What Is Goosegrass?

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Among the plethora of weeds that can infest lawns and landscapes, one particularly troublesome species is goosegrass. Goosegrass is a warm-season annual weed belonging to the Poaceae family. Also referred to as wiregrass or crowfoot grass, goosegrass is characterized by its low-growing, prostrate growth habit, forming dense mats in lawns. This troublesome weed is prolific in warm climates and can quickly infest turfgrass if not properly managed.

Join us as we go over some of the basics on how to identify and deal with goosegrass when it starts to pop up in your yard. With the proper knowledge, you can help stop the spread of this invasive weed before it does serious damage to the health of your lawn

How To Identify Goosegrass

Identifying goosegrass (Eleusine indica) can be crucial for effective management. This warm-season annual weed, also known by various names such as silver crabgrass, wiregrass, and crowfoot grass, belongs to the Poaceae family. Goosegrass typically thrives in warm climates and is commonly found in lawns, landscapes, agricultural fields, and disturbed areas.

Goosegrass is characterized by its prostrate growth habit, forming dense, low-growing mats. The leaves are light green to bluish-green in color, with a distinctive silvery-white midvein running along the length. The leaf blades are flat, narrow, and tapered, with rough edges. One of the key identifying features of goosegrass is its distinctive seed head, which resembles a comb or goosefoot, giving rise to its name. These seed heads emerge in clusters from the center of the plant and can be easily distinguished from other grassy weeds.

Look For These In Your Lawn:

  • Folded leaves with flat stems
  • Light green leaves
  • Smooth, nearly hairless grass blades
  • White base of rosette pattern
  • Zipper-like seed heads of 3-8 spikelets
  • Outward, prostrate growth
  • Clump/bunch-type formations
  • Central taproot with fibrous offshoots

What Does Goosegrass Do To Lawns?

Goosegrass thrives in high-traffic areas, as it is able to easily out-compete your lawn for resources. Its low growth makes it able to withstand low mowing, and it survives in bad soil conditions where turfgrass struggles, such as compaction and drought. The root structure of goosegrass is the real troublemaker in lawns because of the fibrous offshoots that stem from the central taproot of goosegrass. 

These secondary fibrous roots creep along just under the soil surface, which means they will absorb any moisture and nutrients that soak into the soil before your lawn's roots can access them. Even one goosegrass weed in your lawn will start to steal resources away from your lawn and cause your grass to become weak and discolored.

Life Cycle Of Goosegrass

Understanding the life cycle of goosegrass is essential for implementing effective control strategies. Goosegrass is an annual weed, meaning it completes its life cycle within a single growing season. The life cycle of goosegrass typically begins with the germination of seeds in the spring when soil temperatures reach 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Goosegrass will grow throughout the hottest days of summer, surviving through temperatures near 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Often confused for crabgrass when it is young, goosegrass does not appear until 4-6 weeks after crabgrass germinates.

Once germinated, goosegrass rapidly establishes itself and begins to spread through prolific seed production and vegetative growth. Under favorable conditions, such as warm temperatures and adequate moisture, goosegrass can quickly become a dominant weed in lawns and landscapes.

As the growing season progresses, goosegrass continues to develop and produce seeds. By late summer or early fall, the plant reaches maturity, and seed heads emerge, ready to disperse seeds for the next generation. As temperatures drop in the fall and winter months, goosegrass plants begin to rise and die off, leaving behind a seed bank in the soil that can germinate in the following spring.

What Causes Goosegrass To Grow?

Several factors contribute to the proliferation of goosegrass in lawns and landscapes. Understanding these causes can help homeowners and landscapers implement preventive measures to minimize goosegrass infestations.

  • Soil Compaction: Compacted soils provide an ideal environment for goosegrass to thrive. Compaction restricts root growth and reduces water infiltration, creating conditions conducive to goosegrass establishment.
  • Poor Lawn Management: Neglected lawns with poor mowing practices, inadequate fertilization, and improper irrigation are more susceptible to goosegrass infestations. Weak and thin turfgrass stands provide openings for goosegrass to invade and take over.
  • Warm Climate: Goosegrass is well-adapted to warm climates and thrives in areas with extended periods of heat and humidity. Regions with mild winters and hot summers provide favorable conditions for goosegrass growth and spread.
  • Overuse Of Nitrogen Fertilizers: Excessive nitrogen fertilization can promote vigorous vegetative growth in turfgrass, but it can also stimulate weed growth, including goosegrass. Proper fertilization practices are essential to maintain a healthy balance in the lawn ecosystem.

Managing & Preventing Goosegrass

Controlling goosegrass requires a multifaceted approach that combines cultural practices, chemical control, and preventive measures. Below are some effective strategies for managing goosegrass infestations.

  • Proper Mowing: Maintain a recommended mowing height for your turfgrass species to encourage dense growth and shade out weeds like goosegrass.
  • Core Aeration: Relieve soil compaction by aerating the lawn to improve root growth and water infiltration.
  • Irrigation Management: Water deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth in turfgrass, making it more competitive against weeds.
  • Pre-Emergent Herbicides: Apply pre-emergent herbicides containing active ingredients like prodiamine or dithiopyr in early spring to prevent goosegrass seeds from germinating.
  • Post-Emergent Herbicides: Spot-treat existing goosegrass with post-emergent herbicides containing active ingredients like quinclorac or fenoxaprop-p-ethyl.
  • Improve Soil Health: Implement soil amendment practices such as topdressing with compost to improve soil structure and fertility, reducing the likelihood of goosegrass establishment.

Professional Weed Control Services

Goosegrass is a problematic weed that can quickly take over lawns and landscapes if left unchecked. Implementing a comprehensive approach that combines cultural practices, chemical control, and preventive measures is key to successful goosegrass management and long-term weed control in lawns and landscapes.

Of course, the best defense against lawn weeds like goosegrass is by utilizing professional weed control services like ours! Professionals like us help keep your lawn healthy all year, deterring lawn weeds now and in the future. Contact us today for more information on how professional services can keep your commercial property free from goosegrass invasions!