Best Pre-emergent Herbicides For Crabgrass Prevention | How To Control Crabgrass?

Crabgrass is one of the most annoying weeds you will ever encounter. Controlling crabgrass can be a real battle, and since it is grass, many herbicides would not work on it. Moreover, crabgrass is not a single plant species. Instead, it is a collective term that is used to refer to nearly 200 plants of the genus Digitaria. In this article, I’ll introduce you to the best pre emergent crabgrass herbicide.

pre emergent crabgrass herbicide

Photo Credit Grass blades of smooth crabgrass.

Like an ocean crab, crabgrass has many rigid legs (stems) and a procumbent low-growing habit, giving these plants a crab’s shape and name. In addition, crabgrass’s low profile on the lawn allows it to escape a mower’s blade and holds up really well even in high foot traffic. So, how do you get rid of crabgrass on your lawn?

Using pre-emergent herbicides is the best way to control and get rid of crabgrass. However, unlike what most people believe, pre-emergent herbicides do not kill the seeds. In fact, they kill the young seedlings. So, a crabgrass preventer must be in place before the crabgrass seeds germinate.

That said, choosing a crabgrass preventer is no easy task. Crabgrass is a grass weed, and most herbicides do not work on grass. So, keep reading this article to find out the best crabgrass preventer on the market and what is the best time to apply a crabgrass preventer for the best results.

What Is The Best Pre-emergent To Use For Crabgrass?

There are many MANY crabgrass pre-emergent herbicides (crabgrass preventers) available on the market. Some are good, some are bad, and some are okay! Crabgrass preventers are available in both liquid and solid (granular) forms. Depending on your needs and preference, you can choose the form that best works for you.

RELATED: When Does Crabgrass Germinate? and How To Prevent Crabgrass Germination

Nonetheless, here is a list of our favorite crabgrass pre-emergent herbicides:

Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Lawn Fertilizer

Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Lawn Fertilizer - pre emergent crabgrass herbicide

Photo Credit Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Lawn Fertilizer is based on a slow-release formula.

You can hunt two birds with one stone with Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Lawn Fertilizer. In addition to being excellent at preventing crabgrass growth, it is an excellent lawn fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 30-0-4.

The fertilizer is based on a slow-release formula, so it is best for established turfs, and you will not risk a nitrogen burn if you accidentally overuse the product in your yard. Though, It is not say that you should be careless with its use.

For best results, you should only use the recommended amount. A 15.5-pound bag of Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Lawn Fertilizer can cover around 5000 sq. ft. For best results, use the product in early spring.

After application, the lawn should be irritated to about 0.5 inches for best results. In addition to containing nitrogen, Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Lawn Fertilizer also contains 5 percent iron which can help you achieve a dark green turf. 

If you aim to control crabgrass with Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Lawn Fertilizer, make sure to apply it to your grass before crabgrass starts germinating. The product will not work on established weeds.

Spectracide Weed Stop Plus & Crabgrass Preventer

Spectracide Weed Stop Plus & Crabgrass Preventer

Photo Credit Spectracide Weed Stop Plus & Crabgrass Preventer promises nearly five months of control.

The next crabgrass pre-emergent herbicide on our list is the Spectracide Weed Stop Plus & Crabgrass Preventer. It promises to control more than 200 species of weeds on lawns, including thistle, clover, chickweed, dandelion and crabgrass.

Spectracide Weed Stop Plus & Crabgrass Preventer can provide up to five months of weed control after application. It can be used on turfgrass anytime, spring through fall. Do not overuse the product, and it will not harm your grass as long as you use it as directed.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you cannot use Spectracide Weed Stop Plus & Crabgrass Preventer on carpetgrass, colonial bentgrass, dichondra and newly established buffalograss. In addition, you cannot use it on clovers, vegetables and ornamental shrubs.

Spectracide Weed Stop Plus & Crabgrass Preventer is available in three forms: Granules, liquid and ready-to-use spray. You can buy any of these depending on your preferences. First, however, make sure that you read complete product instructions before use.

For best results, do not irrigate for at least 24 hours after treating your grass granular or liquid Spectracide Weed Stop Plus & Crabgrass Preventer. The product needs to stick with the leaves in order to work.

RELATED: Killing Crabgrass With Baking Soda (A Step By Step Guide)

Scotts Turf Builder & Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food

Scotts Turf Builder & Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food - pre emergent crabgrass herbicide

Photo Credit Scotts Crabgrass Preventer and Turf Builder with Lawn Food.

If you are sick of crabgrass and other lawn weeds appearing without an invitation on your lawn, now and again, Scotts Turf Builder & Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food is an excellent choice. Its three-in-one formula not only kills and prevents lawn weeds but also fulfills the nutritional requirements of your grass.

Scotts Turf Builder & Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food can also be applied to green up a lawn after winter. You would not have to worry about snow or weather becoming cold after its application either. Its performance is not affected by cold weather.

