If you’ve spent any time at all caring for lawns then you’ve experienced weeds. They’re an eventuality in lawn care, and while some of them are easy to spot, others take their time and blend in before acting out.
That’s why we came up with this list here. It’s ten of the most common weeds that look like grass that might be plaguing your lawn. Not only will we walk you through what they are, but we’ll give you some quick tips on how to treat them, before then diving into some frequently asked questions. Keep reading to find out more.
10 Weeds That Look Like Grass
Just because they look like grass at first doesn’t mean they’re what you want on your lawn. Some will dry up and turn brown after a while, giving your lawn a bunch of dead patches, and others will grow like wildfire and choke out the remaining grass.
Below are the ten most common weeds that look like grass out there.
If you’ve been in lawn care for any amount of time, you’re sure to have come across crabgrass. Crabgrass can thrive in conditions where regular grass can’t, which means if you neglect your lawn at all, crabgrass is bound to show up.
And once it’s there it’s extremely challenging to get rid of. Each plant can produce 150,000 seeds a year, which means even one or two plants showing up in your lawn can lead to an overrun lawn in just a single season!
But the one thing people trying to care for their lawn have working for them is that crabgrass is an annual. It dies off every winter, and this gives you the perfect opportunity to get it under control with some crabgrass killer and overseeding next spring!
2. Annual Bluegrass
If you live in a more temperate climate, then annual bluegrass is a problem you’re likely to encounter at some point. Warm summer temperatures tend to kill this grass, but it really takes off and thrives in the spring and fall.
You might notice you have even more problems with annual bluegrass if you have a well-shaded lawn. And while the best way to keep it from coming around is to eliminate the shady and moist environments where they thrive, that can also create an uncomfortable atmosphere around your lawn.
We recommend treating your lawn with a herbicide, then reapplying pre-emergent herbicides to keep it from coming back.
3. Common Couch
Also known as quack grass, common couch is a perennial weed much like crabgrass. They germinate through airborne seeds, but they really need sparse and unhealthy lawns to take root.
But while you can easily avoid common couch grass by keeping a healthy lawn, when it does take root, it’s extremely challenging to eliminate. They have a deep and strong root system that makes it difficult to establish new grass seed.
With common couch grass we recommend digging it up first, before then applying a herbicide to try and get any bits that you’ve missed. It doesn’t take you leaving behind much for it to come right back up.
Nutsedge can grow up to three feet tall, and even worse for you, it’s a perennial weed. You don’t want to pull up nutsedge, as any shoots that are left behind will just turn into more nutsedge! And since you’re likely to create fragments when you pull it, you’re actually creating more weeds anytime you do pull.
If you have nutsedge in your lawn, about the only thing you can do to get it under control is apply a herbicide. Once you’ve killed off the nutsedge you can keep it from coming back by keeping up with a healthy lawn.
Carpetgrass thrives in bog-like conditions, which means unless you live in an extremely warm and wet climate, you likely won’t have to deal with it. This grass turns brown in cooler temperatures, and produces large shoots in the warmer months.
Fortunately, if you do have carpetgrass, it’s pretty easy to control. You can use a saltwater solution to douse the weeds, but you can also use a pre-emergent herbicide to keep it from cropping up in the first place.
While johnsongrass is one of the easiest weeds to get rid of, it does require a little manual labor. You can either dig it up, apply a herbicide, or douse it with a natural chemical like vinegar. Johnsongrass can’t handle any of this, and a single treatment should let you get it under control.
Just keep in mind that if you don’t treat johnsongrass, it can reach a towering seven feet in height!
Goosegrass might look like grass for a while, but once the flowerhead opens up it’s pretty easy to tell apart. This flowerhead consists of small strands that spread out in different directions. It’s much like crabgrass, but it’s usually a lot easier to get under control.
There are both natural and chemical herbicides that can help you get goosegrass under control. Furthermore, if you’re looking to keep goosegrass from coming back, aeration does a great job at controlling it naturally.
