab. 

Factors That Contribute to Crabgrass Growth

There are a number of factors that contribute to the growth of crabgrass in lawns and gardens. Some of these are:

  • Poor soil conditions: Crabgrass loves areas with compacted soil or low fertility.
  • Mowing too low: Regularly mowing the grass too short weakens the existing lawn and allows crabgrass to outcompete the grass you planted. 
  • Overwatering: Excessive watering, especially in the warmer months, promotes the germination and growth of crabgrass seeds.
  • Gaps in the lawn: Bare spots or thinned-out areas in the lawn create an ideal opportunity for crabgrass seeds to germinate and grow.

How to Get Rid of Crabgrass

There are many different ways to prevent and control crabgrass in one’s lawn. Using herbicides, special fertilizers, and even certain watering techniques can help eliminate crabgrass, broadleaf weeds, and other common weeds (like dandelions) that can damage your lawn.

Pre-Emergent Herbicides to Prevent Crabgrass

Crabgrass control involves various strategies and practices. One effective way to manage crabgrass is by using pre-emergent herbicides. These chemicals prevent crabgrass seeds from germinating. When applying a pre-emergent herbicide for use as a crabgrass preventer, following the product label instructions regarding timing and dosage is essential.

Post-Emergent Herbicides Kill Crabgrass on Contact

Another option for crabgrass control is post-emergent herbicides. These chemicals are effective in targeting crabgrass after it has sprouted. Mowing your lawn regularly at the appropriate height can also help suppress crabgrass growth. A well-maintained lawn provides less opportunity for weeds to grow and take over.

Fertilizers to Improve Regular Grass Growth

In seeking a more natural approach to controlling this invasive plant, homeowners and gardeners often turn to organic and chemical-free alternatives to kill crabgrass. Fertilizers are an important tool, and using a balanced fertilizer rich in nitrogen can improve the growth of many lawn and decorative grasses like Kentucky bluegrass, fescue, and forsythia. Corn gluten (a natural byproduct of corn processing) is a popular organic fertilizer sometimes used as a pre-emergent herbicide.

Watering Your Lawn the Correct Amount

Watering your lawn correctly is another essential preventive measure. Overwatering can encourage crabgrass growth, while underwatering weakens healthy lawn grasses, creating an opening for weeds to invade. Implementing an effective irrigation system can help maintain a consistent watering schedule.

Overall, prevention and control measures for crabgrass involve a combination of proper lawn care practices and the judicious use of chemical herbicides. A healthy and weed-free lawn can be achieved using effective products, proper timing, and application techniques.

Manual Removal of Crabgrass

There are numerous methods of manual crabgrass removal that some people choose. Some people don’t want to use harsh chemicals and seek a more natural approach. While these methods are organic and chemical-free alternatives, they aren’t always as effective against large crabgrass infestations. 

Here are some popular manual crabgrass removal methods:

Hand pulling

  • Removes crabgrass by pulling up the roots.
  • Most effective when crabgrass is young. 
  • Weeding tools can be used to get deeper into the soil.


  • Dense turfgrass can suppress crabgrass infestations.
  • Overseeding  & properly trimming thin areas can prevent crabgrass rooting.


  • Especially helpful for freshly planted lawns.
  • Organic materials like straw, wood chips, and healthy clippings regulate soil temperature, reduce bare soil, and discourage crabgrass germination.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does crabgrass spread in lawns?

Crabgrass reproduces by seeds and can produce thousands of seeds per plant in a single season. Since crabgrass seeds can remain dormant in the soil for years and germinate when conditions are favorable. The wind, birds, and even lawnmowers can help spread the seeds throughout a lawn and facilitate crabgrass infestations.

Are certain lawn conditions more prone to crabgrass?

Yes! Certain lawn conditions can make a lawn more prone to crabgrass infestations. Lawns with sparse or thinning turfgrass, low fertility, excessive thatch, or poor drainage are more susceptible to crabgrass growth. Furthermore, lawns with compacted soil or inconsistent mowing practices can also be prone to crabgrass infestations.

What role does irrigation play in crabgrass infestation?

Irrigation plays a significant role in the development and spread of crabgrass. Overwatering or inconsistent watering practices can encourage crabgrass growth by creating a moist environment for its seeds to germinate. On the other hand, under-watering can weaken turfgrass, leaving bare spots where crabgrass can establish itself. Using proper irrigation techniques helps to ensure that you have a healthy, crabgrass-free lawn.

How does soil quality affect crabgrass growth?

Soil quality directly affects crabgrass growth. Poor-quality soils characterized by compaction, low fertility, and poor drainage provide a conducive environment for crabgrass to thrive. Improved soil quality through soil aeration, dethatching, and proper fertilization can help discourage crabgrass growth and promote a healthy lawn.

Does the type of grass on the lawn influence crabgrass presence?

Yes, the type of grass on the lawn can influence crabgrass presence. Some turfgrass species are more resistant to crabgrass infestations due to their denser growth habits, which can outcompete and suppress crabgrass. Therefore, selecting the appropriate grass species for your climate and lawn conditions can help reduce the likelihood of crabgrass infestations.

You can ensure your lawn is healthy, lush, and green by knowing everything there is to know about crabgrass (including how to kill it). Eliminating invasive crabgrass can also provide a better habitat for nature and make your lawn safer for you and your family. If the crabgrass infestation is too large or you are experiencing a lawn takeover, a quality pest control professional who specializes in lawn care can provide the best treatment and give your yard some TLC to make it like new again.