identifying crabgrass photo

In this post, we discuss the differences between Crabgrass, Fescue, and Quackgrass, and ways to control them. These weed grasses are often misidentified and if you want to perform the right kind of weed control, it helps to know which type you’re trying to remove.

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Crab Grass

Crab Grass

Aliases: crowfoot grass, finger grass, pigeon grass, polish millet

Nearly every U.S. and southern Canada state is plagued by this super-fast-growing annual.

One important key is knowing how to spot it.

What Does Crabgrass Look Like?

How To Identify Crabgrass

A common question from homeowners is “What does crabgrass look like?”

This weed is so invasive and troublesome, that just the thought of dealing with it can make you shudder. All the more reason to know for sure when you suspect it has shown up. Early treatment can prevent a lot of crabgrass difficulties later.

Identifying crabgrass can be a problem because of the assortment of portraits it can claim. It has many faces, due to its ability to adapt to various growing circumstances.

You may have seen a crabgrass picture or two, but as it adapts, it can take on an appearance quite different from the norm.

Crabgrass gets confused with other weeds. Sometimes the names crabgrass, devil grass, and quackgrass, plus Bermuda grass, are used interchangeably among all those plants.

Hand-like seed heads wait for warmer days to sprout, usually after Spring weeding, and mulching, and crops are already coming up.

Hot weather makes the crabgrass go into overdrive, sending out long stems that grow so fast, they may flower and go to seed, before you even notice them.

Ways to Remove Crabgrass

You may pull what you think is the plant, but fail to get the stems that have rooted at the nodes. Secondary stems will sprout off the main stem, a foot or two away from the main crown.

If left unnoticed, those pieces will grow and set seeds, bringing more sneaky crab grass next Summer.

If you learn to spot crabgrass and remove entirely each Summer, you will prevent it from becoming a huge problem.

Hand weeding and hoeing are effective measures of controlling crabgrass, and mulching will help, as long as you spot and remove any seedlings that sneak through the mulch.

Crabgrass grows best in acidic soil, so reducing the soil’s pH by adding lime, you will reduce the level of acidity and make it harder for it to thrive.

Steps To Getting Rid Of Crab Grass

Here are several things you can do to get control over it. The step or stage that is best for starting will depend on the season in which you begin.

  1. Keep crabgrass seeds from spreading.
  2. Kill existing crabgrass.
  3. Remove dead crabgrass plants.
  4. Replant bare lawn spots with new grass seed.
  5. Apply a crabgrass preventer at the appropriate times.
  6. Set your lawnmower at the high end of the range that is best for your grass type.
  7. Restrict excess fertilizing or too-frequent watering.
  8. Keeping your lawn healthy is the most conducive way to get rid of crabgrass.

Related: Why is it better to wait till fall for aeration and overseeding

Fescue Grass

Fescue Grass

Fescue grasses are known for their drought and shade tolerance, making them a desirable species because of its suitability to different conditions.

They are cool-season grasses, growing mainly in the transition zone of the United States and Canada.

Possessing the ability to stay green all year long adds to their desirability as a turfgrass species.

Most cool season grass species do not perform well in the lower area of the transition zone where the seasons are too hot for them to survive.

Most warm-season grasses cannot thrive in the upper part of the transition zone where seasons are too cool for the grasses to grow and prosper.

Where many species will not grow, Fescue grasses are able to effectively fill in this gap in growing conditions.

 Quack Grass

Aliases: couchgrass, quitch grass, creeping wheat

Thin, creeping underground rhizomes spread and release chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants.

Quack grassroots break easily as you handle them, so go slowly and take care to remove root fragments as you dig up the grass clumps.

The runner roots have to be removed completely, using a garden fork, rake, and hoe.

Quack Grass

Repeat often, to dig roots out, until all the bits are gone. Let the quack grass dry fully in the Sun before composting it.

If you till this weed, you will spawn many new seedlings.

You could use a cover crop, such as field peas, crimson clover or buckwheat, which out-compete quack grass.

This weed is common pasture grass in some areas, so if you are buying hay mulch or composted manure from somewhere this plant is common, make sure it isn’t loaded with quack grass seed.

Quackgrass seeds aren’t affected by the digestive tracts of grazing animals.

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Article Sources: Mother Earth NewsGarden.orgGarden Counselor