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This post was updated on Saturday, August 26th 2023
When it comes to crabgrass control it’s most important to understand that your plants and weeds are classified as annuals, biennials, and perennials.
So why is that so important?
Because the herbicides that we want to use, selective herbicides and we’ll get into that in a bit are targeting your annuals and biennials and not the perennials.
If you buy the wrong weed-killing product. You will kill the entire lawn or a non-selective herbicide including the grass and we don’t want to do that.
So to help you out I’ve put together this five-step process to ensure that you kill crabgrass and not your lawn.
Here I want to add that our #1 choice to kill crabgrass is Tenacity herbicide. We’ve been using it for some time now and more than happy with the results and its performance we get from this product.
Comparison Table of Best Crabgrass Killer For 2023
Step 1: Identify your grass
This step might surprise you but it’s identifying the type of grass that you actually have. This step, step 1 is the most important part of the process.
You need to know what kind of grass you have.
Do not skip this step.
The reason why we’re establishing this is that it will determine the type of spray that you use and if you use the wrong spray, you run the risk of killing your lawn.
Generally, your grass types are going to be divided between cool-season grasses like your Kentucky Blue your ryegrass, and your Turf type tall fescue.
Your common warm-season grasses are Bermuda, St. Augustine, zoysia.
Here’s where it’s important that you understand the exact type of grass that you have so you buy the right solution.
For instance, not all warm-season grasses require the same solution and if you treat it like that then you put yourself and lawn at risk.
For some of you guys out there that are just starting on your lawn. This might seem like a daunting task, but believe me when I say this lot of people out there want to help you.
If not sure what grass you’ve got, take some pictures grab some samples take it to your local nursery to identify the grass.
Make your life simple and Do Not skip step1.
Step 2: Identify the weed
Crabgrass has kind of turned into one of those terms where it means it’s a less desirable weed or grass type in my lawn when it all actuality it’s all its own plant.
Identification is key.
There’s a couple of tell signs to identifying crabgrass. It’s got that spade bit tip on it and it grows from a central Vine.
You’ll notice that it’s a little bit discolored from the rest of the grass is a lighter green and it grows parallel to the ground.
According to the labels, it’s much easier to control crabgrass before it reaches the 3-4 tiller stage.
Don’t let that frustrate you because it’s still controllable after it gets larger. You may just have to do an additional spray within two weeks.
Now if you’re still a little confused on how to properly identify crabgrass. The seed head of crabgrass is a dead giveaway.
It commonly has four seed heads in a bunch. Now, they’ll come out looking pretty thick but once they spread open you’ll see they’re fairly thin and they’re very unique.
Step3: The Righ Solution
Now that you’ve completed steps 1 and 2 we can move on to choosing the correct solution for the type of grass that you have.
Quinclorac 1.5L crabgrass killer
You can treat grasses like Bermuda and Zoysia, but also your cool-season grass like Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescue, and ryegrass.
It’s important to read these labels because you cannot treat centipede or St. Augustine grass with this as you could run the risk of killing it.
Can be used on both residential and non-residential turf and can be used 7 days prior to seeding and up to 28 days after selective weeds have emerged.
Available in 7.5 Oz which will treat up to 5,000 sq feet or the 64 Oz for those larger jobs.
With an active ingredient, almost 19% of Quinclorac making is perfect to control annual weeds like crabgrass, foxtail, and some spurges.
Drive XLR8 is a professional herbicide and labeled for residential, commercial and industrial turfgrasses, golf courses, sod farms, sports and recreation fields.
It can only be used for spot staying on crabgrass and for best results you’ll need to use a surfactant.
Drive XLR8 can be used on the following: Bermuda grass, Kentucky bluegrass, Buffalo grass, Fescue, Ryegrass, Zoysiagrass, for the control of crabgrass, dandelions clover, for tails and many others. You can see the full list by clicking on the link below…
Do Not Use On: St. Augustine, Centipede, Bahiagrass, Bentgrass or Dichondra, Fine fescue unless it is a seed blend
Both Quinclorac 1.5 L and drive XLR8 work best with an adjuvant called methylated seed oil.
These adjuvants are designed to help the product stick to the leaves of the grass.
For the best results, it’s very important that you need to let the grass dry for 24 hours. That means, No watering in order for it to work properly.
If you’ve got really thick dense amounts of crabgrass and it’s really set in you may have to do a follow-up application.
My recommendation for the product label is to spread them out within 14 days of each other.
Now a lot of you guys out there have more than just crabgrass going on. Some of you have Spurge, Oxalis and heavy Clover problems.
