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Known by its scientific name Elymus repens, quackgrass is a tough perennial plant that is considered a common weed by gardeners. The plant spreads very aggressively thanks to its powerful underground rhizomes. It doesn’t take long before your entire yard is overwhelmed by quackgrass. Homeowners looking to keep a weed-free lawn or garden should be aware that considerable effort is required to fully get rid of quackgrass. This invasive plant can infest your property in no time and have a major negative impact on the desirable plants in the garden.
The easiest way to protect your yard from the threat of quackgrass is through prevention. However, it’s not always practical to prepare your garden against this weed. Quackgrass can unexpectedly take root in your lawn making it very hard to regain control over the garden. The removal process is difficult because quackgrass is particularly stubborn, even among other weeds. Let’s take a closer look at the most effective ways to restore the clean look of your lawn without any signs of pesky quackgrass.
If you’re interested in combating quackgrass as effectively as possible, it’s crucial to figure out whether you’re dealing with this plant and not a similar-looking one. There are specific methods to apply for killing quackgrass that may not be effective on other types of weeds. Quackgrass resembles crabgrass but the two plants have some distinctive characteristics that help you set them apart.
The presence of clasping auricle projections at the base of the grass blade should help you confirm that you’re indeed dealing with quackgrass. Another important difference is the different reproductive strategies employed by the two types of weeds. Only quackgrass relies on underground rhizomes to spread. If the climate allows it, quackgrass tends to remain green year-round whereas crabgrass only grows during the summer.
Established quackgrass plants tend to stand out in the garden. It’s worth mentioning that the weed has creeping qualities. It can develop in large patches in a relatively short amount of time, often spreading through other grasses that you’ve planted because they’re desirable. When you discover the white or yellowish rhizomes with their fibrous roots, it’s safe to say that you’re looking at quackgrass.
Relocating Precious Plants
Thanks to the special chemicals contained in their rhizomes, quackgrass weeds will find it easier to outcompete other plants in the yard. Those chemicals will essentially have a significant impact on the growth of your desirable plants in the garden. Quackgrass is a dangerous weed that can effectively overpower existing plants if left to grow unchecked.
There’s a considerable risk of your more precious plants in the garden becoming damaged by a quackgrass infestation. Relocating those plants needs to be done at the first sign of quackgrass presence. It’s important to act fast and prevent the weed from encroaching on your yard. Find a temporary home for the plants near the patches of quackgrass. Then you can safely eradicate the weed and bring the plants back to their original location.
Ways to Get Rid of Quackgrass
There are different methods to tackle a quackgrass problem. Their effectiveness is highly dependent on the seriousness of the weed infestation. We’ll first start by exploring the milder ways to deal with quackgrass before going for more advanced methods required against yards fully overrun by the unwanted plant.
1. Manual Removal
Getting rid of weeds by hand is generally not recommended. However, this could be a good way to remove some small clumps appearing in certain parts of the garden. Compared to more advanced ways to get rid of quackgrass, manual work poses an extra challenge. You have to be particularly careful when you pull out the plant. If you mess up and break the underground stems, you will just spread the rhizomes further.
Proper manual removal of quackgrass should involve getting rid of all of the weed’s deep-rooted systems. This means you need to take out any clumps carefully to not leave any new sprouts behind. Another aspect that makes manual quackgrass removal difficult is the problem of identifying young sprouts properly. It’s safe to say that any new quackgrass will appear very similar to other grasses in the initial development stages. If you’re looking at a serious infestation of quackgrass or just have a big yard, consider opting for more efficient methods to eliminate this weed.
2. Crowding Out the Quackgrass
Quackgrass has aggressive spreading patterns. It will make use of precious resources required for the other plants in your garden. One great way to fight back against the weed’s tendency to expand rapidly is to crowd it out by planting new grass seeds. This is a natural way to combat quackgrass by simply making it very difficult for it to compete with other plant growth.
Crowding out the quackgrass doesn’t involve any damage to the topsoil of your yard which is great news. For this method, you will need a seed spreader that helps you distribute the new seed anywhere you spot the presence of quackgrass. You can use various types of grasses such as ryegrass or bluegrass. The trick is to spread extra seeds than what would be typically required while also taking good care of the new grass growth. Crowd out quackgrass successfully by suppressing its growth with a nitrogen fertilizer that helps the new grass seed to take over.
3. Solarize the Quackgrass
Any plant that goes over its physical limit will die, and quackgrass is no exception. If you manage to bring excessive heat to it, quackgrass won’t be able to survive. That’s where solarization comes in. It involves the use of transparent plastic covering that traps the quackgrass in a very hot environment.
While this might seem like a very effective solution, it has an important downside to keep in mind. You can’t really make it so it only impacts quackgrass if the weed grows haphazardly among your desired plants. This is why it pays off to relocate your good plants if possible as it would allow you to try this removal method.
Once you find the patch of quackgrass that you want to solarize, you simply have to get your hands on a plastic covering that’s spread evenly on the weeds. The covering needs to be properly secured with the help of heavy objects such as stones. Attach it to fencing or walls nearby to make sure it will hold the position and the quackgrass plants will become overheated. It can take more than a month before you’ll start seeing some results.
4. Try a DIY Herbicide
Before you take out the strongest chemical weed killer you can find, it’s recommended to try a DIY herbicide first. Your quackgrass problem might disappear if you use a simple vinegar-based solution. Basic vinegar that you have in your house could be insufficient for this method. It’s required to invest in a stronger vinegar featuring 10% acidity. Keep in mind that this is a strong acid making it important to use some safety equipment like goggles and rubber gloves.
Make a DIY herbicide by combining two cups of industrial-strength vinegar with a few drops of citrus oil which is a natural killer of various weeds, quackgrass included. Spray your solution carefully on all the leaf blades of the quackgrass patches in the yard. Make sure you avoid applying the herbicide if there’s a rain forecast soon. This removal method needs some patience considering that respraying might be necessary to see some results.
5. Use a Powerful Weed Killer
If nothing seems to stop your quackgrass infestation, it’s time to go for a more potent commercial weed killer. You should be very careful to choose the right product designed to eliminate quackgrass because many options out there may not be effective enough to deal with it. A good idea is to opt for a herbicide whose main active ingredient is glyphosate. Here’s a great product on Amazon that’s worth trying.
Chemical weed killers are very reliable when it comes to the swift removal of any unwanted plants on your lawn. That being said, there’s an important drawback to consider. A strong glyphosate herbicide will also destroy any other plant life in the infested area. Relocation might help to counter this problem, but in many cases, you will simply have to start the garden from afresh.
Getting rid of quackgrass can come at a notable cost, depending on the seriousness of your weed issue. It would be best to avoid having to use harsher methods by preventing quackgrass from becoming firmly established in your garden. When the weeds have already managed to sprout, it’s safe to say that you’ll be fighting an uphill battle. Apply the herbicide according to the instructions to ensure that its active ingredient reaches the stem and roots of quackgrass.