How to Get Rid of Crabgrass in the Summer (The Right Way)

Kenneth Wilson

We all dream of admiring freshly-cut, lush green lawn in the summer months... as we bask in the glory of the sun. But for some homeowners, the view can be an eyesore if there's pesky crabgrass thriving on the lawn.

Also commonly known as finger grass, crabgrass has distinctive blades that resemble fingers. It is a common lawn pest that may destroy your turfgrass. (Related: 15 Different Types of Weeds That Grows In Florida Lawns)

When overlooked, crabgrass may quickly take over your yard. So if you want to prepare for the following summer– you may want to read on as we talk about how to get rid of crabgrass effectively.

Killing Lawn Weeds in Summer

In the summer, when crabgrass (and other common lawn weeds) is plaguing your lawn, and you didn't apply a pre-emergent product, you can still attempt to control the spread using a post-emergent treatment. (Related: How To Kill and Control Weeds In Your Yard)

While it is not as effective as a pre-emergent treatment, it will help control your crabgrass lawn infestation.

Fertilize Your Lawn Regularly to Prevent Crabgrass

Since crabgrass thrives in environments where turfgrass struggles to survive, you will find these weeds in arid areas where it doesn't get proper nutrients for growth.

If your soil lacks the proper nutrients, you'll likely have a spotty yard with visible patches of crabgrass. To keep crabgrass away, opt to fertilize the yard throughout the summer months. Fertilize the lawn with an interval of 6 to 8 weeks from the spring until the grass dies in the fall.

The fertilizer will provide your soil with the proper nutrients to have a lush, green lawn. This will also prevent weeds, such as crabgrass, from growing.

Use Crabgrass Preventer on Your Lawn

Crabgrass is one of the most common lawn pests that may ruin your yard before you know it. You may want to use a crabgrass preventer to control the spread of this weed on your lawn. It is a herbicide that's specifically formulated to kill off the crabgrass during its germination process.

This can be found in standard lawn fertilizers, allowing you to kill two birds with a single stone. You can fertilize the lawn while eliminating the traces of crabgrass activity.

  • When should you put down a crabgrass preventer: A crabgrass preventer is a pre-emergent, so it should be applied to your turf before the emergence of this pesky weed. It may not be as effective if it is used after the crabgrass grows. Timing is critical when it comes to using a crabgrass preventer. Ideally, apply it on your lawn during the spring, when the soil temperature ranges between 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • How should you put down a crabgrass preventer: In using a crabgrass preventer, you must know how to spread and use the product. If you don't follow the required follow-up instructions, you may not get rid of crabgrass effectively. In most cases, crabgrass preventers are spread in a standard fertilizer spreader. Once it's applied, you will need to water the lawn to ensure the preventer, and the fertilizer soaks well into the soil.

Important Note: Skipping this step may render the crabgrass preventer ineffective. It may just stay on top of the soil without doing what it's intended to do.

Make Sure Your Lawn is Getting Enough Water

Like other common lawn weeds, crabgrass is known to thrive in arid environments. They do not require too much water to grow. A simple way to ensure crabgrass is off your turfgrass is to regularly supply the lawn with the adequate amount of water it needs.

How often you water the lawn will depend on the climate in your region and the annual rainfall in your area. A good rule of thumb is to ensure the lawn receives at least 1 inch of water in a week to keep the unwanted weeds away.

Use Herbicide on Existing Crabgrass

The good news is that some herbicides can help you eliminate crabgrass after application. Select certain herbicides that are designed to kill the pesky crabgrass in your yard– not the healthy grass.

There are several forms of crabgrass herbicide on the market today, and they can be spread in different ways. Some products are in a spray bottle that you need to spray, while others are in a fertilizer bag that you need to spread around.

Pull the Crabgrass Out by Hand (Manual)

Though considerably manual, you can pull the crabgrass out of your lawn by hand. This is ideal if you don't mind doing hard labor. While this will take time and effort on your end– it is an effective way to deal with your crabgrass problem at hand. Ensure to wear protective gear, such as gardening gloves, to avoid injuries.

If you have a shovel at home, you can also use this tool to pull out the crabgrass from your lawn. It will make the manual process a whole lot easier.

Important Note: Despite removing every trace of crabgrass by hand, this doesn't mean it won't come back. Remember that crabgrass can spread rather rapidly. So if there's crabgrass in your yard, there may be seeds in the soil.

Expert-Backed Tips to Prevent Crabgrass

As the adage goes, prevention is better than cure. Here are other tips to prevent crabgrass damage on your lawn:

  • Mow properly ─ Mowing at the proper height is an excellent strategy to prevent future crabgrass infestation. Depending on your grass type, doing so will discourage crabgrass activity. If you mow higher, which is usually among the top two settings on your mower, it allows the tall grass blades to shade your turf. This effectively prevents crabgrass seed germination.
  • Feed regularly ─ Having a thick, lush, green lawn means no crabgrass activity. In contrast, having a stressed turfgrass means putting it at an increased risk of weed infestation. Feeding it regularly (ideally every 6 to 8 weeks) with a high-quality lawn fertilizer will help the lawn stay lush and thick. This leaves little space for them to thrive on your healthy grass.
  • Deepwater your lawn ─ Since weeds can adapt to adverse growing conditions, shallow watering will only stress your turfgrass, unlike lawn grass. This also encourages shallow root growth, so your lawn is likely to suffer during heat and drought. This stress level may lead to thick patches and bare spots, which crabgrass can take as an opportunity to thrive on your lawn. To avoid this, constantly water your lawn deeply (6 to 8 inches) infrequently to promote the growth of deep roots. This ensures your grass grows thicker to crowd out the pesky weeds.
  • Repair lawn damage immediately ─ Since crabgrass is likely to deteriorate in the fall, expect some bare spots to be left behind. Don't worry. You can follow several methods to repair the bare spots and keep new, thriving weeds off your lawn. For instance, consider filling the spots with a patching product and ensure adequate watering until the new grass has grown.

Getting Rid of Crabgrass in the Summer Effectively

Crabgrass and other notorious lawn weeds may damage your turf before you know it. Since they need little nurturing to survive, they can take over an entire lawn when overlooked and ignored.

Homeowners who skipped on routine lawn treatments in the spring and summer months may be surprised to see weeds taking over. But don't worry, it's not too late. Getting rid of crabgrass in the summer is possible– if you know what the proper measures to follow.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does crabgrass look like?

Crabgrass is a clumpy, coarse weed that resembles grass blades in green or yellow color. It's unattractive, but it's also harmful to your lawn's health.

Is crabgrass bad?

Crabgrass tends to take over turf and make healthy grass grow more complicated. The weed outcompetes grass for limited nutrients and prevents your grass from nourishing.

Can I get rid of crabgrass without chemicals?

Each year during fall, crabgrass dies on its own. If you can wait until winter, the weed will be gone, and if you use a pre-emergent next spring, crabgrass will most likely not return. You may also manually remove small crabgrass infestations by pulling them off. Then, to reduce the chances of it returning, practice good lawn care habits.

Kenneth Wilson
May 28, 2022
2terra, Contractor Tips, Yard & Garden

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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