How do you get rid of quack grass?

Killing Quackgrass: Tips For Getting Rid Of Quackgrass

Eliminating quackgrass (Elymus repens) in your garden can be tricky but it can be done. Getting rid of quackgrass requires persistence. Keep reading to learn how to get rid of quackgrass from your yard and flower beds.

What Does Quackgrass Look Like?

Quackgrass identification is pretty easy. As suggested by its name, quackgrass is a grass. The leaves will be broader than lawn type grasses and the grass blades will also have a rough, almost burr-like feel to them when you run your fingers along the blade.

The roots will be thick and white. If the quackgrass is pulled out of the ground, you may notice that the roots break easily and often pieces of the roots will stay in the soil after the plant is removed.

How to Get Rid of Quackgrass

As with any invasive weed, the best way to control quackgrass is to make sure that you do not have it in the first place. Any plants that you bring home from stores or nurseries must be carefully checked for quackgrass and remove the quackgrass plant and roots completely if you find it in the pot.

Another essential part of getting rid of quackgrass is to act quickly when you do find it in your garden. Quackgrass moves quickly through any soil, but moves like lightening through loamy or sandy soil. Check your beds often for the appearance of this weed. If quackgrass is found, remove the quackgrass plant and roots as best as possible. Any roots left in the ground will grow new plants. Check the area daily for any new growth and remove any new quackgrass found as soon as possible.

If your flower beds have become overrun with quackgrass, manual pulling is really your only option for getting rid of quackgrass. Unfortunately, killing quackgrass is not as easy as simply spraying an herbicide. They do not respond to selective weed killers and your only chemical option for eliminating quackgrass is to use a non-selective weed killer. These weed killers will get rid of the quackgrass, but will also kill any plants the quack grass is growing near.

If a bed becomes badly infested with quackgrass, you may need to replant the bed.

  • Start by removing any plants you wish to keep.
  • Check the soil carefully for any traces of quackgrass roots and remove if found.
  • Next, you will be killing the quackgrass in the bed. Treat the bed with a non-selective weed killer, chemical or boiling water. Wait one week and treat the bed again.

Wait one more week, and if quackgrass is starting to grow again, repeat the above steps again.

While this may seem a bit extreme in order to control quackgrass, this is the only way to ensure that you have eliminated this stubborn weed. The steps for how to get rid of quackgrass are somewhat time consuming, so it is important to treat this weed early and fast. The reward is that you never have to worry about getting rid of quackgrass that has taken over a once beautiful flower bed.

Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are more environmentally friendly.

How to Remove Quack Grass

The invasive species known as quack grass is extremely tough to remove from your yard once it has successfully taken over. However, even the worst of quack grass infestations can be eliminated if one has proper knowledge about how the plant grows.

Understanding Quack Grass

Quack grass reproduces itself underground through rhizomes and can grow up to four feet if it is allowed to. The average quack grass plant produces about thirty seeds that can remain viable up to four years. For these reasons, quack grass is extremely vivacious and maintains a lasting presence in the yard.

Since quack grass reproduces through rhizomes it cannot be removed by digging. Rhizomes are an underground network of stems that quickly sprout new plants when broken or chopped up. Therefore it is important that you do not rotatill over an area that has quack grass. The chopped up rhizomes of a few quack grass plants will quickly multiply into hundreds.

One plant of quack grass can grow up to three hundred feet of rhizomes each year. Their rhizomes are strong enough to grow through almost any other root system and even emerge through thick asphalt. For these reasons, you must anticipate spending several seasons trying to control the invasive grass.

Two Ways to Remove Quack Grass

Immature quack grass plants do not grow rhizomes until they are two or three months old and must be removed before they reach maturity. One way to remove mature quack grass plants is to spray them with a herbicide that contains glyphosate. This chemical is included in the herbicides Round Up and Kleen Up.

Important: Apply the herbicide during the grass’s growing season when they are actively growing. Remember that the herbicide will kill both quack and desirable lawn grass so be careful to only spray quack grass patches.

Another method you may choose to employ is to mow your lawn and then wait three or four days. Since quack grass grows faster and taller than ordinary grass, after four days the quack grass infestation will become apparent. Use a paint brush to apply the herbicide directly onto the quack grass.

Since it is such an adaptable and strong plant, it will probably take several applications before the grass is completely eradicated.

Last Resort

If you find that the quack grass simply cannot be destroyed there is one last method of destruction you can try. In many cases, the rhizomes of the quack grass remain dormant even though the plant is actively growing. Therefore, when the herbicide wears off, the dormant rhizomes reactivate and create another plant.

To combat this problem, apply nitrogen fertilizer to the quack grass infested areas. The fertilizer will “wake up” the dormant rhizomes and allow them to be destroyed by the glyphosate when you next apply it.