The best time to apply Scotts Turf Builder & Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food is in early spring. In addition to being very effective against crabgrass, Scotts Turf Builder & Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food controls chickweed and poa annua as well.

Ensure that you water your lawn two or three days after applying Scotts Turf Builder & Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food to your lawn. However, if it has rained after the application, you do not need to water your grass.

Timely watering will increase its absorbance into the soil, increasing its effectiveness against crabgrass and other lawn weeds. Scotts crabgrass preventer can be used on various grass species but not on bentgrass or dichondra lawns.

RELATED: How and When To Use Ironite In A Lawn For Best Results?

Bonide – DuraTurf Crabgrass & Weed Preventer

Bonide - DuraTurf Crabgrass & Weed Preventer - pre emergent crabgrass herbicide

Photo Credit A 9.5-pound bag of DuraTurf Crabgrass & Weed Preventer can cover up to 5000 sq. ft.

Bonide DuraTurf Crabgrass & Weed Preventer is a pre-emergent herbicide that has been specially designed for ornamentals and lawns. In addition to controlling crabgrass, it can be used to prevent several other broadleaf and grassy weeds.

According to their website, DuraTurf Crabgrass & Weed Preventer is effective against nearly 200 broadleaf and grassy weeds. It can be used on both northern and southern, i.e., cool-season and warm-season grasses.

DuraTurf Crabgrass & Weed Preventer provides protection for nearly three to four months. Just like Scotts Turf Builder and Crabgrass Preventer, the best time to use DuraTurf Crabgrass & Weed Preventer is in spring.

However, you can apply it even after four weeks compared to other pre-emergent herbicides. DuraTurf Crabgrass & Weed Preventer is a ready-to-use product. Just apply the product according to instructions and water the lawn.

DuraTurf Crabgrass & Weed Preventer, however, should not be used on vegetable and fruit plants. Moreover, care must be taken after its application, and children and pets should not be allowed to enter the treated area immediately after application. 

Prodiamine 65 WDG Herbicide

Prodiamine 65 WDG Herbicide - pre emergent crabgrass herbicide

Photo Credit Probably, the most potent crabgrass pre-emergent herbicide on the list.

The last crabgrass preventer on our list is the Prodiamine 65 WDG Herbicide. Prodiamine 65 WDG Herbicide does not contain any added fertilizer, unlike most products on this list. It has 7% Potassium, but that is mainly used as a carrier.

The best time to apply Prodiamine 65 WDG Herbicide is in early spring, when soil temperatures reach around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Irrigate your lawn with around 0.5-inch water immediately after its application.

Prodiamine 65 WDG Herbicide comes in both liquid and granular forms. A 50-pound bag of Prodiamine 65 WDG Herbicide granules is enough for around 12,000 sq. ft. However, below is a table with its recommended usage amount for different turfgrass species in the case of a 10,000 sq. ft. lawn.

Grass TypeRecommended Usage(pounds per 10,000 sq. ft.)
Creeping Bentgrass40
Creeping Red Fescue4.6
Kentucky Bluegrass6.2
Tall Fescue9.3

Conclusion | Best Crabgrass Preventer

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure -a statement that is very true for crabgrass. Unfortunately, established crabgrass is nearly impossible to kill. So, the best way to prevent a crabgrass infestation is to use pre-emergent herbicides.

You can choose any pre-emergent herbicide from the list above. They are all great products. Just make sure that you follow complete instructions on their use.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best time to apply a crabgrass preventer?

Crabgrass seeds begin to germinate when soil temperatures reach near 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit for a few days consecutively. This usually happens in early and mid-spring. So, the best time to apply a crabgrass preventer will be before crabgrass seeds germinate.

What is the best post-emergent crabgrass killer?

There are many good post-emergent crabgrass killers available in the market. However, my favorites are Syngenta Tenacity Turf Herbicide, Ortho Weed B Gon Weed Killer and QuinKill Max Crabgrass and Weed Killer.

Is crabgrass preventer a pre-emergent?

Pre-emergent herbicides are also sometimes referred to as crabgrass preventers. Both mean the same thing, and the terms are used interchangeably. 

Should I mow before applying a crabgrass preventer?

In general, you should not mow your lawn five days before applying a pre-emergent herbicide. Similarly, wait for two days after treating your lawn with a crabgrass preventer before mowing your grass.

Does 2,4-D kill crabgrass?

2.4-D is a broadleaf weed killer, and crabgrass is a grassy weed. That is why a 2,4-D lawn weed killer will not kill crabgrass.

Sources for Further Reading

Timing crabgrass pre-emergence applications in spring – Michigan State University Extension

Spring Pre-emergent Applications for Crabgrass – University of Minnesota Extension

Pre-emergence Crabgrass Control – Iowa State UniversityExtension & Outreach

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