Keeping your lawn looking clean and healthy can be a challenge. Many invasive weeds look like grass that will creep into your yard and take over if not correctly dealt with quickly.
However, it can be hard to identify these weeds because they look similar to your type of grass. Here are some insights into some of the weeds that look like common lawn grasses so you can keep your yard looking fantastic all year round.
Probably the most common grassy weed in the U.S. is crabgrass. This weed loves to grow in lawns that have only been lightly watered or left poorly drained. They also enjoy a yard without fertilization to help the grass grow.
The tricky part is that crabgrass looks similar to regular grass, but it grows a bit thicker in clumps and is not as aesthetically pleasing. The blades of crabgrass grow straight out from the stem, forming an almost star shape that may be purple at the tips.
If left unchecked, this can quickly take over your yard until winter, when it dies out. Your best bet is to pull it out from the roots or use an herbicide to stop the invasion.
2. Creeping Bentgrass
This perennial grassy weed is used as an alternative grass for golf courses and some coastal communities. This is unfortunate for anyone with a yard close to those locations because it will happily spread from the course over to your lawn and grow tall rapidly.
You can identify it by light patches of fine grass that get puffy after about an inch in height. A good way to combat this weed is by cutting your grass to around 3 inches (the right height for most lawns) or using an herbicide to prevent further spread.
Nutsedge is a perennial weed that is also sometimes called nutgrass. It got its nickname from its tendency to grow in lawns, gardens, and fields. Nutsedge can be found growing along roadways and ditches as well as in garden beds and flower pots.
This invasive plant will typically arrive from seeds in the air or below ground and is extremely hard to remove once it has taken hold in your yard. Any leftover fragment of this weed will continue to grow, so you’ll likely need an herbicide to kill it off. The easiest way to identify it is from the nut-like tubers on the roots.
This perennial grass can be found in lawns and pastures. It is a cool season grass, meaning it thrives in areas with temperatures between 40°F and 80°F.
The carpets of this weed are usually green to blue-green but may also appear brownish or purplish during times of stress or dormancy.
Carpet Grass has long, narrow leaves that grow together on the stem, giving it its name. The plant will die back in the winter but regrows each spring from its rhizome system, which can spread out at least 15 feet.
To get rid of carpet grass, you will want to pull up all visible plants until no more appear after numerous inspections. You can also change the soil’s acidity with a quarter cup of salt mixed with a gallon of water.
Johnson grass is a perennial grass that can grow up to 7 feet tall. It has an extensive root system and spreads by rhizomes as well as seeds. Its long, narrow leaves are easily identifiable because they grow in an alternating pattern on the plant’s stem.
In most cases, they look like corn seedlings that become easier to identify as they age from the white vein running down the center of the grassy weeds. The easiest way to handle this is by tilling the soil and exposing the rhizomes to the winter chill.
Foxtail has the appearance of a long, thin leaf and can easily blend in with other weeds or grasses. The plant grows up to six feet tall and will produce seeds from June through September.
The major recognizable factor is the fluffy tips of the grass that give the weed its name. The best solution to handling this weed is to simply keep your lawn healthy and trim. As long as your grass is thriving, this annual grassy weed will not have the resources to take root.
7. Annual Bluegrass
This weed resembles bluegrass in its appearance, except it has a finer texture. A long ligule attaches the leaf to the stem and a lighter, bright green color to the overall weed. You can find this weed in lawns, fields, and gardens.
This weed loves shade and moist areas, so your best option is to provide plenty of sunshine to your yard or use an herbicide where the patches tend to grow.
8. Common Couch
The common couch is a perennial weed with long, slender leaves that are very similar to grass blades. That is why this is one of the types of plants that people mistake because the weeds look similar to grass.
The leaves of common couch are typically smooth on both sides and do not have any hairs or spines. Common couch grows in lawns as well as other areas of turf grass and is best handled with herbicides and/or with a lawn mower during the dormant season (November through April).
Fescue is a perennial grass that is most commonly found in sunny areas. It grows in a clump, with each plant sending out runners that send out roots where they touch the ground. Fescue can grow in both wet and dry conditions but prefers sandy soil with plenty of nutrients.
You can quickly identify it from the thick, broad leaves and pronounced veins with rough-feeling blades. The best action is to smother this weed by covering it up with newspaper or a tarp.
Goosegrass grows all year round and can reach up to 6 inches tall. It has feathery leaves, which make goosegrass look like grass and give it its name (like a goose foot). The leaves are attached to the stem by a single vein, giving them their “feathery” appearance.
It will spread quickly in lawns with compacted soil and total exposure to sunlight. That means if you want to eliminate the invasive weed, you should mow your grass to around 3 inches and keep your soil aerated and drained.
11. Broom sedge
Broom sedge is a perennial weed that grows in lawns and other grassy areas. It has a long, narrow, green leaf that appears in clusters and is covered with hairs. The leaves grow up to 3 feet tall, but if you mow your lawn regularly, it won’t be able to reach its full height.
This weed loves full sun and dry conditions, often popping up around barren soil in clay, sand, or gravel. You can quickly get rid of broom sedge by manually plucking out the weeds and disposing of any seed heads in the process.
Quackgrass is a weed that grows in lawns, pastures, and roadsides. It has a creeping growth habit, forming dense mats that crowd out other plants, easily identified by the clasping auricles. It is a hardy weed that can survive in many different conditions.
Unfortunately, it is not easy to remove because of its natural resilience to most climates and soil conditions. Your best option is to pick up an herbicide and spray the invaded areas.
13. Smooth Bromegrass
Smooth bromegrass is commonly found in lawns as well as fields and pastures, where it can quickly crowd out other desirable plants. The smooth, waxy leaves are wide and flat with no teeth on the edges.
They may form a light green canopy or grow upright to about 2 feet tall. Once it is established, it can be challenging to remove because of the dense root system. The easiest way to handle the invasive weed is to keep your lawn mowed short to about 3 inches.
These are the most commonly misidentified weed grasses that tend to crop up in US homes and commercial fields. They all have unique challenges in handling the removal, so they do not spread.
Some of them are weeds that look like grass, and inexperienced homeowners or lawn maintenance workers may overlook the invasion and let them grow.
The best protection to prevent most of these weeds is maintaining a healthy lawn at the right height with plenty of draining and nutrients.