How Do I Revitalize a Lawn Filled With Crabgrass, Clover, Thatch, and Bare Spots?

How do I revitalize a lawn filled with crabgrass, clover, thatch, and bare spots? What steps should I take and in what order?

Assuming you want to preserve whatever grass is still there, the first thing to do is spray broadleaf weed killer on the lawn to get rid of the clover and other broadleaf weeds, such as dandelions and plantain. If you aren't sure what type of lawn you have, take a sample to a garden center for verification. Plan ahead. Most herbicides require a waiting period of at least several weeks before it is safe to reseed with grass. Here are the general steps to follow.


In September, rent a vertical mower (or verticutter). Go over your lawn with it a couple times. You want to get the blades down into the soil a bit and stir things up. Then rake off all the debris (thatch). Use a drop spreader (available at hardware stores, home centers, and garden centers) to overseed with whatever kind of grass you have. The seed package will tell you how much to use. After you sow the seed, go over your lawn one more time with the verticutter, but this time, set the blades to barely nick the soil. This will mix the seeds into the soil, which helps them germinate. The lawn should become well-established during the fall and winter. Water as needed, and fertilize at least once in fall, no more than a month after you plant. By next spring, you should be able to safely apply more broadleaf weed killer if necessary. Finally, in late spring apply a preemergence herbicide (crabgrass preventer) with fertilizer. That will keep the crabgrass from coming back next year.


  1. What Organic option is there to kill crabgrass and clover?

    1. There is a product called IronX which is very effective on many (not all though) lawn weeds, including white clover. It is nothing but chelated iron in a liquid -- there might be other brands of the same thing. It might work on crabgrass, but I just pull that and make sure it doesn't go to seed. Crabgrass is an annual and is best prevented from sprouting with corn gluten meal, which also suppresses other weed seeds.

  2. I would love to have a beautiful lawn, but I am concerned with chemicals that might be harmful to people, pets, pond creatures, and helpful insects (bees, butterflies, etc.). Is this broadleaf weed killer harmful to them?

    1. Either manually pull them out or let your grass grow taller before you mow. Also mow on the highest setting that way the weeds wont get the sun and the grass will smother the weeds.

    2. It's extremely harmful. A story came out just today, Monsanto (who makes this junk) award $298million to a man whose life was destroyed by this. He was a school gardener/caretaker, used products like this and he is dying of lymphona. Monsanto has denied responsibility for years but it is POISON to humans, animals and insects as well as plants. It will run off into rivers and streams too and harm the fish and other creatures that live there. Google diy weed killers or organic ways to treat your lawn. I believe corn gluten can be effective. Best of luck and great question, keep asking!

  3. Please do NOT use harmful chemicals on your lawn !! Monsanto products are extremely harmful to BEES , people , children and the environment. I was upset about crabgrass a couple of years but I purposely chose NOT to use chemicals in order to protect bees. This country is in serious trouble in losing our bees. We need them for our food. Thanks

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