Grass Weed Seeds

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Suppliers of wildflowers, native seeds and Eco-Lawn grass seed for natural landscaping, wildflower gardens, and land restoration. Learn how to identify and treat the 10 most common lawn weeds such as nutsedge, crabgrass and dandelion. Having a difficult time identifying lawn weeds that look like grass? I've rounded up a list of common grass-like weeds to help you ID weeds in your lawn.

Crabgrass

Crabgrass is a warm season annual weed that invades lawns that are thin, weak and undernourished. It germinates from seed in late spring once soil temperatures have reached 50 F (10C). During the summer it develops into a ground-hugging weed that spreads over the surrounding grass. In late summer it produces hundreds of seeds that will sprout the following year. Crabgrass seeds can remain in the soil for many years and sprout when the soil is disturbed.

Organic Solution:
The best defense is a good offense. Regular overseeding of your lawn will encourage a dense root system which will not provide space for Crabgrass to grow. Crabgrass is very rare in thick, healthy lawns that are mowed to a height of 3 inches (7.6 cm) this helps to keep the soil cooler thus inhibiting germination of Crabgrass seeds.
If you have had Crabgrass in the past, in early spring give the area a hard raking to dethatch it and remove the debris. You can then apply corn meal gluten, which will act as an organic pre-emeregent herbicide. Please note that since corn meal gluten is a pre-emergent, you cannot overseed your lawn until the fall if you use corn meal gluten in spring. The best way to organically control Crabgrass is to ensure that you keep your lawn mowed in late summer when the Crabgrass is putting up its purple seed stalks. This will prevent it from making seed for the future.

Non-organic Solution: Often, by the time Crabgrass is noticeable it is too late to treat, however there are chemical crabgrass treatments. Contact your local garden centre or hardware store for options in your area.

Dandelions

Dandelions are the bane of many peoples lawns. Thriving in thin, sparse turf, dandelion seeds float through the air looking for the slightest opening in the lawn to propagate. Meanwhile, below ground, they develop a taproot up to 10″ long. This taproot is thick but brittle and easily fractures and any piece of the taproot that remains in the ground will re-grow.

Organic Solution:
Regular overseeding of your lawn will encourage a dense root system which will not provide space for Dandelions to grow. Leave grass clippings on the lawn as they act as mulch helping to prevent Dandelion seeds from germinating. That said, if you do have Dandelions there are very few organic options. If there are only a few of them, you can dig them out by hand, try to get as much of the root as possible. There is also a biological agent called “Sarritor” which is a fungus that selectively attacks dandelions and some other broad leafed weeds while not harming grass. Check with your local garden centre or hardware store to see if they stock it. Another alternative is to pour boiling water on Dandelions as boiling water kills any and all plants. If you use boiling water you will need to re-seed the affected areas.

Non-organic Solution: If you are using a broadleafed herbicide, use one where the active ingredient is 2-4-D. The ideal time to use herbicides on Dandelions is in early fall when the leaves are transferring nutrients down to the roots. Herbicide applied in early fall will be absorbed by the leaves and passed on down to the roots.

Quackgrass

Native to Europe, Quackgrass is easy to identify. It produces long, wide-leafed grass and the grass blades have a rough almost burr-like feel to them. The thick, white roots form deep, dense mats and these roots tend to break easily when pulled leaving pieces in the soil after the grass has been removed. Any pieces left in the ground will quickly re-grow into new plants.

Organic Solution:
Again, the best defense is a good offense. Regular overseeding of your lawn will encourage a dense root system which will not provide space for Quackgrass to grow. Unfortunately, there are no organic products that are effective at eradicating Quackgrass. If the area affected is small, digging it up is a good option but be sure to get all of the roots. Frequent mowing is also an effective way to control this as mowing prevents Quackgrass from making seeds for the future. Be sure to keep the mowers blades set to a height of 3 inches. Another option to prevent Quackgrass from germinating is to apply Corn Meal Gluten in early spring as this acts as a pre-emergent herbicide. Please note that since corn meal gluten is a pre-emergent, you cannot overseed your lawn until the fall if you use corn meal gluten in spring. A further alternative is to pour boiling water on Quackgrass as boiling water kills any and all plants. If you use boiling water you will need to re-seed the affected areas.

Non-organic Solution: Spot spay in early spring or early fall with a non-selective herbicide containing glysophate (Round Up). As this also kills turf, you will need re-seed the areas you have sprayed.

Nut Sedge

Also known as Nut Grass, this wide-bladed bright green sedge grows at warp speed. Each grass blade has a thick mid-vein and a waxy coating. It has a shallow root system that produce many nut-like tubers which are underground food storage for the plant. Each tuber has up to seven viable buds and each one can grow and produce new plants. Each new plant also produces rhizomes that create new plants.

