Weeds That Look Like Grass – Identification and Control

A healthy lawn adds a unique touch of nature to your home and improves its curb appeal and resale value. However, weeds can put a damper on the health of your lawn, and getting rid of them can prove to be a hassle because many weeds look like grass. The close resemblance often ensures that these weeds stay hidden for longer and cause more damage in the long run.

Some of the weeds that look like grass include crabgrass, yellow and purple nutsedge, common couch, annual bluegrass, etc. These weeds mimic the leaves and color of grass and require close inspection to fish them out. Weeds that resemble grass must be eradicated as soon as they are discovered to prevent further invasion.

This article will look at the top weeds that look like grass, how to correctly identify them, and the best control methods.

Weeds That Look Like Grass Identification and Control

Top weeds that look like grass - identification and control

Here are the top weeds that look like grass, easy ways to identify them in your garden, and means of control so your grass can be as healthy as ever. They include;

1. Yellow and purple nutsedge

  • Scientific name; Cyperus esculentus and Cyperus rotundus
  • Type; perennial grassy weed
  • Identification; nutsedge has a lighter green coloring with characteristic nut-like tubers on its roots. It also grows noticeably faster than turf grass.
  • Prevention; keep the grass healthy through regular maintenance, fertilizer application, and good drainage.
  • Control; do not pull the weed unless you can remove every piece of it. Use pre and post-herbicides regularly till the weed does not return.

Nutsedge is one of the top weeds that look like grass. The weed has two varieties; the yellow and purple nutsedge and both can destroy your grass equally. The nutsedge is one of the most aggressive weeds invading the grass from above by seed dispersal and below through rhizomes and tubers etc.

This makes the weed very hard to get rid of and oftentimes hand pulling nutsedge may cause it to grow back even worse if a part of the weed was left behind. Having a healthy garden helps to fight against the nutsedge weeds.

Nutsedge can be controlled using pre and post-emergent herbicides. Aggressive herbicide treatment is necessary if the weed has invaded the garden and they are very resistant and will regrow if not controlled properly.

Yellow and purple nutsedge

2. Crabgrass

  • Scientific name; Digitaria sanguinalis and Digitaria ischaemum
  • Type; an annual grassy weed
  • Identification; similar to grass but they grow in clumps, have a lighter green color than grass, have a tough and thicker growth pattern which makes them unattractive, and can grow up to 2 feet (20 inches) tall and just as wide if left to grow uncontrolled.
  • Prevention; keep the grass healthy by reseeding grass, regular groomings, fertilizer application, and regular watering.
  • Control; pulling grown crabgrass by hand, then applying pre-emergence herbicide to kill any seeds.

Crabgrass is one of the top weeds that look like grass. The crabgrass is a grassy annual weed that can pass for grass at a glance but closer inspection will show several differences. The crabgrass is a lighter green than regular grass and has a very tough and thick root. The weed also makes the garden look very unattractive due to its irregular growth patterns.

Crabgrass can overtake a garden if not caught on time. They are usually found in gardens with low nutrients and water and are poorly drained. Although they die yearly, they can produce over 150,000 seeds and come back in more numbers the year after.

Mature Crabgrass should be hand pulled or by using garden equipment like a hoe. The garden should then be doused in pre-emergence herbicide to kill all the seeds that have been spread by the crabgrass.


3. Common couch (couch grass and quackgrass)

  • Scientific name; Elymus repens
  • Type; perennial grassy weed
  • Identification; common couch grows in rough patches of blue-green grass. The grass has a finger-like resemblance and can be hard to spot amidst regular grass.
  • Prevention; keep the grass healthy with regular fertilizer application and watering. Good drainage and reseeding where the grass is sparse.
  • Control; dig out the entire weed, especially the root if found early. Also, use of pre and post-emergent herbicides to kill the seeds and sprouting common couch weeds.

The common couch is one of the top weeds that look like grass. Also known as couch grass or quackgrass in some places, the common couch weed is a perennial weed that often gets into gardens by air dispersal.

The common couch is usually found in unhealthy and dry gardens with little nutrients and water for the grass. They can be prevented by proper care of grass with regular fertilizer application and watering.

If the common couch is left unchecked, it will eventually take over the garden and destroy all the grass. If caught on time, the weed can be hand-pulled or dug out using a trowel. Pre and post-emergent herbicides can be used in more invasive situations as they kill the seeds and rhizomes to prevent the regeneration of the weed.

4. Annual bluegrass

  • Scientific name; Poa annua
  • Type; an annual grassy weed
  • Identification; they resemble the desirable Kentucky bluegrass but can be spotted due to their light green color when compared. The weed also has a long ligule, or membrane, that connects that leaf blade to the base of the stem
  • Prevention; prevent shading by cutting back trees and shrubs that offer shaded areas. Keep the grass properly drained to prevent water logging caused by excess moisture.
  • Control; remove all favorable conditions to stop their growth. Use pre and post-emergent herbicides to kill the weeds and any seeds.

Annual Bluegrass is one of the top weeds that look like grass. The weed is an annual weed and is a relative of the highly desirable Kentucky bluegrass. The annual bluegrass mimics members of its family but can be spotted by its light green coloring.

The annual bluegrass loves shade, cool climate, and excess moisture and if your garden offers all three, you will be liable to annual bluegrass invasion. Keeping grass unshaded and having good water drainage will help in preventing and controlling annual bluegrass.

The use of herbicides can also be employed if the weed is noticed late and intense measures are necessary. The herbicide will kill any bluegrass seed or sprout to prevent regeneration.

