Is All Crabgrass Killer the Same? The Best Control Tips for Memphis, TN & Northern MS Homeowners

When it comes to weeds in the landscape, crabgrass is amongst the most frustrating. Not only is it a major eyesore, but it can spread like wildfire and be difficult to get rid of.

If you’re dealing with crabgrass, you might be wondering what you can do about it. You may be thinking about tackling this pesky weed with a DIY approach but you are wondering if it will be effective enough. The last thing that you want to do is waste your time or money on something that’s not going to work.

You want to know, is all crabgrass killer the same? And, if not, what is the best approach to dealing with it? 

Understanding Crabgrass to Defeat It

As the saying goes, you must know your enemy if you’re going to have any chance at winning. In the battle against crabgrass, it’s important to understand what you’re dealing with. 

Crabgrass is an annual grassy weed that grows in unsightly clumps. It is light green in color.

Clump of crabgrass in lawn

You should know that crabgrass grows and spreads through its seed production and dispersion. Unfortunately, crabgrass has a robust seed production process. A single plant can produce up to 75,000 seeds which lay dormant in the soil until the ideal timing for germination in late spring. As the weed continues to spread throughout the summer, it begins to crowd out your turf in large, dense mats across your lawn.

Crabgrass also doesn’t take much to grow and thrive. It does like hot and sunny conditions and will often pop up heavily in thin areas of your lawn or alongside your driveway and walkways. These conditions are typically areas where your lawn will struggle during summer so this contributes to even more crabgrass.

Fortunately, there are crabgrass control solutions that will work.

Using Crabgrass Preventer Effectively

Understanding that crabgrass spreads through its seeds, the best way to address it is to stop it from growing in the first place. This can be achieved through crabgrass pre-emergent, which is often commonly referred to as “crabgrass preventer.”

lawn care technician applying crabgrass preventer

However, it’s important to note that a crabgrass preventer product is only going to be effective if applied in an appropriate time frame. In order to do this, you must have a basic understanding of the crabgrass life cycle.

Crabgrass starts its life cycle as seeds which germinate in the spring. While the weed will die off in winter, it will also produce large seed crops that will remain dormant, allowing the cycle to start all over again when these seeds germinate in spring. Thus begins the unending cycle of crabgrass popping up.

This is where crabgrass pre-emergent comes in. It will create a barrier that will prevent the majority of crabgrass seeds from germinating. But you need to get the product down early in the season before seeds have a chance to start germinating.

Even if you get the timing exactly right, it’s important to recognize that there will be some breakthrough. Crabgrass is that persistent. But if you were able to apply materials within the proper timing, you will prevent the majority of it from germinating.

Breakthrough can be addressed with crabgrass killer (crabgrass post-emergent).

What If I Missed the Crabgrass Preventer Window?

We get this question a lot so we want to answer it for you. Homeowners will call us in late spring when they already have a significant crabgrass problem and they want to know what to do.

If seeds have already germinated, crabgrass pre-emergent is obviously not going to work.

If you’re reading this article and it’s late spring or summer and crabgrass is running rampant, then you have a couple of options to weigh. You can utilize crabgrass killer on all of the crabgrass—but we’ll be honest, that this approach can get expensive. 

Post-emergent products are a lot more expensive than pre-emergent products and if you need a lot of it, you might decide it’s not cost-effective. You could choose to treat the areas that are the worst such as along driveways and sidewalks.

You can also choose to let this season go by and be proactive next spring. The crabgrass will die off in the winter and next spring you can be sure to have crabgrass preventer put down in the appropriate time frame.

A Word on DIY Crabgrass Control Products

Now that you understand how crabgrass products work, you might be thinking about spraying crabgrass (or putting down pre-emergent) with store-bought products.

The biggest problem with a DIY approach is simply the fact that store-bought products are going to be much less effective than the commercial-grade products utilized by a professional. After all, with a professional lawn service, you’re paying for trained lawn care technicians who are licensed to spray commercial products. Something you pick up from the local hardware store is never going to match up.

The truth is, all crabgrass killers are NOT the same.

Preventing Crabgrass with a Healthy Lawn

While there’s no question that the appropriate use of crabgrass pre-emergent and crabgrass post-emergent is the best way to address this pesky weed, there are other things that you can do, as well. 

Sprinkler watering lawn to keep it healthy

For instance, you can water your lawn in the summer to keep the turf from weakening and thinning. You can also avoid scalping the edges of your walkways and driveways when trimming, as these are areas where crabgrass will sneak in as soon as they have the opportunity. 

But most importantly, you should do everything you can to promote a thick and healthy lawn. That’s because the best defense against weeds is a thick and thriving lawn where weeds struggle to grow in the first place.

This can be achieved with a full lawn care program that includes everything your lawn will need to perform its best. This will help protect your lawn against crabgrass as well as other weeds that are common in our region

Choosing Master Lawn for Crabgrass Control

At Master Lawn, we are here to help meet your needs and get your lawn into great shape. That means not only a proactive approach against crabgrass (and other annoying weeds) but against all potential threats that your lawn may face. A professional lawn care program will also help protect your lawn against problems such as disease or pests. 

With your lawn care being handled by a pro, you’ll gain valuable peace of mind that you’ll finally have the lawn you’ve wished for.

Ready to stop worrying about pesky crabgrass at your Memphis, TN or Northern Mississippi home? Talk to a lawn care expert, choose from 3 program options, and become the master of your lawn.

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Joey Steele, Lawn & Plant Health Care Manager

Since 2004, Joey has been using his B.S. in Landscape Construction and his turf and ornamental certifications to transform properties in our area. He loves seeing the fruit of his team's hard work and enjoys the many relationships he's formed since joining our team in 2008. He's an Olive Branch, MS native and enjoys spending time with his wife and three young boys, fishing and going to football games.

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