Getting Rid of Quackgrass in Lawns

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Written By: Mark Marino

a Massachusetts Core Applicator License holder and owner/operator of Lawn Phix,

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Quackgrass is a common perennial grass that grows in many different climates and just about every type of soil. And if it’s not managed properly, this creeping perennial grass can quickly lead to an unsightly complete lawn takeover.

In this post, we’ll cover what you need to know about this weed and how to get rid of quackgrass. Here’s a closer look:

Quackgrass: How to Identify this Invasive Plant

It’s very easy to identify quackgrass weeds. As its name implies, quackgrass is a type of grass – but it’s not desirable grass, it’s an invasive weed. You can easily identify it by its long tapered blades, which tend to be broader than most tall fescue and other types of grasses. You can also identify quackgrass by its rough texture and its very deep roots, something that helps distinguish it from annual ryegrass. It also has a hollow stem and paintbrush-like blade.

If you go about pulling these weeds yourself, you have to ensure quackgrass is completely removed from the soil. Oftentimes, quackgrass roots won’t be completely removed from the soil when pulled, which can lead to a bigger weed problem throughout your entire lawn.

Quack grass will produce seeds from its mother plant, and these seeds can lead to more grass weeds during the growing season. In addition to spreading weed seeds, it can also spread and develop rhizomes, which are continuously growing underground stems.

In the next sections, we’ll cover how to eliminate quackgrass with weed killers and how to prevent quackgrass from growing in your flower beds, gardens, and lawn altogether.

How To Eliminate Quackgrass (and Other Unwanted Weeds)

Being that quackgrass has a tendency to blend in with other lawn-type grasses, many property owners will simply chalk this up among desirable grasses and work to manage or blend it into existing grass blades rather than eliminate it.

But make no mistake – quackgrass is not grass. And being that it often grows in garden bends, you may have to do more than just up the ante on your lawn care in order to both eliminate existing quackgrass and prohibit quackgrass from growing back in the future.

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at how to eliminate existing quackgrass:

Pull it out by hand

If you can catch its growth and act quickly enough, you can get rid of quackgrass by pulling it out of the ground. But keep in mind that getting rid of quackgrass that exists can be difficult. You have to make sure you get the roots completely out of the soil. Being that these roots break easily, it can be tough to remove the entire weed. Ensuring that the weed is properly removed can be a time-consuming endeavor.

Use a chemical herbicide

A nonselective weed killer or nonselective herbicide should cut it with quackgrass. We suggest using Fusilade II (selective) or Round-Up (non-selective) to kill quackgrass. The nice thing about these weed control chemicals is that when used correctly, they should only target the weed and not harm your grass or other plants.

If it’s growing in garden beds away from any new plants, you could also use a generic weed killer, such as Round-Up, which will kill quack grass as well as other weeds. Just be careful where you spray, as these generic treatments may also damage lawns and plants.

Dump boiling water on it

Treating this weed with boiling water can also help eliminate it and prevent it from producing the seeds that the quackgrass plant produces.

Quackgrass Control: What You Need to Know

As is the case with most weeds, it’s best to take the appropriate steps by preventing quackgrass from growing in the first place so you don’t have a weed issue. Here’s a look at what you can do to prevent new quackgrass:

Use a nitrogen fertilizer to mask its presence

Many property owners enact a lawn care program that blends quack grass into the lawn. This can be done by using a nitrogen fertilizer to feed your lawn about every two weeks during the growing season. It’s a method used to treat quackgrass while accepting the weed as part of a proper lawn maintenance plan.

Care for your lawn

Water your lawn weekly. Repair bare spots by putting down grass seed. If you do opt to mask the presence of quackgrass, make sure you clean your lawn mower blade so that seeds don’t spread throughout your lawn quickly and cause it to become badly infested.

QuackgrassPlant FAQs

What’s the difference between quackgrass and crabgrass?

While both are invasive and can quickly spread through your lawn, crabgrass resembles more of an unsightly weed while quackgrass can blend into your lawn if it’s managed correctly.

How do you kill quack grass without killing lawn grass?

Like we said above, you can kill and control quackgrass by using a non-selective herbicide or by attempting to completely remove the weed root from the soil carefully. Many opt to enact a lawn care program that manages quackgrass growth and won’t spread seeds.

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Author's Note: this piece has been updated for accuracy since its first publication on
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Author: Mark Marino
My name is Mark Marino, and I am the founder, owner, and operator of Lawn Phix. With a passion for lawn care and turf nutrition for over a decade, I've dedicated countless hours to correcting soil and perfecting lawns. Today, my expertise, backed by formal courses at UMass Extension Pesticide Education, allows me to offer top-tier lawn care services and advice. I am a fully licensed and insured lawn care applicator in Massachusetts, specializing in comprehensive turf nutrition, weed control, and lawn pest control. My license number is AL-0053865. Contact me at [email protected] or +1 (508) 500-8402.

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