Grassy Weed Seed Head Identification

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If your lawn has weeds, identifying what they are will help you eliminate them. This lawn weed identification guide with photos will help you ID your weeds. Learn how to identify different types of grassy weeds and keep your lawn in great shape year round with TruGreen®. Grassy weeds are true grasses or monocots. A grass seed germinates and emerges as one single leaf. It develops hollow, rounded stems and nodes (joints)…

Lawn Weed Identification: Photos & Descriptions of Weeds

If you’re like most homeowners, you’ve had to combat weeds in your lawn. But to properly remove and eliminate weeds from your yard (and keep them from coming back), you need to know what kind of weeds they are, and how to treat them. In this article I’ll provide a guide to lawn weed identification so you can efficiently clear weeds from your lawn.

Getting to Know the Weed Categories

To identify weeds in your lawn, and address the problem so they don’t come back, you need to understand what type of weed you’re dealing with. To do this, you must first understand that there are 2 main categories that weeds fall into:

  • Grass-like weeds, and
  • Broadleaf weeds.

And within those two primary types of weeds, there are sub-categories:

  • Annual weeds (weeds that grow from seed every year and die at the end of the growing season), and
  • Perennial weeds (weeds that come back year after year).

In this article I’ll profile the most common lawn weeds within all four groups (both perennial and annual grass-like weeds, and perennial and annual broad-leaf weeds).

At the end of the article you should be equipped to identify the weeds in your lawn (and effectively treat and remove them).

Weeds: Why We Hate Them

Those pesky little plant imitators that seem to grow endlessly despite all efforts to eradicate … are back!

Weeds are often green, leafy, and sometimes they fit right in with the rest of the grass we grow in our yards.

But weeds are different than grass – they suck the nourishment out of even the best-looking lawns and gardens, and crowd out the soft, uniform grass we all strive to grow in our lawn.

Left unabated, weeds will take over your lawn, suffocate your plants, and make your lawn appear patchy, thin, and ugly.

I often find myself wishing that turf grass was as tough and resilient as lawn weeds. But I guess if it was easy to maintain a perfect lawn, everyone would do it.

Mowing too often, watering shallowly, improper fertilizing methods, and poor soil conditions, are all ways inexperienced homeowners foster the perfect habitat for various types of weeds.

So let’s get into my guide to lawn weed identification so you know what kind of a problem you have in your lawn, and how to solve it.

Why Lawn Weed Identification is Important

Luckily, not all weeds cause harm to your plants, or your turfgrass.

Clover is a good example of this … it’s a legume that actually turns air into Nitrogen and feeds the soil in your yard. But most people still want it gone from their lawns.

Yellow clover (Black Medic weed) is an annual legume that acts in a similar way.

With so many different types of weeds knowing how to identify lawn weeds and combat each species in your yard is crucial if you’re looking for a long-term fix.

Use the wrong product and you could end up killing your grass, not your weeds.

Common Types of Lawn Weeds

You’ve encountered these different plants in many ways. Whether in your lawn, on the sidewalk, or at the park, weeds have made their way in or around your life and it’s time to break things down.

Some weeds are annual, dying off after one season, and others are perennials, which will grow back every spring.

Below are two types of weeds and some common species, broken down by their seasonal patterns, life cycle,in and control methods.

Broadleaf Lawn Weeds

Broadleaf weeds can be identified by the shape of their leaves. In general, weeds in this category do not resemble grass, and they are easy to identify and locate within your lawn.

To help with lawn weed identification, I’ll highlight some of the most common annual and perennial broadleaf weeds below.

Annual Broadleaf Lawn Weeds

These are the most common types of annual broadleaf weeds you may encounter in your lawn.

Carpetweed

Some are small with little white flowers and others don’t bear flowers. These summer annuals spread through seeds and will germinate quickly as the soil beings to warm up.

Control Methods – You can pull these weeds out by hand or with tools. When caught early on, hand pulling can be very effective, but as the infestation of carpetweed in your lawn grows it’s best to use chemical treatments to eliminate it.

When maintaining your lawn keep the grass dense and healthy. Herbicidal treatments to use for Carpetweed are; 2,4-D, MCPP, Dicamba or Triclopyr. I recommend the Southern Ag herbicide (Amazon link) for Carpetweed.

Make sure to read the instructions carefully and follow all safety procedures.

Common Lespedeza (Japanese Clover)

Common Lespedeza is a summer broadleaf annual weed that grows to 15-18 inches wide.