5. Green and yellow foxtail

  • Scientific name; Setaria Viridis And Setaria Pumila
  • Type; an annual grassy weed
  • Identification; they resemble foxtails with fluffy ends on a stalk when mature. These fluffy ends contain thousands of seeds ready for dispersion.
  • Prevention; keep the grass healthy through maintenance, fertilizer application, and proper drainage.
  • Control; when the weed dies, it can be hand pulled easily and the garden treated and maintained to a healthier standard to keep the foxtail away the next season. Using a pre-emergent herbicide is also recommended to kill any seeds dispersed in the garden.

The foxtail weed is one of the top weeds that look like grass. It comes in two varieties, the green foxtail, and the yellow foxtail. Named for their resemblance to the tails of foxes, this weed has a characteristic bussy apex that houses thousands of seeds for dispersal.

Foxtails can be prevented by keeping the grass healthy and well-maintained. This can be done by applying the right fertilizer for weed nutrients and proper drainage to prevent water logging. Foxtails can be controlled by hand pulling before the seeds are produced or after they have dried up and using a pre-emergent herbicide to kill any seed dispersed.

Green and yellow foxtail

6. Smooth bromegrass

  • Scientific name; Bromus Ramosus Ramosus and Bromus inermis
  • Type; a perennial grassy weed
  • Identification; this weed has long drooping leaves covered in fine hairs. The weed can grow to 2 feet (20 inches) if left unchecked.
  • Prevention; healthy lawns and gardens usually deter the growth of smooth bromegrass.
  • Control; mowing the weed regularly so healthy grass can outgrow it can help in getting rid of this weed. Herbicides are also very effective.

Smooth bromegrass is one of the top weeds that look like grass. There are two species usually found as weeds in gardens and they are both perennials. The smooth bromegrass has long drooping leaves and can grow extremely tall if left unchecked.

The best way to prevent this weed is by ensuring that the gardens and lawns are well-maintained, nourished with the right weed vitamins, and have adequate drainage. Healthy lawns can resist weed invasion. For lawns with the weed, if the lawn is brought back to the right health, it can fight against the smooth bromegrass weed.

Smooth bromegrass

7. Johnsongrass

  • Scientific name; Sorghum Halepense
  • Type; a perennial grassy weed
  • Identification; young johnsongrass bear great resemblance to corn sprouts. Mature weeds have inch-thick leaves with a distinct white vein running down the middle of each blade.
  • Prevention; keeping grass healthy and well maintained.
  • Control; if found early, covering the weeds in highly concentrated vinegar will kill them. Larger invasions will require herbicides and even tilling of the soil to uproot all rhizomes to prevent reoccurrence.

Johnsongrass is one of the top weeds that look like grass. This weed is a perennial and almost resembles corn seedlings while young. Keeping grass healthy is the best way to prevent the johnson grass from invading your garden.

Dousing this weed in concentrated vinegar will kill it without affecting the entire garden. However, herbicides and tilling of the soil is one way to deal with the johnsongrass of the weed that has already invaded the grass.

The tilling of the soil is to unroot any rhizomes and underground roots to make sure it never grows back.

8. Creeping bentgrass

  • Scientific name; Agrostis stolonifera
  • Type; a perennial grassy weed
  • Identification; grow in light green patches all over the garden. The leaves become puffy once they grow past an inch.
  • Prevention; keep grass healthy and perform a regular inspection to catch any weed on time.
  • Control; use selective herbicides containing glyphosate if you catch the weeds very early. Mature weeds are very difficult to completely eradicate once they are established.

Creeping bentgrass is one of the top weeds that look like grass. They are perennials and grow in light green patches all over an unhealthy and poorly maintained garden. Keeping grass in the best conditions will prevent creeping bentgrass from invading the garden properly.

Selective herbicides containing glyphosate are very effective in getting rid of creeping bentgrass if they are noticed early.

Creeping bentgrass

9. Carpetgrass

  • Scientific name; Axonopus compresus and Axonopus affinis
  • Type; a perennial grassy weed
  • Identification; they grow in thick patches that resemble mats. Usually of medium green coloring.
  • Prevention; keep soil alkaline to prevent the growth of carpet grass
  • Control; hand pulling is effective if caught early. Also spraying with lime or salt mixed with a gallon of water will help to reduce the acidity of the soil and kill the weeds.

Carpetgrass is one of the top weeds that look like grass. They are perennial weeds that grow in thick mat-like patches all over the garden floor. Carpet grass usually grows in acidic soil, this means that ensuring the garden soil is alkaline is a way to prevent the weed from growing.

Spraying carpet grass with a mixture of lime or salt and water will reduce the acidity drastically and kill the weed. Carpet grass can also be hand-pulled in its early stages.

10. Tall fescue

  • Scientific name; Festuca Arundinacea
  • Type; a perennial grassy weed
  • Identification; tall fescue has thick and wide leaves with very noticeable veins throughout. The leaf blade is rough to touch and the underside is lighter green.
  • Prevention; keep the garden and grass healthy and well-maintained.
  • Control; lack of sunlight will kill this weed effectively. This can be done by smothering it, covering it with a tarp, cardboard, newspaper, etc., and allowing it to wither.

Tall fescue is one of the top weeds that look like grass. They are perennials and have wide, thick leaves with sharp edges that are rough to the touch. Keeping the grass well-maintained, healthy, and watered is a good way of preventing tall fescue from invading a garden.

Tall fescue is drought-resistant and is very difficult to get rid of even by pulling and using herbicides. However, lack of sunlight is the most effective way of killing this weed. This can be done by covering the weed with a tarp, cardboard, newspaper, etc. to prevent it from receiving sunlight which will lead to its death.

Tall fescue
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