Quackgrass is a common and pervasive lawn weed found in most of Europe, Asia and northwest Africa. It’s often unwanted because it does not blend in with other grasses and can choke out more desirable grasses.
Quackgrass (Agropyron repens) is also known by the following names: medusa’s head, quackgrass grass, quackgrass rye, twitch grass, quick grass, couch grass, scutch grass, devil’s grass, quitch grass and dog grass. It is traditionally one of the more difficult weeds to get rid of since it can survive almost anywhere, with its ability to rapidly multiply.
Quackgrass can be identified by its long, tapered, bladelike leaves, 1/3 of an inch wide, connected to hollow stems. It has rhizomes and a fibrous root system that also produces more quackgrass. It also yields seeds that can be carried away by the wind in order to propagate.
While it prefers sunny areas, quackgrass can grow virtually anywhere. Its root system enables it to break even through hard and unyielding soil. Quackgrass can also get into your lawn via bird droppings, contaminated grass seeds and contaminated mulching material.
It’s considered a weed because of its persistence and can pose several problems. Here are some ploys you can try to get rid of pesky quackgrass.
There’s Work To Be Done
- No mow. Mowing quackgrass may sound like an instant solution, but it’s not going to get rid of your quackgrass. The weed likes to multiply by dividing its weeds and spreading its seed, which is something mowing can help. (Learn how to mow the lawn)
- Work it and weed it. Quackgrass is easiest to weed out when it is just a young sapling. Wear your gardening gloves and pull away as soon as you see it peeking out of the soil.
- Dig Dig Dig. Quackgrass is particularly tricky because of its complex root system, which can really take hold in the soil once it matures. Use a trowel or spade to completely extricate the root system out of the soil. Be careful and see to it that no rhizomes are left in the soil. Any rhizomes left can lead to more quackgrass.
- Mulch, mulch. After weeding or digging out quackgrass (Tips on how to get rid of lawn weeds), cover the area where the quackgrass used to be with a layer of wood chips, hay, straw, grass clippings or plastic film. This process is called mulching and it prevents the re-growth of seeds left behind by the newly-removed weeds. You can also opt to put cardboard under the mulching material to further prevent growth.
- Cover plants. You can keep cover plants on rotation over your lawn to prevent quackgrass from growing again. This may take some time for the cover plants to take back your whole lawn, but it is worth it if you really want to make sure quackgrass doesn’t come back. Some cover plants include winter rye, crown vetch and buckwheat.
- Mow the perimeter! Sometimes you can’t control the weeds growing in the perimeter of your lawn or garden, so mow the quackgrass growing in the area to prevent it from blowing into your lawn. Make sure that you burn the quackgrass clippings after you are done.
- Faster, faster! Till! Till! Repeated tilling of quackgrass-infested soil depletes its food reserves and exposes its roots to the elements to dry out and die. Tilling is more effective during warm, dry weather. Having your animals graze the quackgrass also helps, although you should make sure that they don’t unwittingly deposit the seeds right back into the soil after.
- Herbicide. There are a variety of herbicides available on the market today so you must carefully choose one according to your needs. Take the other plants in your lawn into consideration. You may also opt to use the following:
- Pre-emergence herbicides. Like any other good weed, quackgrass ensures the survival of its next generation by leaving thousands of seeds after it dies. Apply pre-emergence herbicides to inhibit the growth of these seeds. Quackgrass seeds normally germinate at soil temperatures of 55 to 60 degrees in spring, so timely application is always important. You will have to wait for 30 days before re-seeding your lawn with your preferred grass seeds.
- Non-selective herbicides. Non-selective herbicides do not choose which plant to kill. These herbicides wipe out other plants aside from quackgrass, so make sure that you follow the instructions and apply carefully. Some non-selective herbicides include Roundup and Finale. Most non-selective herbicides for crab grass are effective for quackgrass as well. You have to wait for seven days before re-seeding with your preferred grass seeds.
- Selective systemic herbicides. Selective herbicides can be used to make sure that you don’t affect the other plants in your garden. Glyphosate is another example of a selective herbicide.
- Organic herbicides. These organic herbicides are effective against quackgrass if used while the plant is young: Acetic acid, clove oil, soap-based herbicides. If these are used repeatedly, they can cause plants to weaken and die before they form seeds.
Try to avoid planting quackgrass in your lawn unwittingly by getting contaminated grass seeds. Getting contaminated mulching can also give you quackgrass-related headaches. If you want to prevent your farm becoming contaminated with quackgrass, make sure that your animal feed is refined and free of quackgrass seeds.
You should also clean your gardening tools carefully after using them to remove quackgrass. If you can, wash them in an area where quackgrass can’t grow.
Don’t be daunted by quackgrass. Don’t be surprised if you haven’t completely wiped it out on the first go. Your task will become easier as long as you regularly do maintenance work on your lawn and garden. Smelling the flowers in your garden will be a lot easier without that pesky quackgrass around. If you enjoy reading this article, you’ll surely want to read how to get rid of crab grass.