Japanese clover is very wiry and almost bush-like when present in a grouping of weeds. They grow low to the ground and will quickly crowd out and smother grass if left untreated.

Dark leaves are met with three smooth leaves and a singular pink and purple flower. These lawn weeds grow in under-fertilized, poor, soil.

Control Methods – Hand pulling and weeding tools can be utilized to catch an early onslaught of Japanese Clover in your lawn. It can be difficult to pull, so I recommend waiting until the soil is moist.

If you find Japanese clover in garden beds, 2- to 3-inches of mulch can help prevent further seed germination. Herbicides such as; Speedzone, 2,4-D, MCPP, Dimension Ultra, Dicamba, and many more, will help.

Again – I’ve had luck with Southern Ag’s herbicide for broadleaf weeds, which you can find on Amazon.

Knotweed

Knotweed is a summer annual broadleaf that loves to smother turf grasses and destroy lawns.

These plants grow low, long, and wide, with stems that create a carpet-like appearance. Often dark and thin, these plants can produce small yellow or white flowers at maturity.

Control Methods – Prostrate Knotweed can be mitigated by hand-weeding early before it becomes established. You must dig out its roots to ensure they’ve been dealt with, or Knotweed will keep coming back.

In garden beds, mulch will deter seed germination, and once it’s established, your best bet is to use chemical methods to eliminate Knotweed in your lawn.

2,4-D, MCPP, Dicamba, Triclopyr, Roundup, Gallup, and many other herbicides you can buy locally or on Amazon will prove effective against this broadleaf lawn weed. There are natural methods of weed control you can try as well if you’re trying to stay organic.

Prostrate Spurge

Prostrate Spurge is a common summer annual broadleaf weed that is easy to identify. It grows low to the ground with oval-shaped leaves, making Spurge a distinct and recognizable weed.

Flowers aren’t developed on Spurge, but there’s often a red spot where a flower would be located when Spurge reaches maturity.

These weeds can be found in lawns, sidewalks, and cracks of cement blocks.

Control Methods – Prostrate Spurges, like many other broadleaf plants can be taken out by hand. This is a time-consuming approach, but you avoid the risks that come with spraying herbicides, and it’s what I recommend for small groupings of Prostrate Spurge.

The thick stems make it easy to grab and pull out, as long as the soil is moist.

Herbicides are a great solution to eliminate advanced weed growth and substantial infestations of Spurge in your lawn.

Ferti-Lome Weed-Out (Amazon link) is what I recommend, but Dismiss Turf, MCPP, and other herbicides are also effective against Spurge.

Purslane

A summer annual broadleaf, Purslane grows well with other abundantly growing weeds, plants, and thrives in compacted soils.

Purslane weeds branch outward, as far as 3 feet out from the root.

Leaves are blue-green with no flower. The stem is thin, red(maroon), and visibly protruding. Purslane weeds grow by seed and can produce little yellow flowers at maturity.

Control Methods – Pulling purslane is a pretty easy way to remove individual plants. The process is similar to Prostrate Spurge, as the stem allows for a good grip. Pull this weed when the soil is moist for best results.

If you have a lot of Purslane in your lawn, you may decide to treat it with herbicides. Use Roundup, Montery LG 5600, Hi-Yield Ferti-Lome, MCPP, or Dicamba. Most broad-leaf herbicides will be effective, and many won’t impact the health of your lawn grasses.

The Southern Ag broadleaf weed killer (Amazon link) is my choice. It works really well on all broadleaf weeds. Just be sure to follow all safety recommendations when applying it to your lawn to kill Purslane.

Perennial Broadleaf Lawn Weeds

These perennial varieties need to be controlled aggressively, or they can take over your lawn, as they come back year after year.

Broadleaf Plantain

A short stalk with broad leaves and five veins at the base makes it easy to identify Broadleaf Plantain in your lawn.

The flower shoots erectly and appears almost prickly but the flowers are soft.

Broadleaf Plantain looks almost like a badly unfolded cabbage, with dark leaves that are thick and leathery, and a tower head.

Low fertilizer application and compacted soils will foster a great environment for plantain weeds, so fertilizing your lawn and aerating your turf are effective at discouraging its growth in your yard.

Control Methods – Manual removal (pulling) of Broadleaf Plantain is more difficult than annual broadleaf weeds. The root goes deeper, and the leaves grow near to the ground which makes it more challenging to pull the root.

You can use tools like the Fiskar’s Stand Up Weeder to uproot these weeds – they work well if you only have a few instances of weeds in your lawn and don’t mind keeping on top of them manually once a week.

