How to get rid of goosegrass?

Controlling Goosegrass Weeds: Treatment And Control Of Goosegrass In Lawns

Goosegrass (Galium aparine) is an annual weed found in warm season turf grasses. The grass seeds readily and spreads on the wind from lawn to lawn. Find answers to what is goosegrass and learn how to control it in order to grow a healthier lawn. The methods on how to kill goosegrass range from cultural to herbicidal. Goosegrass weed control is essential because the rapidly spreading plant can take over entire areas of the lawn.

What is Goosegrass?

If you have identified the splayed tufts of grass with numerous finger-like blades in your lawn, you will need to investigate how to kill goosegrass. The plant can become established even in hard, compacted soils and is very resilient. The thick leaf blades are difficult to cut with a mower and even after a close trim, lawn grass will look ragged and unkempt if goosegrass is present.

The plant is most obvious in warm summer periods, but may persist into winter in temperate zones. The thick, rough blades radiate from a central area in spikes of 2 to 13. Each blade is flat with slight serration at the edges. The color is emerald green with older blades bearing a touch of white on damaged edges.

Control of Goosegrass in Lawns

Controlling goosegrass is essential to an attractive lawn. The tough plant requires vigilance to keep the seed heads from forming. Keep your mower blades very sharp so they can remove the inflorescences before they seed.

Overwatering and extreme culture can promote the growth of the weed. Patchy lawns and areas with heavy foot traffic will have the highest populations of goosegrass.

Control of goosegrass in lawns relies upon proper maintenance first and pre-emergent or post emergent chemicals for flare ups. One simple way to help prevent the weed is by aerating. Aeration increases the porosity of the ground and discourages the formation of goosegrass.

Goosegrass Weed Control

There are several pre-emergence herbicides available for controlling goosegrass. They are either used singly or with other chemicals. The correct formula will depend upon what type of sod is in your lawn.

Post emergence herbicides are useful as spot applications and can be used repeatedly during the season to control the weeds before they seed. Be sure to consult the label of the product you choose for goosegrass weed control.

How to Kill Goosegrass

Follow all recommended precautions on the product you use to control the weed. Most herbicides need to be applied when there is a dry period to prevent the product from rinsing off of grass blades.

If you are using a spray application for control of goosegrass in lawns, apply it on a windless day to prevent drift that can kill non-target plants.

Pre-emergent herbicides work best if applied in late winter to early spring when soil temperatures reach 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 C.) for 24 days in a row.

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


Q&A related to Goosegrass

  • After application of Revolver Selective Herbicide to kill goosegrass, how long must I wait before mowing?
  • Will Dismiss Turf Herbicide kill goosegrass?
  • Will Glyphosate Plus kill goose grass?
  • Will Fahrenheit Herbicide work on Goosegrass in bermuda?
  • Will Hi-Yield 2, 4-D Selective Weed Killer kill goosegrass?
  • Will Pylex Herbicide kill goosgrass in a bermuda field?
  • Can Revolver be used to kill goose grass on mini verde Bermuda putting greens?
  • Will Dismiss Turf Herbicide kill Goose Grass?
  • Can Tenacity Herbicide be used to control Goosegrass on Bermuda?
  • How well does Celsius WG Herbicide work for Goosegrass?
  • Will Drive XLR8 Herbicide Crabgrass Killer kill signalgrass and goosegrass in Bermuda?
  • Image Kills Crabgrass 3 Pack crabgrass and goosegrass
  • Can I use Acclaim Extra for goosegrass in hybrid Bermuda?
  • Will Pastora control goosegrass in a bermuda hay field?
  • Will Dismiss South Herbicide control goosegrass in my Bermudagrass sports fields in KY?
  • Does Hi – Yield 2, 4 – D Selective Weed Killer kill goosegrass?
  • Is Certainty Herbicide – 1.25 oz. effective at controlling Goosegrass?
  • Can I use Solitare Herbicide to control goosegrass?
  • Can I use Image Kills Crabgrass 3 Pack to treat for goosegrass in fescue and bermuda lawns?
  • Will MSMA Target 6.6 kill Goose Grass?