Quackgrass elimination in lawn

MSU’s Dr. Kevin Frank just issued a news bulletin on quackgrass – here is an excerpt
“Quackgrass is an insidious, rhizomatous, perennial grassy weed that infests turf and ornamental beds. Quackgrass stands out in turf this time of year due to its rapid top growth. This is a one-time-of-year occurrence due to the top growth difference when quackgrass could be effectively wicked with a non-selective herbicide such as glyphosate to kill the quackgrass without injuring the desirable turf.
Michigan State University Extension says mechanical removal can be a very challenging task due to the intricate rhizome system in quackgrass. Tugging from the top often results in snapping the top leaves off and leaving the rhizomes to regrow more quackgrass, so you can try pulling again in a couple weeks. If you’re not inspired to try and rid your patch of turf of quackgrass, rest assured that as the Kentucky bluegrass increases its growth in the next week or two, the quackgrass will start to blend into the background.”
The ‘wicked’ technique is used by professionals across a large area- it consists of a ‘ropewick’ tool that paints herbicide on the tall leaves of the quackgrass, leaving most of the desirable grass untouched.
And, here is the link to the complete article-

Another article that discusses several options for homeowners is here—

The active ingredient in the ‘Certainty’ product mentioned is Sulfosulfuron, and is only available to licensed professionals.
Since quackgrass is a type of grass, there are not any chemical options available to the homeowner that do not harm desirable grasses. One of the options mentioned in the second link, ‘quackgrass control in turf’ should work for you.

Quackgrass is among the relatively common weeds you can find in your lawn. They can be easily recognized by their stalky, thick stems and wide blades. Being very common, this grass comes with a variety of names. Some call it the devil’s grass, others call it quick grass yet other people also call it knotgrass.

Although you can use some home remedies such as vinegar to kill the stubborn weed, the major downside of having quackgrass grow in your lawn is that it is very difficult to eliminate. As difficult as it may be, getting rid of it is not impossible.

Does vinegar kill quackgrass weed?

Vinegar can get rid of crabgrass. A strong solution of vinegar, when mixed with orange oil, can kill weeds for good. However, this process has to be done in the correct manner lest the weeds sprout forth again.

Most vinegar solutions are not effective in killing weeds because they are not appropriately prepared. While most blogs will give tutorials on how to make a vinegar weed killer, most of the content is laced with faulty information that does not yield any desirable result.

This is because most of these tutorials only show vinegar with an acidity of 5% which does not help significantly.

Household vinegar rarely kills weeds, though it may cause some of the weeds to shrivel and wilt a bit but not to die off completely. Noxious, hardcore weeds will need stronger agents for their complete eradication.

To ensure that you achieve better results with your vinegar solution, you need to get vinegar with an acidity of at least 10%.

You should, however, be careful when handling vinegar with more than 10 percent acidity because it is very potent and dangerously corrosive. It can burn your skin and cause very painful wounds.

To keep yourself safe, wear goggles, long sleeves, rubber gloves, and shoes when you are working with 10% to 20-% vinegar solutions. It is also important to apply vinegar mixed with orange oil.

While vinegar can solely destroy weeds without a problem, it is the orange oil component that greatly completes the entire process of weed control.

How to get rid of quackgrass using vinegar

The correct ratio for killing weeds with vinegar is 1 gallon of 10%-20% vinegar to one cup of orange oil. If you have more weeds to take care of, use a type of sprayer that will cover a wide area.

Here’s how to kill quackgrass using vinegar.

  1. Mix vinegar with orange oil well.
  2. Apply the mixture on quackgrass in your lawn at full strength of sunlight.
  3. Allow it to sit until it rains.
  4. Repeat the process if the weed does not dry and die after the first application.

This combination works best when applied at full strength in sunlight as the day gets heated up. To maintain its potency, you should not apply vinegar weed killer less than 24 hours after rains or when the forecast indicates an impending rain within the next 24 hours.

This means that if the rains fell yesterday, you won’t be doing much if you apply the weed killer today. The optimum working conditions and maximum efficacy for vinegar weed killer averages at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is it safe to apply vinegar on your lawn?

The major downside of this brew of vinegar and orange oil is that it is not discriminative. It kills anything in its path. Therefore, you should be really careful when applying it to your lawn lest the entire lawn dries up.

It kills plants, flowers, and grass just as effectively as it kills weeds. The best strategy to keep your flowers, plants, and grasses safe is by avoiding the use of vinegar weed killer on windy days. You can also use a paintbrush as an alternative for spray can to selectively eliminate quackgrass amidst other grasses in the lawn.

Natural alternatives to vinegar for killing weeds

Other than using vinegar laced with orange oil, there are certain alternatives that are also as effective. For instance:

1. Smother the quackgrass

Ideally, it is almost impossible to kill quackgrass without killing the neighboring plants and grasses as well. Smothering will be beneficial to you if you don’t mind losing but a small number of plant life around the quackgrass.

In this method, a dark plastic is placed over the quackgrass so that it fits entirely inside it. Rocks or pieces of wood are then used to anchor the edges of the plastic to prevent it from falling off.

The strategy is simple, the dark plastic bag blocks sunlight and water from reaching the quackgrass leading to its death.

This technique is effective and becomes effective after about 3 to 4 weeks.

2. Solarize the quackgrass

Sometimes you might decide to overheat the quackgrass and kill it with too much sun instead of removing sunlight from it such as in smothering. As summer sets in, you can place clear plastic bags over each patch of the weed.

After anchoring the plastic cover to stabilize it, let it stand for the sun rays to take effects. The plastic bag creates a miniature greenhouse effect and also solarize the soil in which the grass is growing.

Although this process takes weeks to complete, the weeds will be eventually eliminated.

3. Dig up the quackgrass

This technique comes with minor success but you can try it out nonetheless. Quackgrass grows with a root system called a rhizome which is deeply seated into the ground and is very hardy. With this kind of root system, it is almost impossible to completely dig out quackgrass.

