Grass Weed Seeds


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Having a difficult time identifying lawn weeds that look like grass? I've rounded up a list of common grass-like weeds to help you ID weeds in your lawn. Learn how to identify and treat the 10 most common lawn weeds such as nutsedge, crabgrass and dandelion. 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)…

List of Common Weeds That Look Like Grass

You’ve been working hard on cultivating the perfectly manicured lawn, taking all the necessary steps to plant seed or sod, fertilize, and mow appropriately. Despite your best efforts, there seem to be patches of your lawn that don’t match the rest. There are some common weeds that look like grass which tend to blend in with a lawn and thus can be more difficult to identify and target when compared to the average dandelion.

In this article I’ll help you identify these grass-like weeds and offer advice for how to combat and eliminate them from your lawn.

Common Weeds That Look Like Grass

Click to jump to a specific weed that resembles grass


Also known as finger grasses, crabgrass can be an invasive type of weed that looks very much like grass.

It often sprouts in smaller patches throughout your lawn and has a distinctly coarse texture compared to the rest of your lawn. Thankfully, crabgrass is an annual plant so it only survives for the season and then dies.

That said, it spreads quickly, and because of its thick blades and lateral growth, it can quickly do permanent damage to your lawn by crowding out and smothering the grass surrounding it.

This is why it’s important to be vigilant and act right away if you see crabrass in your lawn.

The best way to get rid of crabgrass is by preventing its germination using a pre-emergent herbicide that can be commonly found in combination with fertilizer that you can spread in early spring.

Once crabgrass has germinated, the best way to get rid of it is by pulling it or using a direct herbicide for your lawn.

Thankfully, crabgrass is not perennial so it is relatively easy to get rid of it with some diligence, and once you improve your lawn the canopy will be too dense for crabgrass to grow.

Wild garlic and onion

While it looks very much like a tall grass, wild onion and wild garlic are very fragrant and thus these grass-like weeds are pretty unmistakable once you get close enough to smell them.

If you finish mowing and it smells like you’ve been making pasta sauce, there’s a good chance you have some wild onion and/or wild garlic hiding in your lawn.

Wild onion and wild garlic also become noticeable as they grow faster than regular grass and quickly surpass the height of your lawn.

They grow in clumps, so if you have them, the rate of growth and growth habit make them pretty easy to identify.

For those who love garlic and onion as an addition to many dishes, this may be more of a fortuitous find (transplant them!). However, even the biggest garlic fans probably don’t want a swath of it in the middle of their lawn.

Thankfully, these weeds that resemble grass tend to only grow in early spring and late fall, becoming dormant in the summer season.

To remove them from your yard, dig them up (I recommend transferring them to a pot or herb garden) – just make sure to get bulb and all, or they’ll come back.

Herbicides will also work to kill wild garlic and onion, just make sure to check the label of the product your purchase to ensure that wild garlic and onion are included in the list of weeds it treats.


Before it matures and blooms, nutsedge can look much like a tall grass.

Unlike crabgrass, Nutsedge is a perennial weed that can be quite invasive and difficult to get under control due to its hardy root systems.

It can also be spread throughout your lawn (or from a neighbor’s lawn) both by airborne seeds as well as underground rhizomes or tubers. It will continue to come back year after year unless you get it under control.

Sort of like fight club, the first rule of Nutsedge is not to pull Nutsedge.

If you try to combat it by pulling it, you’re likely to leave behind tubers or rhizomes that will end up sprouting.

One of the most effective ways to prevent Nutsedge is to grow a thick and hardy lawn that will crowd out Nutsedge, and prevent this invasive grass-like weed from being able to properly root and grow those rhizomes and tubers that make it so invasive.

But if you have it, recommending that you hop in your time machine and take steps to prevent it doesn’t help you.

If you have Nutsedge in your lawn, there are specific herbicides that can be applied directly to the base of Nutsedge to kill the entire plant including the underground components, and while I always recommend an organic approach when I can, in this case this will be your best course of action.

Common couch

Another common weed that looks like grass is couch grass or common couch.

Sometimes referred to as quack grass, this is another invasive species that is hardy and can propagate quickly in your lawn via rhizomes as part of a complex and fibrous root system.

This makes it hard to pull in its entirety.

It also spreads via airborne seeds, thus being able to travel longer distances and quickly find a home in thin lawns.

Similar to many of the other grass-like weeds, prevention by crowding out seeds is the most effective way to prevent these species from invading, which is why proper and regular lawn maintenance and improvement are always my best defense against lawn weeds.