How do you recognize goosegrass, and where should we look for it?
The typical expectation for goosegrass is that it’s going to have very flat stems. Its tillers lay flat to the ground, and the center of the plant’s going to have a whitish to silvery appearance to it. A lot of people refer to it as silver crabgrass – that’s a common alternate name. But for most people in the U.S., what we’re dealing with when we’re looking at an Eleusine plant, it’s going to be Eleusine indica or goosegrass. It has a folded vernation, which is a good ID characteristic, meaning the newest leaf emerging from the center of a tiller will be folded rather than rolled up like a corn plant. It also has a very large membrane ligule. Those are pretty common ID characteristics: the flat growth of the tillers, the folded-in-the-bud vernation and the large membrane. The seedhead is three-parted and looks like a goose’s foot. It loves compacted areas or any area where it’s free from the competition of other plants.
What type of soil is it going to do well in?
It’s a chicken-or-egg situation. Research that’s been done on goosegrass suggests that you will most often find it in openings in the turf canopy and definitely find it in areas where there is extreme compaction. We’re talking walkways, or paths that are beaten down to the consistency of concrete. It’s known for literally growing in cracks in concrete. Those are very hot habitats, and goosegrass is a heat-loving plant. But that’s not to say that a beautiful, lush garden soil that’s in no way compacted won’t produce large and happy goosegrass. But you won’t find it as readily if it has to compete with other plants.
It will germinate a little later in the season than crabgrass, and it tends to have a little more continuous germination into the hotter period of the year. At hotter soil temperatures, it’ll continue to germinate. If you want it to grow, you need to have a lot of wet followed by a lot of dry, and a lot of light followed by no light. In other words, you need to alter wetting patterns and you need to have diurnal light exposure. That exactly mimics a turf canopy opening where you rapidly dry the surface of the soil and then get rewetting, and then dry very rapidly again. Goosegrass likes that. It’s different than a dense turf canopy where things are generally going to stay uniform and slowly dry out over time rather than have these huge fluctuations and drying period.
That sounds like a sparse, irrigated turf.
Exactly. And late season is where goosegrass comes into its own, so germination will increase in those situations. If you think about an area where the golf course is being watered, if you have a halfway decent turf canopy, the fluctuation and wetness is going to be minimal. But if you have a bare spot, it’s going to be huge. It’s going to go from really wet to bone dry very quickly, and that will stimulate goosegrass to germinate.
In fact, most superintendents who deal with goosegrass will know you can have extreme pressure and extreme seed production and if there is just a one-foot diameter patch of desireable turf, there won’t be hardly a plant in it. That’s not to say goosegrass doesn’t occur intermixed with, say, Bermudagrass, but typically, you’ll find extreme pressure in openings and right beside that there will be clean turf.
One point to make is that herbicides used as a pre-emergent for goosegrass control will never be completely effective in an area of turf that’s devoid of cover. If you have a lot of openings from spring dead spot or some other disease, or maybe some really beat-down turf on the side of the cart path because of traffic that creates openings in the turf canopy, you can’t protect those areas from goosegrass with a pre-emergent herbicide like you can others. Or, said another way, a pre-emergent will never last nearly as long in the face of those openings as they will in good, uniform, dense turf.
Having desireale turf is even more important that pre-emergent herbicide, but the problem is we’re fairly restricted in our options. Goosegrass is going to occur in sites where the superintendent doesn’t have control over the turf density or at least as much as they would like to have. These are challenging sites: Bermudagrass fairways inundated by spring dead spot, for example, or cool or warm season turf that has cart traffic or a soil type that would lend to extreme compaction. If you don’t have the labor to alleviate that compaction, you’re going to lose turf and you’re going to have turfgrass problems.
What preventive products should we be looking at?
The best product to protect one’s turf from goosegrass is going to be oxadiazon, which is going to be the gold standard for long, residual goosegrass control. My second-best is prodiamine. Prodiamine can do a great job at preventing goosegrass.
But there’s one problem. We apply relative to when crabgrass germinates, and it starts germinating a couple weeks to a month later. So when it germinates, we’ve already lost our most potent first four weeks of activity for that herbicide. Your highest AI load is in that first month – you don’t even get to challenge your goosegrass population with that first month of AI. The way to combat that is repeat applications. You can come out with your initial app for your true pre-emerge, then follow up about a month to two months later with a follow-up application that can give you a little bit better extension. Products that contain surflan or trifluralin are not very effective on this grass. Changing your ingredient to an oxadiazon or prodiamine product would be a smart move from a preventive standpoint.
Post-emerge herbicides are a big problem across the board. The number one product used to kill crabgrass over the top is quinclorac, and it’s about as effective as water in killing goosegrass. In Bermudagrass, we don’t really have effective post-emerge options anymore. The primary ones would be used on tiny seedlings. You can use foramsulfuron or sulfentrazone, which we use to target sedges. We do have a newcomer to the cool season world that is the proverbial silver bullet, and that’s topramezone. That’s the most potent single AI that will kill goosegrass at any stage, depending on the rate. The other products I haven’t mentioned for cool season would be mesotrione, which has activity on goosegrass, but it takes two applications, and it will only control active seedlings, like I mentioned. It’s really only warm season turf that we have these limitations. In cool season turf, we can up the rate of fenoxaprop-p-ethyl to where it needs to be, where we can’t do that in Bermuda. In the warm season we would have extremely expensive products that only work on tiny seedlings, and are going to be inconsistent. In warm season turf, you have to work on your turf cultural practices to maintain a solid canopy and you have to integrate pre-emerge herbicides such as oxadiazone to get good residual on the goosegrass.
A good aerification program will keep things moving. A lot of people will ask, “Well, I’m going out with my pre-emerge now because crabgrass is about to start germinating, but I’m not going to aerate until about three weeks from now. Aren’t I going to destroy my herbicide barrier?” and the answer is no, this is not an idea situation, but you’re not going to destroy your herbicide barrier. Herbicides can move slightly laterally, and they can come in and fill back in the barrier, especially when it occurs fairly soon after the herbicide application. So my argument has always been that the negative impact on your herbicide barrier due to aeration is less than the negative impact on your turf due to not aerating. Your turf kills more goosegrass than the herbicide. It’s hard to measure, but it’s out there doing it every day, before you wake up and after you go to bed. Therefore, to preserve its ability to fight goosegrass, you need to alleviate the compaction, give those roots some oxygen and give it room to grow.
Goosegrass is an extremely robust plant from a genetic standpoint. It’s developed resistance to all the modes of action against everything that’s been developed to throw at it. So if you deal with a lot of goosegrass, incorporating a resistance management program would be advised.