Another major milestone is that you may break the roots as you dig out the weed and the grass will perpetually grow all over again. However, you can try digging the weed about 1 foot deep and wide. Pull out the roots that are visible and cover the hole with topsoil. You can then cover the dug area with plastic or some thick mulch to prevent the weed from sprouting again

4. Douse with sodium hydroxide

Salt has been used since ancient times especially during war to poison the fields of the enemy. Salt is very toxic to plants and can effectively kill weeds such as crabgrass and quackgrasses. The major problem is that it doesn’t discriminate. It will kill your good plants and grass as well.

Form a solution of sodium hydroxide, cover the nearby grass and plants that you don’t want to affect. Use a spray-can to spray the sodium hydroxide solution directly onto the leaves of the quackgrass to kill it.


Vinegar is very potent at managing quackgrass and other weeds growing in your lawn. While there are other alternatives to vinegar as a weed killer, it is far much better than most of the techniques that try to compete. You should only master how to formulate it correctly including how to make the right proportions to achieve a better result.


Quackgrass control in turf

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.

Everyone has their favorite weed they struggle to control in turf, but when it comes to the really tough-to-control weeds, quackgrass often tops the list. The first step in controlling any pest is proper identification and there is no better place to start identifying turf weeds than with the resources at MSU Turf Weeds.

Once you’ve identified quackgrass is your weed of interest, there are several options for trying to discourage, remove or eliminate it from turf.

Option 1: Management

Many folks have effectively “eliminated” quackgrass by masking its presence in the lawn. This is usually accomplished by increased nitrogen fertilization and increased mowing frequency. (Just what everyone wants, mowing more often!) This approach has been implemented with relative success by more than a handful of turf managers. The idea is that the quackgrass only has a competitive advantage when the desirable grass sits idly by. By increasing the vigor of your lawn you will choke the quackgrass, make it darker green and, for the most part, make it disappear.

This method could be accomplished by fertilizing your lawn with 0.25 to 0.5 pounds nitrogen per 1,000 square feet every two weeks during the growing season. If this ends up being one of those dry summers, you would definitely want to suspend this program because unless you’re irrigating, the turf will not be able to use the nitrogen. If you follow this program, you will notice that the quackgrass patches are much smaller next spring.

Option 2: Mechanical removal

Due to the perennial nature of quackgrass and its well-developed rhizome system, it is very difficult to remove by mechanical means. Methods include digging up the offending patches, including several inches of soil and replacing with new topsoil and reseeding. However, the rhizomes of quackgrass can grow 6 to 8 feet deep in the ground, and these rhizomes could potentially “push” new plants to the surface.

Another option is solarization. This method uses clear plastic fastened securely to the ground over the quackgrass areas. Be sure to cut the plastic slightly larger than the patches. Leave the plastic in place for five to seven days in the spring or summer when the weather is nice. The plastic will help trap the heat close to the soil surface and hopefully devitalize the plant material. After removing the plastic, you may reseed the area.

Option 3: Non-selective chemical removal – Roundup!

Use a non-selective herbicide like Roundup to kill the patches. Keep in mind that non-selective means that it kills whatever plant it touches. This method will create dead patches in your lawn that can be re-established. In our opinion, you will need to apply the Roundup twice. Make the second application 14 days after the first. Seven days after the second application you can rough up the area and sow your new grass seed.

Option 4: Do nothing

Obviously, quackgrass is green and takes mowing. You may decide after looking at the other options that it is better than bare soil.

THe GREEn insider

This cartoonish sounding weed has recently been spotted in Cleveland and Columbus yards this spring. Often mistaken for crabgrass; quackgrass is a perennial grass that looks very similar, with thin hollow stems and fat, hairy blades. In this article, we’ll take a look at what it is, what causes it, and most importantly, how to get rid of it.

What’s Quackgrass?

Quackgrass is a perennial weed that has been in America for hundreds of years. Like other perennials, quackgrass has a strong, deep root system with rhizomes that if split, can grow into separate plants. This quick spreading weed can take over a lawn very quickly and because most of the plant/weed is below the surface, it is very hard to control.

What Causes Quackgrass to Grow in Lawns?

Quackgrass seeds are a tasty treat for small birds, such as sparrows. Often these birds lose the seeds in your lawn, causing the weed to grow. Additionally, straw bales often contain quackgrass seeds that can get into your lawn.

Once one plant grows, it often spreads with a little help from us. When quackgrass goes to seed, mowing the lawn often spreads the seed further causing more plants, further complicating the problem.

How Can I Get Rid of Quackgrass?

Unfortunately, quackgrass is one of the hardest weeds to get rid of in your lawn. There is no selective herbicide that will kill quackgrass and leave your lawn un-effected. The best bet for treating your lawn is to treat the quackgrass clumps with Roundup, remove the dead plant, and seed the area. While it may seem extreme, killing quackgrass early in the season will help to keep this weed from going to seed, and spreading all over your lawn.

Quackgrass: Weed of the Week from

Spring Tips and Tricks to Keep Weeds Like Quackgrass at Bay!

Weeds are just one of the many issues you could face this spring. That’s why Weed Pro has put together one of the best spring lawn care guides in the industry. The best part is that it’s yours absolutely free by clicking on the link below!

Shaun Kanary has been a part of the Green Industry for the past 15 years. As the Director of Marketing for Weed Pro Lawn Care, a Cleveland and Columbus Lawn Care Service Provider, Shaun is a regular contributor to the Weed Pro Blog, and other industry magazine and blogs.
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Wondering which grass weed has invaded your lawn? Here’s a guide on the differences and similarities between crabgrass and quackgrass. We’ve included pictures to help you identify which of the two grass weeds you’re dealing with.

