Guide to Crabgrass Identification & Control

Hairy Crabgrass
Smooth Crabgrass
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Type of Weed: Grassy Weed

Digitaria – Crabgrass

Digitaria sanguinalis– Hairy Crabgrass

Digitaria ischaemum - Smooth Crabgrass


Crabgrass is a summer annual grassy weed. In Texas, the two common types of crabgrass are: Hairy Crabgrass and Smooth Crabgrass.

These fast-spreading weeds are low-growing and found in sunny areas of thin patches of lawns, along driveways, or in cracks of sidewalks.

Crabgrass tolerates high traffic areas well sets hundreds of thousands of seeds each season, and survives drought conditions, making it a difficult weed to control and remove in lawns.

How to Identify

Crabgrass has fibrous roots which can form at the lower nodes and has a prostrate growth habit. Its lower stems tend to grow along the ground while the upper stems grow vertically.

Hairy crabgrass has long, green, hairy stems that produce green, linear shaped leaves. These leaves can grow up to six inches long and half an inch wide.

They are hairy toward the base and can curl slightly along the margins. Smooth crabgrass has stems that are smooth, are mostly green, but can be light green to purple near the base. The lower stems are covered by sheaths.

Leaves are green, linear shaped, and can have hairs at the base of the sheath. These leaves are flat and grow up to four (sometimes six) inches long and a quarter inch wide. Both crabgrasses produce flowering spikelets that bloom in mid-summer to fall, which later set seed.

Control Methods

Control Difficulty: Difficult

For mechanical control, hand pulling or digging up patches of crabgrass is sure to be effective. This is best done in the spring, before the weed has flowered and set to seed, preventing further seed distribution.

Using a selective grassy weed post-emergent throughout the growing season can help keep crabgrass at bay, starting when the weed is young. Using a selective grassy weed pre-emergent in late fall, late winter, and early spring can best deter crabgrass from resurfacing the following season.

Prevention Tips

Having a thick healthy lawn is the best way to prevent crabgrass from surfacing in your lawn. Ensuring you are mowing your lawns grass at its proper height, having a routine aeration and fertilization schedule, and proper irrigation can help achieve this.

This prevents weak, thin patches in your lawn that crabgrass needs to thrive. Using a combination of a selective grassy pre and post emergent herbicide throughout the year will help prevent any further spreading of residual crabgrass in the lawn.

If you continue to struggle with crabgrass, our team of technicians are experts when it comes to grassy weeds, and can help get your lawn back to its proper health.
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