Weeds are the greatest nightmare for homeowners as they invade your turf and compete with healthy grasses for water, air, and other nutrients.
As a result, the grass plants weaken, leaving them prone to insect infestation and diseases.
The only way to deal with weeds is to employ measures to remove them. Otherwise, they can spread quickly and take over your once green and healthy lawn.
Getting rid of weeds isn’t hard, but the task can become quite challenging. Unless you’re a botanist, it can be tough to tell the difference between some common weeds and grass.
This blog post will help you identify some of the most common weeds that look like grass.
Common Weeds That Look Like e Grass
Crabgrass, Quackgrass, Nutsedge, Annual Bluegrass, Green Foxtail, Alexandergrass, and Slender Rush are the most common weeds that look like grass. Others like Tall Fescue, Creeping Bentgrass, and Tropical Carpet grass can also be used to create beautiful lawns. However, we consider them weeds when they sprout in the wrong place.
There is so much more information about grassy weeds; I shall discuss it in depth in this article. But before that, let’s define weeds and grass.
What Is Weed?
Weed is a word we use to describe any plant growing where it is not supposed to grow. It doesn’t matter whether the plant is useful or not.
If it sprouts in the wrong place, it is a weed. For instance, if you’ve planted a tomato garden and noticed a bean plant growing, you will consider the bean plant a weed.
Similarly, if you plant a carpet grass lawn and then notice a dandelion sprouting, the dandelion is a weed.
Weeds are often known for their more undesirable qualities than good ones. This way of looking at them is justified because their cons far outweigh their pros.
For example, weeds are very competitive. Since they are also plants, they require water, light, nutrients, and space to flourish.
So, if they grow on your lawn or garden, they will compete for all these requirements with your favorite crops.
As a result, you will notice your plants dying out while the weeds flourish. Furthermore, weeds tend to grow faster than most crops.
So if left to mature, they will overshadow the crops and kill them in no time.
Types of Weeds
There are three types of weeds, generally classified by their growth patterns. These are Annual, Biennial, and Perennial weeds.
Annual weed types
This type of weed has an average lifespan of one year, regardless of their favorite time to germinate.
For instance, annual bluegrass is a winter annual – it germinates in late summer, goes dormant during winter, then resumes active growth during spring.
On the other hand, weeds like crabgrass are referred to as summer annual. They germinate during spring, grow throughout summer, and die off when winter arrives.
Biennial weed types
These weeds take up to two years to complete their life cycle. They germinate and form rosettes in the first year and then produce flowers and seeds in the second year.
An excellent example of a biennial weed is garlic mustard.
Perrenial weed types
This type of weed can stay alive for two or even more seasons. Over time, they develop a dense network of underground rhizomes and roots in all directions.
As a result, they sprout up from everywhere and eventually crowd out your crops. Their advanced root system also makes them the most difficult to control.
What Is Grass?
Grass is the popular name for the family of plants called Gramineae. It is the largest plant family on earth, containing more than 9000 known species.
This plant is essential to both human and animal lives. For instance, It is a significant source of food worldwide.
Foods like corn, rice, oats, and wheat come from grass plants, and we use grass as the primary food for most livestock.
Food aside, people use stable grass plants such as bamboo for construction in some parts of the world. Grass reproduces in two major ways; through seeds or stolons and rhizomes.
- Seeds: Some grasses produce flowers, which eventually produce seeds. A seed collection from one grass plant can contain hundreds of seeds. These seeds are light and can easily be dispersed by wind. Once they land on soil with favorable conditions, they germinate into new healthy plants.
- Stolons and Rhizomes: On the other hand, some grasses have additional stems that grow sideways. Those that grow along the ground are called stolons, and the ones that grow below ground are called rhizomes.
These additional stems serve to establish new grass culms. Additionally, they nurture the new plant until it is strong enough to survive on its own.
Common Weeds That Look Like Grass
Crabgrass, aka finger grass, is the most invasive grassy weed. You can quickly identify it by its tufted growth pattern, meaning it grows in small, dense clumps.
It also has broad leaves and hairy stems that give it a coarser texture than most types of grass.
This grassy weed sprouts in one part of the lawn and then spreads to other sections, causing permanent damage.
It usually starts growing in weak or thin turf areas or on the edges of the lawn next to driveways and sidewalks.
As it spreads, crabgrass overcrowds the lawn and smothers the turf, causing it to lose its luster.