Crabgrass is a warm-season perennial grass while quackgrass is a cool-season perennial grass. Crabgrass roots form a shallow crab-like structure while a quackgrass root system forms rhizomes that grow horizontally and deep into the soil. Both of these weeds grow poorly in thick, shaded lawns.

To quickly kill quackgrass, this non-selective roundup herbicide does a great job, but to get rid of crabgrass, I would recommend Quinclorac crabgrass killers like this one on Amazon.

Quackgrass Identification

Quackgrass is also identified as Elymus repens or Agropyron repens. Some people like referring to it as couchgrass. It is a perennial grass weed that’s easily confused with crabgrass and ryegrass. Most of these grasses have long tapered blades, but that of quackgrass differs a bit.

The common features of quackgrass that help with its identification include the following:

  • The seedling leaves and stem sheaths are hairless.
  • Mature plants are tall – reaching a height of up to 3 feet.
  • Quackgrass leaves have auricles – finger-like projections that hook around the stem.
  • Couchgrass has a deep root system that contains rhizomes.

The biggest challenge in getting rid of quackgrass is that when you till your land, you’ll likely cut the rhizomes below the surface. The remaining pieces start to form individual plants that grow and spread below and above the surface.

This characteristic growth pattern of quackgrass makes it so difficult to control. Roundup does a great job killing individual quackgrass weeds, but it becomes a challenge when your lawn is extensively invaded.

According to the U.S National Invasive Species Information Center, the impact of quackgrass is to crowd out native lawn grass and crops in the field it has invaded.

Crabgrass Identification

The scientific name of crabgrass is Digitaria sanguinalis. The name crabgrass comes from the development of its roots – growing low in the ground and stems sprouting right from the center of the clump. These resemble the image of a crab’s legs.

This weed is one of the worst lawn weeds even during the hot season. When your lawn isn’t growing actively, crabgrass continues to grow and thrive, taking over your lawn within a short period.

  • Crabgrass typically sprouts later in the season because it is a warm-season grass.
  • Identifying crabgrass is quite difficult because it adapts easily to the environment. In some instances, there are hairy, smooth, short, long, Asian, and even Southern crabgrass varieties.

In the sections that follow, we’ll look deeper into the similarities and differences between crabgrass and quackgrass in terms of control, appearance, and growth patterns.

Quackgrass vs Crabgrass – The Differences

Here’s a table comparing crabgrass vs. quackgrass for the differences.

Crabgrass Quackgrass
Quackgrass grows from white underground rhizomes that continually grow. Crabgrass roots form a crab-like structure that remain shallow in the ground.
Crabgrass is a warm-season grass that’s native to tropical and warm temperate regions. Quackgrass, on the other hand, is a cool-season perennial grass.
The best way to get rid of crabgrass is to break it’s cycle from germination to maturity. Quackgrass control is more difficult and requires preventive, mechanical, and chemical treatment.
Crabgrass shoots grow to form star-shaped stumps. The stems and of quackgrass grow singly as they populate an area.
Crabgrass leaves grow independently from the stem. Quackgrass leaves have auricles that hook around the stem.

In terms of similarities, both quackgrass and crabgrass have thick coarse leaves. These usually stand out in lawns with common grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass, Bermudagrass, and St. Augustine.

The main difference: Crabgrass has fairly shallow roots while quackgrass has deep-lying roots made up of rhizomes – underground stems that grow horizontally while the stems sprout from it.

Picture Comparison: Crabgrass or Quackgrass Infographic

Quackgrass Control Tips

Quackgrass is quite tough to get rid of being a cool-season perennial. It grows mostly in the cool season lawn grasses such as bluegrass, rye, and tall fescue. The same root season can produce different leaves year after year. The root system strengthens a lot during winter. When the conditions change and become appropriate, it starts to grow and spread rapidly all over your lawn.

Characteristically, quackgrass thrives well in taller lawns. Why? Because if you allow it to have enough leaves, the root system develops better as opposed to when you mow your lawn a little bit lower. Mowing at approximately 3 inches is a great cultural way to get rid of quackgrass naturally albeit slowly.

Here’s a quick start guide on how to get rid of quackgrass in your lawn:

Apply a non-selective herbicide

There’s a problem in trying to get rid of quackgrass compared to crabgrass. There are herbicides that specifically target crabgrass, but there are no chemical killers for quackgrass. That means that chemical control of quackgrass can only be done using a non-selective herbicide such as Roundup.

Mechanical control

Try hand-pulling if the infestation is not severe. Mowing, disking, plowing, and cultivating are also great ways to remove quackgrass but may not apply to already grown lawns.


Both crabgrass and quackgrass weeds can be controlled by smothering methods. They do not do well in the shade, so apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch to prevent them from sprouting.

Remember, quackgrass rhizomes can continue to spread beneath the surface and sprout when they find a spot to shoot from.

Crabgrass Control Guide

Choke out the shoots

To control crabgrass and get rid of it, try to fertilize your lawn adequately. Aim to get a healthy, thick lawn that forms a dense canopy that covers the soil. This prevents the germination of crabgrass seeds shortly after spring.

Mow the lawn 2 to 3 inches tall

If it’s time to cut and level the grass in your lawn, mow the grass a little higher to allow it to grow faster and choke the crabgrass out. Aim to mow at 2.5 to 3 inches tall to create enough shade and prevent the germination of crabgrass seeds.

