Problems with Crabgrass

Crabgrass is a common weed from the grass family. There are several species of this rapidly growing weed, many of which are flowering. Crabgrass is an annual plant that germinates in the spring. It spreads many seeds throughout its lifespan. Although crabgrass dies in the fall, it leaves seeds behind that are left to germinate the following year.

Spreading Seeds

Crabgrass produces a plentiful amount of seeds. The seeds are spread by birds, wind and rain. Crabgrass is also spread by the blades of lawnmowers. Crabgrass can leave seed deposits on the lawnmower blades. If the blades are not properly cleaned, the seeds can be redistributed on the lawn with the next mowing.


Crabgrass is resilient and can adapt to all types of soil and sunlight. Though crabgrass prefers full sunlight and nutrient soil, it can thrive just as well in dry, compacted soil that lacks nutrients and receives little or no sunlight.

Overpowering the Lawn

Crabgrass can quickly overpower your desired grass, robbing it of its nutrients. It is also quite difficult to kill once it has begun its development. The most effective way to eliminate and reduce the presence of crabgrass is to use pre-emergence herbicide chemicals in the early spring. Fully developed crabgrass and crabgrass infestations are usually quite difficult to eliminate once they have started. Post-emergence chemicals are difficult to apply and usually require a professional for application.


Crabgrass is a warm-season annual that will not begin to germinate until outside temperatures average 60°F. It is possible for crabgrass to overwinter when temperatures increase and frost dissipates. This overwintering can cause a mid-winter infestation. Pre-emergence chemicals are an ideal method for preventing crabgrass overwintering and spring infestations.

Grass Height

Crabgrass prefers grassy areas that are short and in direct sunlight. Reduce or eliminate the amount of crabgrass in the yard by allowing the desired grass to grow longer than usual. Keep the desired grass between 2 ½ and 3 inches in height. This will reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches the soil, reducing the growth of the crabgrass.

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About this Author

Writing professionally since 2004, Charmayne Smith focuses on corporate materials such as training manuals, business plans, grant applications and technical manuals. Smith's articles have appeared in the "Houston Chronicle" and on various websites, drawing on her extensive experience in corporate management and property/casualty insurance.