Identifying Goosegrass

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What does goosegrass look like

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For homeowners who are constantly battling lawn weeds, goosegrass can be one of the most frustrating to deal with. This grassy weed can quickly take over if not dealt with early on, and it can be difficult to identify. So, let's discuss all things goosegrass to make sure you can control and identify this tricky weed in your lawn.

What Is Goosegrass?

Goosegrass is one of those weeds you have probably seen hundreds of times throughout your life, but it is often misidentified or ignored. Goosegrass is an annual, grassy weed that occasionally behaves as a short-lived perennial in more tropical climates. Though this grassy weed is commonly mistaken for crabgrass, goosegrass is an entirely different species.

Eleusine indica is the species of grassy weed that is commonly known as goosegrass. This invasive weed is native to Eurasia, but it can be found throughout most areas of North America today, especially warmer states like Louisiana. Its fibrous root system makes this weed a nuisance to have to deal with when it appears in your lawn.

What Does Goosegrass Look Like?

identifying goosegrass

As is the case with most grassy weeds, it is often difficult to tell apart goosegrass from the regular turfgrass in your lawn. Thankfully, there are a few key characteristics to look out for that will help you identify this invasive weed.

  • Folded leaves with flat stems.
  • Darker green at the tips to almost white at the center.
  • Feather-like seedheads of roughly 3-8 spikelets.
  • Outward, prostrate growth.
  • Clump/bunch-type formations.
  • Complex, fibrous roots stemming from central taproot.

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When trying to identify goosegrass in your lawn, there are a few things to look for that will help you differentiate it from other grassy weeds. Goosegrass is a low-growing weed that has folded leaf blades and flat stems. The leaf blades are about 1/3 of and inch wide and about 8 inches long on average, but some plants do develop grass blades up to 2 feet long. Leaves are a light green color that get lighter towards the base of the plant, and seedheads that resemble feathers can be found at the tip.

An easy way to tell goosegrass apart from crabgrass or other weeds is to observe it from above. Goosegrass grows in a bunch-type manner that is often described as matted. Much like crabgrass, goosegrass features prostrate growth that emanates from a single point in the center. However, if the weed you are seeing is goosegrass, that center will be a very light green or even a white color instead of the pinkish center seen in clusters of crabgrass.

When Does Goosegrass Grow?

Lawn Health

Goosegrass is a warm-season weed, meaning it will only germinate and grow when temperatures consistently fall between 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit. In most areas of the United States, this occurs from late spring through early summer. Unlike some other grassy weeds, goosegrass can actually survive in shady areas as long as there is enough moisture for it to thrive. This is one of the reasons why this weed is so difficult to control – it can adapt to growing conditions that would kill other plants.

  • KEEP IN MIND: In northern parts of the United States, goosegrass behaves as a true warm-season annual. This weed dies when soil temperatures consistently stay around 65 degrees and frost is seen on the ground. However, in warmer parts of the country, goosegrass may be able to survive a mild winter and behave like a perennial for the remainder of the season.

Where To Find Goosegrass

This weed is most commonly found in areas that experience high traffic such as along sidewalks, driveways, and paths. Goosegrass can also be found in gardens, flower beds, and poorly maintained lawns. It should be noted that this weed seeks out lawns that are not performing well, especially ones that are compacted. If your lawn receives heavy foot traffic and you notice issues like standing water or hard soil, goosegrass may not be far behind!

How Does Goosegrass Spread?

goosegrass seedhead

Though the roots of goosegrass are strong and imposing, this weed is primarily spread via seeds. The feathery spikelets are composed of seeds arranged in a zipper formation, which emerge in autumn as frost begins to set on lawns. These seedheads are delicate and can be transferred via physical contact or even just the wind. While underground rhizomes can account for some spreading of this weed, the vast majority of goosegrass plants are established by seeds blowing onto your lawn from a mature goosegrass plant.

How To Control Goosegrass

Lawn Fertilization in Louisiana
  • Preventive Control - Grassy weeds are notoriously difficult to control once they establish a presence in your lawn. For this reason, the best defense against goosegrass is always to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn before you start seeing weeds popping up everywhere. Pre-emergent provides a protective barrier that blocks weeds at the soil surface. If fewer weeds emerge, that means the spread of the infestation will decrease because there will be fewer seeds to set. Of course, nothing beats simply having a healthy lawn to deter weeds!
  • Corrective Control - Because of the fibrous root system of goosegrass, hand-pulling this weed is not typically recommended. Goosegrass can re-emerge from only a little bit of root material being left in the soil. Dig around the plant with a tool instead, and make sure the entire taproot is removed when digging up the roots. After removing emerged weeds, aerate your lawn! Goosegrass seeks out compacted soils, and aerating will soften and improve the soil in your lawn to deter weeds from returning.
  • Professional Control - To be sure goosegrass gets removed from your lawn properly, calling the pros is always your best bet. Lawn care companies, like Brothers Lawn Service, have all the products and expertise needed to keep your lawn weed free all year. To remove weeds, or to prevent weeds by maintaining your lawn all year, call your local lawn care provider today!