Inhibit soil conditions

Crabgrass seeds start to germinate when soil temperature starts to rise to about 55°F. This is contributed to by sunlight, moisture, wind conditions, and the amount of shade in your lawn. In order to prevent crabgrass germination in your lawn, care to achieve a luscious, thick lawn that will inhibit the proper soil conditions for the germination of this weed.

Apply crabgrass pre-emergent

Chemical control involves the use of pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides. Pendamethalin and Drive 75 DF Herbicide are some of the best crabgrass killers on the market today.

Pre-emergents are great for control as well, but you have to be spot-on in their timing. Check out our guide on the best time to put down crabgrass preventer here.

Uproot the weed

If your lawn is already infested with clumps of crabgrass, the best way to get rid of it is uprooting. This is the best technique in the summer when the clumps have already spread and taken over the lawn. Simply reach down with your hand and grab the lowest part of the stem. Pull it out and dispose of it carefully to prevent spreading the seeds.

Apply weed killers (herbicide)

If you have a large lawn, going around and uprooting every single plant can be difficult. The best way to do it is by applying a post-emergent herbicide. Crabgrass killers such as Roundup and Ortho Weed B Gon are great for killing grassy weeds after germination.

Here’s a great video illustrating how to remove crabgrass in your lawn.

Quack Grass

Quack grass is an undesirable, aggressive, perennial grass that grows as a weed in many lawns throughout the growing season. It forms in patches, and has a coarse fibrous root system, that spreads by long-lived rhizomes as well as by seeds.

Quack grass characteristics include auricles (ear shaped part) that clasp the stem, rhizomes, and a long, narrow spike for a seed head. The auricles of this weed helps to immediately distinguish it from most other grass weeds. Tall Fescue , annual Ryegrass , and perennial Ryegrass are similar grasses that also have auricles, but none of these grass weeds have rhizomes like quack grass. If not mowed, quack grass can grow to 4′ tall. Quack grass blades are flat, dull green to light blue-green, and taper to a point. The seed spike grows from 3″ – 8″ long and appears in July. Each quack grass plant produces about 25 seeds and they remain viable 3 – 5 years in the soil. Quack grass produces many underground stems, called rhizomes, which are almost impossible to remove by digging. Broken pieces of rhizomes left in the soil will sprout to make more Quack grass plants. It takes 2 – 3 months for
a newly germinated plant to develop rhizomes. It is very important to eliminate the plants before they reach this stage. The creeping rhizomes are so tough they can push up through asphalt pavement. If left to grow, they will form a dense mat 4″ thick in the upper part of the soil. One plant can produce 300 feet of rhizomes each year. Never rototill where quack grass is growing. The rototiller will chop up the rhizomes and create thousands of new plants!

One method of controlling Quack grass is to apply a non-selective herbicide that contains the active ingredient Glyphosate (Round Up). Be careful because Glyphosate kills desirable grasses as well as weeds. Apply the herbicide only on the Quack grass patches. One way to apply Glyphosate to help reduce damage to desirable grass is to mow the lawn , then wait 3-4 days, then wipe the Glyphosate onto the taller growing Quack grass with a paint brush, sponge mop, or applicator. Quack grass tends to grow quicker and taller than your desirable grasses therefore it will stand out a few days after mowing. Unfortunately there is no herbicide you can use that will not also kill the desirable lawn grasses.

How to Tell the Difference between Quackgrass, Fescue and Crabgrass

When it comes to keeping and maintaining a healthy, beautiful looking lawn, a big obstacle in the way can be grassy weeds. Invasive grassy weeds can stick out like a sore thumb and mess with the overall look of the lawn.

Some of the main grassy weed culprits include Quackgrass, Fescue, and Crabgrass. What’s particularly frustrating about these grasses is that they look very similar to one another, so much so that they can be confused or mistaken for each other.

This is problematic because when it comes to using herbicides, it’s important to purchase and use herbicides labeled for a grassy weed. If the herbicide you have is labeled for Crabgrass and not for Fescue but you really have Fescue, you won’t get the desired result and will be set up for disappointment.

On this page, we’ll go in-depth to show you the difference between these three grassy weeds so you will know which weed you are dealing with on your lawn. This will help you approach weed control the right way and make an informed decision when it comes to the herbicides you can use to combat these stubborn grasses.


Almost every state in the country suffers from this fast-spreading invasive plant and when established on your lawn it can be extremely difficult to remove without the intervention of a quality herbicide.

If you’re wondering what Crabgrass looks like, it stands out because of how the blades stick out like legs of a crab, which is how they earned their name. This weed is so invasive and problematic where it grows, that just the thought of encountering it on your lawn or knowing that is has been established is enough to make a lawnowner cringe. With Crabgrass, the earlier you identify it and move into treating it the better your chances of eliminating the grass from your lawn and saving yourself from having to deal with a hard-to-remove invasion.

Identifying Crabgrass can be an issue because of the different looks this type of grass has and how adaptable it is to a number of different environments and conditions. This makes it easier for Crabgrass to get mistaken with other weeds. Sometimes the names Crabgrass, Devilgrass, Quackgrass and Bermuda grass are used interchangeably among all those plants.

This thick ugly bladed grass in your lawn can be differentiated from similar grasses depending on when you are seeing it. If the time of the year is around June or June 15th, you do not have crabgrass. After June, if you think you have crabgrass, it’s usually a lime green colored grass much lighter in color. Crabgrass starts off very small and can quickly grow much larger.

Crabgrass seedheads resemble fingers on a hand and the plant can wait for warmer days to sprout, usually after Spring weeding and mulching. High temperatures help the crabgrass go into overdrive, sending out long stems that grow so fast, they may flower and go to seed, before you even notice them.