Crabgrass is a summer-annual plant. It starts to germinate in the spring when the temperature is warm enough to promote the germination of its seeds.
It will keep producing seeds and sprouting from mid-summer to fall, then die when the first freeze of autumn arrives.
Even though crabgrass will die at the end of the season, it is not enough reason for you to leave your lawn unattended.
By the time the season ends, your lawn will have already incurred irreversible damage.
How to Control Crabgrass
It is easy to manage crabgrass if you eliminate it before its seeds are set. These seeds can remain viable in the soil for up to three years.
As a result, you’ll spend a lot of time controlling weeds instead of enjoying your lawn. The best way to stop crabgrass from producing seeds is by preventing it from flowering.
You can easily do this by mowing your lawn regularly to nip the weed’s buds before they mature.
I recommend you always mow your lawn to a height of 2-4 inches and maintain it throughout the seasons.
Another way to control the growth of crabgrass is by selecting lawn grass that is well adapted to your location.
If the grass is well adapted, it will grow into a healthy, thick lawn that will crowd out and kill new crabgrass seedlings.
If you have an unhealthy lawn, the weeds will overgrow because they have no viable competition for space and nutrients.
If the weed has already germinated, you can use a weed-removing tool to pull it out from the roots.
However, pulling out crabgrass requires hard work, especially if it has already spread to all parts of your lawn.
In such cases, I recommend using a direct contact herbicide to kill the weeds instead. All the above methods aim to control the crabgrass after it has sprouted.
However, if you want to prevent it from germinating, your best bet is to use a pre-emergence herbicide.
This product will kill all the weed seedlings even before they break ground. As a result, your lawn will remain healthy throughout the seasons.
Common Couch (Quackgrass)
Common Couch, aka Quackgrass, is a grassy weed that forms a dense, mat-like layer over lawn turf.
It has flat hairless leaves and flower stems that look like an umbrella or a windmill. This weed is dark green and thrives better in the open sun than in shaded areas.
The quackgrass has rhizomes that grow underground. Additionally, it produces light seeds that the wind can carry easily; hence it can sprout up from anywhere on the lawn.
Together, the rhizomes and seeds allow this weed to spread quickly, making it even harder to control.
How to Control Common Couch
The best way to remove the common couch weed is to pull it up from the roots and expose the rhizomes.
Once the rhizomes are in contact with the surface, they will die within a few days, and the weed won’t re-grow.
The downside of pulling out the weed is that it is easy to miss some rhizomes if you are not careful.
You can also control the growth of the common couch by maintaining a thick healthy lawn.
Like crabgrass, a healthy lawn will choke out common couch seedlings and prevent them from maturing and producing seeds.
For this reason, ensure that you practice proper maintenance for your lawn.
Nutsedge is a perennial weed that resembles grass but is thicker and stiffer. Its leaves are arranged in three instead of the usual sets of two you see in grass leaves.’
There are two types of nutsedge, and you can quickly tell them apart by color. The yellow nutsedge produces light brown flowers and seeds.
On the other hand, the purple nutsedge produces flowers that have a reddish tinge and black seeds.
Nutsedge spreads by seed and small tubers. New tubers will form around four weeks after a new shoot emerges.
And, if you allow the shoots to mature, they will produce seeds, which will make the infestation all the more severe.
How to Control Nutsedge
Removing nutsedge after it has already matured is very difficult. Therefore, the best way to control it is to prevent it from taking root in the first place.
You must remove the young shoots before they start developing tubers. If you can control the development of the tubers, you will eventually gain control of the weed itself.
You can also use a herbicide treatment to kill the weeds. However, the herbicides may kill the leaves but won’t have much effect on the tubers.
That said, I recommend preventing the weed growth instead of trying to control it after it grows.
The annual bluegrass is popularly known as “Poa.” It is an invasive grassy weed that thrives in cool and moist environments.
Therefore, you will mostly see it in shaded lawns with a lot of moisture. The leaf blades of the annual bluegrass are hairless and often appear yellowish-green or dark green.
They are also crimped in the midsection. This weed spreads very quickly because it is a prolific seeder. Each small plant can produce as many as 100 seeds in as little as eight weeks.
With that much seed, it is easy to accidentally spread the seeds when you mow the lawn, through foot traffic, or by small animals.
How to Control Annual Bluegrass
Since the annual bluegrass only thrives in cool and moist conditions, you can quickly kill it by allowing your lawn to dry up a little.