The nice thing about Quinclorac is it plays nicely with other herbicides.
Now the herbicide that I recommend that you guys use out there with Quinclorac is called T Zone.
TZone SE Herbicide
Its guaranteed excellent post-emergent control and as well as cool weather performance.
Black medic, ground ivy, chickweed, dandelions, catnip, and many more. You can read the label here for the complete list of what you can hit and can’t hit with TZone.
The following is what you can use on Bluegrass – Kentucky and annual, Fescue – tall, red and fine leaf, Ryegrass – annual and perennial, Bahiagrass (dormant), Bermudagrass (dormant), Zoysiagrass, but like all new chems always read the tin.
Rain fast in few hours and is pet-friendly providing you read the label and follow the directions.
Tzone SE herbicide is designed for to provide you with a broad-spectrum control hitting the toughest weeds out of the park.
The active ingredients Triclopyr, Sulfentrazone, 2, 4-D and Dicamba acid are used for control of the hardest weeds to kill like your Oxalis, Spurge, Yellow Nutsedge and many more. Just click on the button below for the full specs.
It used to be that tenacity was the only way you could get Mesotrione however, they do sell a generic version called MESO4 SC and it’ll save you few bucks.
Now the reason why it’s a Callum favorite is that it acts as both a pre-emergent and a post-emergent which means that you’re going to kill some broadleaf weeds and whatever’s on the label plus it will stop weed seed germination.
One of the downfalls tho is it does require a surfactant.
So I use the hi Yield spreader sticker non-ionic surfactant per the label.
Using your dish soap is not going to cut the mustard here and do the same thing and it needs to stay dry for about 12 to 24 hours.
Tenacity is one of my favorites because you can always tell that it’s working. It’s basically like putting sunblock on the targeted weeds. It can’t process the sun and it turns the leaves white and as you can see below, the grass is fine and the crab grass is dying.
Now, it’s important to remember that it does take 10-14 days before you noticeably going to see this bleaching effect and I recommend that you don’t mow for at least three to seven days after the application.
If you have a ton of weeds out there and you need an extra kick speed zone plays really well with tenacity and I highly recommend it.
Now I know a lot of you out there are saying that’s fine and dandy, but I got St. Augustine grass. I got crabgrass and I got Dallas grass… what do I do?
This brings us to our next product called Celsius.
Celsius WG Herbicide
Now, this little bottle packs a punch and it’s recommended uses for Bermuda, centipede grass St. Augustine and Zoysia.
Over time I get a ton of you guys asking me out there what to use for Dallas grass, Creeping Charlie and Oxalis, and this may be your answer.
Its not the cheapest on the market far from it, but if you want results.
Step 4: Mixing & Handling Herbicides
There’s a lot of options out there when it comes to the best backpack sprayers, handheld sprayers, and quality so for now, we want to keep this process simple.
So if you don’t already have one, I want you to grab just a cheap handheld pump sprayer in the focus. We want is want you to pick one up that either has a fan sprayer or a cone sprayer which most of them do by default these days or come with both in the pack.
Now that you’ve got the right product for the type of grass, you’ve got ya sprayer now we can move on to the proper mixing and handling procedures, and that all starts by reading and familiarizing yourself with the label.
At this point make sure you’ve read the label and Wear Your PPE
At the minimum, you need to be wearing pants, long sleeve shirt, shoes with socks, and gloves.
Spot spraying or spraying each weed individually is going to be the easiest way to not only mix but also treat the weeds.
So most spot spraying methods we’re going to be mixing either one gallon of solution or two gallons of solution.
The first thing we want to do is mix half the water. Remember that each product is different and you need to familiarize yourself with the labels.
For this mix we’re going for tenacity, we need two gallons of water 1 teaspoon of tenacity, and 3 teaspoons of a non-ionic surfactant.
Now when it comes to Quinclorac, we’re going to focus on 1.45 fluid ounces per gallon, and Speed zone is anywhere between 1.1 and 1.8 fluid ounces per gallon.
These rates are listed for 1,000 square feet which is approx 20 x 50 feet area of just weeds so when we’re just spot spraying these solutions are going to go a long way.
Going to the store and buying a gallon of pre-mixed solutions is always an option but it’s an expensive one at almost $15 per gallon per thousand square feet.
Now the solutions that I use come in below $2 bucks per thousand square feet leaving me plenty of room to add an herbicide for an additional two dollars per thousand square feet and I still come in four times less then the cost than you would buy at the big box store.
Now that you’ve got everything your good to go and start mixing. Always lay down a shop towel or some cardboard. You never can be to careful and as prevention is always the key here.
