Crabgrass Infestation Repairs

How to repair lawn damage from crabgrass

By: Sandy Feather ©2008
Penn State Extension

Q. My lawn had a major infestation of crabgrass this year. Can I overseed those areas and still use a crabgrass pre-emergent herbicide next spring?

A. It is ideal to have any lawn reseeding done this fall – by October 15th - if you can. Fall is an ideal time to plant new lawns from seed or to overseed and repair damaged areas. Air temperatures are cooler and less stressful for tender grass seedlings. However, the soil is still warm, which speeds germination and root development. Finally, there is much less weed pressure when you plant grass in the fall rather than spring.

How weed seeds work

Weed seeds are “programmed” to germinate when they have the best chance of growing and producing a new generation (seeds) of the species. A handful of winter annuals such as henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) or annual bluegrass (Poa annua ssp. annua) germinate in fall, but the vast majority of weed seeds germinate in spring.

Crabgrass seeds
Crabgrass seedheads hold next year's crop of trouble!


Conflicts with reseeding a lawn

If you can reseed in fall, you should be able to apply one of the traditional crabgrass pre-emergent herbicides next spring with no problem. These include Dimension (dithiopyr), 'Halts' (pendimethalin), Barricade (prodiamine), Team (benefin and trifluralin), or corn gluten meal.

If you cannot reseed until spring or find that you have some patches to repair in spring, there is a product called Tupersan (siduron) that will prevent most of the crabgrass seed from germinating while allowing most of the good grass seed to germinate. This product exploits the fact that crabgrass is a warm season grass. The seeds of our cool season lawn grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue or turf-type tall fescue are able to metabolize this herbicide while warm season grass seeds cannot and are killed.


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