Crabgrass can be one of the most frustrating weeds to deal with in your garden. It can blend in with your lawn as it first develops, making it hard to spot. Once the soil is warm enough, it sprouts out into its well-known crab shape, making ugly patches on your lawn.
There are lots of potential solutions available. Some work well and some do less than they promise. So, what is the best crabgrass killer out of all the different options?
We have put together a guide below to point you in the right direction. It has the information needed, so you can take positive steps towards a weed-free lawn.
Crabgrass is known for being a tough weed to remove. It can often return year after year as it spreads its seeds before dying. Left untreated it will compete against your existing grass for light, water, and space. But all is not lost, as there are some great options available to send your crabgrass packing.
- The 7 Best Crabgrass Killers Reviewed
- Tenacity Turf Herbicide
- Ortho Weed B Gon Plus Crabgrass Control Concentrate2
- Spectracide Crabgrass Killer Concentrate
- Quinclorac 75 DF Selective Herbicide
- BASF Drive XLR8 Herbicide
- Primesource Quinclorac Liquid Crabgrass Killer
- BioAdvanced 704140 Crabgrass Killer
- What to Look for in a Crabgrass Killer?
- Common Crabgrass Questions
- Final Word
The 7 Best Crabgrass Killers Reviewed
With so many solutions available it can be difficult to navigate your way through crabgrass killers. Even if you find highly rated products, how do you know they will be effective for your lawn and that the crabgrass will be kept away permanently?
We have not only selected a range of excellent solutions below, but we have also explained who they might be suitable for and why.
In most cases, crabgrass killers deal with the weed once it has grown. Tenacity’s herbicide actually includes a formula that starts affecting the weeds while they’re still in the ground. The benefit of this is the herbicide affects the full cycle of the weed’s life, making it an effective solution for killing of crabgrass completely.
Tenacity is also very successful at attacking the crabgrass whilst leaving the grass you want on your lawn unharmed. This is a constant battle with weed killers, as often weeds are really just different types of grass. This makes it hard for herbicides to be effective against one type of grass but not the other, but Tenacity does a great job in distinguishing between the two.
The solution arrives in an 8 fluid ounce bottle along with a syringe, so you can take out the herbicide and add it to a sprayer. You will need a garden sprayer for application, and something around the 2-gallon size model would be ideal. One teaspoon of Tenacity can be diluted into 2 gallons of water, although it’s best checking your bottle as formulas can sometimes change.
The size of your garden will determine how much solution you need. It’s worth pointing out that there is a very long shelf life of 5-8 years with Tenacity so you don’t need to be concerned if you don’t use up the full container.
Once you spray Tenacity you then need to leave it to dry before using the lawn again. The size and route system of the weed will affect how long it takes to be effective, but you may notice some impact as quickly as overnight.
Within Tenacity’s solution you have an excellent treatment for dealing with your current crabgrass, but you’re also getting the best crabgrass preventer amongst our reviewed models. It’s an all-round protection that makes it stand out above the competition.
However, there are some areas where Tenacity might not be the perfect solution. A number of people have noted only partial success against a variety of other weeds. While it does seem to affect nimble weeds, clovers, and wild violets, it doesn’t always have the same impact that it does on crabgrass.
So, while we would happily call Tenacity the best crabgrass killer, we would also call it a great protector. However, if you have a large number of other weeds, there are other options to consider.
If you have worked hard to grow a lawn you’re proud of, spraying anything from a bottle can make you a little cautious. We have all heard tales of weed killer attacking people’s prized flowers and lawn. Ortho puts these concerns at bay, as they offer a guarantee that Weed B Gon won’t damage your lawn. You need to use it as directed of course, but it’s reassuring to know that a company is willing to back their product before you start spraying.
There are different bottles available for Weed B Gon, so you’re catered for whether you want a ready spray, or a concentrate which allows you to mix the solution yourself. The concentrate has coverage of up to 5,000 square feet. So if you have a large garden or a weed problem that’s really getting out of control, this might be the best option for you.
