Best Crabgrass Killer That Won’t Kill Grass (7 Top Solutions + Guide)

After working so hard to keep your lawn pristine and neat, weed infestation is the last thing you want to deal with. Pesky crabgrass can overrun your lawn, turning the beautiful lush look into an unsightly mess.

Are you tired of dealing with crabgrass year long? Crabgrass killer to the rescue! They are designed to kill existing, actively growing crabgrass to prevent weed infestation. Available in either pre- or post-emergent herbicides, available in liquid or granular form. 

Regardless of the type and form, crabgrass killers work to restore the beauty of your lawn by ridding it of weeds. Here’s a guide to the best crabgrass killer that won’t kill grass. In addition, you’ll get a sneak peek of the physiology of crabgrass and how to choose the best solution.

What is Crabgrass?

Crabgrass derives its name from how it grows close to the ground with multiple stems and leaves looking like crab legs. The invasive weed thrives best under a temperature of 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, it germinates in spring and grows quickly in hot, dry conditions. 

It grows abundantly in sparse and exposed areas on the lawn, producing several thousands of seeds in its growing season and becoming a nightmare for many homeowners and gardeners looking forward to well-manicured lawn and flower beds.

What Kills Crabgrass?

Crabgrass is undisputedly an intrusive weed that spreads quickly, becoming difficult to eliminate. However, there are numerous ways to get rid of crabgrass, from hand pulling to applying chemicals (or natural products like baking soda). Let’s consider some of them.

Hand Pulling

Hand pulling is possibly the simplest way to kill crabgrass and other weeds, especially in their growing stage. This helps remove crabgrass, giving room for healthy new grass to grow.

Soak crabgrass for about 30 minutes to eliminate these unwanted plants using a garden hose or sprinkler. This helps to soften the soil to facilitate easy crabgrass removal. 

Next, use a weeding tool or pitchfork to remove the entire clump. While this controls crabgrass growth, it can be time-consuming. Finally, ensure you properly dispose of the weed to prevent it from growing back.

Boiling Water

Another way to keep crabgrass at bay is by pouring boiling water. Unfortunately, this method does not only kill crabgrass; it gets rid of surrounding vegetation as well. Alternatively, add dish soap and salt to boiling water to hasten the removal process and to dry out the plant quickly.

Using Chemicals

If crabgrass is fully grown, you may need to apply chemicals to control weed growth. You can also spray or spread chemicals on the plants in their germinative stage. 

These chemicals exist in two forms: pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides. While pre-emergent herbicide stops weeds from sprouting, the latter eliminates already established weeds.

Using Vinegar

Vinegar is an organic solution that has many household uses. As a versatile substance, it’s not surprising that gardeners use this substance in gardening. Vinegar works effectively against crabgrass and other weeds, reducing their population to the barest minimum. 

Typically, while adding 20% of vinegar to the lawn produces great results, 30% of vinegar will be suitable for stubborn weeds.

Note: it’s not good to use household vinegar as this can be detrimental to your lawn. Meanwhile, herbicidal vinegar works best for crabgrass removal.

Apply Corn-gluten

Corn-gluten doubles as a pre-emergent herbicide that stops Crabgrass from germinating. It has high nitrogen nutrients, which promotes lawn growth so it can outgrow Crabgrass. To widely distribute corn gluten meal on the lawn, use a spreader so you don’t miss small areas. 

What Kills Crabgrass, not Grass?

Weed killers like Tenacity turf herbicide, Ortho weed B Gon and spectracide kill Crabgrass, leaving grass unharmed. These crabgrass killers contain active ingredients, Quinclorac and Mesotrione, which prove effective against weeds.

Types of Crabgrass Killers

There are two types of crabgrass killers: pre-emergent and post-emergent crabgrass killers. While the former prevents weed seeds from germinating, the latter eliminates mature plants.

The best method kills crabgrass and suppresses weed activity so they don’t surpass your lawn.

Pre-Emergent Herbicides

Due to their preventive action on lawns, these herbicides are also called weed preventers. Pre-emergent herbicides only tackle annual weeds that grow from seeds; they don’t kill mature weeds.

The efficiency and performance of these herbicides depend on the period you apply them. It’s best to apply the pre-emergent herbicide when the weed is sprouting. 

Applying pre-emergent herbicide too early or after seeds germinate won’t yield any result. In addition, you’ll need to apply this herbicide repeatedly to areas that support weed growth to keep these unwanted plants at bay.

Post-Emergent Herbicides

Post-emergent herbicides inhibit existing weeds, especially tough ones. Therefore, you might need to apply these herbicides multiple times for better outcomes. However, this can hurt the lawn and other plants.

For lawns invaded by weeds, combining pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides will be the best approach to eradicating this menace. 

While the pre-emergent herbicide disrupts the germination process, post-emergent tackles already established weeds.

