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Best Crabgrass Herbicides

Marry E. Smith
Seasoned Gardener

If you are dealing with crabgrass invading your lawn, or have in the past, then you know you need a strong killer for crabgrass already present and a reliable deterrent to prevent it from returning in the future.

Crabgrass is an ugly, highly aggressive, and invasive weed that sneaks its way into lawns and gardens. When your lawn has bald spots or grows thinly, crabgrass will take advantage of these weak spots and invade. This undesirable weed will appear in the late spring or summer as it thrives in warm to hot weather. The principal reason for wanting to rid your lawn of crabgrass is that it is ugly.

Fortunately, the marketplace offers a wealth of products to rid your lawn or yard of crabgrass. Here are several of our favorite products for putting an end to this unsightly pest.

Pre-Emergent or Post-Emergent?

Pre-emergent herbicides are used to prevent weed seeds from germinating and taking up residence in your lawn. They create a vapor barrier just under the soil surface to inhibit cell division in new roots so that weeds are not able to emerge. As the root system fails, the germinating seedling dies. Using a pre-emergent is a preventative measure and not appropriate for existing crabgrass.

Post-emergent herbicides are used to control weeds that already exist. They are applied to the weed and then arrive at the root system, killing it. Weeds need to be actively growing for post-emergent herbicides to work.


Crabgrass Spices

When choosing your product, make sure to correctly identify the weed species, in this case, crabgrass as well as its growing cycle. Once you have selected your product, apply it properly, following the manufacturer’s instructions regarding when to apply it, the method of application, and irrigation or watering necessities.

The Best 2-in-1 Crabgrass Herbicide

Tenacity Turf 8-oz. Herbicide

This is a systemic liquid herbicide that works as both a pre-emergent and a post-emergent for weed control in turf and lawn grasses. It won’t kill your lawn grass because the herbicide is selective. It targets crabgrass by inhibiting photosynthesis and destroying weeds to the roots. The active ingredient is 40% Mesotrione. This product’s shelf life is 5 to 8 years from the manufacturer's date. It is not a post-emergent for all types of grasses and is better used on Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, St. Augustine Grass, and Centipede grass.


  • Works as a pre-emergent and post-emergent
  • Targets many undesirable weeds
  • Very long shelf life


  • Children and pets should be kept off the lawn until the herbicide has been absorbed and dried.

Best Pre-Emergent Crabgrass Herbicides

Crabgrass is notorious for the number of seeds that it produces and that spread easily throughout lawns making this weed exceptionally difficult to eradicate.  Pre-emergents work to eradicate crabgrass weeds by eliminating seedlings during germination.

1. Scotts Turf Builder Halts® Crabgrass

Scotts’ Turf Builder is a granular pre-emergent that blocks crabgrass and will continue lawn protection all season. It is also a fertilizer, so you get a 2-in-1 treatment at the beginning of the season for your lawn. Bad weather that includes snow or freezing temperatures, and rain after an application, will not affect preventer performance. Lawns require watering within 3 days of application optimal results. Ideal for use on Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescue, Ryegrass, Centipede Grass, Bahia Grass, Bermuda Grass, and Zoysia.


  • Pre-emergent that also fertilizes
  • Pet safe once you have watered your lawn
  • Can be used on all grass types except bentgrass or dichondra


  • Should be used at the beginning of the season to ensure long term efficacy
  • Granular Lumps need breaking up before application

2. Espoma Organic Weed Preventer and Lawn Food

This organic product offers you the option of avoiding adding chemicals into the environment. Espoma granular crabgrass pre-emergent is a natural organic made with 100% corn gluten meal. It blocks crabgrass, dandelions, and many broadleaf weeds before they emerge and fertilizes your lawn at the same time.


  • Produced with organic natural ingredients
  • Doubles as a fertilizer


  • Should be applied onto established lawns
  • It may be less effective and slower than chemical pre-emergents

3. Hi-Yield Crabgrass Control

A selective granular pre-emergent that targets crabgrass together with several other annual weeds including goosegrass and barnyard grass. It acts before the weeds begin germinating. Its active ingredient is “Benefin” which blocks root development and new grass shoots. One plus is that it can be applied all season long.


  • It targets crabgrass
  • Works effectively on a variety of smooth long grasses
  • Pet safe when applied properly


  • Specific to long smooth crabgrasses
  • Requires lawn watering after application (rain or manually)

Best Post-Emergent Crabgrass Herbicides

When selecting a post-emergent crabgrass killer, one of your prime considerations should be to choose a selective post-emergent that doesn’t damage or kill your lawn grass. Check manufacturer’s indications to ensure that the product you are considering is appropriate for your particular type of lawn grass.

1. Drive XLR8 Herbicide Crabgrass Killer

A water-based crabgrass killer, the great thing about this product is that it doesn’t kill your lawn grass. It absorbs quickly and targets crabgrass, killing them within a couple of days. It is a selective post-emergent that is safe for use on annual bluegrass, Bermuda grass, Buffalo grass, Ryegrass, and Zoysia. Its active ingredient is quinclorac. Your lawn will absorb the killer through roots and foliage and kill the weed.


  • Safe for annual bluegrass, Bermuda grass, Buffalo grass, Ryegrass, and Zoysia
  • Selective herbicide


  • Unsafe for use on St. Augustine grass, bentgrass, Bahia grass, and carpet grass

2. AgraLawn Organic Crabgrass Killer

AgraLawn Crabgrass Herbicides

This post-emergent is a natural crabgrass killer that is organic with an active ingredient of cinnamon bark. It controls hairy and smooth species of crabgrass by killing to the root, and it won’t harm your lawn turf. It may take a day or two longer than chemical products but does kill crabgrass. It is safe for both humans and pets.


  • Natural organic crabgrass post-emergent
  • Safe for humans and family pets
  • Will not kill lawn turf


  • Best used specifically with St. Augustine grass, Bahia grass, Bermuda grass, and Centipede grass

3. Spectracide Weed Stop for Lawns Plus Crabgrass Killer

This is an interesting post-emergent that acts very rapidly, within hours, and not only kills crabgrass but many other lawn weeds. This product uses a blend of active ingredients with incredible potency to kill many weed species. It is a selective weed killer so that it will not harm the lawn turf that it is indicated as safe for.

Active ingredients include 2,4-D, dimethylamine salt (3.74%), Dicamba dimethylamine salt (0.43%), Quinclorac (1.79%), and Sulfentrazone (0.22%). Common weeds that it destroys are dandelion, chickweed, foxtail, purslane, yellow nutsedge, and of course crabgrass. It also claims to kill over 400 weed species. It is safe for Bermuda grass, Buffalo grass, Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Ryegrass, and Zoysia. If you have more than one weed type to eliminate, this may be a perfect option.

It is not safe for bentgrass, Bahia grass, Carpet grass, Centipede grass, and St. Augustine grass.


  • Kills crabgrass and over 400 other weeds
  • Safe for Bermuda grass, Buffalo grass, Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Ryegrass, and Zoysia
  • Rapid-acting


  • Not safe for bentgrass, Bahia grass, Carpet grass, Centipede grass, and St. Augustine grass.

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