True to their name, grass weeds have all of the unattractive characteristics of weeds with the appearance and blanketing features of grass.
Grass weeds can be confusing because weeds are usually thought of as single plants, and most often they are indeed broad leaf weeds like dandelions. But a weed can be defined as any type of undesired plant, especially one that quickly becomes invasive and chokes out other desirable plants.
Combatting grass weeds therefore involves determining your ideal lawn grass species, which species are undesirable and which removal methods will be the most effective and practical for your circumstance.
Recognizing Grass Weeds
It’s important to understand that no single plant species constitutes grass weeds. In fact, depending on the location and circumstances, a species considered grass weeds in one breath and a desirable plant in another.
For instance, creeping bentgrass – a coveted turf species on golf greens – would be considered a weed when growing among Kentucky bluegrass lawns. Grass weeds are most often distinguished by:
- Differentiated color: Grass weeds often appear lighter than surrounding desired turf species, sometimes even showing up as straw-colored when other grass is green
- Varying leaf sizes from surrounding, desired turf species
- Different textures and patterns from surrounding grass. Tall fescue, for instance, is more coarse and occurs in distinctive clumps in a Kentucky bluegrass lawn
Grass weeds also can be recognized by their growth cycles. Like flowers, grass weeds can be split into annuals and perennials. Perennials usually appear in early spring while annuals show up in the late spring and early summer. Annuals may die quickly in the fall, while perennials don’t.
Look out for patches of grass that deviate from the normal lawn pattern. A closer inspection may reveal these actually are grass weeds.
How to Get Rid of Grass Weeds
Getting rid of grass weeds poses a particularly tricky problem. To the untrained eye, it can be tough to distinguish grass weeds from desirable grass species.
That can leave homeowners overlooking grass weeds or worse, removing healthy, desirable grass instead.
These plants also tend to have rich above-ground and underground stems which regrow quickly if broken. Chemical treatment is considered the gold standard for ridding lawns of troublesome grass weeds.
Selective herbicides are ideal for annual grasses, but be careful when using chemicals to treat perennial grasses as such treatments can harm surrounding lawn species. If you have questions about how to identify grass weeds or are unsure of how to remove them without damaging your lawn, consult a trained weed control specialist.