Quackgrass is an annoying and tough to get rid of perennial grass which can show up in your lawn and frustrate you with its persistence. Some of its characteristics include thin, creeping underground rhizomes that spread and release chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants so they are able to outcompete them and take over where they are not wanted.

You can identify quackgrass by their auricles. It’s these little things that wrap around the stem of the grass plant, almost grasping or hugging it. Right at the end of the leaf which hooks up to the stem, Quackgrass has finger-like projections that are a great indicator that you’re dealing with Quackgrass and not a different type of grass.

The tough thing about Quackgrass is it’s a perennial weed which means it has a deep root system with rhizomes and usually a patch will be there for many years, making it hard to control.

To eliminate quackgrass, you will need to inspect regularly so if you spot it early, then it will be much easier to get a handle on it and remove it completely. The bad part about Quackgrass is using normal weed killer will usually not work to remove this pesky weed.


Fescue grass is notorious for its ability to thrive in areas where there is drought and where there is a lot of shade. This often makes them a desirable grassy plant because of its suitability to different conditions.

They are cool-season grasses, growing mainly in the transition zone of the United States and Canada.

Possessing the ability to stay green all year long adds to their desirability as a turfgrass species. Where many species will not grow, Fescue grasses are able to effectively fill in this gap in growing conditions.

However, if fescue is growing where you do not want it to, there are some options we have which can effectively eliminate fescue. Check out Certainty Turf Herbicide and RoundUp Pro Weed Killer if you really would rather not have fescue around.


Hand pulling of any of these grasses is largely ineffective because you may pull what you think is the entire plant, but the stems that have rooted at the nodes remain in the soil because it is hard to get a clean pull. Secondary stems will sprout off the main stem, a foot or two away from the main crown. If left unattended, those pieces will grow and set seeds, bringing more pesky grassy weeds on your turf next Summer.

Herbicides are effective measures of controlling Crabgrass, Fescue and Quackgrass. and there are a number of great crabgrass killers that we have in stock.

Our main recommendation to deal with crabgrass is Quinclorac 75 DF Herbicide. This is a designated crabgrass killer and one we swear by. To treat Quackgrass or Fescue, our top recommendation is Certainty Turf Herbicide. Both of these herbicides are selective, meaning it only targets labeled weeds and will not harm your desired grass and plants.

Step 1 – Measure and Mix

Whether you are using Quinclorac 75 DF to control Crabgrass or looking to control Fescue and/or Quackgrass with Certainty Herbicide, you will need to first calculate the square footage of the area to be treated to determine how much product you need. To do this, measure and multiply the area length times the width (length x width = square footage).

Quinclorac 75 DF is a dry flowable herbicide that can be mixed at 0.367 oz in a gallon of water per 1,000 sq. ft for spot treatments. So for example, if you measured an area of 2,500 sq. ft, you would need to mix 0.917 oz. of Quinclorac 75 DF in 2.5 gallons of water.

For small-volume applications, Certainty Herbicide is to be mixed at a rate of 5 scoops of product using the 0.16-gram small scoop or 1 scoop using the 0.8-gram large scoop in 2 gallons of water to treat 1,000 sq. ft.

Fill your sprayer halfway with the required amount of water then add in the selected herbicide product. Fill the sprayer with the remaining half of water and then agitate the sprayer until the product is well-mixed. You are now ready to spray.

Step 2 – Apply Herbicide to Weeds

Spot treat the areas where the Quackgrass, Crabgrass or Fescue is growing, preferably with a sprayer on a fan nozzle spray setting for even coverage. Monitor the weeds and conduct a follow-up application as needed after 1 to 2 weeks to achieve complete control.


Once you have treated your lawn and removed the presence of Quackgrass, Fescue or Crabgrass, you won’t want it to come back. Putting in place some preventative measures is best to keep your desired lawn turf healthy and thriving so these grassy weeds don’t have room to grow.

  • Remove dead grassy weed plants.
  • Replant bare lawn spots with new grass seed.
  • Apply a pre-emergent (such as Nitrophos Barricade) prior to the growing season.
  • Set your lawnmower at the high end of the range that is best for your grass type.
  • Restrict excess fertilizing or overwatering.
  • Keeping your lawn healthy and lush.

Key Takeaways

  • Quackgrass, Fescue and Crabgrass are similar-looking weeds that get confused for one another but have different methods for controlling the weeds.
  • Our go-to recommendation for treating crabgrass is Quinclorac 75 DF. For Quackgrass and Fescue, use Certainty Herbicide.
  • Prevent returns of these grassy weeds after treatment with applications of Pre-Emergent such as Nitrophos Barricade and cultural practices that will result in a thick lush lawn that will choke out weeds.

Quackgrass Control: How To Get Rid of Quackgrass

Quackgrass is a tough weed to control on a residential lawn. The Latin name for Quackgrass (Elymus repens) translates to ‘sudden field of fire’, and is a good description of the weeds ability to quickly spread over lawns, fields and gardens. Quackgrass is native to Europe and has been growing in the U.S. for over 200 years in nearly every state aside from Arizona, Florida and Hawaii.

Quackgrass has leaves which are typically wider than lawn type grasses and the grass blades have a rough texture when the blade is felt by fingers. The roots are thick and white. When pulled from the ground, the roots break easily and often pieces of the roots will stay in the soil after the plant is removed and eventually regrow.