Chemically, you can use herbicides such as Roundup, Hi-Yield Ferti-Lome, Broadleaf Weed Killer, 2,4-D, MCPP, and others.

I generally encourage homeowners to take a manual approach for low instances of weeds, and use herbicides to spot treat large weed infestations.

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Buttercup

Summer perennials weeds like Buttercup masquerade as decorative plants. I know my daughter loves to pick them, and she also loves to pick dandelions, so when she was very young I accepted their presence in my lawn for a while.

But identifying these lawn weeds is easy. Flowers bear 5-7 petals and hang on to individual stems that rise vertically.

Buttercups are not quite as invasive as lawn ivy (purple or white flowers instead of yellow), but spread in much the same manner, and detract from the uniform green lawn most homeowners hope to achieve in their yard.

Control Methods – Because it’s a perennial weed, you must get buttercup roots out of your lawn. The bulb-like root can make it a little difficult to manually uproot so do your best to take care and pull these weeds only when the soil is moist.

Chemically, you can use almost any broadleaf weed killer to treat buttercups or lawn ivy. 2,4-D, MCPP, Dicamba, Scotts Ortho Weed-B-Gon (Amazon link), and many other herbicidal treatments for broadleaf plants will be effective.

Dandelion

Probably one of the more common lawn weeds that we’re all familiar with is the Dandelion.

Sometimes these weeds are left alone due to their alluring appearance (I mentioned how my daughter loves to pick them). But they spread like wildfire.

The flower is yellow and they mask themselves as miniature sunflowers, which are popular with pollinators.

Perennial dandelions return every year and can spread rapidly by wind, releasing up to 15,000 seeds per plant.

Control Methods – You can uproot dandelions by hand while the soil is still moist. Tap-rooted plants, such as dandelions, allow for easier pulling (on young plants), but it can be challenging to get the whole taproot from an established Dandelion plant.

Try to mow your lawn at the proper height, and don’t mow your lawn too short, as this favors further weed growth.

Many homeowners who don’t wish to deal with Dandelions apply chemical treatments. A good pre-emergent herbicide application in the spring can keep Dandelions from germinating early and give your lawn a head start to crowd out weeds, and post-emergent herbicide treatments are effective at killing established Dandelions in your yard.

Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4 (Amazon link) is a good choice to suppress dandelions, and any of the broadleaf herbicides mentioned earlier in this article will also be effective against Dandelions.

Grassy Lawn Weeds

Annual Grass-Like Lawn Weeds

Bluegrass

While Kentucky Bluegrass is one of the most popular types of turfgrass in the US, stringy summer annual bluegrass is considered a weed.

Annual Bluegrass can grow up to 2 ft tall and its leaves make it difficult to differentiate between it and other turf grass types.

The problem with annual grasses is they are very aggressive, and will crowd out your perennial lawn grass. Over time, this will create a thin, patchy lawn that will host countless other weeds.

Control Methods – Hand pulling bluegrass is difficult, although effective, and should be done with gloves.

To prevent further growth, make sure the lawn is cut at about 3-4 inches to prevent seed-heads from forming, and over-seed any empty spots in the grass with a good perennial turfgrass.

Chemical treatments can kill annual bluegrass as well. You can use; Pylex Herbicide, Selective Weed Killers, or Treflan.

My recommendation is to control annual bluegrass seasonally by applying a good pre-emergent in the spring. This allows your lawn grasses to crowd out and smother annual bluegrass seedlings by delaying their germination every year. I like the organic pre-emergent offered by Espoma (Amazon link) or this one from Jonathan Green which also contains fertilizer. Both are effective, and safe for kids, pets, and beneficial insects.

Crabgrass

Apart from Dandelions, there is perhaps no other lawn weed quite as notorious as crabgrass.

This stringy summer annual grass with narrow leaves that protrude from a flat fringy base is easy to spot due to its light color relative to most turf grasses.

These weeds can produce up to 150,000 seeds per plant in a single season. While it is an annual lawn weed, identification and eradication is important. If left untreated it will take over and smother your lawn in a few years.

Control Methods – Hand pulling crabgrass is difficult, as it is with most grassy lawn weeds.

Chemically, you can use; Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer, Pylex Herbicide, Selective Weed Killers, and Treflan.

The market is saturated with crabgrass preventer products since it is such a common problem in lawns.

In my lawn, the areas where I struggle with crabgrass every year are near the road, where the blow scrapes the turf bare every winter.