Organic Solution:
The most thorough way to rid your lawn of nut grass is by removing the entire plant, roots and all by digging it out by hand. Or you can coat the grass in sugar as an organic alternative.

Removal by Hand
Insert a gardening trowel directly next to the nut grass. Dig down as far as you can go. Nutsedge root systems can extend as deep down as 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 cm) below the surface.

Gently pry the plant, roots and all, out of the ground. Doing this gently is vital to reduce the number of roots that break off, as well as the number of pieces those roots break into. Dig out any stray roots. If any roots remain, there is still some chance that the nutsedge can return.

Put the weeds into a garbage bag, along with the soil you dug out simultaneously. Dispose of the weeds in your trash. Do not throw them into a pile or into a compost heap, since you may end up spreading them into another area of your lawn by doing so.

Using Sugar

This method is most effective at the start of the growing season, when nutsedge is just barely beginning to germinate and sprout. Start by watering the lawn. You do not need to soak it, but the lawn should be evenly moist down to the soil.

Next sift sugar over you’re the lawn. Walk up and down the lawn in straight lines and at a steady pace. Pour the sugar through a sifter as you walk, continually turning the handle of the sifter. Make sure that the sugar falls on the grass in even amounts. This is no mere folk remedy. Sugar actually “eats” the nutsedge while also providing nourishing microbes that have a positive effect on your lawn.

Water the lawn once more, don’t saturate the grass, since that would wash the sugar away. Spray the lawn with a light mist, providing just enough water to re-moisten the blades of grass and coax the sugar down into the soil and the roots of the lawn.

Repeat this procedure at least twice more throughout the spring. The nutsedge may not die off completely after the first treatment but after a few applications of sugar all of it should be dead.

Non-organic Solution: Use herbicide before the nutsedge develops five true leaves. Leafy nutsedge has too many obstacles, preventing herbicides from sliding down to the “nuts” and the root. Herbicides work best early in the season, while nutsedge is still young and has minimal leaves.

Select an appropriate herbicide. Products that contain MSMA or products with a chemical called bentazon work best. Nutsedge is a common enough problem, so herbicides that work against the weed will be labeled as ” nutsedge or nut grass killers.”

Allow your lawn to grow for a few days prior to application. Herbicides works best when the nutsedge is growing vigorously and may not be as effective if applied immediately after cutting it down. Wait two or more days after your last lawn mowing before applying the chemical to the lawn.

Apply the herbicide during a dry period. Wait several days after your last watering and do not spray the herbicide if you may get rain four hours after application or if you expect heavy rains to follow in coming days. Water will wash the chemical away and it may not have the chance to do its job before that happens.

Read the instructions on the label of your herbicide bottle to determine how to apply it properly. You will usually spray diluted MSMA herbicide over your entire lawn. For instance, the instructions may tell you to mix 1.5 ounces (45 milliliters) of chemical into 5 gallons (20 liters) of water to treat 1000 square feet (92.9 square meters) of lawn.

Repeat the treatment several times during the growing season. Eco-Lawn may need four to eight applications before the nutsedge dies off completely.

Typically occurring in shady, damp acidic soils, moss spreads through spores.

Organic Solution:
The best way to effectively and permanently eradicate moss in the lawn is to physically remove the moss. Start by raking the area with a hard rake to loosen it. Then using the edge of a flat shovel, scrape away the moss and remove the debris. Next, top dress the area with compost and to seed it with Eco-Lawn seed. Eco-Lawn is far more shade tolerant than most turfs and will out-compete moss growth. If the affected area has heavy or compacted soil, it is a good idea to loosen the soil to a depth of at least 3 inches and re-grade to allow drainage before sowing Eco-Lawn. You can also make a spray consisting of 4 ounces of dish soap to one gallon of water and drench the moss with the solution. The moss will turn orange/brown in 24 hours and will dry up.

Non-organic Solution: There are a number of moss killing pesticides such as “Moss Out!” available. Contact your local garden centre or hardware store for options in your area.

Bindweed

Bindweed is a vining plant that snakes across the ground. It has arrow shaped leaves and white/pink flowers that look like morning glories. Bindweed can grow four feet or more in length and develops deep roots.

See also  Grassy Weed Seed Head Identification

Organic Solution:
Vigilance and persistence are required to control Bindweed, where you see it, cut it off at the soil level. Don’t try to pull it out as it will just re-sprout from its roots. By continually cutting it off at ground level as often as you can, will prevent the Bindweed from experiencing photosynthesis and thus it will eventually starve to death. Another alternative is to pour boiling water on Bindweed as boiling water kills all plants. If you use boiling water you will need to re-seed the affected areas.