Getting the ratio correct with Weed B Gon should be a high priority. A few people have found the solution has affected other plants when they have used a stronger concentration. If you’re looking to turn up the heat on your crabgrass, it’s a better idea to look at advice for reapplying rather than increasing the concentration.
One of the positives that Ortho offers is a short drying time. This is helpful as there are preferred times of the year to spray crabgrass. The spring season is often ideal, but if you live somewhere with a heavy rainfall, needing just one hour of drying time will work in your favor. It also starts working overnight so you know the weeds are being dealt with almost immediately.
So how effective is Weed B Gon? It’s a very good solution, and the ready-mixed option will appeal to a lot of people due to its ease. Some people have pointed out that the crabgrass returns the next year, but this is to be expected with crabgrass. However, there are a couple of options to deal with this. You can use a pre-emergent that can be applied separately, or choose an option like the Tenacity which has one contained in the formula.
If you like the ease of use and the benefits of the Weed B Gon, you can always just reapply the next year. Ortho have made a good, effective product that dries quickly. It also gives you reassurance that the rest of your lawn won’t be damaged.
Weed Stop for Lawns offers a broad approach to weed killing, and is effective against 470 different kinds of weeds. This formula would be ideal if you have a variety of different weeds in your garden, as it would save you buying separate products.
You need a dry spell of three hours after spraying to ensure Weed Stop is effective. However, like many of these products, it’s best to give yourself as much time as possible for it to take effect. So, if you can find a dry spell of a few days, you’re more likely to get better results.
One thing to be aware of is that this product can’t be used in weather that exceeds 90 degrees. So even though it’s best to avoid the rain, it’s also helpful to avoid extreme heat.
For coverage, the Weed Stop goes up to 5,000 square feet and the solution is mixed with water and then sprayed. The positives of using a broad weed killer are the efficiencies of killing other weeds, and Spectracide is reported to have fantastic results against dandelions particularly.
In terms of crabgrass, the results are positive overall, but perhaps not up there with some other brands. While Weed Stop does a solid job, it is often noted that it only reduces crabgrass rather than obliterates it.
The solution can be resprayed after 30 days if needed, and a second spray will add to the impact. The Weed Stop is an interesting proposition on the market, as while some products will focus solely on crabgrass, the Weed Stop is more of an all-rounder.
It might not quite have the effectiveness of some other brands, but it’s able to kill a wider variety of other weeds than many similar products on the market.
So, who might the Spectracide Weed Stop be suitable for? If you have a garden with a wide range of different weed species, this could be a great one-bottle solution. It will have a great chance of killing off every weed you can spray it on. And that includes the crabgrass.
However, if you just have a crabgrass issue with no other weeds, then the Tenacity would be a very good choice. It’s a more focused product, and suited to solving specific crabgrass problems effectively.
If you’re looking for a serious product to tackle your crabgrass the Quinclorac 75 DF Herbicide might well be the one for you. Stripped of the marketing and features that many off the shelf products come with, the 75DF is a professional grade herbicide.
The product comes in granular form and is mixed in a ratio of one tablespoon per gallon. It is then sprayed across the lawn and is so effective that it usually needs just one spray. It’s recommended that you don’t cut the grass within two days of applying the solution, or for two days afterwards to gain maximum effect.
There are also grasses that it doesn’t play nicely with, so if your lawn is made of Bahia grass, Carpet grass, Dichondra, or St. Augustine then you may need to look elsewhere.
Like many weed killers, it can be difficult to see where you have sprayed. This can affect your lawn negatively if you repeatedly spray the same section due to the strength of the solution. To solve this issue, a temporary marking dye can be added to the mixture. This marks the grass and dissolves over a short period of time.
The 75 DF is certainly among the most effective crabgrass killers. It does a fantastic job of eliminating crabgrass in a very short amount of time. It also has a target list of other weeds it works on. So it’s the perfect combination of being both effective at eliminating crabgrass and weeds in general.
