What is best way to eliminate and prevent crabgrass on my lawn?…..for whatever reason, this summer I have noted a rapid growth and spread of crabgrass on my front lawn, however my neighbor’s lawn remains spotless?
Crab grass is a common problem in home lawns. It is an annual weed which reproduces by seed, continuing to germinate into July. You don’t say if your lawn is in a sunny or shaded location but sun is perfect for this weed to thrive. Crab grass germinates quickly so easily outcompetes other grass seedlings in a newly seeded lawn or fills bare spots in an existing lawn. Hand weeding is an option but will not resolve the problem in a single year as the many seeds produced in mid – late summer will survive in the soil for several years. Depending on the size of your lawn and the extent of the infestation, it can also be a very onerous task. The seeds more than likely came into your yard transported by birds, animals, contaminated soil or compost.
Assuming that you wish to retain your existing lawn (rather than re-sod), your best long-term solution is to continually hand pull the crabgrass plants before they go to seed – this is a season long mission for several years. You do not have to get all the root, just get all the plant – the goal is to stop more seeds being produced, thus reducing the plant population. As these are annual plants, this years plants will die with the frost but any seeds dispersed will survive the winter and germinate in the spring. Dispose of these pulled plants in the garbage rather than in the compost or green bin as seeds don’t decompose and will become yours or someone else’s problem next year.
In order to have a less inviting lawn for crabgrass, I would suggest you reseed in the fall to fill in any bare spots. 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 these invasive weeds. 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, will provide shade and compete well for nutrients and moisture so that weed seed germination and growth will be lessened.
Even with successful reseeding along with vigilant hand pulling, it may take several years to get the thick weed free turf your after but do not despair, you will eventually win the battle.
Hope this helps.