What does Crabgrass look like?

What does Crabgrass look like?

You don’t have to be a turf nerd to know the term crabgrass isn’t something good when talking about lawns.  We normally see crabgrass popping up in July through August in Cincinnati and Dayton.  It is an ugly grass that can look lime green in a nice darker green lawn.  Sometimes on neglected lawns it can overrun the whole thing.  Crabgrass is a summer annual grassy weed that germinates in the soil in the Spring and pops up in turf in the Summer.  It then dies off with the first frost in the Fall.  So what does crabgrass look like?


Many say it looks like a hand with the fingers spread out.  This type of plant is in the later stages of its growth cycle.  Early on it may only be smaller light green plants that are hard to see.  There is a type of grass that many customers confuse with crabgrass called K-31 Tall Fescue.  This type of grass is a perennial grass and will never go away without full renovation of those areas.  We would never suggest planting this type of grass.  Turf type tall fescue is the best fescue to plant.  Do this in September in bare/thin areas.

K-31 Fescue

Why is crabgrass so bad this year?

The excessive amounts of rain we have experienced in Cincinnati and Dayton have broken down the barrier we applied in the Spring much quicker than normal.  We are seeing some breakthrough, especially on new customer’s lawns.  Sometimes Mother Nature wins, but we do our best to fight against it.

So how to get rid of crabgrass?  

Spraying a selective herbicide after the crabgrass has reached certain stages in its growth cycle might be difficult to get great control, but will help.  If you hit crabgrass early in its growth cycle, it is much easier to control with a selective herbicide.  The good thing about crabgrass is it will go away in the Fall.  The bad thing about crabgrass is it dumps thousands of seeds into the soil for the next season.  So your best method of control is prevention.  Make sure you are putting down a pre-emergent herbicide in Early Spring to prevent those seeds in the soil from germinating.


2 Things you can do to Help Fight Crabgrass

  1.  Mow High – Crabgrass likes lawns that are cut short (mow at 3-4 inches after cut)
  2. Plant Grass Seed – Any bare/thin areas are more prone to crabgrass and other weeds.  Make sure you plant grass seed in Sept-Early October and do NOT wait until the Spring.


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