So why wouldn’t everyone choose the 75DF given its strength? It’s fair to say that while it’s suitable for residential customers, it’s largely aimed at the commercial market such as golf courses, sports fields and much larger gardens.
Both the bottle and the detailed instructions have a trade feel to them which could easily off someone who wanted a simple, off the shelf solution. If you’re looking for a well-marketed, user-friendly crabgrass solution this may not be for you. However, if you’re looking for a no-nonsense product that achieves excellent results in killing crabgrass, this is ideal.
Similar to Quinclorac 75 DF, Drive XLR8 is a product aimed at people who are undertaking serious lawn care. Rather than something you would grab off the shelf in a big store, Drive XLR8 was also initially used commercially. Its success led to the product becoming popular with homeowners, who wanted an industrial-strength crabgrass killer for their own lawn.
One of the benefits of Drive XLR8 is that it attacks advanced crabgrass plants. Many other brands are only effective on younger plants that haven’t taken hold. You will often see weed killer products referencing the ‘number of tillers’ which the product is suitable for. Tillers are actually stems on the crabgrass, and the more advanced the plant, the more tillers it has.
While many weed killers will mention their effectiveness up to 2 tillers, Drive XLR8 is effective up to 4. It also states in its marketing literature that it’s the best weed killer on the market. It says the product ‘has increased control of most weeds that have previously been controlled by Drive 75 DF and Quinclorac 75 DF’.
This is a bold claim, but how does it hold up against the competition?
We would put Drive XLR8 right up amongst the best. It’s a liquid solution, rather than granules and it’s actually water-based. But, this simple product achieves great results. This is another no-frills solution that kills crabgrass in a way that many more well-known products can’t match.
Drive also dries within one hour which is up there with the fastest drying times, and it has great coverage with 1 bottle covering up to an acre.
There are however, a couple of things to consider. It is reported that drive cannot be used on St. Augustine lawns, so ensure you check your grass type before purchasing. A few users have also noted that Drive has discolored their existing lawn as well as killing the crabgrass. This has turned out to be temporary, but it’s worth testing a small area if you have concerns.
With these industrial products, there is often very little information supplied. However, if you have a query it is worth contacting the manufacturer directly to make sure the product is suitable for your lawn.
Overall, this is a strong product that will help make your lawn crabgrass free. Just be sure it gets along with your existing lawn grass, and you will have a great solution.
Like a few products on our recommended list, Quinclorac falls between industrial and home use. It comes in a 1.5L tub and controls a good range of weeds, with the main focus being crabgrass.
Similar to all herbicides, Primesource Quinclorac is best used outside of the main heat of the day. Different solutions have different recommended temperatures (Quinclorac is 85 degrees), as adding the solution on very hot days can damage your existing lawn. You can work around this by spraying your garden early in the morning. This will allow a few hours for it to take effect, before the sun starts interfering with the process.
Quinclorac offers 90 days control and works on both broadleaf and grassy weeds. However, like Drive XLR8, it shouldn’t be used on St Augustine lawns. Additionally, it has been noted that it has inconsistent results on some of the larger Californian species. So, if you’re based in California, it’s worth checking with the manufacturer.
Like some of the other industrial crabgrass killers, Quinclorac gets very good results. It attacks the crabgrass quickly and the 90-day control ensures it gives consistent results. There have been a small number of issues with Quinclorac discoloring other lawn grass at the time of application, but the effects are short-lived.
Quinclorac is often used on parks, athletic fields, and other commercial spaces, so you’re getting a product that is very capable. It isn’t a pre-emergence herbicide though, so it won’t be affecting the crabgrass at an under-soil level like Tenacity does.
However, it’s a solid choice and is more effective than many of the off- shelf solutions available. If you’re California based or your grass is St Augustine, then you may want it to look at other options.
BioAdvanced’s crabgrass solution is a general weed killer that is listed as being effective on over 200 broadleaf weeds.
Unlike some of the other products listed, BioAdavanced’s solution comes in a variety of different sizes ranging from 24 ounce to 1.3-gallon containers. This allows you to order the right amount for your lawn and saves you having to store leftover solution.