Considering that aeration is a great tool when overseeding, if you have a goosegrass problem and are looking at overseeding you can knock out both problems at once.
There are plenty of foxtail varieties out there, but one thing they all have in common is that they reach impressive heights and spread like crazy. They can reach seven feet tall, and their flower drooping spikes create tons of seeds that can take over your lawn.
You can treat small areas with a natural product like vinegar, but if you’re attempting to get a large area under control, you’ll likely need something a little more powerful. There are plenty of herbicides out there that can tackle foxtail, but you might need to complete several applications to take into account their longer growing season.
9. Creeping Bentgrass
Creeping bentgrass is a perennial grass-like weed that people often plant intentionally when they need a very short grass type. It thrives at short heights, which makes it an outstanding choice at golf courses.
However, it travels through airborne germination, and this means it’s a likely lawn invader. This matters because during the warmer months, it starts to brown and gives your lawn an unsightly appearance.
If you have creeping bentgrass in your lawn you’ll likely need to use a herbicide to eliminate it.
10. Smooth Bromegrass
If you’re looking for tricky weeds to get rid of, smooth bromegrass might be near the top of your list. They have an extremely thick and dense root system, making them hard to clear out once they take root.
If you have an extensive smooth bromegrass problem, the solution is two-fold. First, apply a herbicide to help take out the roots. From there, overseed the area, and keep mowing the grass short. Under these conditions the grass should outcompete the smooth bromegrass on its own.
If you have questions about the most common weeds that look like grass, you’re not alone. That’s why we took the time to answer some of the most frequently asked questions for you here.
How Do You Get Rid of Weeds That Look Like Grass?
If your lawn already has weeds all over the place, you’re likely going to need a selective herbicide to help get them back under control. There are plenty of great options to help with this, but you can’t go wrong with a product like Ortho Weed B Gon.
If you don’t have weeds in your lawn, the best thing you can do to keep them from popping up is to properly care for your lawn. Mow to the right height, fertilize, and keep up with watering. Also, don’t be afraid to overseed spots.
Well-established and cared for grass can typically outcompete weeds, but if there are issues with how it’s cared for, weeds can easily take root.
How Do I Identify Grassy Weeds?
While weeds that look like grass are a bit more challenging to spot than other types of weeds, it’s not impossible. The best thing you can do is get familiar with the grass on your lawn. Grassy weeds will look different, even if it’s not as noticeable as other weed types.
Anything that looks different than the type of grass you used to overseed your lawn is likely a weed – even if it looks like grass.
What Are the Worst Weeds?
While any weeds are bad, the worse weeds out there are the ones that are the most challenging to remove. Because of this we rank crabgrass, nutsedge, and foxtail as the worst weeds out there.
While you can certainly get rid of them, they quickly take root and spread like wildfire. If you have these weeds in your lawn, you’ll need to take swift action to get it under control as soon as possible.
Is Pulling Weeds a Waste of Time?
Pulling weeds isn’t a complete waste of time, but we’d be lying if we said it was the most effective way to clear weeds. It can effectively clear some weed varieties if you pull them early enough, but with others it won’t do a thing.
For any weed variety of you pull them after they germinate, they’ll still come back in force in their typical growing season. That’s why we recommend a selective herbicide with a thorough application. They can take out all the seeds and get your lawn back to looking the way it should.
What Type of Weeds Are the Most Difficult To Get Rid Of?
Crabgrass, nutsedge, and smooth bromegrass are among the most challenging weeds to get rid of. They all produce tons of seeds when they germinate, and if you don’t get them all, they come back in force year after year.
However, while they might be the most challenging to get rid of, once you do get rid of them, they struggle to take root in well-established and well-cared-for lawns.
While none of us like weeds, if you take your time and care for your lawn, you significantly reduce the chances of them cropping up in the first place. And if you know what you’re looking for, you can start to treat them before they get too out of control.
So what are you waiting for? Go check our lawn and see if you have any of these unsightly weeds taking root and starting to take over!