How to Get Rid of Quackgrass

How To Get Rid of Quackgrass in Lawns

Quackgrass is one of the most common weeds that grow in lawns. Fortunately, you can easily identify this weed based on its growth habits and appearance. Quackgrass does look similar to regular lawn grass, but it grows much more quickly. Luckily, there are several different methods you can use to remove it. Today, I’ll help you ID this weed and reveal how to get rid of quackgrass quickly and effectively.

Quackgrass is known as a “creeping” type of grass, which essentially means it spreads laterally on your lawn and establishes itself quickly. But even though it grows quickly, it can also be removed quickly.

How To Get Rid of Quackgrass in Lawns

Let’s learn about the growth habits of quackgrass, its appearance (so you can identify it and rule out other grassy weeds), and I’ll also explain the most effective ways to get rid of it.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Certified Horticulturist Nicole Forsyth, M.S.

Quackgrass Growth Habits

Quackgrass is a weed that’s known for growing very tall in a surprisingly short period of time. It typically grows during cooler seasons, but it’s able to survive well into warm seasons as long as the climate doesn’t get too dry.

Quackgrass Growth Habits

There are two ways this weed can spread:

  • The first is that it can spread via seeds.
  • The second way it can spread is through rhizomes, which spread laterally underground. These can spread up to six feet wide just from a single plant.

Each Quackgrass plant can produce up to 25 seeds, and these can stay viable in the dirt for three to five years.

Once this weed germinates, it develops its rhizomes and grows rapidly over the next two to three months.

At its tallest, Quackgrass can grow up to four feet tall. Its root system may extend six to eight feet into the dirt.

The weed is also known to grow in large, sporadic patches across lawns, which makes it easy to spot. Unless it has taken over a lawn, it should stand out pretty easily from the rest of the desirable turfgrass in your yard.

How To Identify Quackgrass

In addition to its growth habits, you can identify quackgrass based on how it looks and feels.

Quackgrass Leaf & Stem Appearance

Quackgrass is lime green in color and has a thin, flat blade that feels rough to the touch.

The blades can look either smooth or hairy.

How To Identify Quackgrass

This weed has one characteristic on their blades that makes it extremely easy to identify.

Quackgrass has something called auricles, which are long appendages that appear at the midway point between the sheath and the rest of the blade.

Other types of invasive weeds don’t have auricles, so looking for those is the best way to tell if you have quackgrass on your lawn.

Quackgrass Root Appearance

Another way to tell if you have quackgrass is by uprooting it. The roots will be thick and white, and depending on how much the quackgrass has spread, will be extremely long and almost labyrinth looking.

Quackgrass roots are also surprisingly fragile, and pieces break off easily once they are pulled out.

Despite this fragility, the majority of the roots will still stay in the dirt even if you do manage to pull some out.

If you still see roots embedded in the dirt after trying to pull the weeds out, that’s also a solid indicator that you’re dealing with quackgrass on your lawn. is reader supported. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Most Effective Treatment Options

Have you confirmed that there is Quackgrass on your lawn? I recommend treating it as soon as possible.

The sooner you treat Quackgrass, the easier getting rid of it will be.

How to Prevent Quackgrass from Growing

If you can’t treat the Quackgrass immediately, there are some ways you can stunt its growth.

If there is a small amount of it, then pulling out as much as you can may help prevent the roots from spreading further.

How to Treat the Quackgrass

While it’s true that mowing over the grass blades will also help to temporarily stunt the weed’s growth, you’ll still have to appropriately treat the issue. If you don’t do anything, you’re just giving the Quackgrass time to spread aggressively underground.

The most effective way to treat quackgrass is to keep your lawn healthy and maintained. The best ways to do so are to keep it fertilized and prevent any quackgrass seeds from getting to your lawn.

Some blogs will tell you to use a pre-emergent application to block the germination of Quackgrass seeds. Yes, this works – but since Quackgrass is a perennial weed, if you have it already you’ll still have to deal with the existing problem you have.

Also, I’ve found that your early-spring pre-emergent application won’t be super effective against Quackgrass because it germinates a bit later in the season.

How to Kill Quackgrass with Herbicide

The advice you’ll find on most blogs is to use a selective post-emergent herbicide like Fluazifop or Sulfosulfuron to kill Quackgrass.

Selective herbicides only target the weeds on the label, so if an herbicide says it targets Quackgrass, then it will only target Quackgrass and shouldn’t harm your lawn (depending upon the type of grass you have growing there).

I don’t recommend this approach because, frankly, I’ve never had good luck eradicating Quackgrass with a selective herbicide, and most people I’ve spoken with on the topic say that homeowners should expect multiple applications when taking this approach.

Herbicide Application for Quackgrass

My recommendation is to use natural methods (my preference – discussed in a moment), or a non-selective herbicide to do the job.

I don’t recommend Glyphosate because, well, cancer.

My Herbicide Recommendation – I suggest you try Weed Warrior from Sunday. It’s an OMRI-listed herbicidal soap that will kill just about anything you spray it on (including lawn grass, so expect to do some patch and repair afterwards). If you choose to go this route, my readers can save 15% with the code LAWNCHICK2024).

No matter which herbicide you choose, make sure you carefully read and follow the instructions that come on the packaging, and wear PPE (long sleeves, gloves, glasses, and a mask or respirator).