I over-seed those sections of my lawn each spring, and use Scott’s starter fertilizer and crabgrass preventer. This allows me to grow a nice thick lawn there every season while blocking the crabgrass. A lot of pre-emergent products will block grass seed from germinating. This one doesn’t, and it’s one product I swear by.

Goosegrass

Goose Grass is a stringy summer annual that can grow up to 2 ft. tall. With this growth potential you wouldn’t think that it would spread outward from the base like Crabgrass, but it does.

This growth habit makes it damaging to lawns as it will quickly crowd out desirable turf grasses in your yard.

Control Methods – Like the other annual grassy weeds, Goosegrass is difficult to pull by hand.

It responds to most crabgrass preventers, and pre-emergent treeatment of your lawn in the spring is the best way to get Goosegrass under control on your property.

Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer, Pylex Herbicide, Selective Weed Killers, and Treflan all work well.

Perennial Grassy Lawn Weeds

While annual grassy weeds get most of the attention from homeowners, perennial grass-like weeds can cause big issues over time.

Here is how to identify 3 common perennial grass-like weeds.

Dallisgrass

Lawn weed identification of Dallisgrass is pretty easy as its growth habit is unique.

Dallisgrass is a perennial grass that grows in clumps which quickly spread across a lawn if untreated.

Leaves are yellowy-green in color and less than half an inch in width. They can grow from 1 inch to 3 inches.

Dallisgrass can easily blend in with real grass if you have a poor quality lawn, but it has a faster growth habit, and will noticeably protrude above your lawn in the days after mowing while the rest of your lawn is still shorter.

Some people confuse Dallisgrass and Crabgrass, but the width of this plant and its growth habit is different (the base of Dallisgrass is typically wider).

Control Methods – Dallisgrass can adapt to areas with improper drainage systems very well, so you’ll often find it in wet areas of your lawn. It’s tough to pull Dallisgrass by hand to remove it, so this can be a good punishment for kids who have misbehaved (cheap labor!).

Most crabgrass preventer pre-emergent treatments are effective against this perennial, but post-emergent herbicides might be necessary if your lawn isn’t thick enough to crowd it out.

Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer, Pylex Herbicide, Selective Weed Killers, and Treflan will all work well.

Nimblewill

If you have Nimblewill in your lawn, it will be easy to identify. It’s different than Crabgrass and most other grass-like weeds, but it also will stand out from your standard turf-grasses.

Stringy, and often clumpy, Nimblewill develops a littler slower in color, making it noticeably visible in grassy pastures and lawns.

Nimblewill prefers to grow in shade. This means it will often be the first grass to go brown in hot sun or heat. This is a helpful lawn weed identification trick for this grassy perennial intruder.

Control Methods – Healthy grass can deter grassy weeds from germinating and spreading, but when weeds are present you can always do the natural labor of pulling it by hand. That said, if Nimblewill roots are left, the weed will grow back.

Chemically, you can use most crabgrass preventers to control Nimblewill; Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer, Pylex Herbicide, Selective Weed Killers, and Treflan.

Quackgrass

You may have Quackgrass in your lawn. This is a stringy perennial grassy weed that can grow up to 3 feet tall.

The leaves of Quackgrass are blue-green in color and thin with a rough texture. It resembles a lot of ornamental grasses you can buy at the garden center.

Control Methods – Poor lawn maintenance is a haven for grassy weeds, and applying a crabgrass preventer early in the spring is the best way to keep grassy weeds under control in your lawn.

Lawn Weed Identification is the First Step

Most of these weeds, whether broadleaf or grassy, can be controlled the same way across their specific types.

After your lawn weed identification questions have been answered, it’s time to get after them and use the proper treatment to remove them from your lawn.

Act quickly, so you don’t allow these weeds (especially perennial weeds) to gain a foothold in your turf.

Remember – whenever you’re using herbicides, read the product details before use and wear protective equipment to keep yourself safe.

Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to protect your kids, garden plants, and animals, and pay attention to the weather so your weed treatment is effective the first time.

Grassy Weeds

To the untrained eye, distinguishing turf grass from grassy weeds is tough because the two can look identical. But with practice and persistence, you can learn to identify lawn weeds—and even the difference between grass and sedge—by inspecting the primary vegetative characteristics of your lawn.

Here are some of the features our TruGreen® experts use to weed out the bad grasses.

