Crabgrass is a grassy weed that’s tough to kill with most combination herbicides. In fact, some post-emergent herbicides can damage your lawn while acting on crabgrass. So, what’s the best crabgrass killer for lawns that probably won’t kill grass?
The best crabgrass killer for lawns is Tenacity Turf Herbicide. It is a safe, selective herbicide that won’t kill lawn grasses like KBG, perennial ryegrass, tall fescues, and centipede grass. Tenacity can be applied at seeding or on established lawns. Do not apply it on paspalum, kikuyu grass, and bermudagrass lawns.
Below is a review of the best crabgrass killers (post-emergent herbicides) for lawns with different turfgrasses to help you find a great grassy weed killer that won’t harm your lawn.
8 Best Crabgrass Killers
While many herbicides on the market can kill crabgrass, it is important to consider your grass type, country restrictions, lawn safety, and any other benefits (e.g., weed and feed formulas). You can also choose between granular and liquid crabgrass killers, but this is generally a personal preference.
From my practice, I look at the active ingredient and its mode of action to determine the best crabgrass killer for different turfgrass varieties.
Here are the best crabgrass killers with my opinions based on my tests:
1. Tenacity Turf Herbicide
The active ingredient in Tenacity, Mesotrione, is a selective herbicide, which is why it won’t kill your lawn if used as indicated on the label. It targets crabgrass by inhibiting photosynthesis, thus killing the grassy weed.
Tenacity is a 2-in-1 formula that acts as a pre- and post-emergent weed killer. I recommend it because it destroys weeds to the root, making it highly effective at controlling grassy weeds in lawns.
- Active ingredient: Mesotrione
- Mode of action: selective herbicide
Mesotrione is the only herbicide you can safely use on fescue or bluegrass seedlings.
List of weeds Tenacity kills
Crabgrass, goosegrass, barnyardgrass, and yellow foxtail, Dandelion, Nutsedge, creeping bentgrass, nimblewill. Mesotrione will also control some broadleaf weeds in lawns such as clover, purslane, wild carrot, dandelion, henbit, chickweed, and thistle.
Indications and Safety for Lawn Use
Tenacity turf herbicide is safe on Kentucky Bluegrass, St. Augustine grass, tall fescue, fine fescue, and centipedegrass.
Caution: Do not spray tenacity turf herbicide on lawns with Bermuda grass, paspalum, zoysia, kikuyu grass, bentgrass, or poa annua. This herbicide is indicated as dangerous and can cause injury to these turfgrasses. If you must use it in such lawns, ensure you only spot-treat the weeds to kill them.
The only other chemical crabgrass herbicide that won’t kill grass is Scotts® Spot Weed Control – For Lawns, formulated to target selected weeds and kill them to the root without harming lawns.
2. Drive XLR8 Herbicide Crabgrass Killer
- Fastest crabgrass killer with results in 2 days.
- Provides residual control (30-45 days).
- Rainproof within 1 hour.
- Controls more than just crabgrass.
My review: With a single application, the crabgrass in my lawn started to die on the third day.
Drive XLR8 is a water-based crabgrass formulation that I’ve found to be the most effective at controlling crabgrass and a few other stubborn weeds in lawns.
Being a water-based concentrate, it is quickly absorbed by the target weeds, killing them systemically within a day or two.
Here’s more information from my review:
|Active ingredient||Quinclorac (18.92%)|
|List of weeds killed||Crabgrass, dandelion, dollar weed, foxtail, signal grass, clover, kikuyugrass, torpedo grass, speedwell, and bindweed.|
|Safe for||Common bermudagrass, annual bluegrass, KBG, zoysia, ryegrass, buffalo grass.|
|Not safe for||St. Augustine grass, bahiagrass, bentgrass, carpetgrass.|
The active ingredient in Drive XLR8 is quinclorac, which is known to kill crabgrass with great success. It is also safe for some turfgrasses, so it won’t kill grass in your lawn if you apply as per the label.
The herbicide is absorbed through roots and foliage and then translocated throughout the plant. Within a few days of applying Drive XLR8 on crabgrass, I noticed signs of destruction such as stunted growth, chlorosis, and gradual death of crabgrass and other grassy weeds in my lawn.
On the downside, I noticed that even in tolerant species of grass, Drive XLR8 can cause a little discoloration when applied on the turf. You can overcome this disadvantage by adding a little chelated iron to the spray mix. Alternatively, use a liquid spray of nitrogen fertilizer.