As soon as the weed starts to die, you can dig it out and plant good grass in the bare area. You can also control its growth by maintaining a thick healthy lawn from the start.
Ensure that you mow the lawn regularly to prevent weeds from maturing and forming flowers. Also, avoid over-watering the lawn because the moisture will only make the weed grow faster.
If the above methods don’t work, I recommend using a herbicide that you apply directly to the weed to kill its shoots.
Alexandergrass, aka the creeping signalgrass, is a perennial weed that spreads by seed. It also thrives best during the warmer months.
The leaves of this weed are smooth, flat, and wide. Its seedhead branches spread like “signal flags” with seeds underneath.
For this reason, it is pretty easy to differentiate the alexandergrass from your lawn grass. The seeds of the alexandargrass can spread far, and they germinate quickly.
As a result, this weed can choke out your lawn grass if you do not remove it as soon as possible.
How to Control Alexandergrass
There are no herbicides that can successfully eliminate the alexandergrass at the moment. Therefore, the only solution is to burn off its shoots with baking soda before digging them up.
After digging them up, you can replant that section of the lawn. Remember, alexandergrass can pass for your lawn grass for a very long time until it causes irreversible damage.
For this reason, it’s best to take note of its few unique features and identify them before the damage is done.
The slender rush, aka path rush, is a native perennial plant that can survive for a long time. It resembles sedges because it has three leaves near the top of the stem.
However, unlike sedges, the slender rush has round stems instead of triangular-shaped stems. Furthermore, its leaves are thin, hollow, and dark green.
This weed spreads by both tubers in the ground and seeds on the surface; hence it can be pretty challenging to control.
The normal use of herbicides or uprooting may still leave seeds and tubers behind from which fresh buds will grow.
How to Control Slender Rush
The best way to control slender rush is to use a combination of manual methods and herbicides.
You can manually uproot the fully grown plants ensuring that you do not leave the rhizomes in the soil.
Use herbicides to kill smaller shoots that haven’t developed tubers and prevent them from maturing to produce seeds.
Tropical Carpet Grass
As its name suggests, the tropical carpet grass thrives best in subtropical and tropical climates. You can quickly identify this weed with its vivid green color and purple and red tones at its base.
Its leaves are shiny and waxy and form a low-growing “mat.” Some people use this grass as lawn grass, but it is considered a weed when it grows out of place.
How to control Tropical Carpet Grass
This weed is sensitive to broad-leaf herbicides; thus, you can quickly kill it with proper herbicide treatment.
You can also dry your lawn a little to kill it because it cannot tolerate dry conditions.
The smooth bromegrass is a perennial grassy weed that is quite difficult to kill. It is pretty leafy and can grow up to 91 centimeters tall.
This weed is highly adaptable even to cold environments; therefore, it can thrive all year. Furthermore, it spreads through numerous rhizomes in the soil and has a robust root system.
For this reason, the smooth bromegrass can quickly take over a lawn if not controlled early or adequately.
How to Control Smooth Bromegrass
The best way to control the growth of the smooth bromegrass is to crowd it out by growing a thick lawn.
You can grow a thick lawn by mowing the grass frequently to cut off the bromegrass shoots before they mature and start forming rhizomes.
If you catch them after they mature, uprooting is the best way. Ensure you don’t leave the rhizomes in the soil, as they will regrow fresh shoots.
You can also use a herbicide treatment to kill the weed. However, I recommend only using herbicides on the smaller plants yet to develop tubers.
The reason is that most herbicides can kill the leaves but won’t significantly impact the rhizomes in the soil.
Tall fescue is a tough grassy weed that grows in thick clumps. It has numerous dark green basal leaves that can grow up to 15mm wide and 50 cm long if left uncontrolled.
Due to its leaf structure and succulent stems, the tall fescue can quickly crowd out and kill grass as soon as it invades your lawn.
This weed spreads primarily by rhizomes in the soil, which makes it a tough weed to kill. It is resistant to drought and other conditions that destroy regular lawn grass.
How to Control Tall Fescue
The most effective way to kill the tall fescue is by solarizing it. Solarizing involves covering the affected sections of your lawn with an impermeable material like nylon paper for long periods.
Covering the plants will deprive them of air, water, and sunlight. It will also make the temperature unbearable, eventually causing them to die off.
You can also use a herbicide treatment to kill the plant. However, I do not recommend using herbicides because you will need a large amount to kill the weeds effectively.