Non-organic Solution: Spot spay in early spring or early fall with a non-selective herbicide containing glysophate (Round Up). As this also kills turf, you will need to re-seed the areas you have sprayed.

White Clover

White Clover also known as Dutch Clover is a cool-season perennial that is native to Europe and Asia. Low growing, it forms creeping stems (stolons) that produce roots and shoots along its stem. Being in the legume family, it fixes nitrogen into the soil which enables it to thrive in unfertilized areas.

Organic Solution:
There are very few organic controls for White Clover in the lawn. Corn Meal Gluten applied in early spring acts as a pre-emergent herbicide which will stop new White Clover seeds from germinating. Please note that since corn meal gluten is a pre-emergent, you cannot overseed your lawn until the fall if you use corn meal gluten in spring.
If you must get rid of established clover in the lawn hand pulling is the only really effective way. Time your hand pulling to be after the lawn has received a good, long rainfall or water the lawn very deeply before trying to hand pull them. A very moist soil will make the hand pulling a lot easier.

Non-organic Solution: Any commercial broadleafed weed killer will be effective on White Clover. Contact your local garden centre or hardware store for options in your area.

Cinquefoil

This perennial weed is often found in neglected lawns. It has a vigorous creeping habit as it spreads with creeping stems that take root at intervals along its way. The leaves of Cinquefoil resemble those of wild strawberry with each leaf having five heavily toothed leaflets. It produces yellow flowers with five heart shaped petals.

Organic Solution:
If there are not too many of them, hand weeding is effective. Raking the lawn prior to mowing will also help to weaken and discourage it.

Non-organic Solution: Chemical controls will require repeated applications to totally eradicate Cinquefoil. Contact your local garden centre or hardware store for options in your area.

Black Medic

Black Medic also called Yellow Trefoil is an annual species so it only lives one year but it makes a lot of seeds that can remain viable for several years. It’s seeds germinate in the spring and are capable of establishing in drought-prone or disturbed soils. Black medic is a legume, meaning that it has the capabilities to fix its own nitrogen; thus, allowing it to out compete turf in nutrient-poor soils as well. These factors, in combination with its ability to tolerate low mowing heights, make black medic a common weed in lawns.

Organic Solution:
Black medic is not shade tolerant, therefore the development of a thick, dense turfgrass canopy helps improve competition against it. Unfortunately repeated hand pulling is really the only good option, especially before it start to make seeds. You can also try using either a vinegar based or citric acid organic herbicide.

Non-organic Solution: A broadleafed weed killer that contains a combination of 2-4-D, dicamba and MCPP/MCPA will be effective. Contact your local garden centre or hardware store for options in your area.

Creeping Charlie

Creeping Charlie is a very aggressive lawn weed that is difficult to control when established in lawns. It has low growing, creeping stems that form new plants where they root at its nodes. The creeping, spreading, invasive nature of this weed, along with its preference for shady places makes it very competitive in lawns.

Organic Solution:
Repeated physical removal of Creeping Charlie by pulling or hard raking will, over time, prevent the Creeping Charlie from experiencing photosynthesis and thus it will exhaust its stored energy supply.
Research at Iowa State University found that borax can be used to selectively control Creeping Charlie in turf. To do so, dissolve 1 ounce of borax in 2-3 gallons of water and apply the solution uniformly over each 1,000 sq. ft. area. For small infestations dissolve 5 teaspoons of borax in one quart of water, this covers 25 sq. ft. Do not re-apply borax solutions more than once a year as borax contains boron, too much of which can be toxic to your lawn.

Non-organic Solution: A broadleafed weed killer that contains a combination of 2-4-D, dicamba and MCPP/MCPA will be effective. Contact your local garden centre or hardware store for options in your area.

Broadleaf Plantain

Broadleaf plantain is a perennial weed that tolerates a wide variety of growing conditions such as, dry soil, wet soil, heavy clay soil and low mowing heights. Left undisturbed, plantain can grow as much as 12 inches across and 2 feet tall.

Organic Solution:
If there are not too many of them, hand weeding is effective. Try to remove as much of the root system as possible. You may need to moisten the soil before trying to pull it out as it does make a deep tap root. Note: you may need to repeat this throughout the summer.

