February 19, 2016
February 19, 2016

A problem weed commonly found in lawns in Georgia is cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum). It is sometimes referred to as downy brome or downy chess. This grassy weed is found in most parts of North America and infects lawns during the winter months.

What is Cheatgrass?

Cheatgrass does live up to its name as being a cheater. It germinates during the winter months and looks pretty much like your turf grass but dies off quickly in about 6-8 weeks. However, before you dismiss it as being dead and gone, it produces many, many seeds and reseeds itself amplifying the number! As it sorts of deceives you as being dead and controlled, before coming in the next season with a vengeance, it got the name ‘cheatgrass’!

It has a cylindrical habit, and its ligule is medium tall with jagged edges on the top part along with some hair. The leaf blades are covered with hair on both sides, and the young leaves are twisted. The drooping seed head has a purple tinge to it, which makes it easy to identify this grass and know when it seeds.

This grass prefers a potassium-rich soil. As it is self-pollinating with both wind and animals dispersing the seeds, it is a very invasive weed. Although high temperatures and light inhibit the germination of the seeds somewhat, it has been known to germinate successfully even after a decade of dry storage.

How to Control Cheatgrass?

Cheatgrass is one of the most highly invasive weeds found in the colder parts of the country. Once the seeds germinate, the roots develop very quickly and are fully developed as early as spring.

  • It has often been reported to infest newly seeded areas and is found in cheap quality seed mixes. The rapid germination makes the lawn to green up quicker, but the lawn owner pays the price when this invasive weed takes over in a couple of seasons. It is therefore imperative that you choose a good quality seed mix to seed or overseed your turf.
  • If there are not a lot of weeds in your turf, pulling them by hand is a solution. However, make sure that you are pulling or digging it out before it dies and seeds mature.
  • To get lasting control on grass, a combination of chemical control along with a physical control is recommended. The use of both pre and post-emergent broad and select-spectrum herbicides may need to be used.
  • Weed control services are recommended to keep this weed at bay, although a dedicated homeowner can get the job done. When in doubt, consult a professional.

One of the most crucial aspects of getting the turf of your dreams is a proper weed control program provided by a licensed lawn care service. Weeds can really ruin the look of your lawn and degrade the quality of your turf. A proper weed control program is an integral part of good lawn care practice. However, even if you are careful and try and do everything right, some weeds weasel their way into your lawn and cause a nuisance.

Something to Take Home

Weeds are big problems, and cheatgrass is one of the worst of them. It is an absolute battle to get rid of this grass completely, although, with some professional help, you can manage to get your lawns completely free from this pesky menace in no time.