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Why Prevent Crabgrass?

March 12, 2014

When I was a teenage worker in a garden center a customer wanted to buy crabgrass seed because that was all he had growing in his lawn.  I realized he was pulling my leg, as I started explaining that crabgrass was a temporary grass that germinates each spring and dies each fall, even though he was half joking at first, he realized it would be better to plant a more permanent grass that will not leave him with mud for half the year.

Crabgrass is wily and sneaky and greedy for space.  Growing flat to the ground where your lawnmower can’t reach, it spreads throughout the summer choking out the good grass around it.  Even worse, each crabgrass plant produces up to 80,000 seeds before it dies off in fall with the first killing frost.

I have good news.  You can stop crabgrass and several other kinds of annual weeds before they begin to grow this spring.  Put down some Turf Builder with Halts Crabgrass Preventer around the time of your first mowing.  This product does just what its name says:  halts crabgrass in its tracks by creating a barrier on your soil that stops it from germinating.  Plus it gives your good grass the deep Turf Builder feeding it needs to green up and create new roots in spring.  Unlike the bargain brands, the particles are tiny, which means you get a good weed barrier on every inch of your lawn.

If you plan on putting down some grass seed this spring, you need to use a crabgrass preventer that will not keep your new grass from growing.  Instead, use Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass plus Weed Preventer as it is compatible with grass seed and has the special food to help you get new grass faster.

This photo of a mature crabgrass plant appeared in a Scotts publication about 20 years ago.  The caption:  “A single seed produced this monster crabgrass plant, which crowded out good grass as it grew.  Each plant is capable of producing tens of thousands of seeds for an even bigger problem next year.”

This photo of a mature crabgrass plant appeared in a Scotts publication about 20 years ago. The caption: “A single seed produced this monster crabgrass plant, which crowded out good grass as it grew. Each plant is capable of producing tens of thousands of seeds for an even bigger problem next year.”

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23 Comments
  1. Anthony permalink

    Hi Ashton, live in RI when is a good time to put this crabgrass preventer down? Also, can it be put down twice in a season?

  2. Hi Anthony
    You want to apply around the time you see forsythia stop blooming in your neighborhood, which should be around mid April. If your lawn is relatively thick, one application of Turf Builder with Halts should be enough for the season (some crabgrass preventers have a shorter residual so one application may not be enough). You can apply twice a year, however this may limit being able to seed over a longer period of time.

  3. Anthony permalink

    Thanks Ashton, how long would i have to wait to seed if I apply normal crab grass preventer?

  4. Hi Anthony
    You should wait 4 months to seed after putting down Turf Builder with Halts.

  5. Rick permalink

    Hi Aston, question about what the future holds for home lawn care…just wondering what pop up surprises the regulators have in store for us on residential fertilizer bans, it’s looking like you may need an applicators license soon to feed your lawn???

  6. Hi Rick
    No lawn feeding issues that I am aware of.

  7. Rick permalink

    Ok good to know, thank you

  8. Joyce permalink

    Hi Ashton,
    I live 50 miles south of Richmond, VA. I did all the necessary work last fall — detaching, aerating, over-seeding and got in two feedings by the end of December. Right now, my grass doesn’t look as good as I had hoped. I re-read your blog “Feed, Weed or Seed” and to be honest, I’m just not sure which I should do. I do believe I have 75% good grass, but there are bare areas larger than 2-3 inches in diameter and the grass does look thin. I had planned to give the yard a good raking this weekend and mow, then apply Halts by the end of the month. My gut tells me I will be wasting my time and money if I seed this time of year — our summers are usually hot and dry. I have a hard enough time as it is fighting off diseases and insects — can’t imagine trying to save tender, young grass:((
    I know it’s difficult for you to advise without seeing, but what do you think — would you stick with the plan and hope the turf builder will help or would you seed?

  9. Hi Joyce
    I know your area well as I grew up in Matoaca about 25 miles south of Richmond, so I understand your thoughts about spring seeding. I could answer your question about how well your new grass will fill in if you can give me some info about the kind of seed blend you planted last fall.

  10. Joyce permalink

    I used a blend of fescue, rye and creeping red.

  11. Joyce permalink

    Sorry Ashton — I used fescue, rye and bluegrass — my mistake:(

  12. Hi Joyce
    Thanks for the seed blend info. The creeping red fescue is the only grass that will spread as the other grasses give you 1 plant from each seed. With feeding and time the plants will get larger, however and give you a more fuller look. If early summer is cooler and wetter than normal, you probably could benefit from seeding this spring and using Starter Lawn Food with Weed Preventer (this one will not keep your new grass seed from growing like Halts will). However, if early summer is hot and dry, the young seedlings will have a tougher time. If you do not seed now, put down Turf Builder with Halts within the next two weeks and then be sure to feed three times next fall (Va Tech recommends Early Sept, Mid Oct, and late Nov).