Some of the industrial crabgrass herbicides are only available in large containers. This can be frustrating as you may need to find additional storage space in your garage.
BioAdvanced also offers their customers the choice of either a ‘ready to spray’ or concentrate formula. This convenience is often missing from the more industrial crabgrass killers, who often only make their product available in large containers.
While the BioAdvaned herbicide gives you plenty of buying options, it could be argued that the effectiveness on crabgrass falls a little underneath the benchmark. While it’s still effective, many users found it works best on less mature crabgrass, and noted it doesn’t always kill the strongest crabgrass weeds.
Some people had good results by re-spraying, and with the different sizes available you could factor this into your calculations when choosing a bottle size
The product also has a one hour drying time, which is amongst the best on the market. BioAdvanced suggests not spraying in high temperatures, which is inline with the advice given by most herbicide manufacturers.
But who does BioAdvanced appeal to? If you’re a customer looking for easy to use solution then this will appeal. The buying options are varied and the instructions are clear and easy to follow. If your priority is to simply find the strongest crabgrass killer, then there are other options that may be more appealing.
What to Look for in a Crabgrass Killer?
While crabgrass can be hard work, so can deciphering all the technical words and the different products on the market.
If you have spent a lot of time on your lawn, you will also want to avoid any mis-steps. The wrong product or quantity of solution and you could find your existing lawn or plants affected. Reading our guide below will give you some key insights into the things to consider when choosing a crabgrass killer.
What Size of Crabgrass is it Suitable for?
Like all weeds, crabgrass starts small before taking hold. If you catch it early you may not need the strongest killer on the market. However, if the crabgrass is well established you will likely need a maximum strength solution. Crabgrass killers will sometimes mention the number of tillers they are suitable for. This means how many stems have grown, which is an indication of how big they are. The higher the number, the bigger the weeds. So it’s helpful to choose a solution that matches your current weed size.
Whether it’s Pre-emergence or Post-emergence
This is a lot simpler than it sounds. Pre-emergence just means before it leaves the ground and post-emergence means after. While most herbicides tackle the weed after it leaves the ground, some solutions deal with both.
Having a pre and post-emergence is a great complete solution. However, if your weed killer doesn’t have a pre-emergence within the formula, you can buy one separately.
What other Weeds will it Kill?
Some herbicides are geared to helping you tackle a wide range of weeds rather than just crabgrass. These are sometimes less effective than products solely aimed at crabgrass. However, these solutions have the benefit of killing other unwanted weeds from your garden.
If you have other weeds, it’s best if you do some research into your garden and identify the different types. You can then check your weed varieties against the ones covered by your herbicide.
The weeds a formula will target are often published on the bottle or in the marketing information. So, if you can identify your weeds and check them against the list, you could find the perfect solution for all your weed problems.
Is it Suitable for your Grass?
Crabgrass like its name suggests is technically a grass. So, when formulas are created they can sometimes actually effect lawn grass. St Augustine seems particularly prone to being affected, while Bermuda grass is less so. It’s important to check on the manufacturer’s literature before applying any solution.
Most manufactures publish this information along with any particular type of crabgrass that might not be affected by their product.
A quick check can give you the reassurance you need to spray on your lawn, knowing your grass will be looking good long after the crabgrass has gone.
While you can use most herbicides without any additional products, there are complementary products that are frequently used. A surfactant is often mixed in with weed killer as it helps the solution stick to the plant rather than just run off.
As weeds killers usually don’t have strong colors, it can be hard to see where you have sprayed. Going over areas twice can be problematic and can potentially damage your lawn. A clear dye, often blue, is sometimes used to help overcome this.
But don’t worry about the color of your lawn, as the dye is temporary and washes off in a few days.
Volume to Area
Crabgrass killer can come in pellets, ready to spray solution or concentrate. If you understand how the coverage works you can save costs by buying the correct amount.
Most products will have a guide to how much lawn their product covers. So, if you can estimate the area of your garden that needs treatment, you can calculate the bottle size needed.