  • Crown. The white, thick part of the grass plant at soil level where the shoot meets the roots. It’s central to lawn health—if the crown dies, the grass plant dies.
  • Sheath. The lower (basal) portion of the grass leaf between the crown and the blade that encloses and protects young shoots of grass. Sheath margins may be split, split with overlapping margins or be closed.
  • Collar. The backside of a leaf where the blade and sheath join. Collars may be divided by a line that runs up the center (mid-rib) or be continuous. Collar shapes vary from narrow to broad and can have slanted or straight borders.
  • Blade. The section of the leaf above the collar. Characteristics to look for include the type of tip, roughness or smoothness, and mid-rib.
  • Vernation. The leaf arrangement of the youngest leaf (called the budleaf) and its surrounding sheath. Look to see if the budleaf is rolled or folded.
  • Ligule. A tip- or cylinder-shaped structure poking out from the top half of a leaf where the blade and the sheath join. Ligules can be membranous, hairy, both or absent altogether, making them useful for spotting grassy weeds in grass.
  • Auricle. A pair of appendages sticking out from the side of the grass leaf where the sheath and blade meet. Auricles can be short and stubby, large and claw-like, have short hairs attached or be absent, also making them useful grass identifiers.
  • Rhizomes. An underground stem that produces a new plant.
  • Stolons. A horizontal, above-ground stem that roots at the nodes (found in the crown) and gives rise to new grass plants.
  • Seed head. The flowering or seeding parts found at the top of the grass plant. Check if seed heads are spike or panicle to help with turf grass identification.
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Life Cycle

An essential part of identifying grassy weeds has to do with their life cycles. For example, you may be able to hand-pull a few annual weeds to enjoy a weed-free backyard cookout, but perennial grassy weeds have a deeper root structure that can give rise to new weeds—even if you no longer see the weeds in your lawn. Learn what the different life cycles of lawn weeds mean for your control plan.

Annual weeds. These weeds live for only one season and are typically easy to control because they lack the complex underground structures needed to spread new plant growth through creeping roots. Still, annuals produce tons of seeds that can infest and dominate your yard under the right conditions.

Summer annuals. These grass-like weeds begin to grow (germinate) in the spring, mature in the summer, and then produce seeds and die by the fall or first hard frost—an entire life cycle completed within 12 months.

Winter annuals. These weeds overlap two calendar years but last only 12 months total. They germinate and develop from late summer to early fall, remain semidormant during the winter and then flower in spring. Come late spring or early summer, they mature and die off as the weather warms.

Perennial weeds. Perennial grassy weeds can germinate and spread from seeds, but they also produce a root structure (tubers, bulbs or corms) that can birth new weeds from your lawn’s surface (using stolons) or from underground (using rhizomes).

Biennial weeds. These flowering plants generally live for two years. The first year consists of leaves, stems and root growth, followed by winter dormancy. In the second year, biennials flower and produce seeds, thus completing their life cycles.

Control

Without a professional service, removing grass-like weeds without damaging your lawn is difficult. The biological similarities of turf grass and grassy weeds make both susceptible to control methods. For example, spraying crabgrass killer at the wrong time can kill your grass seeds. Instead, aim to control grassy weeds by keeping your lawn dense and healthy so they don’t stand a chance. If these turf grass imposters have already invaded your lawn, you can try a few other tactics to weed them out.

What’s the Best Weed Control?

The most effective weed control is a flourishing lawn because it’s more competitive and will crowd out grassy weeds. Weed seeds need light to grow, which a dense lawn blocks out. To keep your lawn lush, healthy and competitive, try:

  1. Fertilization. The right type and application method makes all the difference.
  2. Mowing. Mow frequently at the recommended height with sharpened blades, removing only one-third of the leaf blade.
  3. Watering. Water deeper rather than more frequently when rainfall is scarce.
  4. Changing. Factor in climate, sunlight, shade, etc., to pick the right turf grass. [Links to J.5 Turf Grass Selection Module]
Does Pulling Weeds Work?

Hand-pulling grassy weeds can work if there are only a few, especially if they’re annuals. Perennial grassy weeds are harder to control by hand because you don’t always pull up the vegetative structure, which is what sprouts new weeds.

What Type of Crabgrass Killer Won’t Harm My Lawn?

Postemergence herbicides control existing weeds. Unfortunately, because grassy weeds are in the same family as turf grass, these types of herbicides can also harm your lawn. Preemergence herbicides control seeds only—not existing weeds—making them safer for an established lawn (grass seeds are susceptible). They work on most seed-based annuals and perennials.

