Unwanted Grass

Grass is usually a good thing; in lawns that is.  However, if you’ve got grass anywhere else – a veggie garden, a flower bed, in groundcovers – then it’s a weed.


Grass can get to the unwanted location through bird transfer, through misapplied seedings or through spreading.  The rhizomes pictured here show this undesirable capacity to move into locations where it’s not wanted.  It’s great if it spreads laterally in the lawn, just not into an ornamental bed.


So, what do you do?  Basically, there are 2 options.  1. You can pull it out.  If the soil is moist from a recent rainfall, this works pretty well.  Get a foamy kneeling pad and a bucket and grab each grass plant near the soil line and gently tug.  Normally, this results in about 70-80% control, as some growing points are left in the soil.  Option 2 is to apply a product containing Fluazifop-P-Butyl.  This active ingredient, available in a variety of trade names will not harm the flowers, groundcovers or other desirable plants, but will kill Kentucky bluegrass, crabgrass, barnyardgrass, goosegrass and sandbur.  Of course, if it is applied to a lawn, it will leave a big dead spot, so care must be taken during application.  As such it’s important to read and follow all label directions.

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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