That aside, depending on the season, weather conditions, weed maturity, and other conditions, you might need to apply crabgrass killers several times to keep your lawn weed-free.

The Best Crabgrass Killers

With a wide range of crabgrass killers on the market, we’ve narrowed our selection to the top-rated products. These crabgrass killers exclusively wipe out crabgrass, leaving the lawn untouched.

Furthermore, they have a long shelf life, contain active ingredients, and are safe to use.

Tenacity Turf Herbicide

Tenacity Turf Herbicide is ranked first on our list of best crabgrass killers, a selective herbicide that targets crabgrass by inhibiting photosynthesis and causing weeds to die from the root. 

The 2-in-1 formulation works as a pre-and post-emergent weed killer, destroying weeds at their roots and controlling weed growth. 

You can apply Tenacity Turf Herbicide when seeding or on established lawns. This herbicide is available at a steep price and contains an active ingredient, mesotrione, which proves its effectiveness.

Features

  • Has 5 to 8 years shelf life
  • Effective as a pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicide
  • It contains 40% Mesotrione

Pros

  • It kills weeds from the root to the top
  • Offers reliable results
  • Dual-action formula
  • Appropriate for residential and commercial areas

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Requires multiple application
  • Temporary bleaching of turf grass

More info on the company website.

Ortho Weed B Gon Weed Killer

Available in multiple sizes, Ortho Weed B Gon Weed killer is a liquid herbicide suitable for spot treatment. It kills over 250 weeds, including crabgrass, clover, and dandelion. Since it kills the weed at the root, you’re likely to see results within a short time. 

The product is more effective on grass that is rarely mowed. Also, if you want the best results, spray using a hose-end sprayer or tank sprayer when the weeds are actively growing. 

Ortho weed B Gon may not be suitable for a large land infested by weeds. However, you may have to wait till spring to use the weed killer on the large area or preferably use a pre-emergent herbicide. 

Features

  • Rainproof within an hour of application
  • Visible results in 24 hours
  • It kills over 200 weeds

Pros

  • Suitable for multiple applications
  • Safe for delicate grass types
  • Targets broadleaf and grass varieties

Cons

  • Not used around pets

More info on the company website.

BioAdvanced All-in-One Crabgrass Killer

As the name suggests, BioAdvanced focuses on gardening problems and their solutions. Formerly called Bayer All in One weed, BioAdvanced All-in-One Crabgrass Killer selectively kills crabgrass and other broadleaf weeds without harming the lawn. 

While it comes in a 40-ounce canister, the weedkiller can cover large areas, approximately 5,000 square feet. Thanks to its active ingredients like Quinclorac and Dimethylamine salt, you’ll soon see positive results. 

The all-in-one formula protects against 217 weeds, killing the toughest weeds at the root. You should apply the formula between 50°F and 90°F for the best results.

Applying the herbicide on lawns at temperatures above 50°F aids easy absorption.

Features

  • It has five years shelf life
  • Covers 6,250 square feet area
  • Uses hose-end sprayer for application

Pros

  • Rainproof within an hour of application
  • Effectively kills Crabgrass and other weeds
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Not safe for pets
  • Harmful to ornamentals
  • Not effective in high temperatures

More info on the company website.

Spectracide Weed Stop For Lawns Plus Crabgrass Killer

With Spectracide, you need not break the bank to clear your lawn of crabgrass.

The crabgrass killer contains potent ingredients that eliminate over 250 weed types. 

Typically, it takes about 5 hours to start working and kills every weed. The weed begins to wilt and changes color within a few hours of applying the formula. This weed killer comes in multiple sizes and quantities, covering 5,000 square feet of lawn. 

Spectracide is quite resistant, so you might need to apply the concentrate on your lawn twice to see visible results. Gardening experts recommend this for spot weed control in lawns.

While it can be a pain to measure the amount needed, it’s effective when used in the right amount.

Features

  • Covers 5,000 square feet area
  • Available in liquid form
  • It kills over 470 weed types

Pros

  • Easy to apply
  • Low-priced
  • Quick results

Cons

  • May cause discoloration

More info on the company website.

BASF Drive XLR8 Crabgrass Herbicide

Popular among gardening enthusiasts, BASF Drive is a premium weed killer notable for its shelf life and performance. The herbicide utilizes the latest technology in its production. Little wonder it ranks among the best out there. 

Like other crabgrass killers, BASF Drive eliminates unwanted plants, leaving your lawn unharmed. A bottle of this herbicide can cover an acre, a feature that distinguishes it from its alternatives.

Once applied, it dries up within an hour, making it rainproof and suitable for households with children and pets. 

Unfortunately, BASF Drive has a short shelf life, which indicates that the weed killer is only suitable for one-time application.

However, due to its efficiency and high performance, it’s widely used in industrial and commercial applications.

