Despite the best efforts and practices, weeds will manage to grow and sprout in even the best-kept lawn. Quite often grassy weeds can mimic the appearance and feel of grass and camouflage themselves in the healthy turf. These weeds need to be taken out quickly before they choke out the grass you have been trying to maintain.
It is important to be able to identify these weeds in order to properly maintain a lawn.
Different types of weeds require different application solutions and knowing the difference between the weed types is an important step to solving lawn problems. The types of weeds that have sprouted up in your yard can also be signs of underlying soil and turf issues.
Below is a list of the most common types of weeds that look like grass.
- Annual Bluegrass
- Common Couch
- Carpet Grass
- Blue Fescue
Annual Bluegrass is one of the most common weeds that mimics the appearance of grass. Known simply as Poa due to its genus name Poa annua, it’s related to other Poa grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass. Annual Bluegrass can be distinguished by its brighter and more vivid coloring. Like all Poa grasses, this weed grass has canoe-shaped leaf tips.
This is a cool-season weed that prefers moist environments and will brown as the temperature rises throughout the summer months. In residential lawns, this weed tends to grow in wet and shady areas. Dry and hot weather causes this weed to die off leaving bare patches behind.
Crabgrasses are familiar to many people, but can quickly overtake a lawn without much notice. Two of the common varieties of this grass are smooth crabgrass and large crabgrass. Other names for crabgrass include crowfoot grass, finger grass, and summer grass. These annual weeds grow throughout the summer months and like to grow in patches. They are prolific growers and are tolerant of heat and drought. This makes the control of this weed difficult and usually on-going.
Smooth crabgrass is more commonly found in lawns as large crabgrass doesn’t tolerate low mowing but smooth crabgrass will. Smooth crabgrass is a low-growing plant with smooth, dark green leaves that are approximately 5 inches in length. If it is left unmowed it can grow up to 6 inches in height. The first frost of the winter or fall season will kill off this weed. Large Crabgrass is also a low growing summer annual but can grow up to 2 feet in height and is less commonly found in lawns. Either way, you should kill crabgrass using a strong product.
Nutsedge typically will sprout up in the summertime. Also known as Nutgrass, the shoots are generally 1-4 times the height of fescue or Bermuda lawns. This is easy to see in well-cut yards and will typically grow tall in-between cuts.
Nutsedge is also easy to pull out of the ground but you need to be careful that you pull it out near the base of the soil and to make sure that you pull out the entire root. If you don’t, you would be ending up splitting the root which will lead to more offshoots of the weed. Nutsedge is a perennial sedge and can grow each season unless you have it under control. Using a product like SedgeHammer will keep it at bay.
Common Couch is a weedy grass that forms a dense mat-like layer over lawn turf. This weed is prolific as stems grow underground and can sprout up throughout the lawn. Hardy rhizomes allow this plant to spread at a rapid pace. It has flat hairless leaves and flower stems that may resemble a windmill or umbrella. It has a dark green color and thrives in full sun. It grows poorly in shaded areas.
While this is sometimes described as a turf grass, many people see this as an invasive and pesky weed. It is possible to remove Common Couch by hand pulling, but through this method, it is important to remove all of the roots, and unfortunately it easy to miss rhizomes. Rhizomes brought to the surface will dry out and die within a few days. A heavy infestation of this grass will require herbicide treatment.
Tropical Carpet Grass (Axonopus sp.)
This grass, also known as Axonopus Compressus, is a hardy and dense grass that has blunt round leaves and grows best in subtropical and tropical climates. This a creeping grass and is frequently grown from its runners. It forms a low growing mat and the leaves are shiny and waxy in appearance. It can be distinguished by its crinkly leaves. It has a vivid green coloring, with some purple and red coloring at its base. While it can be used as grass for yards, parks, and other areas it also is frequently identified as a weed.
This grass is not drought tolerant and could die out due to lack of moisture. It also is sensitive to broadleaf herbicides, and so can be easy to terminate through herbicide treatments.
This ornamental plant has striking blue-green foliage and is often grown as a ground covering or as accent plants. It grows in mounds up to 12 inches in height. Blue fescue is also an evergreen and a cool-season plant. The foliage grows in needle-like spikes and has bright green flowers.
While it shares a name with other fescues, such as tall fescue. This plant is different from the fescue grasses that are typically found in turf lawns. If this grass has taken over a portion of your yard unexpectedly management options include hand pulling or the application of a glyphosate herbicide.
Goosegrass (Eleusine indica)
Goosegrass, which is also known as Wiregrass or Silver Crabgrass, is very tolerant of multiple harsh conditions. It can sometimes be confused with crabgrass, though it is not related to this weed. It has a light green appearance and grows in clumps with low stems that appear to be flattened. It can grow as wide as 2 ½ feet. You may be able to identify this weed by its white center and wagon wheel-like growth pattern. It is an annual summer weed that will germinate after the soil reaches temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Control of this weed can start with the use of pre-emergents in late winter/early spring, however, as this a summer weed it can pop up long after pre-emergents have broken down in soils. If there are only a few weeds sprouting in the yard the best course of action is to just hand pull this weed instead of resorting to chemical control. Effective chemicals for this weed include oxadiazon and dimethenamid.
Creeping Bentgrass is an aggressive plant that can quickly overtake a lawn. It grows quickly and densely, and can easily become a troublesome yard nuisance. As a cool-season plant, this grass will grow the quickest in the spring. Creeping Bentgrass is a lighter and brighter shade of green than darker grasses, such as Kentucky Bluegrass. It has long and thin leaves that are easy to identify once you know what to look for. This grass is sometimes used as a specialty grass for putting greens, lawn tennis, etc.
Herbicides with glyphosate will kill creeping bentgrass, but it is important to remember that this product is likely going to kill the grass that you want to keep as well. It is important to check the grass you currently use for your lawn for herbicide tolerance. If you choose to pull this weed by hand be sure to get the entire root so it will not continue to spread. If you have a heavy infestation, you may need to consider your options for tilling and re-sodding.
Use our guide below to find the products you will need to kill weeds along with step-by-step directions on how to best use.
How to kill weeds that look like grass
Prepare Your Sprayer or Spreader
Regardless if you are using a liquid or granule product, you need to have the right setting on your sprayer or spreader for the product you are using. The bag or bottle of the killer will have the recommending settings for what you are using. Read the instructions.
Add The Weed Killer
Add the recommended amount of granule or spray to your applicator of choice. Again, the right amount will be listed in the instructions.
Spray or Spread On the Weeds
Since you followed the recommended instructions above you should be good to go with applying the product. For either spray or spread, gently walking over the area should give good coverage. If you spray make sure the weed gets good coverage. Don’t water in for a good 1-2 hours. For granules, you can water in right away.
Estimated Cost: 69 USD
- Hand spreader or sprayer
- Weedkiller liquid or granules
- University of California – Creeping Bentgrass
- Purdue University – Goosegrass
- CABI Axonopus Compressus
- Clemson Bluegrass Control
Hi, Alex Kuritz. here. Growing up I remember that my family had one of the best lawns in the neighborhood. Richly green and lush. I did a lot as I grew up in terms of caring and tending for not only my family’s lawn but also my neighbors. I can say I have years of experience, and I am here to share it with you.
Please leave your comments below as I try to respond to everyone that has questions.