February 19, 2016
Hare Barley
February 19, 2016

One weed that has no real beneficial use to humans is goosegrass, or Eleusine indica. It is very similar to crabgrass, and the two weeds are often confused. There are a few things that differentiate the two different weeds from each other. Both can be treated with similar weed control programs by a lawn maintenance service. Goosegrass is very difficult to treat effectively later in the summer, though, because of the longer taproot, the profusion of seeds that are continually created by each plant, and its hardiness.

Both are often found with their long blades of grass splayed out from a central point, much like a wagon wheel. With goosegrass, there is one central root system, and the outer edges of the plant’s blades do not form roots as crabgrass blades will. Both weeds are also found in similar environments, such as high-traffic areas where the soil becomes compacted, or where it is mixed with a high amount of gravel and pebbles. This creates further confusion between the two weeds. Goosegrass is a darker green toward the outer part of the blades that you see on crabgrass. Crabgrass is more uniform in color. It is also hairy while goosegrass is smooth.

This weed isn’t toxic to animals, but is unsightly and depletes the soil around it of nutrients that the desired grass needs to remain healthy and green. It creates many seeds each growing season. Because it is flat and low to the ground, mowing does not remove the stalks that the seeds will grow from. This helps the plant quickly reproduce itself. This weed is considered to be an annual, but some specimens have been known to act as a perennial, regrowing from a taproot and reappearing.

Its long taproot grows very quickly. If goosegrass is discovered early, as a seedling, before its blades are more than a couple of inches in length, it can be pulled up by hand. After that, the taproot is usually too long, and tools are needed to extract the entire root. This is why lawn maintenance should involve treating before new seedlings have emerged, as early as mid-February. Seeds that did not germinate the previous growing season will create new weeds. As new seedlings begin to sprout, they should also be treated in mid-Spring. Plants that regrow from the taproot, which is unlikely but does happen, should be treated in mid-Spring to late-summer.

Occasionally, a plant will be found that does not have its blades of grass played out and lying on the ground, but instead will be standing up. If it has a silvery- or whitish-colored base, is free of hairs, and has no nodes that are creating roots on the outer edges and perimeter of the plant, the chances are good that it is still goosegrass.