  13. Hi Joyce
    Just saw your bluegrass comment… The Turf Builder with Halts will definitely help your grass fill in the bare spots. I would wait till fall to seed if needed. Good luck with your lawn.

  14. Joyce permalink

    Thanks Ashton — that’s what my gut says as well.
    I tell my neighbors you are my new BFF:)

  15. Dave permalink

    Hi, I live in northern Kentucky. When would be the best time for the halts crabgrass application? Thank you.

    • Hi Dave
      Apply when you see yellow forsythia bushes at peak bloom. I would guess that would be by early April in your area. They are blooming now in Atlanta where I live.

  16. Sharon permalink

    Hi Ashton,
    I live in Blackstone, VA and over-seeded my lawn last fall with a mixture of fescue, rye and creeping red. The grass is just not coming around as much as I had hoped, so I’m thinking about putting down some more seed. The front lawn is very steep, with no trees, which means full sun. What type of Scotts seed would you recommend I use?

    • Hi Sharon
      Our best grass seed blend for your area is “Heat-Tolerant Blue”. This is a mix of three turf-type tall fescues with a small amount of Thermal Ky. Bluegrass.

  17. John permalink

    Hi Anton, I live on Long Island, NY. For the last two seasons I have not had success with Turf Builder with Halts Crabgrass Preventer. Last year my front lawn was covered with crabgrass. What can I be doing wrong. I usually apply around end of March first week of April.

    • Hi John
      Sorry to hear about your crabgrass problem. Your timing should be pretty good for your area. Suggest you apply by March 25 and be sure to water after spreading. (If it is dry for several days after putting down, the barrier is not as good.) Make sure you are getting proper coverage. What I mean is there is generally some variation in spreaders, walking speed, amount of overlap, and flow of the granules thru the spreader based on humidity, so when you are finished spreading, if you had a 5,000 sq. ft. size lawn, you should have used the whole bag. I know this would be an estimate for any other size lawn, however you should be able to tell if you got close to the right amount of coverage. There are weeds that sometimes get confused for being crabgrass (like nimblewill… which is a big problem in older lawns on Long Island). Here is a link to a blog posting I did on this subject: https://tipsfromashton.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/tell-the-truth-will-the-real-crabgrass-please-stand-up/ Here is another link to a blog posting I did to answer the question why crabgrass preventers fail: https://tipsfromashton.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/why-did-my-crabgrass-preventer-not-work/ Hope this helps and good luck with your lawn this year.

  18. Mr. Richie, First time applying: (Halts Crabgrass Grassy Weed Preventer) 5,000 sq ft. bag I will be using. My home location: Meadville, Pa. 16335. 40 miles South of Erie, Pa./ or 80 miles North of Pittsburgh,Pa. Two years ago after planting new grass everything was going fine. Till, last year growing season, the Crabgrass really showed up. The area I’m concerned about is a little thin but there is grass growing for sure. But I want to STOP this crabgrass from getting another foot hold. It’s March 27,2014 and its 42 deg outside now. Will het a little warmer next few day’s. However, we had a ground cover of snow March 26 perhaps 1/2″ to 1″ covering. Melted during the day. I haven’t raked or dethached this area yet I speak of.Size:70Ft x 7o FT. 4900SF or 5,000 SF. Here are my questions on when, and what to do here, to halt crabgrass this grass mowing season coming up.

    1. Should I rake or dethatch this area 70′ x 70′ before putting down my Halts
    Crabgrass & Grassy Weed Preventer. This seems to be the area of
    concentration of the crabgrass last year.
    2. Or, being the grass is a little thin, just apply the Scotts crabgrass to the area
    with my Scotts rotary spreader. Scotts recommended spreading is 2 1/4 for
    rotary.
    3. At what TIME to apply his Crabgrass preventer (mentioned at top). Not
    dethatching or raking this area. But apply at 2 1/4 Scotts rating. To get
    best results.

    I sincerely look forward to your response on the best or correct way to
    apply this product and or steps to do before applying the Scotts Crabgrass
    product. Considering where I Iive. Thank You

    • Hi Gordon Benninghoff
      Thanks for giving me all the details about your lawn and location. I suggest you use Turf Builder with Halts so your lawn will get the feeding it needs to fill in thin areas at the same time the crabgrass prevention barrier is being set up with the Halts. Give your lawn a light raking if you see matted grass from Snow Mold, prior to spreading the Turf Builder with Halts. In your area I suspect you have until the middle of April to get your crabgrass prevention down. Good luck with your lawn.

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