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Common Lawn Weeds and How to Get Rid of Them

Even the best-tended lawns come under attack from common weeds. Weed seeds float in on the wind, creeping weeds claim more territory, and weeds you thought you pulled quietly continue to grow. How well your lawn copes with the onslaught depends on the weeds involved, the response you choose and your lawn’s overall health. Understanding common lawn weeds and the options available to fight them can help you successfully combat the invasion.

To help simplify weed defense, we’ve charted 10 common lawn weeds, including their characteristics, type and how they spread, and most importantly- how to eliminate them. Weeds, like ornamental garden plants, can be annuals or perennials. Annual weeds, such as crabgrass, complete their entire life cycle in a single growing season, and then die, leaving seeds behind to continue the legacy. Perennial weeds, such as dandelions, come back year after year from their roots, and distribute new seeds to boot. Weeds can also be grass-like, broadleaf or sedge. Choosing the right weed control product requires understanding the weed you want to fight and its stage of growth. Pre-emergent weed controls, sometime called preventers, work to keep weed seeds from germinating and developing. Post-emergent weed controls fight weeds that have already germinated and emerged from the soil.

PLANTAIN

Characteristics:

  • Broad leaves with five prominent veins running from the base
  • Short, winged leaf stalk
  • Dense, erect flower spikes

Weed Type:

Broadleaf perennial with shallow, fibrous roots.

How it Spreads:

By small, angular seeds. The mature seeds in one spike will range in color from orange all the way to black. Spikes will include seeds in shades of brown between the two extremes.

Controls:

  • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4
  • Pennington UltraGreen Southern Weed and Feed 34-0-4
  • IMAGE Kills Nutsedge

DANDELION

Weed Name:

Characteristics:

  • Serrated, comb- and tooth-like leaves
  • Hollow, leafless stalk
  • Yellow, petal-like flowers mature to white puffballs

Weed Type:

Broadleaf perennial with a long, deep taproot.

How it Spreads:

By seeds that germinate year-round in accommodating climates.

Controls:

  • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4
  • Pennington UltraGreen Southern Weed and Feed 34-0-4
  • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer
  • IMAGE Kills Nutsedge

CRABGRASS

Weed Name:

Characteristics:

  • Flat, pointed, narrow leaves, rolled at the base with a prominent midvein
  • Short, flat, purplish-green stems
  • Fringy, spike-like flower heads

Weed Type:

Annual summer grass that germinates throughout the season, capable of producing 150,000 seeds per plant, per season.

How it Spreads:

By seeds and lower stem pieces that root.

Controls:

Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Fertilizer III 30-0-4

YELLOW NUTSEDGE

Weed Name:

Characteristics:

  • Grass-like leaves, v-shaped in cross-section
  • Erect, hairless, triangular stems
  • Golden-brown flower spikelets

Weed Type:

Perennial sedge that forms dense colonies.

How it Spreads:

By seeds and rhizomes, but primarily by underground tubers known as nutlets.

Controls:

  • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer
  • IMAGE Kills Nutsedge

THISTLE

Weed Name:

Characteristics:

  • Prickly, deeply-lobed leaves
  • Slender, hairless stems
  • White, purple or pink flowers

Weed Type:

Broadleaf with many annual and perennial species and seeds that remain viable for many years.

How it Spreads:

By seeds and root fragments.

Controls:

  • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4

QUICKGRASS

Weed Name:

Characteristics:

  • Upright, flat, rough-edged, blue-green leaves
  • Leaf blade grasps the stem at its base
  • Flattened spike of alternating flowers and seeds

Weed Type:

Perennial grass most active during cool spring and fall seasons.

How it Spreads:

By seeds and rhizomes, but primarily by underground tubers known as nutlets.

Controls:

  • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer
  • IMAGE Kills Nutsedge

OXALIS (ALSO KNOWN AS CREEPING WOODSORREL)

Weed Name:

Characteristics:

  • Heart-shaped leaflets, often purplish, occur three per leaf and fold down in heat
  • Hairy, upright stems
  • Bright yellow spring flowers

Weed Type:

Broadleaf perennial with a shallow taproot and fibrous, expansive root system.

How it Spreads:

By creeping stems, extensive roots, pointed seed capsules that expel seeds, and root and stem fragments.

Controls:

  • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4
  • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer
  • IMAGE for St. Augustinegrass & Centipedegrass

COMMON RAGWEED

Weed Name:

Characteristics:

  • Hairy, fernlike, deeply-lobed leaves
  • Coarse, hairy stems
  • Inconspicuous, green-yellow flowers

Weed Type:

Broadleaf annual (responsible for hay fever) with shallow, fibrous roots.

How it Spreads:

By seed, with a single plant producing up to 60,000 seeds or more per season.

