Pre Emergent Crabgrass Herbicide

Best Pre Emergent Crabgrass Herbicide to Use This Spring

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! And this certainly applies to dealing with crabgrass on your lawn. You should use a pre emergent crabgrass herbicide on your lawn every year to prevent crabgrass seeds from germinating and choking out your grass.

Spring is the best time to apply pre-emergent lawn weed control, and in this article, we’ll discuss some excellent pre emergent crabgrass preventers that you can buy online or locally (depending upon where you live).

I’ll also share some tips to understand exactly when to time your pre-emergent application for a successful application. Because if you get the timing wrong, most pre-emergent products will be ineffective.

Let’s get started!

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Horticulturist Arthur Davidson, A.S., a member of our expert panel

My Favorite Crabgrass Pre-Emergent Herbicides

Best Pre-Emergent Crabgrass Herbicide - Dimension 2EW
5 Star Rating

Want the best product available? Choose Dimension – a liquid pre-emergent. Since Dithiopyr works as both a pre- and post-emergent you’ll get results even if you apply it a week or two late.

The Andersons Barricade Pre-Emergent Herbicide
5 Star Rating

Prodiamine is one of the best-known and most trusted pre-emergent herbicides for crabgrass, and with Barricade you get an easy-to-spread granular product that will dovetail with any fertilizer program.

Save 10% with code LAWNCHICK

Jonathan Green Veri-Green Lawn Food plus Crabgrass Preventer 20-0-3
5 Star Rating

If you want to save some money, I recommend (and use) Jonathan Green’s Crabgrass Preventer plus 20-0-3 Lawn Food. This weed and feed contains Dimension (my top choice) as its pre-emergent herbicide.

Save 10% with code LAWNCHICK10 is reader supported. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Why Experts Say the Timing of Pre-Emergent Herbicide is Critical

Shane Evans is a Lawn Water Conservation Educator and Maggie Reiter serves as an Extension Turfgrass Educator at University of Minnesota Extension. Maggie recently participated in an interview with Lawn Chick.

On the topic of pre emergent herbicides, these experts explain that “timing when you apply the pre-emergent herbicide is very important.”

Evans and Reiter continue, “If done too early, while it is still too cold, crabgrass will most likely grow anyway.” But using the pre-emergent too late is also a problem, as in that case, “you may not see much benefit either.” 

Overall, these experts commend “applying a pre-emergent herbicide when soil temperatures in your area approach 55 degrees F.” 

Experts Stress the Importance of Properly Identifying Crabgrass

Apply Pre-Emergent When Forsythia Bloom in Your Neighborhood (pictured)

Ronald Calhoun, an expert in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Michigan State University, says that “Knowing when crabgrass is likely to be present is helpful in proper identification and control. Homeowners who complain of crabgrass infestations in April and May are usually identifying tall fescue, nimblewill or quackgrass.” 

Ronald recommends being aware that “Crabgrass germination typically begins in early May when soil temperatures reach 62 degrees Fahrenheit at a depth of 1 to 2 inches, or about two weeks after the forsythia blooms begin to drop.”

Again – this is why I recommend homeowners pay attention to Forsythia in your neighborhood. If you’re unfamiliar with this shrub, it’s the one pictured to the right – in early spring each year it puts on a brilliant display of bright yellow flowers. Because it’s easy to grow, it’s a popular plant and most neighborhoods have at least one property where it is growing.

If you time your pre-emergent application when these shrubs start to display their yellow flowers, you should effectively block most crabgrass.

My Picks for the Best Pre Emergent Crabgrass Herbicides

There’s nothing worse than Crabgrass. It’s ugly to look at, and it’s a pain to remove.

Crabgrass Preventer
Close up of Crabgrass. It’s horizontal growth habit will smother and kill your lawn if ignored.

Stop it before those annual weed seeds germinate this spring with any of these pre-emergents:

(links are to each product)

These first three products are my top choices to prevent crabgrass in your lawn.