Because each yard is unique, TruGreen® customizes a grassy weed control program for your lawn. The plan of attack depends on your region, type of turf grass and the specific weeds invading your lawn.

Identify

To the untrained eye, distinguishing turf grass from grassy weeds is tough because the two can look identical. But with practice and persistence, you can learn to identify lawn weeds—and even the difference between grass and sedge—by inspecting the primary vegetative characteristics of your lawn.

Life Cycle

An essential part of identifying grassy weeds has to do with their life cycles. For example, you may be able to hand-pull a few annual weeds to enjoy a weed-free backyard cookout, but perennial grassy weeds have a deeper root structure that can give rise to new weeds—even if you no longer see the weeds in your lawn. Learn what the different life cycles of lawn weeds mean for your control plan.

Control

Without a professional service, removing grass-like weeds without damaging your lawn is difficult. The biological similarities of turf grass and grassy weeds make both susceptible to control methods. For example, spraying crabgrass killer at the wrong time can kill your grass seeds. Instead, aim to control grassy weeds by keeping your lawn dense and healthy so they don’t stand a chance. If these turf grass imposters have already invaded your lawn, you can try a few other tactics to weed them out.

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Grassy Weeds

Grassy weeds are true grasses or monocots. A grass seed germinates and emerges as one single leaf. It develops hollow, rounded stems and nodes (joints) that are closed and hard. The leaf blades alternate on each side of the stem, are much longer than they are wide and have parallel veins.

A weed’s life cycle has great impact on the selection and success of a given control procedure, so it is important to learn the life cycle characteristics of a weed when you first learn its identity.

Annual weeds germinate from seeds, grow, flower, produce seeds and die in 12 months or less. Annual weeds are further categorized by the season in which they germinate and flourish. Winter annuals sprout in the fall, thrive during the winter and die in late spring or early summer. Summer or warm-season grasses such as crabgrass and goosegrass sprout in the spring and thrive in summer and early fall.

Perennial weeds are weeds that live more than two years. They reproduce from vegetative (non-seed) parts such as tubers, bulbs, rhizomes (underground stems) or stolons (above-ground stems), although some also produce seed. Perennial weeds are the most difficult to control because of their great reproductive potential and persistence.

Proper identification of weeds targeted for control is necessary in order to select effective control measures, whether cultural or chemical. Further assistance with weed identification is available from any Clemson Extension office.

Annual Bluegrass

Life Cycle & Description: Annual bluegrass (Poa annua) is a winter annual weed that emerges in early fall, persists through the winter, produces seed in early spring and then dies in late spring or early summer. Annual bluegrass reproduces by seed.

See also  Weed Seed Dormancy

Annual bluegrass (Poa annua) is a cool weather annual grass weed that produces seed heads in the early spring.
Joey Williamson, ©2015 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Annual bluegrass prefers shady, moist sites and invades weak, thin lawn areas, especially low spots and flower beds where standing water occurs. It mainly germinates in late summer through early fall when nighttime air temperatures drop to the mid-70s. This usually occurs from September 15 to October 1 in the Coastal Plain and Sandhills areas, and September 1 to 15 in the Piedmont and Mountain areas. Further germination occurs in early winter with warm days and cold nights.

Annual bluegrass produces a white-colored, pyramid-shaped seedhead in the spring. It dies in the summer with the onset of high temperatures and/or dry conditions.

Annual bluegrass has smooth, apple-green leaves with two clear lines, one on each side of the midrib that run down the length of the leaf blade. The edges of the leaf tip curve inward like the front of a boat.

Control: Handpulling is a simple, practical approach for small areas. Improve the health and density of the lawn by fertilizing at the right time and with the correct amount; maintaining an appropriate soil pH; mowing at the recommended height; and watering properly. Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to ornamental bed areas to suppress germinating weed seeds. Finally, improve surface drainage. Preemergence herbicides are available depending on the kind of turfgrass and ornamental plants grown. Apply preemergence herbicides to established lawns before the annual bluegrass seeds germinate. Once annual bluegrass emerges, preemergence herbicides are generally ineffective.

Selective postemergence herbicides are available for annual bluegrass control. These are best applied in November or early December when the weed is small, thus most susceptible to control. See Tables 1 & 2 for pre-emergence and post-emergence control. Apply all chemicals according to directions on the label.

Crabgrass & Goosegrass

Life Cycle & Description: Crabgrasses (Digitaria species) are summer annuals that germinate in the spring at about the time crabapple and forsythia bloom, when the air temperature is warm enough to promote crabgrass seed germination. They produce seed from midsummer to fall and are then killed by the first freeze in autumn. Crabgrass reproduces by seed.