Controls:

Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4

PURSLANE

Weed Name:

Characteristics:

  • Thick, purple-green, succulent leaves
  • Succulent, branching stems
  • Small, yellow flowers

Weed Type:

Broadleaf annual that develops thick, multi-branched mats.

How it Spreads:

By brown and black seed and stem fragments.

Controls:

  • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4
  • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer

GROUND IVY

Weed Name:

Characteristics:

  • Rounded, scalloped leaves
  • Four-sided, mint-family, squared stems
  • Small, funnel-shaped, purple flowers

Weed Type:

Broadleaf, mat-forming perennial with a distinctive odor when crushed.

How it Spreads:

By seed and above-ground runners, known as stolons, that root at the nodes.

Controls:

  • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4
  • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer

Weed-Control Options

When choosing weed-control products, take into consideration your target weeds, whether they’re still seeds or emerged plants, and the type of lawn grass you grow. Different types of weeds call for different controls, and some Southern lawn grasses, such as St. Augustinegrass and Centipedegrass, are sensitive to some weed-control products. Always check the label to make sure the product you choose is suitable for your lawn grass.

A top-notch weed-management program involves the following types of weed control products*:

  • Crabgrass Preventers: Crabgrass plants die after setting their seeds, but their seeds live on. Germination starts in spring, once soil temperatures reach approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit – the same temperature that sends forsythia shrubs into bloom. Proper weed management works to stop those seeds from germinating and rid your lawn of any that sneak through. Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Fertilizer III 30-0-4 inhibits germination and root development of crabgrass and stops many weed grasses and broadleaf weed seeds when applied in early spring, before weed seeds germinate. While controlling weeds for three to five months, this nitrogen-rich product continues to feed your lawn. Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Fertilizer III 30-0-4 prevents crabgrass germination, suppresses other weed grass and broadleaf weed seeds and controls weed grass for three to five months while feeding your lawn with slow-release nitrogen.
  • Weed & Feed Fertilizers: As the name implies, weed & feed products tackle common lawn weeds while feeding lawn grasses to better help them act against weed invasion. Pennington UltraGreen Weed & Feed 30-0-4 and Pennington UltraGreen Southern Weed & Feed 34-0-4, both safe on Centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass lawns, kill and suppress tough existing broadleaf weeds and control new weeds for up to three months in established lawns. Applied when weeds are actively growing in late spring and early summer, and again in early fall, these weed & feed products continue to feed your lawn grass and keep it beautiful and green.
  • Targeted Weed Control: When existing perennial weeds continue to be a problem, or when new weed seeds germinate and seedlings emerge, a targeted post-emergent herbicide is the answer. For best results, treat weeds while they’re small and actively growing throughout the season. IMAGE All-in-One Weed Killer herbicide offers a broad spectrum of selective weed control for difficult sedges, crabgrass and broadleaf weeds, killing weed roots, shoots and nutlets. These weed killers target weeds only and are suitable for most cool- and warm-season lawn grasses. IMAGE Kills Nutsedge and IMAGE Herbicide for St. Augustinegrass and Centipedegrass provide targeted, selective control of tenacious, emerged weeds.

Well maintained lawns naturally control weeds.

Keeping your lawn grass healthy and competitive provides the best defense against lawn weed invasions. Follow these four steps to a healthier, stronger lawn:

1. Always mow at the recommended mowing height for your type of lawn grass. This helps promote healthy root growth and increases resistance to pests and disease.

2. Mow based on grass growth, not your calendar. Time your mowing so you remove roughly one-third of the length of the grass blades in a single mowing.

3. Supplement natural rainfall by irrigating your lawn as needed. Proper watering provides an average lawn with the equivalent of about 1 inch of rainfall each week. This allows moisture to penetrate deeply and encourages healthy, deep root growth. Watering only once or twice per week is better than more frequent watering.

4. Keep your lawn well-fed with quality weed & feed or fertilizer-only products, such as the Pennington UltraGreen line of lawn fertilizers.

*Always consult the product label for your specific lawn grass type before using any type of weed control products.

Pennington is a trademark of Pennington Seed, Inc. Alaska, Lilly Miller, Moss Out!, Image and UltraGreen are registered trademarks of Central Garden & Pet Company.

List of Common Weeds That Look Like Grass

You’ve been working hard on cultivating the perfectly manicured lawn, taking all the necessary steps to plant seed or sod, fertilize, and mow appropriately. Despite your best efforts, there seem to be patches of your lawn that don’t match the rest. There are some common weeds that look like grass which tend to blend in with a lawn and thus can be more difficult to identify and target when compared to the average dandelion.