After testing extensively, I noticed that some types of crabgrass, especially smooth crabgrass, did not respond to the application of this post-emergent herbicide.
See the Drive XLR8 Crabgrass Killer product label.
3. Quali-Pro Select Source Quinclorac 75 DF Herbicide
- Highly effective selective crabgrass post-emergent.
- Kills other grassy and broadleaf weeds as well.
- Acts as a crabgrass pre-emergent in bermudagrass lawns.
- Kills crabgrass and won’t kill grass.
- Safe to apply before and after seeding in most turfgrasses.
- Available at DoMyOwn and Amazon (best price)
The Select Source Quinclorac 75DF is a dry formula with 75% quinclorac as the active ingredient. From my tests, it is effective at controlling crabgrass and a number of other broadleaf weeds without killing turfgrass.
Being a selective herbicide, it is safe for use in Bermuda grass as a pre-emergent herbicide, which is great since I did not have to buy crabgrass preemergent for my lawn.
Here’s information I think is important from my review:
|Active ingredient||Quinclorac (75%)|
|List of weeds killed||Crabgrass, Torpedograss, Barnyardgrass, Foxtail, Kikuyugrass, Signalgrass, Clover, Daisy, Dandelion, Dollarweed, Geranium, Bindweed, Medic, Morningglory spp., Speedwell,and Violet.|
|Type||Selective, post-emergent and pre-emergent in Bermuda grass lawns.|
|Safe for||Bermudagrass, bluegrass, annual bluegrass, kentucky, buffalograss, tall fescue, ryegrass, zoysiagrass|
|Not safe for||St. Augustine grass, Bahiagrass, Colonial Bentgrass, Seaside Bentgrass, Centipedegrass, and Dichondra.|
The major downside I saw when I tested Qunclorac on crabgrass is that it does not get rid of crabgrass with one application. I had to apply the herbicide twice to see success – which I did.
4. AgraLawn Organic Crabgrass Killer
- The best organic crabgrass killer.
- Kills crabgrass but not grass in your lawn.
- Safe for pets and humans.
- Kills crabgrass to the root.
- Acts fast – killing crabgrass within 5 days.
There aren’t many natural crabgrass killers out there, but AgraLawn Organic Crabgrass Killer is one of the best for removing crabgrass in lawns.
The active ingredient, cinnamon bark, is indicated for controlling smooth and hairy crabgrass types without harming lawns.
AgraLawn Organic Crabgrass killer is indicated as best used in lawns with St. Augustine grass, Bermuda grass, bahia grass, and centipede grass.
If you’re using it on other turfgrasses that aren’t indicated as tolerant, you might want to use a spot treatment to get rid of the grassy weeds in your lawn.
On the test patches I used AgraLawn natural crabgrass killer, I was able to get rid of the weed within 5 days. Wilting and discoloration started to occur at 3 days, and by the 5th day, the crabgrass was dead.
See the AgraLawn product label.
5. Image Crabgrass Killer
- Image kills crabgrass but not grass.
- Controls over 200 weeds in lawns.
- Can be applied on both cool-season and warm-season grass.
- Systemic – kills crabgrass to the root.
- Available at DoMyOwn and Home Depot
The active ingredients that make it so potent at killing crabgrass include MCPA, dimethylamine salt, quinclorac, and Dicamba. These ingredients are indicated for killing over 200 different types of weeds in lawns and yards.
Image is one of the best crabgrass killers you can use to get rid of grown grassy weeds in your lawn. What I like most about this herbicide is that it won’t harm your lawn. Instead, it selectively controls crabgrass and a few other stubborn grassy weeds.
Here’s more information from my review of Image crabgrass killer.
|Active ingredient||MCPA, dimethylamine salt, quinclorac, and Dicamba|
|List of weeds killed||Kentucky bluegrass, Ryegrass, perennial and annual, Tall fescue, Bentgrass, fine Fescues, Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass, Buffalograss.|
|Safe for||Kentucky bluegrass, Ryegrass, perennial and annual, tall fescue, Bentgrass, fine Fescues, Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass, Buffalograss.|
|Not safe for||St. Augustinegrass, Bahiagrass, Centipedegrass, Carpetgrass, Seashore paspalum.|
6. Spectracide Weed Stop For Lawns Plus Crabgrass Killer
- Acts fast – results in 5 hours.
