the lawn is full of crabgrass – its in high sun. clay-type soil.
i have pulled out many with their roots, but its too difficult physically for me. is there an easier, ethical way to remove them? sorry, unable to show picture.
Thank-you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners with your question.
Crab grass is a common problem in home lawns. It is an annual weed which reproduces by seed and thrives in sunny areas and high temperatures continuing to germinate into July. It sounds like your sunny lawn situation is perfect for this weed to thrive! Crab grass germinates quickly so easily outcompetes grass seedlings in a newly seeded lawn and fills bare spots in an existing lawn. Hand weeding is an option in a small lawn but will not resolve the problem in a single year as the many seeds produced in mid to late summer will survive in the soil for several years. Depending on the size of your lawn, it can also be a very onerous task.
Assuming that you wish to retain your existing lawn (rather than re-sod), your best long-term solution is to reseed in the fall. What you are after is a thick turf which will shade the soil and reduce the number of crab grass seedings that are able to establish. This is the most environmentally friendly method to eradicate weeds such as crab grass. Consider choosing a grass seed mix with a higher percentage of perennial rye grass (Lolium repens) or just add additional perennial rye grass seed to your current mix. Perennial rye grass germinates quickly and will provide the shade that will help to suppress germination of weeds. Even with successful reseeding, however, you may not be able to completely eradicate the crab grass because the seeds can remain viable for several years. The new, thick turf should assist is dealing with the infestation and then vigilant hand-pulling of any seedlings should work to re-establish your lawn.