Crabgrass can be identified by its tufted or prostrate growth habit, hairy stems, broad leaves and flower spikes with two to nine finger-like branches. This weed appears in disturbed areas, weak or thin turf areas and in edges of the lawn next to sidewalks and drives.

Goosegrass (Eleusine indica) is a tough, clump-forming summer annual with white to silver coloring near its base. Unlike crabgrass, goosegrass has flat stems and does not root at the lower nodes. It germinates a few weeks after crabgrass in late spring and produces seed from summer to early fall. The flowers and seeds are produced in two rows like a zipper on two to 13 finger-like branches at the top of the stem. Goosegrass is killed at the first freeze, and reproduces entirely from seed.

Goosegrass (Eleusine indica) can be identified by the white to silver color near the base of the grass clump.
Joey Williamson, ©2015 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Control: Handpulling is a simple, practical approach for small areas. Improve the health and density of the lawn by fertilizing at the right time and with the correct amount; reducing soil compaction; maintaining an appropriate soil pH; mowing at the recommended height; and watering properly. Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to ornamental bed areas to suppress germinating weed seeds.

Preemergence and postemergence herbicides are available depending on the kind of turfgrass in your lawn. Preemergence herbicides provide about 2 to 2 1/4 months of control. Repeat applications would be required 60 days later for season-long control. Apply preemergence herbicides March 1 from the Coastal Plain to the Sandhills regions, and March 15 to 30 in the Piedmont and Mountain areas. Fall-seeded turfgrasses should not be treated with a preemergence herbicide until the following spring. See Tables 1 & 2 for pre-emergence and post-emergence control. Apply all chemicals according to directions on the label.

Sandbur

Life Cycle & Description: Southern sandbur, or sandspur (Cenchrus eschinatus), and field or coast sandspur (Cenchrus incertus) are summer annuals that germinate in the spring, grow during the summer and early fall and die with the first heavy frost. The name “sandspur” describes the sandpapery feel of their leaves and the spurs or burs that are produced from July until the first frost. Both reproduce by seeds. Sandspur tends to be more of a problem on sandy soils from the Coastal Plain westward to the Sandhills.

Control: Handpulling with gloved hands is a simple, practical approach to control sandspur in small areas. Improve the health and density of the lawn by fertilizing at the right time and with the correct amount; maintaining an appropriate soil pH; mowing at the recommended height; and watering properly. Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to ornamental bed areas to suppress germinating weed seeds.

This annual weed can be controlled with a preemergence herbicide applied in early spring (March 1 in the Coastal areas to March 15 in Piedmont areas). Repeat in 60 days. Select an herbicide that can be safely used on your lawn.

See Tables 1 & 2 for pre-emergence and post-emergence control. Apply all chemicals according to directions on the label.

Table 1. Pre-emergence Herbicides to Prevent Grassy Weeds in Residential Lawns.

Weeds Prevented Active Ingredients Examples of Brands & Products
Annual grass weeds including crabgrass & annual bluegrass benefin Pennington
Crabgrass
Preventer
Same as for benefin, plus goosegrass oryzalin Southern Ag Surflan A.S. (40.4%)
Same as above benefin + oryzalin Helena XL2G (1% & 1%)
UPI Surflan [email protected] (1% & 1%)
Green Light Amaze Grass & Weed Preventer (1% & 1%)
Summer annual grasses, annual bluegrass, some selected annual broadleaf weeds benefin + trifluralin Anderson Turf Products 2% Team Herbicide DG (1.33% &0.67%)
Hi-Yield Crabgrass Control
Same as for benefin, plus oxalis & speedwell pendimethalin Anderson Turf Products 1.71% Pendimethal in DG
Scotts Halts Crabgrass & Grassy Weed
Preventer (1.71%)
Harrell’s 0-0-10 with 0.86% Pendimethalin
Same as for benefin, plus oxalis dithiopyr Anderson Turf Products 0.25% Pendimethal in DG
Bonide Crabgrass & Weed Preventer for Lawns & Ornamental Beds (0.27%)
Hi Yield Turf & Ornamental Weed & Grass Stopper Containing Dimension (0.125%)
StaGreen CrabEx Crabgrass & Weed Preventer (0.25%)
summer annual grasses, annual bluegrass, some selected weeds such as chickweed, spurge, goosegrass prodiamine Helena Pro-Mate Barricade & Fertilizer 0-0-7 (available with 0.22, 0.375, or 0.435%)
Howard Johnson Crabgrass Control with Prodiamine & 0-0-7 (0.86%)
Lebanon Pro Fertilizer (0-0-7) with Prodiamine (0.38% or 0.43%)
Lesco Stonewall Plus Fertilizer (0-0-7) (available with 0.20, 0.29, 0.37, or 0.43%)
Lesco Barricade Plus Fertilizer 0-0-7 (0.43%)
Scotts Halts Pro 0-0-7 & Halts Pro (0.28%)
Harrell’s 0-0-7 with 0.21% Barricade
Harrell’s 0-0-7 with 0.30% Barricade
Harrell’s 0-0-7 with 0.45% Barricade
Southern States Pro Turf 0-0-7 with 0.38% Barricade