Green foxtail

This weed gets its name from the appearance of the mature heads that bloom on these grass-like stalks. The heads look like small fuzzy foxtails!

They can grow anywhere from 10cm to 100cm tall and are very common in prairies and meadows. Despite its cute name, it is an invasive species that can be quite problematic, especially for farmers, and a nuisance to lawn owners everywhere.

This hardy annual plant with hundreds of seeds per foxtail plume spreads easily, as these seeds can travel great distances with enough wind.

Despite how hardy these lawn weeds are once established, they are quite a picky species when it comes to germinating. They prefer moist soil and are easily crowded out by densely planted lawns or fields.

Green Foxtail also prefers warmer soil in the range of 15 to 35 degrees Celsius (59-95 degrees Fahrenheit), but this weed can germinate at any point in the season as long as conditions are favorable.

Like most lawn weeds, Green Foxtail can be controlled with some herbicidal solutions, but the best way to prevent this invasive species is by crowding it out with a thick, healthy lawn.

Smooth bromegrass

Another hardy perennial, Smooth Bromegrass, is highly adaptable and it is able to grow even in cold conditions and survive for quite a long time once established.

Like Nutsedge, Bromegrass can grow rhizomes underground through intricate root systems, which will help it to spread across your lawn quickly … especially if your lawn is thin.

These qualities make it an invasive species that can easily get out of control.

However, Bromegrass serves an important purposes as hay and grazing fields for livestock and it can also help to prevent soil erosion due to this strong root system.

Despite these qualities, most homeowners probably don’t want it in their lawn. To control and eliminate Smooth Bromegrass in your lawn, I recommend mowing it down low and attempting to crowd it out with a thick, healthy lawn canopy. In a worse-case scenario, you should opt for an application of herbicide designed to target this grass-like weed.

Slender rush

Also known as “poverty rush” or “path rush”, this grass-like perennial tends to grow in clumps, which is similar to crabgrass.

It is propagated by above-ground seeds as well as below-ground tubers that form with the help of the root system. The deeper root structure with rhizome propagation makes slender rush a particularly invasive species to get under control in lawns, because it can still be present even if you can’t necessarily see it yet.

Herbicides are not usually an effective way to control slender rush.

Manual weed management tends to be the most effective way of dealing with this invasive weed that looks like grass. This can involve pulling weeds by hand. Do so carefully, and be sure to get the root system as well.

The other options is a mowing routine that doesn’t allow for the plant to mature and spread seeds above ground.

Tall fescue

You’ve likely heard this species discussed in the context of a grass, however it is an invasive perennial that has characteristics of a weed, particularly if your lawn is primarily a different type of turfgrass.

Similar to some of the other species discussed above, tall fescue has the ability to propagate via rhizomes underneath the ground. It is highly drought resistant, and in areas where it has been planted it has often taken over, crowding out other species of grass.

If you wanted to get rid of tall fescue grass that has run wild in your yard, you’d probably have to solarize it. Solarizing involves covering up large areas of grass to deprive it of sunlight and also increase the heat underneath the tarp so that it kills everything underneath.

Herbicides could also be used, but it would take a large amount which could get costly and be harmful to the environment, so I recommend solarizing tall fescue.

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Restoring Lawn and Order

It’s interesting to compare various grass-like weeds and perennials that are less desirable than the perfectly manicured lawn.

Eliminating Weeds That Look Like Grass

Careful selection of grass species is important in establishing a lawn.

It’s also possible to crowd out many of these invasive species by planting additional grass seed seasonally (overseeding) to create a thick and lush lawn.

Pre-emergent methods can also be an effective backup method of prevention, and using a pre-emergent every spring for several years as you overseed, fertilize, and use proper irrigation to improve your lawn can help to create that thick, dense lawn canopy that will prevent weeds from taking root in your grass.

Finally, spot treatment with the appropriate herbicide can nip any problematic weeds in the bud.

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by Sarah The Lawn Chick

I’ve learned to love caring for my lawn naturally and enjoying it daily. On this blog I’ll share some of my best tips and tutorials to help you make your lawn the best on the block!

16 thoughts on “ List of Common Weeds That Look Like Grass ”

Need help with naming an invasive looking weed that has leaves that look like a rocket, long thick body with small wings. It’s overtaking my raised beds. I have a photo.

I’ll see if I recognize it! Email me a photo (my first name @

Hello Sarah,
I have a few new spring weed grasses popping up that I didn’t see last year. Are you ok with sending the pics to your email for your opinion?

Thank you

Sure, Brian – I may not get back to you until this weekend but I’ll take a look as soon as I can!