In this article I’ll help you identify these grass-like weeds and offer advice for how to combat and eliminate them from your lawn.

Common Weeds That Look Like Grass

Click to jump to a specific weed that resembles grass

Crabgrass

Also known as finger grasses, crabgrass can be an invasive type of weed that looks very much like grass.

It often sprouts in smaller patches throughout your lawn and has a distinctly coarse texture compared to the rest of your lawn. Thankfully, crabgrass is an annual plant so it only survives for the season and then dies.

That said, it spreads quickly, and because of its thick blades and lateral growth, it can quickly do permanent damage to your lawn by crowding out and smothering the grass surrounding it.

This is why it’s important to be vigilant and act right away if you see crabrass in your lawn.

The best way to get rid of crabgrass is by preventing its germination using a pre-emergent herbicide that can be commonly found in combination with fertilizer that you can spread in early spring.

Once crabgrass has germinated, the best way to get rid of it is by pulling it or using a direct herbicide for your lawn.

Thankfully, crabgrass is not perennial so it is relatively easy to get rid of it with some diligence, and once you improve your lawn the canopy will be too dense for crabgrass to grow.

Wild garlic and onion

While it looks very much like a tall grass, wild onion and wild garlic are very fragrant and thus these grass-like weeds are pretty unmistakable once you get close enough to smell them.

If you finish mowing and it smells like you’ve been making pasta sauce, there’s a good chance you have some wild onion and/or wild garlic hiding in your lawn.

Wild onion and wild garlic also become noticeable as they grow faster than regular grass and quickly surpass the height of your lawn.

They grow in clumps, so if you have them, the rate of growth and growth habit make them pretty easy to identify.

For those who love garlic and onion as an addition to many dishes, this may be more of a fortuitous find (transplant them!). However, even the biggest garlic fans probably don’t want a swath of it in the middle of their lawn.

Thankfully, these weeds that resemble grass tend to only grow in early spring and late fall, becoming dormant in the summer season.

To remove them from your yard, dig them up (I recommend transferring them to a pot or herb garden) – just make sure to get bulb and all, or they’ll come back.

Herbicides will also work to kill wild garlic and onion, just make sure to check the label of the product your purchase to ensure that wild garlic and onion are included in the list of weeds it treats.

Nutsedge

Before it matures and blooms, nutsedge can look much like a tall grass.

Unlike crabgrass, Nutsedge is a perennial weed that can be quite invasive and difficult to get under control due to its hardy root systems.

It can also be spread throughout your lawn (or from a neighbor’s lawn) both by airborne seeds as well as underground rhizomes or tubers. It will continue to come back year after year unless you get it under control.

Sort of like fight club, the first rule of Nutsedge is not to pull Nutsedge.

If you try to combat it by pulling it, you’re likely to leave behind tubers or rhizomes that will end up sprouting.

One of the most effective ways to prevent Nutsedge is to grow a thick and hardy lawn that will crowd out Nutsedge, and prevent this invasive grass-like weed from being able to properly root and grow those rhizomes and tubers that make it so invasive.

But if you have it, recommending that you hop in your time machine and take steps to prevent it doesn’t help you.

If you have Nutsedge in your lawn, there are specific herbicides that can be applied directly to the base of Nutsedge to kill the entire plant including the underground components, and while I always recommend an organic approach when I can, in this case this will be your best course of action.

Common couch

Another common weed that looks like grass is couch grass or common couch.

Sometimes referred to as quack grass, this is another invasive species that is hardy and can propagate quickly in your lawn via rhizomes as part of a complex and fibrous root system.

This makes it hard to pull in its entirety.

It also spreads via airborne seeds, thus being able to travel longer distances and quickly find a home in thin lawns.

Similar to many of the other grass-like weeds, prevention by crowding out seeds is the most effective way to prevent these species from invading, which is why proper and regular lawn maintenance and improvement are always my best defense against lawn weeds.

Green foxtail

This weed gets its name from the appearance of the mature heads that bloom on these grass-like stalks. The heads look like small fuzzy foxtails!

They can grow anywhere from 10cm to 100cm tall and are very common in prairies and meadows. Despite its cute name, it is an invasive species that can be quite problematic, especially for farmers, and a nuisance to lawn owners everywhere.

This hardy annual plant with hundreds of seeds per foxtail plume spreads easily, as these seeds can travel great distances with enough wind.

Despite how hardy these lawn weeds are once established, they are quite a picky species when it comes to germinating. They prefer moist soil and are easily crowded out by densely planted lawns or fields.

Green Foxtail also prefers warmer soil in the range of 15 to 35 degrees Celsius (59-95 degrees Fahrenheit), but this weed can germinate at any point in the season as long as conditions are favorable.