Table 2. Post-emergence Herbicides to Control Existing Grassy Weeds in Residential Lawns.

Weeds Controlled Active Ingredients Examples of Brands & Products
annual & perennial grasses, such as crabgrass, foxtails, goosegrass, sandbur; bermudagrass suppression fenoxaprop
(for fescue lawns only)
Aventis Acclaim Extra
Bayer Advanced Crabgrass Concentrate (6.59%) Killer for Lawns RTS (0.41%)
annual & perennial grasses control. Excellent control of crabgrass; good control of bermudagrass, sandspur, bahiagrass & goosegrass sethoxydim
(for centipedegrass lawns only)
Arrest (by Whitehall Institute) (13%)
Segment (by BASF) (13%)
Excellent control of crabgrass; fair control of dallisgrass, foxtails, & signalgrass. Also, most broadleaf weeds, such as dollarweed, black medic, wild onion & garlic, speedwells, plantains, dandelion, white clover, violets, henbit, chickweed, star of Bethlehem quinclorac + 2,4-D + dicamba (for fescue, zoysiagrass, & bermudagrass 1 ) Bayer Advanced All-in-One Lawn Weed & Crabgrass Killer Concentrate
Bonide Weed Beater Plus Crabgrass & Broadleaf Weed Killer RTS
Ferti-lome Weed Out with Crabgrass Control RTS
Monterey Crab-E-Rad Plus RTS
Ortho Weed B Gon Max Plus Crabgrass
Control RTS
Excellent control of crabgrass; fair control of dallisgrass, foxtails, & signalgrass. Also most broadleaf weeds, such as dollarweed, black medic, speedwells, plantains, dandelion, white clover, violets, henbit, chickweed, star of Bethlehem, & nutsedges. quinclorac + 2,4-D +
dicamba + sulfentrazone
(for fescue, zoysiagrass & bermudagrass 1 )
Spectracide Weed Stop for Lawns Plus
Crabgrass Killer RTS
Excellent control of crabgrass; fair control of dallisgrass, foxtails, & signalgrass; Also, some broadleaf weeds, such as dollarweed, black medic, violets, speedwells, dandelion, white clover, nutsedges, chickweed, star of Bethlehem, & henbit. quinclorac + sulfentrazone
(for fescue, zoysiagrass & bermudagrass 1 )
Image Kills Crabgrass – Water Dissolving Granules
Very good control of annual bluegrass; fair control of crabgrass, sandspur, bahiagrass, fescue, & bermudagrass; poor control of goosegrass, & dallisgrass. Also many broadleaf weeds. atrazine (for St. Augustinegrass & centipedegrass) Hi-Yield Atrazine Weed Killer (4.0%) Concentrate
Southern Ag Atrazine St. Augustine Weed Killer (4.0%) Concentrate
Image Herbicide for St. Augustine &
Centipede with Atrazine RTS (4.0%)
Annual & perennial grass control, including bermudagrass, crabgrass, foxtail, goosegrass, torpedograss, johnsongrass fluazifop-
P-butyl (for Tall Fescue & Zoysiagrass
Gordon’s Ornamec 170 Grass Herbicide (1.7%)
1 Products containing quinclorac may cause temporary yellowing or discoloration of bermudagrass.

Pesticides are updated annually. Last updates were done on 7/22 by Barbara Smith.

Originally published 09/99

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at [email protected] or 1-888-656-9988.

Author(s)

Robert F. Polomski, PhD, Associate Extension Specialist, Clemson University
Bert McCarty, PhD, Turf Specialist, Clemson University

This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement of brand names or registered trademarks by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied, nor is any discrimination intended by the exclusion of products or manufacturers not named. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.

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