Invasive grass

Asked July 10, 2019, 5:52 PM EDT

How do I eradicate this grass its taken over one of my hosta beds. It has runners and breaks off when trying to pull out.

Monroe County Michigan

1 Response

It is difficult to say for sure, but your grass looks like either quack grass or wire grass. Because wire grass is primarily a southern grass, quack grass is the more likely villain. Often confused with crab grass, quack grass is more difficult to control because its roots run more deeply into the soil.

Quack Grass: Identification is pretty easy, but getting rid of quackgrass requires persistence. Quackgrass leaves will be broader than lawn type grasses and the grass blades will also have a rough, almost burr-like feel to them when you run your fingers along the blade. The roots will be thick and white. If the quackgrass is pulled out of the ground, you may notice that the roots break easily and often pieces of the roots will stay in the soil after the plant is removed.

Control: the best way to control quackgrass is to make sure that you do not have it in the first place. Any plants that you bring home from stores or nurseries must be carefully checked for quackgrass and its roots and completely removed.

Another essential part of getting rid of quackgrass is to act quickly when you do find it in your garden. Quackgrass moves quickly through any soil, but moves like lightening through loamy or sandy soil. Check your beds often for the appearance of this weed. If quackgrass is found, remove the quackgrass plant and roots as best as possible. Any roots left in the ground will grow new plants. Check the area daily for any new growth and remove any new quackgrass found as soon as possible.

If your flower beds have become overrun with quackgrass, manual pulling or hand digging are really your only options for getting rid of quackgrass. Dig deeply to be sure you get all the rhizomes that are deep and also get all the runners along the ground.

Unfortunately, killing quackgrass is not as easy as simply spraying an herbicide. It does not respond well to selective grass killers and your only chemical option for eliminating quackgrass is to use a non-selective weed killer that contains glysophate This is tricky; however, because glysophate will also kill any plants the quack grass is growing near, including your hostas.

Some gardeners have had success applying glysophate to quack grass with a paintbrush or gloved hand. If you try to spray this chemical, be sure to pick a calm day with temperature above 60. Be sure the grass is dry. Provide a barrier between your hostas and the grass, such as covering the hostas with plastic or cardboard boxes.

One popular product containing glysophate is RoundUp. You may have seen some news reports about this chemical claiming it potentially causes cances--especially in some who use it regularly such as licensed herbicide applicators. These claims have not been proven, and the product is still on the market. But be advised.

If a bed becomes badly infested with quackgrass, you may need to replant the bed.

  • Start by removing any plants you wish to keep.
  • Check the soil carefully for any traces of quackgrass roots and remove if found.
  • Next, kill the quackgrass in the bed by treating it with a product containing glysophate, a non-selective plant killer, chemical or boiling water. Wait one week and treat the bed again.

Wait one more week, and if quackgrass is starting to grow again, repeat the above steps again.

While this may seem a bit extreme in order to control quackgrass, this is the only way to ensure that you have eliminated this stubborn weed. The steps for how to get rid of quackgrass are somewhat time consuming, so it is important to treat this weed early and fast. The reward is that you never have to worry about getting rid of quackgrass that has taken over a once beautiful flower bed.

Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are more environmentally friendly.

Information provided in the links below should be helpful.

Incidentally, wire grass control is identical to quack grass control.