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.