Like most lawn weeds, Green Foxtail can be controlled with some herbicidal solutions, but the best way to prevent this invasive species is by crowding it out with a thick, healthy lawn.

Smooth bromegrass

Another hardy perennial, Smooth Bromegrass, is highly adaptable and it is able to grow even in cold conditions and survive for quite a long time once established.

Like Nutsedge, Bromegrass can grow rhizomes underground through intricate root systems, which will help it to spread across your lawn quickly … especially if your lawn is thin.

These qualities make it an invasive species that can easily get out of control.

However, Bromegrass serves an important purposes as hay and grazing fields for livestock and it can also help to prevent soil erosion due to this strong root system.

Despite these qualities, most homeowners probably don’t want it in their lawn. To control and eliminate Smooth Bromegrass in your lawn, I recommend mowing it down low and attempting to crowd it out with a thick, healthy lawn canopy. In a worse-case scenario, you should opt for an application of herbicide designed to target this grass-like weed.

Slender rush

Also known as “poverty rush” or “path rush”, this grass-like perennial tends to grow in clumps, which is similar to crabgrass.

It is propagated by above-ground seeds as well as below-ground tubers that form with the help of the root system. The deeper root structure with rhizome propagation makes slender rush a particularly invasive species to get under control in lawns, because it can still be present even if you can’t necessarily see it yet.

Herbicides are not usually an effective way to control slender rush.

Manual weed management tends to be the most effective way of dealing with this invasive weed that looks like grass. This can involve pulling weeds by hand. Do so carefully, and be sure to get the root system as well.

The other options is a mowing routine that doesn’t allow for the plant to mature and spread seeds above ground.

Tall fescue

You’ve likely heard this species discussed in the context of a grass, however it is an invasive perennial that has characteristics of a weed, particularly if your lawn is primarily a different type of turfgrass.

Similar to some of the other species discussed above, tall fescue has the ability to propagate via rhizomes underneath the ground. It is highly drought resistant, and in areas where it has been planted it has often taken over, crowding out other species of grass.

If you wanted to get rid of tall fescue grass that has run wild in your yard, you’d probably have to solarize it. Solarizing involves covering up large areas of grass to deprive it of sunlight and also increase the heat underneath the tarp so that it kills everything underneath.

Herbicides could also be used, but it would take a large amount which could get costly and be harmful to the environment, so I recommend solarizing tall fescue.

Restoring Lawn and Order

It’s interesting to compare various grass-like weeds and perennials that are less desirable than the perfectly manicured lawn.

Eliminating Weeds That Look Like Grass

Careful selection of grass species is important in establishing a lawn.

It’s also possible to crowd out many of these invasive species by planting additional grass seed seasonally (overseeding) to create a thick and lush lawn.

Pre-emergent methods can also be an effective backup method of prevention, and using a pre-emergent every spring for several years as you overseed, fertilize, and use proper irrigation to improve your lawn can help to create that thick, dense lawn canopy that will prevent weeds from taking root in your grass.

Finally, spot treatment with the appropriate herbicide can nip any problematic weeds in the bud.

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by Sarah The Lawn Chick

I’ve learned to love caring for my lawn naturally and enjoying it daily. On this blog I’ll share some of my best tips and tutorials to help you make your lawn the best on the block!

16 thoughts on “ List of Common Weeds That Look Like Grass ”

Need help with naming an invasive looking weed that has leaves that look like a rocket, long thick body with small wings. It’s overtaking my raised beds. I have a photo.

I’ll see if I recognize it! Email me a photo (my first name @ lawnchick.com)

Hello Sarah,
I have a few new spring weed grasses popping up that I didn’t see last year. Are you ok with sending the pics to your email for your opinion?

Thank you
Brian

Sure, Brian – I may not get back to you until this weekend but I’ll take a look as soon as I can!

Hi Sarah!
I just discovered your website/posts while researching ‘weeds that look like grass’. I breed, raise and train springers which are flushing dogs. Recently, I came back from an excursion and one of my springers got a ‘grass thorn’ stuck in her paw. I always check for these things but somehow I missed this one. Nasty little thing but it was removed and after treatment, my dog was right-as-rain!
I was researching lawns / grasses etc. as I’m planning to re-do my yard, making it more ‘dog friendly’. I was shocked to learn that Tall Fescue grass is considered an invasive weed on your website. This was the grass that was ‘highly recommended’ for those who have dogs. As I’m not keen on putting anything in that resembles bamboo in it’s underground system (I’ve had a 30 yr battle with this horrific stuff), can you suggest anything else? Any information you may provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for the comment. Springers are great dogs!