Sometimes the burdocks have to be cut from the fur, they stick so tightly. Other troublemakers are members of the bidens clan. Their name actually means ”two teeth.” These two-pronged seeds from plants commonly called stick tights or beggars’ ticks are equal nuisance makers. They not only stick to fur and feathers but also seem to adhere easily to shoe laces as well. What is happening?

The seeds are traveling and sticking to anything they can grab on to, either fabric or fur. Or another common seed carrier are the feathers of birds. Some seeds such as those of the Eupatorium clan are hard to avoid. The old, browned stalks of these tall, elegant plants replace the beautiful statures of the joe-pye weeds or the stately bonesets. These native plants are often used at the backs of borders for their tall finesse that they add to any scene.

But now, they are almost ugly in their fallen state and down they must come. Getting under these stalks to prune them to near ground level means climbing under large floppy stalks. This is when the seeds cling to fabric and even get in your hair.

All of the bedstraws have sticky habits, too. Although the plants are low to the ground, the seeds do have a way of traveling far and wide by hooking a free ride. Some of the feathery goldenrods have a way of messing up things, too, but they are forgiven for their long, late display of color. So are the mums forgiven, although their seeds are better behaved.

Although impatiens seeds do not stick to fabric, they provide a practical lesson in seed dispersal. No wonder they have earned the nickname ”touch me not.” Where early frosts have not destroyed these plants, look underneath the protected leaves to see the spirally fruit. Touch it and the seeds explode. When volunteers of tiny seedlings appear in pots and borders next summer, you can recall where these seeds come from.