Even though you may end up killing the weeds, the large amount of chemicals may also kill your lawn grass.
The creeping bentgrass is an aggressive weed that grows quickly and densely. It can easily overtake a lawn and become a yard nuisance if left uncontrolled.
Furthermore, it is a cool-season plant; therefore, it grows quickest during the spring months. This weed has a lighter and brighter shade of green than darker grasses, like carpet grass.
It has long, thin leaves you can quickly identify whenever you want to weed your lawn.
It is the same type of grass regularly used on golf course greens, tees, and fairways. However, it is considered a weed if it grows in an unwanted area.
How to Control Creeping Bentgrass
You can use a herbicide treatment to kill the creeping bentgrass. However, it is essential to remember that the herbicide could kill the grass you want to keep.
Therefore, check if the grass on your lawn is herbicide-tolerant before using this elimination method.
You can also pull it up by hand from the roots, ensuring you take out the whole root to prevent its regrowing.
If your lawn is heavily infested, you may need to consider tilling and re-sodding your lawn.
The green foxtail gets its name from its head stalks which look like foxtails that are pointed upwards.
It is common in prairies and meadows and can grow to a height between 10-100 centimeters.
This weed spreads by seeds contained in the foxtails. Each foxtail can generate hundreds of seeds, and each plant can have as many as ten foxtails.
Moreover, the seeds are so light that the wind can easily carry them over long distances. As a result, this weed can spread fast if you allow a single plant to mature.
How to Control Green Foxtail
You can easily control this weed by crowding it out with a thick lawn. You can also use direct herbicides to kill it, thus preventing damage to the surrounding lawn grass.
Wild Garlic and Onion
As the name suggests, this weed looks like garlic and onion plants. It even has the same smell, and you can use it for cooking in place of garlic and onions.
The one advantage of this weed is that it looks like tall grass and grows faster than lawn grass. Therefore, you can easily differentiate it from grass when weeding your lawn.
How to Control Wild Garlic and Onion
The best way to eliminate this grass weed is to uproot it. Unlike most grass weeds, removing the whole root of wild onion and garlic is much easier, ensuring that it does not re-grow.
After uprooting, you can throw away or replant this weed in pots for kitchen use as you prefer.
You can also use herbicides to kill wild garlic and onion. However, you must ensure that your chosen product can kill it because most herbicides cannot.
How Can You Tell the Difference Between Weeds and Grass?
It can be challenging to differentiate between weeds and grass, especially if they look like grass. However, one thing you can consider as a start is observing the direction of leaf growth.
The leaf blades of regular lawn grass often sprout and grow upright. On the other hand, the leaf blades of weeds sprout out in different directions.
Even though leaf growth direction helps, it is not enough to tell whether you’re looking at grass or weeds.
You need to observe other things in and around your lawn or garden. Here’s what you may see;
- Weeds always look out of place because they sprout in different sections of the lawn.
Furthermore, they never have the same physical structure or color as the grass on your lawn. These differences make them look out of place and can help you identify them during removal.
- Weeds often look healthy, while the grass surrounding them will look slightly weathered.
Weeds take up soil nutrients, air, and moisture faster than grass. As a result, they choke the life out of the grass, leaving them looking unhealthy.
How to Kill Weeds that Look Like Grass
There are several ways to eliminate weeds that look like grass. You can select them based on whether you prefer natural or artificial methods.
Natural methods of killing weeds involve doing it by hand or using regular unprocessed household products.
On the other hand, artificial methods mainly involve using different herbicides. In this section, I’ll discuss all the natural and artificial methods of killing weeds.
It will help you select the best one for your particular needs.
The natural methods are:
Pulling and Digging
Pulling or digging out weeds is always the first method that most people try out. It works best if the weeds are still young and have only infested a small area.
The best time to pull or dig out weeds is after deep-watering your lawn or soon after it rains. When you pull, the ground will be soft enough to release the plant’s roots.
If you try pulling matured weeds, you risk leaving their roots underground and intact. After a while, the root fragments will resprout, and the weeds will grow again.
Mulching is one of the best ways to control weeds by preventing their seeds from germinating. You can use a lawn mower to mulch by re-cutting within the deck to create much smaller grass cuttings which are then deposited into the lawn.
It involves laying down natural materials such as grass clippings, shredded leaves, weed-free straw, coco hulls, etc., over the soil.