There are a LOT of different types of fescue, and as with any grass … what some consider a weed, others consider the foundation of a beautiful lawn. If you like the characteristics of fescue, I’d recommend you consider Turf Type Tall Fescue. It’s an improved variety designed for lawns and something I think you’ll be really happy with if you’re determined to go with a single type of grass for your yard.

You can read more about all of your options for Fescue here, and I have a comparison of TTTF and Kentucky Bluegrass which you may find interesting here.

You also may be interested in my article about how to grow grass with dogs that love to destroy it, which has some good tips on maintaining your lawn with four-legged friends. You can check that one out here.

Finally, I’d suggest that it might be a good idea to get a blend of grass seed, with whatever you settle on as the primary seed. I’m in New England and my lawn is a mix of Perennial Ryegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, and a few different fescues. Getting a seed blend that’s made for your area will give you good results, and provide good coverage in different areas of your lawn (full sun, part shade, shade, wet, dry, etc.). I think that’s easier to maintain than having to baby a single type of grass on parts of your property where growing conditions might not be ideal. With a blend of seed you allow different grasses to become dominant where the conditions are best suited for them, and your whole lawn looks and feels healthier.

Hope this helps – good luck!

Hi Sarah! Thank you so very much for all your help! This is the most information I have ever received! I love the idea of mixing grass seed … this could be a very good solution. My lawn is not very big … I have four ESS and of course they have worn paths to their various ‘barking stations’ ! The lawn is basically sunny and has thrived well. But, over time, some of the grass has worn despite my best efforts at ‘re-seeding’. I was relieved to learn that there are many types of Tall Fescue Grass. I would really like to see some great photos of lawns using this variety: google just doesn’t cut it!
Again, thanks so much Sarah. I live in BC., Canada so our climate is quite different from yours. Fortunately, living in the southern part (coast), we experience quite a mild climate, lots of rain in the winter with very little snow and our summer highs almost never reach higher than 34C. I will take all your suggestions under advisement and begin my research pronto!

You bet, Sharleen! Good luck and have fun with your project!

I have an area of lawn that has really compact soil, where a portion of the section gets scorching sun and the remainder is covered in shade. This year, I’ve tried growing Bermuda grass, but that is only taking somewhat in the sunny area. It has been so bad for so long that I’m now researching “weeds that look like lawns” that I can plant in this area and just be done with it! We are in central Virginia and have hot/humid summers and still some winter.

The transition zone can be tough for grass for some of the reasons you’ve outlined here. I’d try the Combat Extreme Transition Zone seed blend from Outside Pride. I’d plant it in September to give it the best chance of success so it can establish itself as things start to cool down in your area and it can build roots and come back strong and healthy for next season. The Outside Pride website has a calculator specific to this seed that will tell you exactly how much you’ll need to order and spread (I’d go a bit heavy, but that’s me). Here’s a link to an article with some resources to measure the lawn area you plan to re-seed so you’ll know exactly how much you need. I’d give this one (or one like it) a try before you throw in the towel. You need a good blend that can take sun and shade, and a fescue blend should be best for you as it’ll have the deep roots needed to withstand your summer heat.

Do you know what species prefer weeds to monocultures? All pollinators! Please consider why you feel you need a vast monoculture of grass in the first place.

Totally agree with you – I have huge perennial beds filled with native, pollinator-friendly plants that are in flower from spring through late fall for exactly this reason. I’m of the mindset that you can create a beautiful lawn for your family to enjoy while also supporting pollinators.

I have quite a few resources on this site that address this subject, as well. Here are a couple you may enjoy:

Thanks for your comment!

I just happened upon your website, Sarah. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with those of us who want weeds diminished in our lawns. Is there a specific herbicide that we should consider in dealing with nutsedge? Thanks for your attention to this matter. Frank

I’d try the Ortho Nutsedge product. It’s probably something that’s available locally, but you can also get it online (Amazon link). I like it because it comes ready-to-use in a hose-end sprayer. For those of us who don’t really like mixing herbicides, that’s a benefit.

As with any herbicide, I recommend testing it out in a small area before you spray it all over your lawn just to be sure it’s effective and that it isn’t going to kill your turfgrass in addition to the Nutsedge and cause a big headache for you.

We’re trying to identify a grass-like plant in our lawn (we’re in New Hampshire). I think it looks like a flat circle of knives. Pretty, but not the nice soft grass you’d want to walk through barefoot.

We have a picture that we can send.

I’ll see if I recognize it! Email me a photo (my first name @ lawnchick.com)

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