 (Eleusine indica)

Click on images to enlarge

Goosegrass, also called wiregrass, is an annual summer grass and occasionally, a perennial. Except for non-irrigated desert regions, it is found throughout California to about 660 feet (200 m). Goosegrass is normally found in compacted areas or areas of heavy wear; it inhabits agricultural land and other disturbed places, especially those that receive some summer water, and grows close to the ground. It is a widespread and highly variable species that tolerates a broad range of environmental conditions, but does not survive frost. Goosegrass is susceptible to viruses that cause diseases such as sugar cane mosaic.


Turf, landscaped areas, gardens, crop fields, orchards, roadsides, and other disturbed places.

Mature plant

Goosegrass forms a pale green matlike clump with flattened stems that grows in a low rosette. Stems are somewhat fleshy at the base. The mature plant can spread to about 2-1/2 feet (80 cm) wide. The leaf blades are nearly hairless, except for long hairs on the blade bases, collars, and/or upper sheath margins. Leaves are keeled along the midvein near the base of the blade. Sheaths are open, flattened, keeled, and are whitish at the base around the collar.

Collar region

Leaves have a short membranous ligule with a jagged top. It is usually cleft in the center. There are no auricles.


Flowers bloom from July through October. Flowers cluster along stiff spikes. Usually two to six spikes radiate out at the end of the flowering stem (although one to twelve spikes may occur). Sometimes one or two spikes are attached below the terminal cluster.


Seed heads are somewhat similar to those of dallisgrass, Paspalum dilatatum, but are shorter and stiffer. The Fruits are tiny, reddish brown, one seeded, and enclosed in a thin covering.


Seeds are produced even when plants are closely mowed.


Reproduces by seed.

Related or similar plants

  • Dallisgrass, Paspalum dilatatum

More information

  • Grass ID illustration
  • Calflora’s distribution map
  • For agriculture: UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines


Cleavers (Galium aparine) grow rapidly during warm weather. The sticky stems are able to scramble around the garden, smothering small, cultivated plants and setting masses of seed. It’s usually introduced on the coats of animals, birds’ feathers or human clothing. Its lifecycle is approximately eight weeks from germination to setting seed.



A short-lived plant that grows sticky mats of foliage, which can swamp cultivated plants. It produces sticky seeds, which can be spread around the garden by animals and on clothing.

Find it on

freshly-cultivated ground in borders, established flowerbeds, pots, vegetable plots


Remove cleavers regularly by hand, or hoe off young seedlings before they set seed. Avoid getting seeds on clothing, as this can inadvertently spread it around the garden. Mulch borders with a 5cm layer of garden compost or composted bark to suppress seedlings.



Apply a contact weedkiller when the plants are young and before they get a chance to flower.

How to clear Goose Grass quickly and easily


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Last updated on: 3rd January 2020Close