Even products that are “natural” can irritate your eyes, lungs, and skin, so don’t try to be a hero – be smart!

Read and follow the instructions provided by the product manufacturer – some products need to sit on the leaves of the plant without being watered in, others should be watered in to get to the plant’s roots.

Homemade Weed Killer for Quackgrass

You can also kill your quackgrass with a homemade natural herbicide, containing vinegar and orange oil.

In my experience, vinegar by itself will not kill off the most stubborn weeds, but it will suck all of the moisture out of them which can make them easier to kill.

Homemade Herbicide for Quackgrass

Orange oil acts as an organic herbicide, and the two liquids mixed together can be very effective at killing Quackgrass.

Be aware that vinegar and orange oil both damage (and can even kill) turfgrass. If Quackgrass is growing in your lawn and you take this approach, try to limit overspray and plan on having some work ahead of you to repair and re-seed areas of turf dieback.

My Recipe

To make this organic, homemade herbicide, mix:

  • 1 gallon of 10-20 percent vinegar with
  • 1 cup of orange oil.

If your quackgrass is growing in patches, pour the mixture directly onto those areas of your lawn. Do this when the sun is at full strength, so around midday.

You can also use a spray bottle or pump/backpack sprayer if you wish.

Let the mixture sit until it rains. This will let the mixture thoroughly soak into your lawn and kill the quackgrass at its roots.

Repeat this process as needed until the quackgrass is completely gone.

Mechanically (or manually) Removing Quackgrass

If you just have a limited amount of quackgrass on your lawn, you could try just pulling it out. Honestly I like this approach for a lot of weeds because it requires a little elbow grease, but doesn’t involve using any harmful or dangerous chemicals.

Mechanically Removing Quackgrass

You can try to pull out Quackgrass by hand (wet the soil first or do this after a heavy rain so the soil is loose).

Because the root system can be strong and robust, you may find digging to be a better option vs hand-pulling.

Whatever method you take, make sure you get the entire root system. If you leave any of the roots in the soil, the Quackgrass will grow back. Watch the area after you work, and be ready to repeat the process to get any stragglers from root pieces you missed.

Solarization to Kill Quackgrass

The solarization method involves fastening a clear plastic sheet over the affected area and leaving it there for a week or so.

Solarization to Kill Quackgrass

The plastic will trap the heat from the sun and suck the moisture out of the quackgrass, either killing it or making it easier to kill.

The only downsides are that the surrounding vegetation may die also, and your neighbor across the street may roll his eyes about having to stare at that tarp on your lawn.

If you go this route, plan to reseed the area after this treatment.

Why I Recommend Prevention as a Homeowner’s Best Defense

The most effective way to deal with Quackgrass is to stop it before it starts.

It may sound silly, but a big part of this is regular lawn care and maintenance, including mowing, fertilizing, and irrigation.

How to Prevent Quackgrass

A lush, healthy lawn is less likely to end up with weeds because there is less room for them to come in and grow.

Expert Perspective

The Lawn Chick editorial team regularly interviews industry experts to bring our readers the latest science and expert recommendations to complement our own hands-on lawn care experience. 

We Asked: Why is maintaining a thick, healthy lawn one of the best ways to prevent weeds naturally?

Will Answered:By maintaining a thick lawn, you’ll be able to limit the amount of ground available for these weeds to take hold, all while promoting the lawn of your dreams and avoiding unnecessary harsh chemicals or preventative herbicide applications.”

Will Seip, Expert Lawn Advisor at Sunday

Will Seip

Expert Lawn Advisor at Sunday

Born and raised just south of Buffalo, NY, it has been quite a journey for Will getting to explore warm-season grasses after having a hodgepodge of fescue, bluegrass and rye in his lawn growing up. Will graduated from Cornell with a B.S. in Environmental and Sustainability Sciences, with a concentration in Land, Air and Water Resources.

My Final Thoughts on Quackgrass in Your Lawn

Quackgrass is a common weed, and while it grows and spreads quickly, it’s easier to get rid of than some others you may encounter.

If you have a Quackgrass problem in your lawn, you have a few different options to deal with it depending upon your urgency, comfort level with chemical herbicides, or desire to use natural weed control methods.

And once you have Quackgrass under control on your property, make a plan including a lawn fertilization schedule that will work for you to keep your lawn grass thick and healthy. It’s one of the best, natural ways to limit the growth of weeds on your property.

If you’re interested, grab my free lawn care cheat-sheet. In it I share a full-year schedule and lawn care tips you can put into action to achieve a beautiful, low-maintenance lawn.

At Lawn Chick, I am committed to publishing accurate, useful, and trustworthy resources for my readers. As part of this commitment, I’ve invited subject matter experts to review our articles for accuracy. I invite you to read our editorial policy and publishing standards which outlines in detail how every article on this site is sourced, edited, fact-checked, and vetted.


Additional Resources
  • Quackgrass by Aaron Patton and Quincy Law, Purdue University Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture – Turfgrass Science (link)
  • Quackgrass Management: An Integrated Approach by William S. Curran (professor of weed science) and Dwight D. Lingenfelter (extension associate), PennState Extension (link)
  • How to Get Rid of Quackgrass – Will You Live With It Or Control It? by Weston Miller and J. Jeremiah Mann (with pesticide safety information by Kaci Buhl), Oregon State University (link)


Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

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