You can read about each of them in-depth on my list of the best lawn pre emergent products.

But I also recommend the following products as effective lawn crabgrass pre emergent products:

I’ve tried each of these products myself over the years, and below I explain a bit more about each one, how they work, when to water them in, and more application tips.

And if you’re planning to plant grass seed this spring, remember that most pre-emergent herbicides will block germination of your grass seed.

Pre-Emergent Weed Control When Overseeding
If you plan to overseed your lawn at a time of year when you would normally put down pre-emergent, I recommend using this product,* followed 5 weeks later with one of the pre-emergent products listed on this page. This will allow your grass seed to germinate, but blocks crabgrass for up to 6 weeks, buying you (and your new grass) some time.
*always make sure products are compatible with your grass type
Best Pre Emergent for Crabgrass
Pre-emergent herbicide buys time for your lawn to fill in, preventing crabgrass germination

Scotts Turf Builder Halts Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food

Scotts Turf Builder Halts Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food

Scotts Turf Builder is a wonderful choice if you want to prevent crabgrass and several other weed species before they try to invade your lawn.

I like this product because it kills two birds with one stone – you’ll be feeding your lawn as you prevent crabgrass seeds from germinating, which helps set your yard up for season-long success.

Scotts Turf Builder Halts Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food (Amazon link) is a fantastic product to apply to your lawn to quickly green it up after winter.

You won’t have to worry about any snow or very cold weather happening after application, as this kind of weather won’t impact product performance.

Within two or three days after you apply this turf builder, give your lawn around a half an inch of water. If it gets water from rain, you won’t have to do any extra watering, but if there’s no rain in the forecast, water it in yourself.

You won’t be able to use Scotts Turf Builder on bentgrass or dichondra lawns. However, you can use it on a variety of different kinds of turfgrass.

Just a few examples include Zoysia, Bermuda, Kentucky Bluegrass, Centipede, and Fescue.

You should apply this product in the early part of spring. It will prevent germination of not only crabgrass but also poa annua and chickweed. Your lawn will be protected for the entire season.

Bonide Crabgrass and Weed Preventer for Lawns and Ornamental Beds

BONIDE Crabgrass and Weed Preventer (BND60400)

Bonide Crabgrass and Weed Preventer for Lawns and Ornamental Beds (Amazon link) is a pre emergent crabgrass herbicide product.

You should apply it to your lawn in the spring when soil temperatures are 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit. Applying this product will ensure that you don’t have any problems with crabgrass and other weeds (such as barnyard grass, annual bluegrass, chickweed, foxtail, spurge, and goosegrass) for the entire season.

This product is very easy to use and you can apply it to your lawn up to a month later than many of the other crabgrass prevention products and it will still be effective for you. When you use Bonide Crabgrass and Weed Preventer, you will enjoy up to four months of weed control. If you have a healthy, established lawn, you shouldn’t have to re-apply, as your lawn canopy should prevent light from reaching crabgrass seeds at that point.

If you buy this product, then you can cover 5,000 square feet of lawn. It’s a smaller bag, so you may have to purchase more than one to get complete coverage.

You can use BONIDE 60400 on both warm-season and cool-season grasses. It’s a granular product, making it easy to apply.

Spectracide Weed Stop for Lawns Plus Crabgrass Preventer Granules

Spectracide Weed Stop for Lawns Plus Crabgrass Preventer Granules

Spectracide Weed Stop for Lawns Plus Crabgrass Preventer Granules (Amazon link) is another pre emergent crabgrass herbicide. It also prevents weeds such as thistle, dandelion, clover, and chickweed, as well as many other undesired invaders.

This product will provide as many as five months of weed control for your lawn.

As long as you use it as directed on the packaging, it shouldn’t cause any harm to your grass, but be careful not to over-apply it.