Mixing these solutions is fairly simple. You want to start by putting half the recommended dose of water into your tank, so for tenacity, you’ll want one gallon of water. For all other mixtures where you making a gallon mix you’ll do half a gallon of water and so on.
Most sprayers have indicators on the side of the sprayer for ease of use on the amount of water is in the tank.
Mixing herbicides is important and you want to be precise with your measurements that go in the tank. If you put too much herbicide in and your spraying correctly you can run the risk of burning both the weed and the grass.
Too little and you’re not going to kill the weed.
Always give the bottle a shake for a couple of seconds to make sure the product hasn’t settled.
Tenacity and Meso 4sc calls for one teaspoon per thousand square feet and 3 teaspoons of a non-surfactant.
Its very common that these products are in ounces and not teaspoons so luckily for you tenacity and Meso 4sc have their own measuring device.
Now as you can see below, all you have to do is follow the top number which is the amount of teaspoons with the bottom number of the amount of gallons.
You can use the same measuring device to add surfactant, spray dye. Just wash and rinse it out once your done.
A lot of products come with measuring devices and a lot don’t so it’s important to have a measuring device handy that’s in ounces and goes up to 1 cup.
I love the convenience to be able to add an additional herbicide to the tank so I can take care of my annual grasses and my hard to do weeds in the same pass.
If you dig deep enough into the labels the labels will commonly tell you which active ingredients play nicely with each other.
I’ve found that tenacity and celsius play really well with speed zone where Quinclorac and drive XLR8 products play much better with T Zone.
If spraying herbicides is new to you I highly recommend getting a spray indicator like turf mark. This makes it easy because you can actually see the pattern as it goes on.
Simple to add, you want to use one ounce of solution per gallon of liquid that you have in the tank.
Spray indicators can and will stain temporarily that’s how they work so you to make sure you keep it off your clothes and off the concrete. Additional cleaning of your sprayer may be required.
Now that you’ve added all the products into the tank. if you look inside the tank you’ll see they’re all separated.
So now is the perfect time where you need to add the additional 50% water that we did not mix in originally and this is going to help mix everything together.
After you add the water in close the lid and shake the bottle for a good 20 to 30 seconds.
Step 5: How to apply this bad boy
Having a really nice sprayer is convenient, but the most important part of the spray application when we’re spot spraying is the nozzle.
The difference between the fan sprayer and cone spray is the fan spray is going to spray a larger area where the cone spare you can really dial it in.
Now if you’re new to spraying herbicides, I recommend the fan prayer over the cone spray and also take a couple of practice passes before diving right in.
The first thing is to pump this sprayer full of air unless you’ve got a battery operated backpack sprayer. You want to have adequate air to push the water out evenly.
Now no more spray and pray guys, you want to take the guesswork out. So ideally you want to spray one serving of solution per thousand square feet.
What I’ve found with spot spraying is that if you keep the nozzle about 12 to 14 inches from the ground that works best.
Here is where you’ve got to get your spraying down pat. If you spray too little you are going to have a lot of gaps or are gaps between the droplets.
Now if you spray too much, it’s really going to go on heavy and saturating you’re going to burn the grass and the weed. This is where battery sprayers come into their own world.
If you want a consistent spray I use the YT25e by Sprayers Plus for around the home.
If you spray just right, you’ll see no gaps and no heavy saturation between the droplets and all just kind of comes together.
It may even help to do some practice on a concrete path or driveway with just water in your tank do a few passes to get a feel and idea of how your sprayer sprays.
The one thing I want you to pay attention to is how fast you’re walking to how fast the wand is going left to right.
These little details are going to be the difference between you slaying those weeds and praying that it works.
The name of the game here is to get an even distribution through the sprayer, not too light not too wet but just an even spread.
Once you got your confidence up, it’s time to get on the lawn and kill those weeds.
The one nice thing about the die is it will give you a visual if you’re getting through the lawn correctly because you can physically see the results.
Just remember as a safety reminder that it’s important to keep people and pets off of the solutions until it dries.
Rounding It Up
Well guys I hoped this has helped you out. Our overall choice is Tenacity for the simple reason is its such a great allrounder, for applying as a pre or post-emergent. The only down fall is you do have to use a surfactant but as I showed above still works out cheaper per feet over ready mixed stuff.
Also remember, it’s just grass the most important part get out there have some fun, and if you screw up, hey, you can always fix it. No big deal.
This concludes my five step approach to killing crabgrass. You guys have any questions or concerns? Please hit me up in the comments below…