How to Stop Invasive Grass Taking Over Your Lawn

Maintaining a lush, green lawn is a point of pride for many homeowners. However, the presence of invasive grass species can quickly turn this dream into a nightmare. Invasive grasses, characterized by their aggressive growth and ability to outcompete native species, pose a significant threat to the health and aesthetics of your lawn. Left unchecked, these invaders can quickly take over, leaving your once-vibrant lawn looking patchy and unkempt.

At Golf Course Lawn, we understand the frustration and challenges of battling invasive grasses. That's why we're dedicated to providing homeowners with effective solutions to reclaim their lawns and prevent future infestations. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the various strategies and techniques you can employ to stop invasive grass from taking over your lawn.

Understanding Invasive Grasses

Invasive grass species and weeds that look like grass can wreak havoc on your lawn, disrupting its ecosystem and detracting from its visual appeal. To effectively combat these invaders, it's essential to understand their characteristics and behavior. 

Common Invasive Grass Species

  • Crabgrass (Digitaria spp.): One of the most notorious invaders, crabgrass thrives in compacted soil and sunny areas. Its low-growing habit allows it to spread rapidly, forming dense mats that choke out desirable grasses.
    Crabgrass (Digitaria spp.)
  • Bermuda Grass (Cynodon dactylon): While Bermuda grass is known as a turf grass for home lawns, golf courses, and sports fields in the South, in the Northern United States, it is known for its aggressive growth and resilience. Bermuda grass can quickly overtake lawns, flower beds, and pavement cracks. Its extensive root system and tolerance to drought make it particularly challenging to control.
    Bermuda Grass Weed
  • Annual Bluegrass (Poa annua): Despite its name, Annual Bluegrass is a persistent weed that can establish itself year-round. Its prolific seeding and ability to germinate in a wide range of conditions make it a formidable foe for homeowners.
    Annual Bluegrass

Characteristics and Identification Tips

  • Leaf structure: Invasive grasses often have distinct leaf shapes and textures, making them easy to differentiate from desirable turf species. Others really look like turf grass (many are desirable turf grasses in some regions), but you will notice the difference in color and height, making them stand out in your lawn.
  • Growing habits: Pay attention to the growth habits of invasive grasses, such as their low-lying or spreading nature, which can help you identify and target them for control.
  • Seed heads: Many invasive grass species, such as foxtail grass, produce distinctive seed heads that can aid in their identification. Recognizing these characteristics will empower you to take proactive measures against their spread.

Why Invasive Grasses are Detrimental

  • Competition for resources: Invasive grasses compete with desirable turf species for essential resources such as water, nutrients, and sunlight, leading to thinning and weakening of the lawn.
  • Aesthetic decline: The presence of invasive grasses can detract from the visual appeal of your lawn, resulting in a patchy, unkempt appearance.
  • Ecological impact: Invasive grasses can disrupt local ecosystems by crowding out native plant species and altering habitat dynamics, impacting wildlife and biodiversity.

By understanding invasive grasses and their impact on your lawn and knowing which turf grass you have, you'll be better equipped to implement effective control strategies and safeguard your turf against these unwelcome invaders. 

Related: What Types of Weeds Look Like Grass?

Prevention Strategies

Preventing invasive grasses from taking over your lawn is the first line of defense in maintaining a healthy and vibrant turf. By implementing proactive measures and adopting proper lawn care practices, you can create an environment less hospitable to these unwanted invaders. 

Proper Lawn Maintenance Practices

  • Mowing techniques: Maintain your lawn at the appropriate height to promote the growth of desirable turf species while discouraging the establishment of invasive grasses. Regular mowing also helps prevent seed production and spread.
  • Watering schedule: Water your lawn deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth in desirable grass species, making it more difficult for invasive grasses to establish themselves.
  • Fertilization: Proper fertilization with balanced nutrients helps strengthen your lawn's defenses against invasive species while promoting healthy growth and resilience.
grass height guide

Creating Barriers to Prevent Spread

  • Physical barriers: Install landscape edging or barriers to prevent the encroachment of invasive grasses from neighboring areas or flower beds.
  • Mulching: Apply mulch around landscape beds and other vulnerable areas to inhibit the germination and spread of invasive grass seeds.