You also need to factor in how many times you’re likely to need to re-spray, and include this in your final total.
These quick calculations can help ensure you’re not purchasing an amount needed for a football field, when you only have a small garden. You can also check the shelf life, as some products have a span that goes into years.So, if you do happen to over-order you can store the container away for the following season.
Method of Application
While some herbicides come ready to spray along with an attached wand, some will arrive in a basic container. There is no right or wrong here, it’s a personal preference as to whether you want to mix from concentrate, or spray straight out of the bottle.
For larger areas, people will often choose to use a garden sprayer to save time. Whichever weed killer you choose just make sure you’re comfortable with the method of applying it.
Common Crabgrass Questions
Although it’s not native to America, crabgrass has been causing headaches for gardeners since 1849. As there are so many theories and ideas about dealing with crabgrass, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions below.
1. What is the best way to get rid of crabgrass?
The best way of removing crabgrass depends on how advanced it is. Applying a pre-emergent in spring and spraying with a post-emergent in early summer will give you good results.
You can also remove them by hand, with a trowel or use home-made solutions. The key is to get rid of both the weeds, and any seeds so they don’t reappear.
2. What time of year is best to kill crabgrass?
Ideally, you will put down a pre-emergent in mid to late spring before the crabgrass takes hold. If you miss this window, or if the crabgrass is established, you can spray in the summer with a weed killer.
The more established the crabgrass are the tougher the job, but you can still get good results. In summer months be sure not to use weed killer in hot temperatures.
3. Should you pull crabgrass?
Pulling up crabgrass can give good results. It worth doing this in spring though, as the weeds won’t have had time to germinate. If there are a large number of weeds a solution would make more sense, but if it’s a small number, you can pull up with a trowel.
4. Does white vinegar kill crabgrass?
White vinegar does kill crabgrass and the most effective form of this is horticultural vinegar. The stronger the concentration of vinegar, the better chance it has against this stubborn weed. But you do need to proceed with care.
Vinegar can potentially have the same effect on any plant or grass, so if you are going to use it, you should use solely on individual spots of crabgrass. Secondly, it won’t be effective at the root of the weed, so it’s likely to be more of a short term solution.
5. Can you choke out crabgrass?
Crabgrass will compete with your other plants and lawn for sunshine, space, and water. The best way to choke them out is to keep a healthy, well-fertilized lawn. Keep the grass height at quite a long length, and take care to avoid having any bare spots where the crabgrass could find a home.
Crabgrass will look for the areas of least resistance, seeking out thinly populated spots around the edges of the lawn. You can add grass seed to these areas to give the crabgrass some extra competition.
6. Does Baking Soda Really Kill Crabgrass?
Baking soda does indeed kill crabgrass as some of the properties of baking soda are often present in weed killers. You can often see crabgrass turning black after baking soda has been applied. However, there are a couple of reasons why you might want to consider other solutions.
Firstly, baking soda can have the same damaging effect on your lawn. This will vary depending on the type of grass and how robust it is, but ideally try a small section first.
Secondly, while it will make an impact on your existing crabgrass it won’t work as well on pre-emergence, so if you’re looking for a complete solution it isn’t it.
7. How Do You Manually Remove Crabgrass?
At its tallest, crabgrass only grows to around six inches high, so while the number of weeds can be overwhelming, it isn’t a particularly large plant. The best way to remove it by hand is simply digging the crabgrass up with a trowel.
Be sure to get under the root, and make sure not to leave any in the earth. As the seeds germinate in the summer, it’s best to do this in the spring. This will help to control the amount of new crabgrass the following year.
Crabgrass effects so many lawns it is no wonder that there are so many options for getting get rid of it.
It’s persistent, dogged, and can be a long term frustration for many people. There are options to remove crabgrass by hand and some good all-purpose weed killers. These can work very well if the crabgrass isn’t particularly mature.
However, to give maximum control and protection it’s hard to look past Tenacity Turf Herbicide. Working on both the roots and the plant, it gives you the best chance of a long term solution and a fantastic looking lawn.