On residences, Quackgrass can invade gardens containing perennial flowers or vegetables, making it tough to control. If you want Quackgrass eliminated from your property, we can help. Our DIY treatment guide was put together by our lawn care experts and will show you exactly what you need to do to remove Quackgrass from your lawn quickly and affordably compared to other options.


When Quackgrass is established, it can stand out easily amongst your other plants. Quackgrass is a perennial grass which has a creeping quality. On lawns, you’ll notice it as a taller grass among your desired grasses because it tends to grow very quickly in a short amount of time. This species is known to develop large patches.

Quackgrass may be confused with tall fescue and crabgrass but the difference is that those species of plants don’t have the long appendages, or auricles, which are present at the midpoint between the leaf blade and sheath that Quackgrass has.

Each Quackgrass plant produces about 25 seeds which can stay viable between 3 to 5 years in the soil. Once it germinates, Quackgrass begins to develop rhizomes, or underground stems, in a span of 2 or 3 months. This rhizomes can either be yellowish or white, 1/8″ in diameter, with unique joints or nodes. Each node can produce fibrous roots, which shoots a new blade of grass up through the soil.

Use our description and image above to help you to identify quackgrass on your lawn. If you are having trouble confirming the plant’s ID, contact us and we will properly ID the plant for you as well as give you the best product recommendations for your weed issue.


Where to Inspect

Walk around your yard and observe where the quackgrass is growing. Quackgrass is known to grow rapidly in very little time and can potentially take over an entire lawn, standing out like a sore thumb. It’s best to catch these plants early and treat them because of how they grow.

What To Look For

Quackgrass stands out among typical lawn grasses so it shouldn’t be very difficult to spot them. Aside from checking the severity of its presence, also check what maturity level the quackgrass is at because if they are more mature, you’re looking at a more difficult time removing the plant.

Herbicides can be harmful if you come in contact with it. Protect your eyes, skin, mouth and nose by wearing protective equipment any time you handle herbicide chemicals.

Quackgrass is a terribly difficult grass to control and can be a nighmare to try to remove via manual or mechanical control methods and can actually make the problem worse because pieces of rhizome that you may leave behind will just take root and sprout into a new plant. The best option for control is utilizing chemical herbicides.

The best product would be to use a pre-emergent, but if Quackgrass has already appeared, we recommend Certainty Herbicide.

Step 1: Mix and Apply Certainty Herbicide

Certainty Herbicide is a selective, post-emergent herbicide meaning that it will only target the weeds on the label and not cause any harm to your desired grasses. It comes in water dispersible granule form and comes with a convenient measuring scooper for precise measuring.

Before mixing Certainty into your sprayer, determine how much Certainty you need by measuring the square footage of your target area (measure and calculate the length of your lawn x width).

For spot treatments, you can treat 1,000 sq. ft. by using a 0.75 to 1.25 ounces of Certainty (3 to 5 small scoops) in 2 gallons of water. A good tool to use to aid with your herbicide application is mixing your selected herbicide with a surfactant like Alligare 90 so that your application can stick to the Quackgrass and not runoff. The label says to add 2 teaspoons (1/3 fl. oz.) of nonionic surfactant per gallon of water. Fill your sprayer 3/4ths of the way with water then add in the appropriate amount of Certainty then fill the rest of the way with water and add in the surfactant near the end of the filling and shake the sprayer.

Once the product is well-mixed in your sprayer, apply the product to the Quackgrass using a fan nozzle setting. This will shoot a mist that will uniformly cover the Quackgrass.

After applications are made, we recommend drowning the Quackgrass with at least 2 inches of water as this can kill the rhizome network underneath the soil. Shading and baking the Quackgrass under a tarp can also be a good assist to the use of herbicides.

We recommend follow up applications after 1 to 2 weeks until the Quackgrass is totally dead.

Step 2: Follow Up Application

You may need to do multiple repeat applications if the weed is particularly persistent and problematic. Apply a nitrogen fertilizer to increase the uptake of your selected herbicide. Once you have applied your Certainty Herbicide, apply a second herbicide treatment after 10 to 14 days and then reseed once all the plant life has died.

Check back again after another week and if Quackgrass is still growing, repeat your application. While it sounds like a pretty drastic measure to continuously repeat applications to control Quackgrass, it may be the best route of achieving total control. This treatment approach can be time-consuming, so make sure you treat Quackgrass early and fast.

After you have eliminated Quackgrass from your property, you need to implement culture practices and proper lawn maintenance to keep Quackgrass from returning. Applying a good nitrogen fertilizer can choke out the Quackgrass and enable your desired grasses to grow faster and outcompete the Quackgrass. Monitor your lawn weekly during the growing season to ensure Quackgrass has not returned.

If you know that Quackgrass is a recurring problem on your landscape, we recommend applying a properly timed pre-emergent treatment of Nitrophos Barricade before the growing season for best results.

Prepare and Apply Barricade Pre-Emergent

Nitrophos Barricade contains Prodiamine, a highly effective active ingredient that controls and prevents seeds from sprouting. Depending on your turfgrass type, Barricade can be applied at a rate from 1.5 pounds to 4 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft. (read the label to find the proper rate for your turf type). Start by measuring the square footage of your lawn to determine how much Barricade you will need.

Once you have measured the appropriate amount based on your calculations, load the Barricade granules at the right calibration setting into a hand or push spreader and then apply the granules until your lawn is covered evenly to get a uniform application. After broadcasting the granules, you should then water in and activate them with at least 0.5 inches of water.

