Crabgrass likes to act like it’s doing you a favor by popping up on your lawn in bare patches. The young sprouts like to spoil your green party and act like they belong, but the mature ones are much worse because they can spread their seed and multiply.

Uh-uh. No. You’ve got to beat crabgrass at its own game by making it feel unwelcome on your turf. If you don’t, you might open the door to an all-out weedy takeover, crowding out your beautiful blades of Kentucky bluegrass.

Who wants that? Before you start plucking those shoots out the earth like a gardener on a rampage, learn the best way to deal with crabgrass so that it doesn’t come back.

Know that crabgrass likes bare soil and will seize the opportunity to germinate where it can. Warm months help it to spread out, but the colder months work to your advantage in terms of preventing it. So, step one is prevention. Plant grass seeds (and be very liberal with your scoops) either in the fall or early spring to cover any bare spots in your lawn.

Having a thick carpet of grass will lessen the chance of crabgrass poking up through any patches. Some people prefer to use chemical herbicides before seeding, but that this up to you. Home gardeners also love to aerate their lawns with a tiller before laying new grass seed, which helps to break up the compact soil that crabgrass thrives in. It’s a good idea.

To get rid of existing crabgrass here are some tips:

  1. Pull It

    You can remove crabgrass manually by pulling it out by the roots. Dispose of it away from your yard so that its seeds don’t drop. You can also use a rake to loosen up the roots. Follow up with herbicide or a natural weed killer like vinegar or clove oil, but limit its application to the affected area.

  2. Mow It

    Mow your lawn at a height of 2 to 3 inches. The higher the grass’s height, the more shade it will provide. Crabgrass doesn’t flourish in the shade. Make sure you bag up the clippings and ditch them rather than use them as mulch as that can cause the crabgrass seeds to germinate all over again.

    You may also choose to sprinkle some corn gluten on the patches after mowing, as it prevents crabgrass germination.

  3. Soil Solarization

    This is a great method for gardens or lawns, but it should be done when it’s warm – around June or July. Pull any large weeds and mow the grass as low as you can. Use a rake if necessary to remove any stragglers.

    Kill weed seedlings by placing a sheet of plastic over the soil area, covering the edges with dirt or cinder blocks. Leave it to sit for 6 weeks and after removing the plastic, sow your grass seed.

Don’t forget: if you’ve removed crabgrass from a large area, you want to reseed it with your choice of grass seed. You can seed enough on those empty patches during the fall. Your full lawn is your best protection, so keep it shaded and well-fed.

Is crabgrass cramping your style? How do you deal with it each year? Are you an herbicide fan or no?