Crabgrass is all about prevention. It’s hard to get rid of once you have, but easy to prevent it. If you want to prevent crabgrass for a large lawn, it may not be as easy as simply going to Lowe’s or Home Depot. Most crabgrass pre emergent on store shelves only treat a small area: 5,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet. If your lawn is 1-acre, 2-acres, or even bigger, you may consider a crabgrass pre-emergent spray herbicide.
An acre is 43,560 square feet. We have a 2.5-acre yard around our house, so we need to treat 108,900 square feet.
To treat our lawn with Scott’s would take 22 bags of the preventer or 8 large bags of Turf Builder. That would cost $400 and $500 respectively. Not to mention loading/unloading all those bags from the store, into the spreader, etc.
Crabgrass (Digitaria) is an annual. It germinates and dies in the same year. So, every spring, if you can prevent it from coming up at all – you’ll enjoy a crabgrass-free lawn for the summer. That also means your cost to prevent it is an annual cost.
We found a better way. It’s faster, cheaper, and doesn’t require a trip to the store.
Pendulum AquaCap Pre-Emergent Herbicide
Pendulum AquaCap Pre-Emergent Herbicide comes in liquid form and can be ordered from Amazon, usually for around $160 plus shipping. Even at the full price, this is still a fraction of what we would spend on pellets. BUT – the 2.5 gallons of this lasts us 2 seasons. We calculated that our lawn needed around 1.25 gallons spread over 2.5 acres to be effective.
Towards the end of the season, we did start to see some crabgrass and I believe the label recommends a 2nd application several months after the first. For us, 1 application was good enough. Even at 2 applications a year, the price is still cheaper than the prevention pellets.
Sprayer for Pre-Emergent Herbicide
A sprayer is needed to apply Pendulum AquaCap or any liquid pre-emergent. If you have a large lawn, you’ll probably want a tow-behind spreader that can be pulled by a lawnmower, ATV, or UTV. The size you need depends on how fast you go and how large your lawn is.
We have a 31-gallon NorthStar Tow-Behind Sprayer and found that working at medium speed, with its 10-ft spray radius, that we can spray the 2.5 acres evenly on one 31-gallon tank. That’s helpful since most products (fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides) are more about coverage than mixed ratio. I.e. it’s not as simple as mixing 2:1, it’s more about applying a certain amount of product to the size of your lawn.
The Northstar Tow-Behind Sprayers come in 21-gallon, 31-gallon, and 41-gallon. We’ve had our 31-gallon version for 4 years now and very few problems. The hand-sprayer is a bit junky and has fallen off a couple of times. The tank, pump, and boom spray have worked well.
Cost Savings with Spray Crabgrass Pre Emergent Herbicide
Even with a $300 sprayer and $160 pre-emergent, the cost difference is minimal in year one. Subsequent years are considerably less expensive since you already have the spreader. In years 2-4, we’ve averaged $80 per year on pre-emergent for a 2.5-acre lawn.
When to Apply Crabgrass Pre Emergent
This needs to be applied before the crabgrass germinates, which is when the soil temps reach 55 to 60 degrees. If the seeds are near the top and the sun is shining on a 55-degree day, they are going to germinate and grow.
I’ve seen recommendations online for May 1 or sometime in April, but anytime I’ve waited that long my results weren’t as good as applying in mid to late March. Here in Michigan, we have a few sporadic days in March that are above 60 – and that causes the crabgrass to ‘wake up’ and grow.
You may also try to time the application of Pendulum AquaCap just before a rain. It’s still cold enough that we don’t have our sprinkler system on yet, or you may not have irrigation. To work, Pendulum AquaCap recommends watering within a few weeks for the best results.
Pendulum AquaCap Tips
- Pendulum AquaCap has the color of curried Indian food and has the same effect on your plastic sprayer as the food does on your Tupperware. It will never be the same.
- If you have light-colored concrete, you’ll want to avoid spraying it on the concrete or it could temporarily stain the surface.
- This is not meant for areas where animals will be feeding (e.g. horse pastures).
- Apply on a day that isn’t windy.
- Some people use blue dye to see where they’ve sprayed, but this seems to be more of a hassle than it’s worth.
- Fill your sprayer with 1/3 water before adding the herbicide. This helps ensure a more mixed solution.