Features

  • One bottle covers an acre of land
  • Complete weed control
  • Packaged in a 64-ounce can

Pros

  • Quick absorption for a faster kill
  • Dries in less than an hour
  • It doesn’t degrade in quality when stored for 45 days

Cons

  • Short shelf life 

More info on the company website.

Primesource Quinclorac Drive XLR8 Liquid Crabgrass Killer

From reviews, you can tell that Primesource is a powerful solution that knocks out crabgrass in one shot. Containing 18.92% Quinclorac, an active ingredient, Primesource crabgrass killer is a potent concentrate that works on broadleaf and grassy weeds. 

The post-emergence herbicide is best applied seven days before seeding a lawn or after 28 days when weeds emerge. Investing in this gardening product is worthwhile due to its dual-action formulation.

Features

  • Contain 18.92% Quinclorac
  • Suitable for residential and non-residential areas

Pros

  • Potent ingredients that kill all weed types
  • Suitable for multiple applications
  • Controls weed for up to 90 days

Cons

  • Extra care when applying herbicide

Scotts 49900 Halts Crabgrass Killer

If you’re looking to curb the spread of Crabgrass for an extended period, Scotts 49900 Halts Crabgrass Killer may be your best bet.

Applying this herbicide in early spring can help stop the growth of weeds before they sprout. Furthermore, you can apply the crabgrass killer in the fall to stop the germination of other weeds. 

Gardeners with expansive lawns will consider this a viable alternative since it’s available in large quantities. With this product, you’ll have no difficulty covering a large expanse of land, around 5000 square feet. 

Whether applied in the rainy season, snow, or freezing temperatures, you don’t have to worry about these elements affecting its efficiency. While Scotts 49900 Halts Crabgrass Killer is high-performing, you need to apply it correctly so you won’t have to worry about Crabgrass later.

Features

  • Available in granules
  • Suits all weather
  • Covers 5,000 square feet area of land

Pros

  • Cost-efficient compared to other crabgrass killers
  • Works as herbicide and fertilizer
  • Easy to spread
  • All year-round coverage

Cons

  • The application needs to be consistent
  • Requires a spreader

More info on the company website.

Buying Guide

Crabgrass is found in most landscaping like lawns, gardens, orchards, golf courses, and athletic fields. It thrives best in lawns due to its rapidly growing seeds. If left unchecked, the crabgrass soon occupies the lawn. 

Using a lawnmower or other traditional methods to clear crabgrass may be arduous because the plant is short. Therefore, a crabgrass killer may be the best way to eliminate this plant. 

With so many products on the market, choosing a suitable option will be arduous. Here’s a buying guide to help you choose the best product for your lawn.

Effectiveness of the Compound

This should top the list of factors when choosing the best crabgrass killer. What are the active ingredients of the product? How effective are they? The active ingredients are usually listed on the product’s label. 

This should explain the product’s potency and, in some cases, how to apply it. Besides this, consider the efficacy of the product.

Also, check the time of action as stated by the manufacturer. Some products may give instant results, while others can show results within a week or two of application. 

Application Method

After checking the active ingredients, the next thing to do is to check how to apply the crabgrass killer. The method of applying herbicides varies among products. Liquid crabgrass killer is applied using a sprayer, while the granular one is spread using a wheel or hand spreader. 

Ensure you read and follow directions on how to apply the concentrate. Whether you spread or spray the product, ensure you apply evenly to affected areas.

Leaving some places left out can result in the invasion of crabgrass later. 

Furthermore, you should know that first-time applications may not yield many results as crabgrass is a stubborn plant. Sometimes, you’ll need several treatments to get rid of it completely.

Quantity

What volume or quantity of crabgrass killer do you need to apply on your lawn? You don’t want to see the product waste after application. Sometimes, you won’t be able to exhaust the content of an overly large canister. 

Considering the area you want to cover gives you a clue of the required quantity. Typically, crabgrass killers come in small containers and large packages to suit your needs. If eventually you purchase more than enough, ensure it has a long shelf life for multiple uses over the years. 

You can’t afford to buy a large quantity of product that will outlive its usefulness within a short timeframe. Meanwhile, when you purchase an insufficient amount, the application process may prove ineffective since the concentrate isn’t enough to keep out weeds.

Shelf Life

Shelf life is another crucial factor when buying a product, especially those with chemical constituents. Most times, you don’t get to exhaust the entire content; hence you’ll need to store the remnant in a cool, safe place.

However, over time, it will deplete in quality and become less efficient if stored for too long. 

To prevent this, opt for a product with a long shelf life. The shelf life is usually stated on the product. Also, ensure you store in a safe area, not exposed to direct sunlight.

Weather Conditions

Temperature factors in the effectiveness of the herbicide. Crabgrass sprouts at a soil temperature of 55 degrees in the spring. During summer, it will grow to maturity, producing more seeds till it dies in winter. 

In tropical regions, applying pre-emergent during the growing season alongside spot treating with post-emergent herbicide can reduce crabgrass to the barest minimum.