Spectracide Weed Stop for Lawns is recommended for a variety of different types of established turfgrasses, including Fine and Tall Fescues, Kentucky Bluegrass, and Perennial Ryegrass. You can also use it for Buffalograss, Zoysia species of grass, among others.

If you apply this product in the spring, then you should do so before or at the point when you see the first dandelion flowers emerge. You can also apply it at other times of year, but if you sync your first application with the first sighting of dandelions you’ll have good results.

As with any granular product, an even application at the recommended rate will determine your results.

The 10.8 pounds of product in the bag will cover as many as 3,000 square feet of space according to the manufacturer. It’s a good choice for small lawns.

Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Lawn Fertilizer

Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Lawn Fertilizer (100536604)

Pennington 100536604 UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Lawn Fertilizer (Amazon link) will provide up to five months of weed control for your lawn.

With a 30-0-4 high-nitrogen fertilizer ratio, it allows for very quick greening, and it’s a great choice if you want a thick, lush lawn.

It’s the high nitrogen content of this crabgrass preventer plus lawn fertilizer that makes it so effective for giving you a dark green grass color. It boasts 10.56% slow release nitrogen content.

This is a premium blended fertilizer and it has excellent plant nutrient content. It will ensure extended feeding of your lawn for as many as three months.

You should apply this product in early spring, sometime between February and April. I recommend applying it to your lawn when the air temperatures are still under 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and when soil temperature is around 45 degrees. This should be before weed seed germination.

Final Thoughts on Pre Emergent Crabgrass Herbicide

All of the products listed above will do an excellent job at preventing crabgrass on your lawn. Just make a selection and get ready to enjoy a beautiful property.

And if your pre-emergent crabgrass herbicide application doesn’t block every bit of crabgrass, you can kill crabgrass with a selective herbicide like Tenacity, my choice for the best lawn weed killer.


Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

4 thoughts on “Best Pre Emergent Crabgrass Herbicide to Use This Spring

  1. Grant L Olivier

    Hello Sarah,

    I’m having a hard time specifically identifying a problem weed that has progressively gotten more intrusive over the years. I’ve tried multiple different herbicides and this weed keeps coming back. I apply pre emergent to my lawn in the early Fall and early spring, but I can’t seem to stop this weed from spreading in my Tifway 419 Bermuda. Can I email you pics so you can help me identify this troublesome weed? I sent pics to my local Ag center and they couldn’t identify it.

  2. Michael

    My name is Mike, I just moved into a new home last summer in Joplin,Mo. We tried hydro seeding fescue, but it was a failure, crab grass just simply took over my yard. I want to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to control crab grass that will not effect fescue seeding in March. What would be your recommendations. ?? Thanks Mike

    • Hey, Mike!

      Good question. As you point out, it’s really important to use a pre-emergent that won’t block your grass seeds from germinating if you’re overseeding or starting a lawn from seed in the spring when those annual weeds will go wild about the water you’ll be giving your young turfgrass. When I do spring overseeding I use this product from Scotts, and have had good success. It does a pretty good job of stopping the crabgrass, and I’ve seeded cool season grasses at the same time I spread it on my lawn without issue.

      If you can’t find that one locally or online, another option is to rely on a selective herbicide like Tenacity to knock out crabgrass as it pops up in your newly seeded lawn. There’s a video for how to mix and apply this safely toward the bottom of this article right here, including links to all of the products you’ll need. If you struggle with crabgrass, having Tenacity and surfactant handy will make your life a lot easier.

      This spring you could take the post-emergent approach and use Tenacity to kill your first patches of crabgrass after your turfgrass germinates, and once that first round of crabgrass is knocked out, apply your preferred pre-emergent to disrupt the seed cycle. You may need to use tenacity again to knock out any crabgrass that sneaks through between applications, but you can have pretty good results doing this in the spring if you can’t find the pre-emergent starter fertilizer product I linked above.

      Good luck!

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