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My Attempt To Kill Quack Grass

May 13, 2011 · 33 comments

in Home & Garden


I had stated in a previous post that I would be going chemical free this year with our lawn.

However, our lawn is getting overtaken!  I thought the invasive species that was growing in patches in our yard was crab grass.  Turns out that I have lived all this time and have been unfairly blaming crabgrass for our less-than-perfect lawn!   After some discussion with my mom, I realized that my yard is actually under attack from Quack Grass.  (Thanks for the lawn lesson mom!)

What Is Quack Grass?

Individual blades of Quack Grass. Has tough stem and wide blades

Quack Grass (a.k.a. couch grass, devils-grass, knot grass, and quick grass) is a perennial weed that is very hardy.  It is incredibly difficult to pull out because it has a very fibrous root system with multiple stems called rhizomes.   These rhizomes can be very dense and can create a four inch thick mat of roots that are so strong, they can push through asphalt.  So, you can’t just grab the weed like a dandelion and pull.  Well, you could, but it would be an exercise in futility.  Even if you dig it up, you have to get rid of every single rhizome, or it will just spread all over again.

You can identify Quack Grass best a few days after the lawn has been mowed.  Quack Grass grows very fast, so if the lawn has patches of grass that are much taller than the rest of the lawn, it very well may be Quack Grass.   If you suspect Quack Grass, look at the stems of the blades.  Quack Grass has rigid stems that are actually uncomfortable to walk on.  Plus, the blades are very wide, spanning up to 1/3″ .

How To Get Rid of Quack grass

There are not many good options to get rid of Quack Grass.  It isn’t the type of weed that can be killed by a selective herbicide like crab grass can.  (Meaning, there are not any chemicals on the market that will kill quack grass, but not affect the lawn grass that is mixed in with the quack grass.)

One method that can be used to get rid of quack grass is digging.  However, you have to dig deep.  It is suggested that to fully get rid of all the rhizomes, you need to dig twelve inches deep.  The patches then have to be filled and covered with either mulch or cardboard to suppress any new growth that may pop through.

Another method is to use a herbicide with glyphosate like Round Up.  Since Round Up kills all vegetation, you have to accept that all grass will be killed if Round Up is sprayed directly on the lawn.  As an alternative, you can use a sponge or a paintbrush to apply Round Up to the taller leaf blades that are characteristic of Quackgrass.  This method will hopefully only affect the quack grass and allow the turf grass to survive.   (This method will probably require multiple applications.)   You will probably have to re-seed some areas once it is safe to plant after using Round Up.  If you don’t have enough healthy grass to choke out any leftover quack grass, it will quickly proliferate again.

What Method Did I Use To Try To Eliminate Quackgrass?

I grabbed a big sponge, squirted Round Up on it, and spent 75 minutes applying Round Up to the Quackgrass throughout the yard.  I have no idea if this will work or not, but I sure hope it does.  I will definitely post an update as the season progresses.

Update (April, 2013):  We still have some quack grass.  The Round Up did kill the quack grass in a lot of places.  The reason we still have some is because the new seed we planted after killing areas with Round Up did not ‘take’ in all areas.  Our method worked great in some spots on our lawn, and not so well in other areas.  Overall lawn health is so important to keeping quack grass and other weeds at bay.  Unfortunately for us, our neighbor does not tend to his lawn at all, so it is a constant battle to keep our lawn looking good in the first place.

Have you ever found Quack Grass in your lawn?  If so, how did you get rid of it?

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