Primarily used as forage grass (a crop grown for livestock to eat), orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata) doesn’t have any place on your lawn. Fortunately, proper lawn maintenance and weed control can easily get rid of it.
Where is Orchardgrass Found?
Orchardgrass is found all over the United States, particularly in pastures, waste areas, and along the roadside. As a cool-season grass, orchardgrass grows best in the spring and fall. It matures earlier than most types of grass, but its growth significantly slows down when temperatures reach 80°F or higher. Orchardgrass can withstand shade and can grow in areas that receive as little as 11 inches of rain annually. In addition, it can tolerate very close mowing.
Orchardgrass is best identified by the distinct bluish-green clumps and flower culms/stems that develop at the top. While it typically grows to heights of 15 to 18 inches, in moist situations it could potentially grow as tall as 24 to 48 inches. The flowering stems have numerous stiff, yellowish-green branches shooting off the top.
If orchardgrass invades your lawn, there are a couple of weed control and removal options. In small patches, it cut out with a shovel, though you’ll need to go at least 3 to 4 inches into the ground to ensure you get the root. Then, simply replant the area with seed or sod that matches the rest of your lawn. If there is a significant amount of orchardgrass, you will need to treat it with some form of weed killer that you can apply yourself or hire a lawn service to do it for you.
Orchardgrass and Horses
Horse owners may be interested to learn that orchardgrass is a favorite of horses, both as fresh food and when used as hay after harvest. Due to the high levels of protein it contains, it has been shown to decrease incidences of colic in horses.