  • Quackgrass is a creeping, sod-forming perennial grass weed that establishes quickly and is very persistent.
  • Our top products to treat quackgrass is Certainty for selective control of your lawn. Pre-emergently, we suggest using Nitrophos Barricade herbicide.
  • To prevent quackgrass from returning, fertilize and mow your lawn on a regular basis to promote dense, fast-growing turf that will out-compete quackgrass.

What is quackgrass?

Lawns across the country are infested with a troublesome weed grass called quackgrass. Sometimes it is referred to as couch or twitch grass.

Quackgrass is a faster growing grass that is a lighter green in colour than desirable lawn grasses such as Kentucky Blue Grass. Quackgrass grows in clumps and grows taller than other grasses making it look undesirable in a home lawn situation. It gives the lawn a very coarse uneven appearance.

Quite often customers will confuse quackgrass with crabgrass which has some similar characteristics. This commonly happens in the early spring. A couple quick tips to determine if it is quackgrass or crabgrass are:

  • Are you seeing it all year round? If yes then most likely what you are seeing is quackgrass. Crabgrass is an annual plant and the seeds germinate in the spring but the plants themselves are not visible until mid-late June. The crabgrass plants turn purple and die in the fall after dropping their seed heads
  • Is the grass you are seeing taller than the rest of the lawn? If yes then again what you are seeing is most likely quackgrass. Crabgrass is a low lying grass that spreads in clumps along the ground

If you are uncertain if you have quackgrass or crabgrass just call your local Weed Man Professional. They will provide a free healthy lawn analysis to determine which you have and the best treatment options.

What causes quackgrass to invade a lawn?

Quackgrass thrives in the conditions that desirable grass varieties suffer in. Thin weak lawns are ideal sites for the invasion of quackgrass. Quackgrass thrives in hot dry conditions where desirable grasses suffer and go into dormancy. Quackgrass will spread quickly in undernourished weak lawns by vigorous underground stems called rhizomes. Quackgrass is encouraged by improper cultural practices such as improper mowing and watering habits.

What can I do about quackgrass in my lawn?

The most effective procedure to control or suppress quackgrass is to crowd it out with desirable turf grasses like Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass. This is accomplished by properly maintaining your desirable turf in the following ways:

  • Apply a good and regular slow release granular fertilizer program. This will help to thicken and green up the desirable turf grasses
  • Water lawn regularly with at least 2.5 cm per week. Quackgrass establishes itself and spreads rapidly during hot dry conditions when lawn goes dormant.

Have you noticed a different type of grass popping up within your lawn? It’s pretty obvious when something new pops up that doesn’t blend in with the rest of your lawn. Chances are, your lawn has been infested by quackgrass!

What is Quackgrass?

Quackgrass is a creeping perennial grass that is considered to be a weed. It looks similar to annual ryegrass and may also resemble crabgrass; however quackgrass is easily noticed by its long tapered blades that are thicker than the average blade of grass, usually about 1/3 inch thick and attached to a hollow stem. Quackgrass also has a distinctive leaf blade that wraps around the stem of the plant with clasping auricles. Unlike the shallow roots of crabgrass, quackgrass has very deep roots made up of rhizomes.

How did it get in my Lawn?

Quackgrass typically is found in vacant fields or along roadsides that are not regularly mowed. Typically during the month of June, the grass plant will begin to produce seeds. These seeds are then transferred from the plant by birds or wind to new areas where they are able to begin the germination process and eventually grow into the troublesome weed that homeowners despise. Quackgrass seeds can also be introduced into a lawn from straw bales used when seeding a lawn.

Quackgrass is also spread by rhizomes beneath the surface, similar to how yellow nutsedge is spread. These rhizomes can travel from one lawn to the next, producing new quackgrass plants along the way.

How to Get Rid of Quackgrass?

Due to it being a grassy weed, it may not respond well to typical post emergent herbicide (weed control) applications. Hand pulling quackgrass is a cumbersome option because of the extensive rhizomes beneath the surface. Each rhizome has the capability to produce a new plant and removing every single rhizome is nearly impossible. The process to eradicate this noxious weed may differ based on the infestation within your turf; random spots or throughout the entire lawn.

Chemical Removal – This process includes using a non-selective herbicide, such as round-up, to kill the quackgrass while it is actively growing. Using a non-selective herbicide may take several applications to completely kill off the infestation. Once the quackgrass has died off completely, the area should then be seeded.

Management Option – This process consists of increased fertilizer treatments which will cause your lawn to grow faster and begin to choke out the quackgrass. However, additional nitrogen applications will require increased mowing and should only be done while your lawn is actively growing in the spring or fall. Following this process can take some time, possibly a complete growing cycle or year. Also, it should be noted that during the summer months, quackgrass does not tolerate the heat and may begin to look as if it is dying off, but don’t be surprised if it returns in the fall.

Preventing Quackgrass

As always, the best way to prevent weeds from popping up within the lawn is to ensure the lawn has a thick and healthy stand of grass. The thicker the lawn, the less room weeds have to grow. Also, mowing at a higher setting will shade the ground and prevent sunlight from reaching the soil, where weed seeds sit & wait for the optimum conditions to grow.

Sum it up

Annoying quackgrass can be a nuisance to homeowners, but with the proper steps for eradication, it can be kept under control and out of your lawn. Look for quackgrass early so it can be dealt with before reaching a mature state.

It is always a good idea to consult with a lawn care professional and ask any questions you may have. Look around, ask friends or family, and research lawn care service providers on the Better Business Bureau to find a company that you can trust.

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