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Weed Control

Quackgrass: Tips to Identify, Control and Get Rid Of

By August 15, 2023No Comments

Quackgrass, also known as couch grass, quick grass or twitch grass, is a common, aggressive, persistent and invasive weed that invades lawns and gardens. It is a type of perennial grass that is often considered a weed due to its aggressive growth and ability to spread rapidly. 

How do you get rid of this aggressive, persistent AND invasive weed? If you have this annoying weed, you know it’s not an easy or simple task.

Quackgrass Identification

Here are some tips to help you identify quackgrass:

  • Leaf Appearance:
    • Quackgrass leaves are flat, narrow, and have a rough texture.
    • The leaves are typically about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide and can vary in length.
    • They have a prominent midrib (central vein) running down the length of the leaf.
  • Growth Habit:
    • Quackgrass is a perennial grass, meaning it grows year after year.
    • It forms dense clumps with long, creeping underground stems (rhizomes) that give rise to new shoots.
    • These rhizomes can quickly spread, making quackgrass difficult to control.
  • Seed Head:
    • Quackgrass produces seed heads with erect spikes that can reach a foot or more in height.
    • The seed heads contain clusters of small, light-colored seeds.

      Dry ears of Quackgrass in fall field

  • Root Structure:
    • Quackgrass has a fibrous root system along with its rhizomes.
    • The rhizomes are white or pale yellow and can be quite extensive underground.

      Quackgrass rhizome stems (Steve Dewey, Utah State University,

  • Growth Habit:
    • Quackgrass tends to grow in areas where soil has been disturbed, such as gardens, lawns, and fields.
    • It is known for its vigorous growth and ability to outcompete other plants.
  • Cool-Season Grass:
    • Quackgrass is a cool-season grass, meaning it grows most actively during the cooler months of the year, especially in spring and fall.
  • Resistance to Mowing:
    • Quackgrass can be difficult to control through mowing alone because of its rhizomatous growth.
  • Distinctive Behavior:
    • Quackgrass can spread rapidly and aggressively, often invading nearby areas.
    • It can be challenging to eradicate due to its rhizomes and resilient growth habits.
  • Leaf Color:
    • Quackgrass leaves are typically a vibrant green color.
  • Location and Habitat:
    • Quackgrass is commonly found in lawns, gardens, agricultural fields, and other disturbed areas.

If you’re unsure whether you’re dealing with quackgrass, consider consulting a local gardening or agricultural expert.

Tips to Control or Get Rid of Quackgrass

Consider using a combination of these control methods (pulling, herbicides, or other control methods) for more effective quackgrass management. 

1. Regular Mowing

Frequent mowing can help weaken the quackgrass, as it prefers to grow taller. Keeping your lawn at the recommended height for your grass type can discourage its growth. 

2. Smothering

Using thick layers of mulch or landscape fabric can help smother quackgrass and prevent it from receiving sunlight, hindering its growth. 

3. Soil Solarization

This method involves covering the affected area with a clear plastic sheet during the hottest months of the year. The trapped heat will help kill the quackgrass and its seeds. 

4. Glyphosate

In extreme cases, non-selective herbicides containing glyphosate can be used, but exercise caution as they can also harm desirable plants. Earth Smart Property Solutions has been fighting weeds since 1994. Please contact our team if you would like to learn more about our Vegetation Control Service.

5. Hand Pulling

For small infestations, carefully hand-pulling quackgrass can be effective. Ensure you remove the entire root system to prevent regrowth. Keep in mind that if the quackgrass has spread extensively, other control methods, such as herbicides or smothering, may be necessary to complement hand pulling. Regular maintenance and prevention are crucial to keeping quackgrass under control in the long term. 

6. Combine Methods

Consider using a combination of pulling, herbicides, or other control methods for more effective quackgrass management. 

Tips to pull out quackgrass by hand

Pulling out quackgrass by hand can be challenging, especially when dealing with an extensive infestation. However, with some tips and the right approach, you can make the process more effective: 

  • Pull When It’s Young: Quackgrass is easier to pull out when it’s young and hasn’t fully established its root system. Regularly inspect your lawn or garden and remove new quackgrass shoots as soon as you spot them. 
  • Wet Soil: Pulling quackgrass after rainfall or watering can be advantageous since the soil is softer, making it easier to extract the entire root system. However, avoid pulling when the soil is overly saturated to prevent compaction. 
  • Use a Trowel: A small garden trowel can be useful in loosening the soil around the quackgrass before attempting to pull it. This helps to get a better grip on the roots and minimizes the risk of breaking the stems during removal.  
  • Grasp Close to the Base: When pulling, grab the quackgrass as close to the base as possible, ensuring you get a good hold on the roots. Gently and steadily pull upward to remove the entire plant, including the underground rhizomes. 
  • Remove Entire Plant: It’s crucial to remove the entire quackgrass plant, including any white, fleshy rhizomes (underground stems), as they can regrow from even small segments left behind. 
  • Dispose Properly: Place the pulled quackgrass in a plastic bag and dispose of it with your regular trash. Avoid composting it, as the seeds and rhizomes can survive and spread. 
  • Be Persistent: Quackgrass is resilient, and it may take repeated efforts over time to see a significant reduction. Stay vigilant and consistent in pulling out new growth. 

Preventive Measures

It’s essential to note that controlling quackgrass may require persistence, as it can be challenging to eradicate completely. Choose a method or a combination of methods that best suits your situation, and remember that consistent maintenance is key to keeping it at bay. 

After successfully controlling quackgrass, take preventive measures to avoid its return, such as maintaining a healthy lawn, avoiding overwatering, and promptly removing any new quackgrass shoots. 

If you need help with weed control, your lawn or have any questions when it comes to weeds and lawn care, please contact our team of lawn care specialists and they will be happy to help.