Choosing the Right Grass Species

  • Selecting resilient varieties: Choose turfgrass species and cultivars that are well-suited to your region's climate and soil conditions, minimizing the risk of invasion by aggressive grass species.
  • Reseeding and overseeding: Regular overseeding with desirable grass species helps fill bare spots and compete with invasive grasses, maintaining a dense and healthy lawn.

By incorporating these preventive measures into your lawn care routine, you can create an environment that is less susceptible to invasion by aggressive grass species. 


Related: How to Get Rid of Bermudagrass in Your Zoysia or St. Augustine Lawn


Control Methods for Invasive Grasses

When prevention strategies alone aren't sufficient to keep invasive grasses in check, it becomes necessary to implement targeted control methods to regain control of your lawn. 

Manual Removal Techniques

  • Hand pulling: For small infestations or isolated patches of invasive grass, hand pulling can be an effective control method. Be sure to remove the entire root system to prevent regrowth.
  • Sod replacement: In severe cases of invasion, consider removing and replacing affected sod with healthy turfgrass to eliminate established populations of invasive grasses. This is typically required when there’s an invasive grass in a lawn without a herbicide option to selectively remove it. An example would be torpedograss in a St. Augustine lawn.

Chemical Control Options

  • Weed killers: Utilize selective herbicides specifically formulated to target and control invasive grass species while sparing desirable turfgrass. Look for products designed to effectively eradicate common invaders, such as crabgrass and Annual Bluegrass.
  • Guidelines for application: Follow manufacturer recommendations for the safe and effective application of weed killers, applying them during optimal weather conditions to avoid drifting onto desirable vegetation.


Related: How to Get Rid of Poa Annua (Annual Bluegrass) In Your Lawn

Recommended Products

To effectively combat invasive grasses and maintain a healthy lawn, it's essential to utilize specialized herbicides and pre-emergent treatments designed to target specific grass species and weeds. Here are some recommended products that can help you tackle invasive grasses and achieve optimal results:

Celsius® WG Herbicide 

Ideal for warm-season lawns, Celsius® WG herbicide is a powerful solution for controlling invasive grasses such as carpet grass and crabgrass. Its selective formula targets unwanted grassy weeds while preserving the health and integrity of your turf.

Unlike many other weed killers, Celsius® WG boasts no labeled heat restrictions, making it an ideal choice for summer application without the risk of harming your grass.

Celsius® WG Herbicide

Highlighted Benefits:

  • Controls over 150 varieties of weeds, addressing a wide range of lawn invaders.
  • Available in wettable granule form, Celsius® WG is mixed with water to create a liquid spray, facilitating easy application.
  • A trusted choice for tackling even the toughest grassy and broadleaf weeds while maintaining the health and integrity of your lawn. 

Certainty Herbicide 

Versatile and effective, Certainty herbicide is suitable for many turfgrass species, including Bermuda, Bahia, Buffalo, Centipede, St. Augustine, Seashore Paspalum, Kikuyu, and Zoysia. It provides reliable control of problematic weeds like Annual Bluegrass, Bentgrass, and Tall Fescue.

Certainty Herbicide

Highlighted Benefits:

  • Rapid control of sedge and grassy weeds, providing quick relief from invasive species.
  • Effective control of Poa annua in warm-season turf, ensuring a pristine lawn.
  • Safe application over a broad temperature range, making it suitable for use throughout the spring, summer, and fall.

Warm-Season Grass: Celsius and Certainty Herbicide Kit

  • Safe for all warm season grass other than Bahia
  • Controls over 180 grassy and broadleaf weeds
  • Kills all sedges (nutsedge, kyllinga, annual and globe)
  • Effective against poa annua (annual bluegrass)
  • Safe to apply over a broad temperature range
  • Kit saves money versus buying products separately
  • Includes Blue Marker Dye and Hi-Yield Surfactant.

Velocity PM Herbicide

Until recently, there wasn’t a good selective herbicide to control Poa annua in cool season lawns like Tall Fescue, Fine Fescue, Creeping Bentgrass, Perennial Ryegrass, and Kentucky Bluegrass. Our recommendation to control this troublesome weed in cool season lawns is Velocity PM herbicide.

Velocity PM (Poa Management) herbicide is an excellent broadleaf and grassy weed killer for cool-season turf. It takes care of difficult-to-control weeds like Poa annua, Poa trivialis, Clover, Yellow nutsedge, and many more.

