CO-Horts Blog

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Crabgrass is Here - Finally!

Tony Koski, Extension Turf Specialist

Seedling crabgrass (May 22) in Fort Collins.
Notice the young plants are coming up in a dead
plant (a weed "cadaver") from last year. This is
why it's important to encourage healthy grass
growth in weedy lawns in the fall - to break the
cycle of seed germination the following year.
The up and down spring – periods of above normal heat and below normal cold spells – has delayed crabgrass seed germination by about 2 weeks. That’s a good thing if you were a little late putting out your crabgrass pre-emergence herbicide (aka crabgrass preventer).

But now that crabgrass HAS germinated, control efforts (if you want to control crabgrass and its warm-season weedy cousins – foxtail and barnyardgrass) should be focused on post-emergence herbicide products. Once you can see these annual grassy weed seedlings, it is too late to use a pre-emergence product.

As with any landscape pest, it is absolutely essential that you accurately identify the pest in question before purchasing and applying the control product. It makes no sense – environmentally, financially, and for your precious time – to apply a product that won’t work because you haven’t correctly identified the pest.

This is not crabgrass! Crabgrass and other seedling
grassy weeds are still very small now. This is a
clump of tall fescue - which will not be killed by
crabgrass control products containing quinclorac.
For example, crabgrass and the other just-germinating warm season grassy weeds are still very tiny now. If you have large, fast-growing, “ugly” (coarse, clumpy, wide-bladed) grass growing in your lawn NOW it is NOT crabgrass – which means that none of the herbicides labeled for control of crabgrass will eliminate these unsightly, undesirable grasses. We have blogged previously about grasses that people mistakenly refer to as “crabgrass”. These unattractive, perennial grasses can’t be controlled with either the pre- or post-emergence crabgrass control products.

What to use NOW for young/seedling crabgrass, foxtail, and barnyardgrass? The following products are available in the garden product aisle at big-box and hardware stores, and at better nurseries and garden centers. What they all have in common is the ingredient “quinclorac” (and all contain herbicides for broadleaf weed control as well, like 2,4-D, dicamba, MCPP, etc.). Quinclorac provides excellent control of the most common summer annual grassy weeds: crabgrass, foxtail, and barnyardgrass in bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescue lawns.

Bayer Advanced Lawn Weed & Crabgrass Killer (quinclorac, 2,4-D, dicamba)
Ferti-Lome Weed Out with Crabgrass Killer (quinclorac, 2,4-D, dicamba)
Monterey Crab-E-Rad Plus (quinclorac, 2,4-D, dicamba)
Ortho Weed B Gon Max plus Crabgrass Control (quinclorac, 2,4-D, dicamba)
Roundup for Lawns - Northern Lawns (make sure it’s the Roundup FOR LAWNS!; quinclorac, dicamba, MCPA, sulfentrazone)
Spectracide Weed Stop For Lawns Plus Crabgrass Killer (
quinclorac, dicamba, 2,4-D, sulfentrazone)

Crabgrass and its cousins are much easier to
control now - when they are small plants- than
in a couple of months when they have grown to a
plant of this size. Large crabgrass plants are very
difficult to kill.
It’s much easier to control crabgrass and its cousins this time of the year, when they are small. These grasses grow larger very quickly as we get sustained warm/hot temperatures. Large crabgrass plants are much more difficult to kill.

Make sure that you are spraying the right product for the weed in question! If you need help with the identification of weedy grasses – or any weed – in your lawn, you can bring a sample to your county Extension office. Or email me a high resolution photo of the grass ( 

We've blogged about crabgrass and other weedy grasses before...go here and here to see more photos of crabgrass and other weedy grasses, with hints on how to identify and control them.

And, as always, read the label for any pesticide you use and follow all instructions to ensure effective weed control and to avoid injury to your lawn or other non-target plants in your landscape.

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