This layer of natural materials will keep any new weed seeds from coming into contact with the soil in the first place.
It will also keep sunlight from reaching seeds already in the ground, preventing them from sprouting.
The disadvantage of mulching is that it only works on weeds yet to germinate. It is less effective on matured weeds, especially those that have spread their rhizomes underground.
Household vinegar is always effective for killing weeds, as long as you apply it directly to the plant.
It works best on weeds that have just sprouted but have not yet infested a large area of your lawn or garden.
I recommend applying vinegar directly to the plant because it cannot differentiate between weeds and regular grass.
So applying it to individual plants will help you kill the weeds without contaminating the rest of the plants.
It is best to apply vinegar when you are sure it won’t rain for at least 24 hours. This way, you will be sure that the rain won’t wash it off before it works.
The artificial methods include:
The most effective and sure way of controlling weeds is by treating the infested areas with a herbicide. You can either select a pre-emergent herbicide or a post-emergent herbicide.
- Pre-emergent herbicides kill weeds by forming a layer in the soil that a growing seed has to penetrate. This barrier interrupts the germination process, thus preventing the weed seeds from sprouting.
- On the other hand, post-emergent herbicides work to control weeds that are actively growing. When you apply them, they travel down the plant stalk and into the root system to kill the weed.
If your project requires a post-emergent herbicide, there are two more categories that you must know to select the best one.
These are selective and non-selective herbicides.
- Selective herbicides will target either broad-leaf weeds or grass weeds without harming your lawn. It is the best choice if you know the type of weed that has infested your lawn and you want to remove it safely.
- On the other hand, non-selective herbicides will kill any vegetation that comes into contact with them. They are the best choice if the weeds have crowded out your lawn and you want to kill them and start afresh.
Here’s a Video On Killing Weeds that Look Like Grass:
Do Weeds Have Advantages?
We often perceive weeds as useless and a nuisance because they grow where we do not want them. However, they have so many advantages that we overlook.
It is important to know these advantages to figure out when weeds are a nuisance and when they can work for you.
Here are the advantages:
- Weeds add nutrients and organic matter to the soil
When you bury their leaves in the ground, they decompose and enrich the soil, allowing your grass or whatever you plant in that soil to flourish.
- Weeds help prevent wind, water, and soil erosion
Their roots hold the soil particles together to prevent the mentioned elements from washing away. This advantage is beneficial, especially on lands on a slope.
- Some weeds like redroot pigweed, Kochia, and lambs quarters are excellent fodder for livestock.
They contain good protein and amino acids that keep livestock healthy without supplements.
- Some weeds are excellent leafy vegetables
Plants like chickweed and amaranth tend to grow in unwanted places. However, you can transplant them or allow them to mature to get their leaves.
- Weeds can also help you find out what nutrients your soil lacks
For instance, crabgrass grows in soil with depleted nutrients and is especially low in calcium. When you notice them, you can take the necessary measures to restore the soil.
Hardest Weeds to Kill
Perennial weeds are the hardest to eliminate because they have a root system that can survive the dry season.
Their roots stay alive for two or more seasons before the dry season hits again. If you do not control perennials in their early stages of germination, they can completely crowd out your crops and kill them.
Controlling perennials in their early stages means killing them before they form rhizomes or stolons.
Once they mature, they send out a dense network of these underground stems in all directions.
New weed plants sprout from these stems, causing the infestation to become somewhat permanent.
If the perennials on your soil have already formed the rhizomes, you must dig them out. This means eliminating the underground root network to prevent them from regrowing.
Before you weed a lawn, you must be able to differentiate the weeds from the grass to avoid pulling out your precious plants.
The distinction is always easy to make, especially If the weeds are broad-leafed. However, the task becomes more challenging when dealing with grassy weeds on a grass lawn.
To help you keep your lawn in the best shape possible, I put together this list of all the…
Common Weeds That Look Like Grass
These weeds are Crabgrass, Quackgrass, Nutsedge, annual Bluegrass, Alexandergrass, Slender Rush, Tropical Carpet Grass, Smooth Bromegrass, Tall Fescue, Creeping Bentgrass, Green Foxtail, and Wild Garlic and Onion.
You can control these weeds using natural methods like pulling and digging, mulching, or pouring vinegar. You can also use herbicides if you want to kill them faster.
I hope you now understand everything regarding common weeds that look like grass. If you have any questions for me, please feel free to reach out in the comments below.