It can be used on Tall Fescue, Fine Fescue, Creeping Bentgrass, Perennial Ryegrass, and Kentucky Bluegrass (limited cultivars).  For Kentucky Bluegrass, you must test a small area to determine tolerance before blanket sprays.

velocity pm

Application Timing and Instructions

This is a professional formulation and should be applied from Battery-powered 4 gallon sprayer with  TeeJet foliar spray tip.

Velocity PM is most effective and safest when applied to turf and weeds that are actively growing. Treating when temperatures are consistently in the 70°s is a good time to start, but treatments can be more effective when air temperatures are in the 70°s and 80°s. Applications in the summer can be made when temperatures are up to 90° F.

The 16 oz. bottle of Velocity PM covers 7.1 acres (309,276 square feet). 

Large Area Broadcast Application Rates: Apply 2.25 fl oz/A twice, 14 – 21 days apart. These two applications can be followed up with a third if warranted. To ensure thorough coverage, apply a minimum of 20 gallon of spray solution per acre.

Spot Treatments with a Backpack Sprayer Application Rates: Velocity PM has a very low-use-rate, requiring a small syringe for mixing exact measurements when using small spray tanks. The below recommendations are based on applications with a backpack sprayer that has been calibrated to deliver one (1) gallon of spray solution per 1000 square feet.

  • Mix 1.5 ml (.05 fl oz) of Velocity PM for every gallon of water and apply over 1000 square feet.
  • Spot treat Poa patches twice with the above mixture 14 - 21 days apart.
  • Avoid any unnecessary sprayer overlap.
  • Change the dilution rate accordingly if the backpack sprayer is calibrated to deliver anything different from one (1) gallon of spray solution per 1,000 sq ft.

 It is NOT recommended to use surfactant of any kind with Velocity PM.

Fusilade II Herbicide 

Specifically formulated to remove Bermudagrass from Zoysia, Fine Fescue, and Tall Fescue lawns, Fusilade II herbicide offers targeted control of grassy weeds. It effectively eliminates a variety of invasive grass species, including Crabgrass, Barnyardgrass, Itchgrass, and Johnsongrass.

Fusilade II Herbicide

When used on Zoysia grass, we recommend combining Fusilade II with Recognition herbicide for optimal results, allowing for higher application rates without risking injury to the turf. Fusilade II is rainfast just one hour after application, ensuring fast and reliable weed control even in inclement weather conditions.

Recognition Herbicide 

With its broad spectrum of weed control, Recognition herbicide is an excellent choice for managing over 40 weeds, including major sedges, kyllingas, and broadleaf weeds like clover and dollarweed.  

Recognition Herbicide

Available in wettable granule form, it is mixed with water to create a liquid spray, enabling easy application. Its unique feature includes metcamifen, allowing safe broadcast applications on sensitive grasses like St. Augustine and Zoysiagrass. Additionally, metcamifen enables safe control of Bermuda grass in St. Augustine and Zoysia lawns when mixed with Fusilade II at higher rates.

Cool-Season Grass: Recognition and Fusilade II Herbicide Kit

  • Safely control Bermuda from your Zoysia and St. Augustine lawn
  • Controls over 85 grassy, sedge, and broadleaf weeds
  • Kills all sedges (nutsedge, kyllinga, annual and globe)
  • Effective against poa annua (annual bluegrass)
  • Safe to apply over a broad temperature range
  • Kit saves money versus buying products separately
  • Includes Blue Marker Dye and Hi-Yield Surfactant. 

Quinclorac 75 DF Herbicide

Quinclorac 75 DF Herbicide - Crabgrass Control is a selective post-emergent herbicide that kills broadleaf and grassy weeds. It provides superior crabgrass control in turfgrasses like Bermudagrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Buffalograss, Tall Fescue, Ryegrass, and Zoysia. 

Quinclorac 75 DF Herbicide

This herbicide should NOT be used on Bahiagrass, Centipede, or St. Augustine lawns. For best results, it is highly recommended that surfactant be used with Quinclorac. This is a professional formulation and should be applied from a battery-powered 4-gallon sprayer with a TeeJet foliar spray tip. It is not to be applied via a hose-end sprayer.