Sticky Weed, Sticky Willy, Velcro Weed

This is my fifth attempt to post it because it has just closed the editor without posting when I tried to insert an image multiple times. My dog passed away a few hours after my last post. The vet thought she was a goner two years ago but she pulled through. She was just in too much pain & her quality of life was only going to get worse. I really hated to have to make that decision, but I couldn’t let her suffer anymore. This is the door I got (it was listed in the "solid core" doors when I searched and employees said it had a solid core). It was solid spray foam. Now it says "insulated core in the description. Because it’s foam inside the steel dents very easily and doesn’t stay tight to the foam (like it would if it were adhered to wood) which posed problems when cutting for the pet door. Before I even purchased the door, I made an inquiry the manufacturer to make sure it was OK to cut for a pet door & they said it would be fine. My pet door did not come with a template so I had to make one, trace around it on the door once I measured to get it where I wanted, and drilled holes in each corner to make it easier to cut. Since I thought the core was wood, I was shocked at how the drill bit just dropped through the center before hitting the steel on the other side. Then I cut with a jigsaw blade, which is when I encountered my first problem: The steel moved away from the foam in the center & the longest metal cutting blades I found were just barely long enough to cut through, but because the steel could move, instead of cutting, it just moved up, leaving a dent from the underside. I had to flip the door and cut from the other side, but then it didn’t want to cut quite evenly & the steel started to bend and tear. I had to rectify it with a Dremel tool & metal cutting blades, although it didn’t entirely get rid of tears or jagged edges. I’ve never cut metal before so I don’t know if that is "normal". I had to do a few fittings of the door pieces to see if they would go together and do some trimming on the metal as needed. You can see that it’s not exactly straight in the above picture. No photo, but I used duct tape to cover the jagged edges, hold the steel tighter together over the center, and cover the foam– particularly in one of the corners where the foam started to disintegrate from where I drilled for the pet door’s screws. That brought me to another problem: the pet door was supposed to anchor to a solid core with #6 screws and bond to the door with doublesided sticky tape. But, the foam was too flimsy so I had to get 3" #6 bolts (I tried 2" but they were too short & I couldn’t find 2-1/2" ones locally). I didn’t use the sticky tape because I needed to get things to line up properly & it would have gotten in the way. I had to redrill some of the holes in the door, wallow out the holes in the plastic a bit to allow the bolts to slide through better, and make numerous adjustments. After a bit of trial and error, I finally got three of the bolts through with the help of a clamp, tape, and patience. The first two bolts went through just fine ( put them diagonally from each other in opposite corners). The third bolt gave me a little trouble– since the foam was not conducive to making the bolts go through straight- so I had to play around with the angle a bit but got it through. I bent a couple of bolts but I bought extra just in case. The last bolt decided to be a royal pain in the keester. The foam disintegrated in that corner (which is why I wanted to use tape over it) so the bolt moved too much inside once it passed through the first layer of steel. That one proved frustrating enough that I had to take a breather for a couple days so I didn’t get mad and break something. I brainstormed on the best way to get the bolt through and when I felt confident enough I went back down to try again. I used a flashlight to make sure the hole was clear, tipped the door up on it’s side at an angle so I could reach through, and got the bolt to line up with the hole on the other side, but every time I went to use the screwdriver to turn it to go through it would slip out of alignment. Eventually I had to line it up with the hole and then smack it with a mallet, but that mofo finally went in. I secured all of the bolts with nuts but I didn’t like how the nuts could slip into the holes slightly, which would allow the pet door to come loose. So I bought some washers for it, clamped the pet door, removed the nuts, slipped the washers on, then put the nut back on and repeated with each bolt. I later trimmed the bolts with the Dremel’s metal cutting blade (I went through 2 blades on this project). While moving the door around, I noticed some medium depth scratches that I could feel were dented in so I decided to try some filler primer to hide them. I still need to paint the door frame and trim– it will be white (also Behr Marquee) but I need to get some more supplies first- need another painting pan. The door frame is just sitting to the side waiting for paint. It took about 3 coats that had to dry 24 hours in between for sanding. It wasn’t perfect but it reduced the deepest ones and completely covered some of the shallower ones. I forgot to take a picture before using a white colored metal primer over it to hide the gray color so it wouldn’t show through the paint. Unfortunately, either the mix is just crappy or the nozzle is defective. I shook the can vigorously for two minutes straight but it came out splotchy, dripped, and just didn’t spray consistently (but the filler primer had gone on just fine). Rewinding a bit, prior to the primer, I put white duct tape over the bolts and washers to make them less obvious and to make sure there was nothing sharp sticking out. They will have to be redone because the painter’s tape started pulling the white tape off when I taped around the pet door to protect it from primer spray & paint. I also put on the caps included with the pet door that were supposed to cover all 8 holes but could only cover the 4 outside holes. First 3 went on fine, but the 4th one required the mallet (it was the same hole that gave me the most trouble with the bolt). I caulked around both halves just in case. After the primer, I painted the door with Behr Marquee Deep River satin exterior. It was my first time using a foam roller so I wasn’t sure of the technique or how much pressure to use. Had a little trouble with the roller started to suck the paint back up, a bug landed on the surface at one point so I had to remove it, which messed up the finish, and I messed up the edging a bit & missed some spots (but I touched that up later). I took the pictures while it was still wet so it looked good but after it dried I could see the roller marks. It will need a 2nd coat. Good thing I have that moving blanket and cardboard now in place to protect the door better. Hopefully it won’t get any more scratches. I’m going to keep it protected during transport up to the house when it is time to install it. Before and after comparison of the primer vs paint.

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