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Best Pre-Emergent For Crabgrass

Jelena Maric
Agricultural Engineer

For anyone who owns a lawn and works hard to keep it beautifully manicured, the mere thought of crabgrass might keep you awake at night. No one wants their lush green lawn peppered with unsightly crabgrass weeds.

Most of us have spent time pulling weeds or applying herbicides to rid our lawns and yards of weeds and crabgrass, but crabgrass can spread quickly once it’s taken root. It is also very resilient, so it won’t necessarily die just because you’ve used a herbicide.

Don’t give up, there is a type of product that can save you tons of work on your lawn and it’s highly recommended by professional lawn care experts. It’s known as a pre-emergent.

Pre-Emergents are not harmful to you or your pets, so you won’t have to worry about the children playing outdoors or the dog or cat exploring your yard. Some pre-Emergents are specifically designed to combat crabgrass.

There are more than 35 crabgrass types ready to take over your lawn. It ruins lawn uniformity and is invasive, crowding out other grasses. Crabgrass will also consume the lawn nutrients that you have applied for your chosen lawn grass. And roots are deep so even if you use a post-emergent weed herbicide, there’s nothing to assure you that you got it all.

Best Pre-Emergent Herbicides for Crabgrass

The product that lawn care professionals use to combat and eliminate crabgrass is a pre-emergent or crabgrass preventer.

How Does it Work and What are the Benefits?

Crabgrass preventers or pre-emergents, regardless of their form, be it granular or liquid, form a barrier just below the soil surface. As the crabgrass seeds germinate and come into contact with the barrier they cease to grow. While not 100% foolproof it will take care of a good part of new crabgrass before it disturbs your lovely lawn.

How to Select a Pre-emergent for Crabgrass

Because you are looking for a pre-emergent that specifically targets crabgrass, decide if you want to use a granule or liquid pre-emergent. You can base this on either product availability or ease of application.

With granule pre-emergents, you will need to water your lawn after application. In the case of a liquid pre-emergent, it will need to be mixed with water and applied through a sprayer.

Our Crabgrass Pre-emergent Picks

1. Scotts Turf Builder Halts® Crabgrass Preventer

Scotts’ Turf Builder is a granular pre-emergent that stops crabgrass invasion and continues to protect your lawn all season long. It also feeds your lawn. Should rain, snow, or freezing temperature appear after an application, it will not affect the product’s performance. Lawns do need to be watered within 2 to 3 days of application for the best results. It can be used for Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescue, Ryegrass, Centipede Grass, Bahia Grass, Bermuda Grass, and Zoysia.


  • Pre-emergent and fertilizer in one product
  • Pet safe after watering
  • Can be applied to all grass types except bentgrass or dichondra


  • Should be used preseason for long term results
  • Lumps in the product need breaking up before use

2. Hi-Yield Crabgrass Control

This granular pre-emergent is a selective preventer that specifically targets crabgrass as well as a few other annual weeds like goosegrass or barnyard grass before they germinate. It uses an active ingredient called “Benefin” that blocks the development of roots and the growth of new grass shoots. It can be applied all season long.


  • It targets smooth and long types of annual weed grasses like crabgrass.
  • Effective on a wide range of smooth long grass species.
  • Pet safe when applied following directions


  • Only good for long smooth crabgrasses
  • The lawn needs to be watered after application through rain or manually

3. Espoma Organic Weed Preventer and Lawn Food

If you prefer an organic product and wish to avoid adding chemicals to the environment, this Espoma granular crabgrass pre-emergent is all-natural made with 100% corn gluten meal. It impedes the growth of crabgrass, dandelions, and many broadleaf weeds while nourishing your lawn.


  • 100% organic natural ingredients
  • Also nourishes the lawn with fertilizer


  • Should only be used on established lawns
  • A bit less effective than chemical pre-emergents

4. BioAdvanced Bayer All-in-One Weed & Feed

This granular pre-emergent from BioAdvanced is an all-in-one product for killing weeds and fertilizing your lawn, meaning you do half the work. It claims to have the capability of killing more than 200 broadleaf weed species including clover, dandelion, and of course, crabgrass. Its formula uses “micro-feeding” technology to strengthen root systems and nourish your lawn. It can be applied to an ample range of popular lawn grasses.


  • Inhibits crabgrass as well as more than 200 types of common broadleaf weeds
  • Also contains lawn fertilizer meaning you get two different benefits with a single application.


  • Works best if followed by lawn watering

Liquid Crabgrass Pre-emergents

1. Tenacity Turf 8-oz. Herbicide

This is a systemic liquid pre-emergent that can also be used as a post-emergent for the control of undesirable weeds in turf grasses. When it is used as a pre-emergent, the weeds’ roots absorb this herbicide as they emerge from the soil. It targets Crabgrass as well as Barnyard grass, Chickweed, Carpetweed, Clover, Foxtail, Dandelion, Goosegrass, and more. The active ingredient is 40% Mesotrione, a naturally occurring compound from the bottlebrush plant that will block photosynthesis. The product’s shelf life is an impressive 5 to 8 years from the manufacturer's date.


  • Works as both a pre-emergent and post-emergent
  • Targets a wide array of undesirable weeds
  • Long shelf life


  • Children and pets should be kept indoors until the product has been absorbed and dries.

2. Dimension 2EW Liquid Herbicide

With 24%Dithiopyr, this water-based liquid herbicide offers pre-emergent prevention of weed growth and can also offer early post-emergent control of crabgrass as well as other broadleaf weeds. Low odor, and non-staining, it can be applied in a single application or split application. It is easily mixed for use with spray tanks.


  • Will suppress more than 40 broadleaf grassy weed species
  • Low odor, non-staining
  • Offers weed control all season


  • Should be used with a surfactant*

*A surfactant is a product used together with liquid herbicides to enable the herbicide to stick onto weed leaves or grass blades. In this way, the weed soaks up the herbicide.


What are pre-emergent herbicides?

These are products that prevent weeds from emerging from the soil.

What is crabgrass?

This is a grassy weed with a dense and deep root system making it difficult to control once it has grown fully. It thrives in very sunny areas.

When do you apply a crabgrass pre-emergent?

In early spring when the soil temperature remains at 55°F for 5 days in a row.

How long do crabgrass pre-emergents last?

This will depend on several factors including environmental temperatures and rainfall in the area. Generally speaking, a pre-emergent should last four to five months.

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