Hi Sarah!
I just discovered your website/posts while researching ‘weeds that look like grass’. I breed, raise and train springers which are flushing dogs. Recently, I came back from an excursion and one of my springers got a ‘grass thorn’ stuck in her paw. I always check for these things but somehow I missed this one. Nasty little thing but it was removed and after treatment, my dog was right-as-rain!
I was researching lawns / grasses etc. as I’m planning to re-do my yard, making it more ‘dog friendly’. I was shocked to learn that Tall Fescue grass is considered an invasive weed on your website. This was the grass that was ‘highly recommended’ for those who have dogs. As I’m not keen on putting anything in that resembles bamboo in it’s underground system (I’ve had a 30 yr battle with this horrific stuff), can you suggest anything else? Any information you may provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for the comment. Springers are great dogs!

There are a LOT of different types of fescue, and as with any grass … what some consider a weed, others consider the foundation of a beautiful lawn. If you like the characteristics of fescue, I’d recommend you consider Turf Type Tall Fescue. It’s an improved variety designed for lawns and something I think you’ll be really happy with if you’re determined to go with a single type of grass for your yard.

You can read more about all of your options for Fescue here, and I have a comparison of TTTF and Kentucky Bluegrass which you may find interesting here.

You also may be interested in my article about how to grow grass with dogs that love to destroy it, which has some good tips on maintaining your lawn with four-legged friends. You can check that one out here.

Finally, I’d suggest that it might be a good idea to get a blend of grass seed, with whatever you settle on as the primary seed. I’m in New England and my lawn is a mix of Perennial Ryegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, and a few different fescues. Getting a seed blend that’s made for your area will give you good results, and provide good coverage in different areas of your lawn (full sun, part shade, shade, wet, dry, etc.). I think that’s easier to maintain than having to baby a single type of grass on parts of your property where growing conditions might not be ideal. With a blend of seed you allow different grasses to become dominant where the conditions are best suited for them, and your whole lawn looks and feels healthier.

Hope this helps – good luck!

Hi Sarah! Thank you so very much for all your help! This is the most information I have ever received! I love the idea of mixing grass seed … this could be a very good solution. My lawn is not very big … I have four ESS and of course they have worn paths to their various ‘barking stations’ ! The lawn is basically sunny and has thrived well. But, over time, some of the grass has worn despite my best efforts at ‘re-seeding’. I was relieved to learn that there are many types of Tall Fescue Grass. I would really like to see some great photos of lawns using this variety: google just doesn’t cut it!
Again, thanks so much Sarah. I live in BC., Canada so our climate is quite different from yours. Fortunately, living in the southern part (coast), we experience quite a mild climate, lots of rain in the winter with very little snow and our summer highs almost never reach higher than 34C. I will take all your suggestions under advisement and begin my research pronto!

You bet, Sharleen! Good luck and have fun with your project!

I have an area of lawn that has really compact soil, where a portion of the section gets scorching sun and the remainder is covered in shade. This year, I’ve tried growing Bermuda grass, but that is only taking somewhat in the sunny area. It has been so bad for so long that I’m now researching “weeds that look like lawns” that I can plant in this area and just be done with it! We are in central Virginia and have hot/humid summers and still some winter.

The transition zone can be tough for grass for some of the reasons you’ve outlined here. I’d try the Combat Extreme Transition Zone seed blend from Outside Pride. I’d plant it in September to give it the best chance of success so it can establish itself as things start to cool down in your area and it can build roots and come back strong and healthy for next season. The Outside Pride website has a calculator specific to this seed that will tell you exactly how much you’ll need to order and spread (I’d go a bit heavy, but that’s me). Here’s a link to an article with some resources to measure the lawn area you plan to re-seed so you’ll know exactly how much you need. I’d give this one (or one like it) a try before you throw in the towel. You need a good blend that can take sun and shade, and a fescue blend should be best for you as it’ll have the deep roots needed to withstand your summer heat.

Do you know what species prefer weeds to monocultures? All pollinators! Please consider why you feel you need a vast monoculture of grass in the first place.

Totally agree with you – I have huge perennial beds filled with native, pollinator-friendly plants that are in flower from spring through late fall for exactly this reason. I’m of the mindset that you can create a beautiful lawn for your family to enjoy while also supporting pollinators.

I have quite a few resources on this site that address this subject, as well. Here are a couple you may enjoy:

Thanks for your comment!