Specticle FLO Pre-Emergent Herbicide 

Preventing Annual Bluegrass and other grassy weeds is crucial for maintaining the health and appearance of warm-season lawns. Specticle FLO pre-emergent herbicide provides reliable protection for Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass, Centipede, Bahiagrass, and St. Augustinegrass, ensuring long-lasting control without harming desirable turfgrass.

Specticle FLO Pre-Emergent Herbicide

Dimension Pre-Emergent Herbicide 

Preventing crabgrass in the spring and Annual Bluegrass in the fall is essential for maintaining a weed-free lawn. Dimension pre-emergent herbicide offers reliable control for Bahiagrass, Centipedegrass, Bermudagrass, Zoysia, St. Augustinegrass, Seashore Paspalum, Tall Fescue, and other turfgrass species, ensuring season-long protection against invasive grasses and weeds.

Prodiamine Pre-Emergent Weed Control

Prodiamine is renowned for its ability to prevent weed growth before it even starts. This pre-emergent herbicide is particularly effective against troublesome weeds like crabgrass in the spring and Annual Bluegrass in the fall. Applying Prodiamine at the appropriate times can proactively suppress weed growth and maintain a pristine lawn throughout the year.

Prodiamine Pre-Emergent Weed Control

By incorporating these recommended products into your lawn care regimen, you can effectively control invasive grasses and maintain a healthy, vibrant lawn year-round. Be sure to follow label instructions carefully, and feel free to contact us for personalized recommendations based on your specific turfgrass and weed control needs.


Related: The Best Four Products for Killing Weeds Without Killing Grass


Organic Alternatives: Bio-Stimulants

How Bio-Stimulants Work 

Bio-stimulants are natural substances that enhance plant growth, resilience, and overall health. By promoting the vigor of desirable turfgrass species, bio-stimulants can help suppress the growth and spread of invasive grasses.

Benefits of Using Bio-Stimulants 

Unlike traditional chemical herbicides, bio-stimulants offer a natural and environmentally friendly approach to invasive grass control. They provide long-term benefits to your lawn's health and vitality without harming beneficial organisms or the surrounding ecosystem. 

Combining manual removal techniques, targeted chemical control methods, and organic alternatives like bio-stimulants, you can develop a comprehensive approach to managing invasive grasses and reclaiming your lawn from these persistent invaders. Remember to carefully assess the extent of the infestation and choose the most appropriate control methods based on the specific needs and conditions of your lawn.


Related: What Is a Lawn Biostimulant & Why Are They Important?

Maintaining a Healthy Lawn

Controlling invasive grasses is just one aspect of achieving and maintaining a lush, vibrant lawn. In this section, we'll explore essential maintenance practices and long-term strategies to ensure the continued health and vitality of your turf.

Regular Monitoring and Maintenance 

  • Routine inspections: Regularly inspect your lawn to identify signs of invasive grass re-emergence or other issues requiring attention.
  • Prompt action: Address any emerging invasive grass populations or lawn health concerns promptly to prevent them from spreading or worsening.

Importance of Overseeding and Aeration 

  • Overseeding: Periodically overseed your lawn with desirable grass species to fill in bare patches, improve density, and compete with invasive grasses.
  • Aeration: Aerating your lawn helps alleviate soil compaction, promote root growth, and improve nutrient uptake, contributing to overall turf health and resilience.


Related: What Are the Best Grass Seed Types and How Long Do They Take to Grow?

Long-Term Strategies for Prevention

  • Consistent maintenance: Maintain a consistent lawn care regimen, including proper mowing, watering, and fertilization, to create an environment that is less susceptible to invasion by aggressive grass species.
  • Regular soil testing: Conduct regular soil tests to assess nutrient levels and pH, allowing you to adjust your fertilization program and optimize soil conditions for healthy turf growth.
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Implement an integrated approach to lawn care that combines preventive measures, cultural practices, and targeted control methods to minimize the risk of invasive grass infestations while promoting overall lawn health.


Related: Integrated Pest Management: A Sustainable and Holistic Approach to Lawn Care


So take action today to stop invasive grasses from taking over your lawn and start enjoying the lush, vibrant turf you deserve.

Achieving a golf course lawn can be easier than you think. Check out our curated range of weedkillers and herbicides to help you tackle those pesky weeds. And don’t forget to head to our YouTube channel for more lawn care tips.