- Does not harm the good grass.
- Kills nutsedge and 470 other lawn weeds.
- Rainproof within 3 hours.
- Destroys crabgrass to the root.
The mix of active ingredients in Spectracide Weed Stop for Lawns Plus Crabgrass Killer makes it so potent that it destroys many weeds. Being a selective herbicide, I used it to kill weeds in a large area of my lawn, and it worked.
Crabgrass started to die within a few hours – showing signs of wilting and chlorosis, meaning the herbicide worked. However, it takes about 10 days to kill the weed to its root.
|Active ingredient||2,4-D, dimethylamine salt (3.74%), Quinclorac (1.79%), Dicamba dimethylamine salt (0.43%), and Sulfentrazone (0.22%).|
|List of weeds killed||Crabgrass, dandelion, Chickweed, purslane, foxtail, yellow nutsedge. The label indicates it kills over 400 other weeds.|
|Safe for||Kentucky bluegrass, fescue, perennial ryegrass, Bermudagrass, zoysia, buffallo grass.|
|Not safe for||St. Augustine grass, bentgrass, bahiagrass, centipedegrass, carpetgrass.|
I tested this herbicide on crabgrass in a Bermuda grass lawn. I was worried since the grass started to turn yellow after a day. Later, the crabgrass died and the Bermuda lawn recovered.
My bad…I must’ve missed that part of the label because it is clearly indicated on there, so be sure to read it carefully before applying it on your lawn.
Download the Spectracide Weed Killer product label here.
7. Ortho Weed B Gon Plus Crabgrass Control
- Kills crabgrass but won’t harm lawn grass.
- Destroys 250 other weeds.
- Systemic herbicide and will kill weeds to the root.
- Best fast acting crabgrass killer – results in hours.
Being a highly-rated postemergent herbicide for killing crabgrass, I went ahead and tested it on a St. Augustine grass lawn. Sure, it is sold in a ready-to spray bottle, making it easy to spot-treat areas with extensive weeds.
It worked great as a selective weed killer because it did not kill my turfgrass. Dandelions and clovers died within a few hours. I started seeing crabgrass yellowing and drooping the following day, and it seems it worked just fine.
The one issue I have with Ortho Weed B Gon as a top crabgrass killer product is that it is too expensive and may not be suitable for extensive weed infestations.
Also, it caused discoloration on Bermuda grass lawns, but the grass recovered within a few days and grew greener and thicker.
8. BioAdvanced All in One Lawn Weed and Crabgrass Killer
- Kills crabgrass but won’t kill grass.
- Rainproof within 1 hour of application.
- Kills weeds to the root, providing effective control.
- Kills grassy + boadleaf lawn weeds.
This product used to be the Bayer Advanced All in One Weed and Crabgrass killer for lawns. The name change did not change the quality.
It is a potent formulation that selectively kills crabgrass and many other grassy and broadleaf weeds in lawns without harming grass.
Being one of the best crabgrass killers, it works as a systemic herbicide, killing crabgrass to the root. It will also act on other turfgrass weeds such as foxtail, barnyard grass and many other listed weeds.
|Active ingredient||2,4-D, dimethylamine salt (4.85%), Quinclorac (1.61%), Dicamba, dimethylamine salt (0.45%)|
|List of weeds killed||Crabgrass, barnyardgrass, dandelion, black medic, foxtails, bull thistle, , chickweed, wild garlic, clovers, wild onion|
|Safe for||Zoysia, Bermudagrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Bentgrass Ryegrass, Buffalograss, Fescue.|
|Not safe for||St. Augustine grass – Floratam included, Bahiagrass, Centipedegrass, Carpetgrass.|
Like quite a few other top rated crabgrass weed killers on this list, BioAdvanced All in One herbicide caused yellowing on my bermuda grass lawn. However, the lawn recovered quite easily and restored its color.
Other great crabgrass killers for lawns include MSMA herbicide and Greenlight Wipe-Out Crabgrass Killer.
When spring comes, lawn care and maintenance work begins. To get a great-looking lawn throughout the season, you must prevent and kill weeds early enough.
The herbicides I’ve reviewed here are post-emergent applications. You can only use them to kill and control crabgrass weeds already established in your lawn. If you want to get rid of crabgrass before it germinates, you might want to consider applying a crabgrass preventer early in spring.