I just happened upon your website, Sarah. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with those of us who want weeds diminished in our lawns. Is there a specific herbicide that we should consider in dealing with nutsedge? Thanks for your attention to this matter. Frank

I’d try the Ortho Nutsedge product. It’s probably something that’s available locally, but you can also get it online (Amazon link). I like it because it comes ready-to-use in a hose-end sprayer. For those of us who don’t really like mixing herbicides, that’s a benefit.

As with any herbicide, I recommend testing it out in a small area before you spray it all over your lawn just to be sure it’s effective and that it isn’t going to kill your turfgrass in addition to the Nutsedge and cause a big headache for you.

We’re trying to identify a grass-like plant in our lawn (we’re in New Hampshire). I think it looks like a flat circle of knives. Pretty, but not the nice soft grass you’d want to walk through barefoot.

We have a picture that we can send.

I’ll see if I recognize it! Email me a photo (my first name @

Common Lawn Weeds and How to Get Rid of Them

Even the best-tended lawns come under attack from common weeds. Weed seeds float in on the wind, creeping weeds claim more territory, and weeds you thought you pulled quietly continue to grow. How well your lawn copes with the onslaught depends on the weeds involved, the response you choose and your lawn’s overall health. Understanding common lawn weeds and the options available to fight them can help you successfully combat the invasion.

To help simplify weed defense, we’ve charted 10 common lawn weeds, including their characteristics, type and how they spread, and most importantly- how to eliminate them. Weeds, like ornamental garden plants, can be annuals or perennials. Annual weeds, such as crabgrass, complete their entire life cycle in a single growing season, and then die, leaving seeds behind to continue the legacy. Perennial weeds, such as dandelions, come back year after year from their roots, and distribute new seeds to boot. Weeds can also be grass-like, broadleaf or sedge. Choosing the right weed control product requires understanding the weed you want to fight and its stage of growth. Pre-emergent weed controls, sometime called preventers, work to keep weed seeds from germinating and developing. Post-emergent weed controls fight weeds that have already germinated and emerged from the soil.

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  • Broad leaves with five prominent veins running from the base
  • Short, winged leaf stalk
  • Dense, erect flower spikes

Weed Type:

Broadleaf perennial with shallow, fibrous roots.

How it Spreads:

By small, angular seeds. The mature seeds in one spike will range in color from orange all the way to black. Spikes will include seeds in shades of brown between the two extremes.


  • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4
  • Pennington UltraGreen Southern Weed and Feed 34-0-4
  • IMAGE Kills Nutsedge


Weed Name:


  • Serrated, comb- and tooth-like leaves
  • Hollow, leafless stalk
  • Yellow, petal-like flowers mature to white puffballs

Weed Type:

Broadleaf perennial with a long, deep taproot.

How it Spreads:

By seeds that germinate year-round in accommodating climates.


  • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4
  • Pennington UltraGreen Southern Weed and Feed 34-0-4
  • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer
  • IMAGE Kills Nutsedge


Weed Name:


  • Flat, pointed, narrow leaves, rolled at the base with a prominent midvein
  • Short, flat, purplish-green stems
  • Fringy, spike-like flower heads

Weed Type:

Annual summer grass that germinates throughout the season, capable of producing 150,000 seeds per plant, per season.

How it Spreads:

By seeds and lower stem pieces that root.


Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Fertilizer III 30-0-4


Weed Name:


  • Grass-like leaves, v-shaped in cross-section
  • Erect, hairless, triangular stems
  • Golden-brown flower spikelets

Weed Type:

Perennial sedge that forms dense colonies.

How it Spreads:

By seeds and rhizomes, but primarily by underground tubers known as nutlets.


  • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer
  • IMAGE Kills Nutsedge


Weed Name:


  • Prickly, deeply-lobed leaves
  • Slender, hairless stems
  • White, purple or pink flowers

Weed Type:

Broadleaf with many annual and perennial species and seeds that remain viable for many years.

How it Spreads:

By seeds and root fragments.


  • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4


Weed Name:


  • Upright, flat, rough-edged, blue-green leaves
  • Leaf blade grasps the stem at its base
  • Flattened spike of alternating flowers and seeds

Weed Type:

Perennial grass most active during cool spring and fall seasons.

How it Spreads:

By seeds and rhizomes, but primarily by underground tubers known as nutlets.


  • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer
  • IMAGE Kills Nutsedge


Weed Name:


  • Heart-shaped leaflets, often purplish, occur three per leaf and fold down in heat
  • Hairy, upright stems
  • Bright yellow spring flowers

Weed Type:

Broadleaf perennial with a shallow taproot and fibrous, expansive root system.

How it Spreads:

By creeping stems, extensive roots, pointed seed capsules that expel seeds, and root and stem fragments.


  • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4
  • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer
  • IMAGE for St. Augustinegrass & Centipedegrass


Weed Name:


  • Hairy, fernlike, deeply-lobed leaves
  • Coarse, hairy stems
  • Inconspicuous, green-yellow flowers

Weed Type:

Broadleaf annual (responsible for hay fever) with shallow, fibrous roots.

How it Spreads:

By seed, with a single plant producing up to 60,000 seeds or more per season.


Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4


Weed Name:


  • Thick, purple-green, succulent leaves
  • Succulent, branching stems
  • Small, yellow flowers

Weed Type:

Broadleaf annual that develops thick, multi-branched mats.

How it Spreads:

By brown and black seed and stem fragments.


  • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4
  • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer


Weed Name:


  • Rounded, scalloped leaves
  • Four-sided, mint-family, squared stems
  • Small, funnel-shaped, purple flowers

Weed Type:

Broadleaf, mat-forming perennial with a distinctive odor when crushed.

How it Spreads:

By seed and above-ground runners, known as stolons, that root at the nodes.


  • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4
  • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer

Weed-Control Options

When choosing weed-control products, take into consideration your target weeds, whether they’re still seeds or emerged plants, and the type of lawn grass you grow. Different types of weeds call for different controls, and some Southern lawn grasses, such as St. Augustinegrass and Centipedegrass, are sensitive to some weed-control products. Always check the label to make sure the product you choose is suitable for your lawn grass.

A top-notch weed-management program involves the following types of weed control products*:

  • Crabgrass Preventers: Crabgrass plants die after setting their seeds, but their seeds live on. Germination starts in spring, once soil temperatures reach approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit – the same temperature that sends forsythia shrubs into bloom. Proper weed management works to stop those seeds from germinating and rid your lawn of any that sneak through. Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Fertilizer III 30-0-4 inhibits germination and root development of crabgrass and stops many weed grasses and broadleaf weed seeds when applied in early spring, before weed seeds germinate. While controlling weeds for three to five months, this nitrogen-rich product continues to feed your lawn. Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Fertilizer III 30-0-4 prevents crabgrass germination, suppresses other weed grass and broadleaf weed seeds and controls weed grass for three to five months while feeding your lawn with slow-release nitrogen.
  • Weed & Feed Fertilizers: As the name implies, weed & feed products tackle common lawn weeds while feeding lawn grasses to better help them act against weed invasion. Pennington UltraGreen Weed & Feed 30-0-4 and Pennington UltraGreen Southern Weed & Feed 34-0-4, both safe on Centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass lawns, kill and suppress tough existing broadleaf weeds and control new weeds for up to three months in established lawns. Applied when weeds are actively growing in late spring and early summer, and again in early fall, these weed & feed products continue to feed your lawn grass and keep it beautiful and green.
  • Targeted Weed Control: When existing perennial weeds continue to be a problem, or when new weed seeds germinate and seedlings emerge, a targeted post-emergent herbicide is the answer. For best results, treat weeds while they’re small and actively growing throughout the season. IMAGE All-in-One Weed Killer herbicide offers a broad spectrum of selective weed control for difficult sedges, crabgrass and broadleaf weeds, killing weed roots, shoots and nutlets. These weed killers target weeds only and are suitable for most cool- and warm-season lawn grasses. IMAGE Kills Nutsedge and IMAGE Herbicide for St. Augustinegrass and Centipedegrass provide targeted, selective control of tenacious, emerged weeds.

Well maintained lawns naturally control weeds.

Keeping your lawn grass healthy and competitive provides the best defense against lawn weed invasions. Follow these four steps to a healthier, stronger lawn:

1. Always mow at the recommended mowing height for your type of lawn grass. This helps promote healthy root growth and increases resistance to pests and disease.

2. Mow based on grass growth, not your calendar. Time your mowing so you remove roughly one-third of the length of the grass blades in a single mowing.

3. Supplement natural rainfall by irrigating your lawn as needed. Proper watering provides an average lawn with the equivalent of about 1 inch of rainfall each week. This allows moisture to penetrate deeply and encourages healthy, deep root growth. Watering only once or twice per week is better than more frequent watering.

4. Keep your lawn well-fed with quality weed & feed or fertilizer-only products, such as the Pennington UltraGreen line of lawn fertilizers.

*Always consult the product label for your specific lawn grass type before using any type of weed control products.

Pennington is a trademark of Pennington Seed, Inc. Alaska, Lilly Miller, Moss Out!, Image and UltraGreen are registered trademarks of Central Garden & Pet Company.

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.

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.


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
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.


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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