Grassy weeds can be some of the most difficult weeds to remove from a lawn. They are often hard to distinguish from the desirable grasses, and they can quickly take over an area if not treated properly. In this article, we will cover what grassy weeds are, what causes them to appear, and how to control them. Read on to attain a healthier, weed-free lawn!
What Are Grassy Weeds?
To understand what a grassy weed is, you must first understand the difference between harmful weeds and the desirable turfgrass in your lawn. Unlike broadleaf weeds, which often have thick leaves and bright flowers, grassy weeds are much more difficult to identify. This is due to the fact the grassy weeds are basically just regular grass, but not the grass you have chosen for your lawn!
Unwanted weeds mingling with the desired grass in your lawn means less nutrients and water for that grass. For example, if your lawn is composed entirely of Kentucky bluegrass, it will grow more evenly in all areas because the root system and nutritional needs are basically the same across your lawn. When grassy weeds arrive with more shallow and complex roots, they often camouflage themselves as regular grass, but they will steal nutrition away from your lawn before you even know they are there!
- Check out this guide for more information on the differences between grassy weeds and broadleaf weeds.
How To Identify Grassy Weeds
Grassy weeds can be identified by their shape, color, and growth rate. Generally, they will have a more upright form than the desired turfgrass you are growing. They also may have a different color like yellow or silver compared to the regular green hue of your lawn grass. Grassy weeds also tend to grow faster than the desired turfgrass in your lawn. This means that if you notice patches that look like they are growing quickly, it could be a sign of an infestation of grassy weeds!
Below are just a few ways you can quickly identify common grassy weeds:
- Quicker growth than the surrounding grass
- Upright, grass-like shape
- Different shade of green or yellow color
- Thinner blades than the surrounding grass
- Underground rhizomes in root system
Common Causes Of Grassy Weeds
Grassy weeds can be caused by a variety of factors. One of the most common causes is too much nitrogen in your soil. Too much nitrogen encourages vigorous growth, which often means more weeds and less desirable turfgrass. Other possible causes of grassy weed infestations include over-fertilizing, poor soil pH levels, inadequate watering/irrigation, or even excessive mowing.
Other than excess levels of nitrogen, compacted soils are perhaps the most attractive quality to grassy weeds. Shallow roots that spread via rhizomes and stolons stay close to the soil surface, which means they have first access to water and nutrients as they permeate the compacted soil. Healthier turfgrass will have deeper roots that struggle to receive the nourishment they need in compacted conditions.
Preventing Grassy Weeds
The best way to prevent grassy weeds from appearing in your lawn is proper maintenance. Without question, prevention is the way to go rather than removal when it comes to grassy weeds. Once grassy weeds take hold in your yard, your lawn and plants will start to suffer. To make matters worse, because of the similar appearances of turfgrass and grassy weeds, you may not even know your lawn has been invaded until it’s too late!
As previously mentioned, grassy weeds spread outward by way of their underground rhizomes, but they also can spread via seed. There are certainly steps you can take to prevent seeds from landing and germinating in your lawn, and there are even a few lawn care tasks you can perform to prevent any weeds from emerging in the first place. Consider the following tips below on how to prevent grassy weeds in your lawn:
- Aerate Compacted Soil – Grassy weeds thrive in compacted soils because their roots are more shallow than the roots of turfgrass. Core aeration decompresses compacted soils, which allows your lawn to thrive and crowd out harmful weeds.
- Fertilize Properly – Too much nitrogen in your lawn is a common cause of grassy weeds, which is why fertilizing properly is so important. Consult with a lawn care professional, and always make sure to read labels in order to make sure you are not using too much or the wrong type of fertilizer.
- Mow High – Grassy weeds can spread by way of their seeds, and one of the easiest ways to prevent this from happening is to mow high. By allowing your grass to grow slightly taller than normal, you can help crowd out any weed seedlings that try to emerge.
- Use Mulch – Mulching your garden beds and soil can help to reduce the spread of grassy weeds by preventing them from forming seedheads. Additionally, mulch helps retain moisture in the soil, which keeps it healthy and less attractive to grassy weeds.
- Apply Pre-Emergent – Pre-emergent is a non-selective herbicide that works to prevent weed seed germination before they even emerge from the soil. When applied in early spring, pre-emergents can reduce the chances of grassy weeds taking a hold.
Removing Grassy Weeds
If you have an existing infestation of grassy weeds in your lawn, it’s time to take action. There are a few ways you can go about removing them, depending on the severity of the problem and if you want to go the chemical or organic route. As we have said, weed removal is always more difficult than prevention, and that is even more true when dealing with grassy weeds.
The shallow roots of grassy weeds will make removal quite difficult, but don’t lose hope! There are still some steps you can take to make sure grassy weeds know they are not welcome in your yard. Follow the tips below for removing grassy weeds:
- Avoid Hand-Pulling – Leaving even the tiniest piece of roots or plant matter behind during hand-pulling will result in the weed regrowing, and your efforts will all be for naught. Because the roots of so many grassy weeds are notoriously complex and sprawling underneath the soil, pulling is not typically advised.
- Use A Spade – Using a gardening tool to assist you in pulling up grassy weeds can be extremely helpful. A spade can make it easier to remove the entire root system of a grassy weed, and it also provides leverage for tough weeds.
- Apply Herbicide – If you want to go the chemical route for removing grassy weeds, select an herbicide that targets broadleaf plants as opposed to ones that target grasses. This will ensure your turfgrass isn’t affected by the herbicide, and it will help kill off any pesky grassy weeds in your lawn. Using a non-selective herbicide is doable, but it can easily result in your lawn being damaged.
- Apply Organic Weed Killer – There are organic products on the market that work just as well (albeit slower) than their chemical counterparts when it comes to killing off grassy weeds. Look for products made with natural ingredients, like vinegar and citric acid, and be sure to read the label carefully before applying.
Luscious Lawns In The Heartland!
With a little bit of knowledge and effort, you can make sure your lawn is free from grassy weeds. Remember that prevention is key, but if you’re already dealing with an infestation of these pesky plants, there are still steps you can take to get rid of them once and for all. With the right approach, you can say goodbye to grassy weeds for good!
The pros know how and when your lawn needs to be saved from grassy weeds. Call a local lawn care company, like Heartland Turf & Landscape, to sign up for weed removal services. Your lawn will thank you!