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Information About Goosegrass

Information About Goosegrass


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Goosegrass Herb Information: How To Goosegrass Herb Plants

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

A versatile herb with a host of medicinal uses, goosegrass is most famous for its Velcro-like hooks that have earned it a number of descriptive names, including cleavers, stickweed, gripgrass, catchweed, stickyjack and stickywilly, among others. Learn more here.


  • Cultural Practices
    Maintain healthy, dense turf that can compete and prevent weed establishment. Mow lawn at 3-4 inches during the growing season and seed bare spots.
  • Mechanical Management
    Hand pulling or using an appropriate weeding tool are the primary means of mechanical weed control in lawns. This is a viable option at the beginning of an infestation and on young weeds. Hand pulling when the soil is moist makes the task easier. Weeds with tap roots like dandelions or have a basal rosette (leaves clustered close to the ground) like plantain are easier to pull than weeds such as Bermudagrass (wiregrass) or creeping Charlie (ground ivy) that spread with stolons or creeping stems that root along the ground.
  • Chemical Prevention/Treatment in Lawns
    Herbicides should be used as a last resort because of the potential risks to people, animals, and the environment. Be aware of these precautions first.
    Apply a granular (apply with a spreader), selective, preemergent herbicide. There are numerous products on the market. Look for a preemergent without nitrogen fertilizer. Active ingredients include: bensulide, dithiopyr (offers postemergent control on young crabgrass seedlings), pendimethalin, prodiamine, and siduron (can be applied when sowing grass seed).

    Rainfall or irrigation is required to dissolve the herbicide which is then absorbed into the upper portion of the soil and forms a barrier which kills weed seedlings. Preemergent grass herbicides have residual activity that lasts for several weeks after application. High temperatures and rainfall will decrease the length of time they remain at sufficient concentration to be effective.

    Tips for application

    • Apply prior to seed germination. For crabgrass, this begins when soil temperatures are above 55° to 60°F for 7 to10 days (during and shortly after, forsythia bloom is a rough, but not consistently reliable, guide for application timing).
      • Soil Temperature Maps (linking to this site does not endorse any company, manufacturer, or product by University of Maryland Extension).
    • Water after application, according to label.
    • A second application may be possible, usually 6-8 weeks later (see label).
    • Consult label for specific waiting period between application and overseeding.
    • Corn Gluten for crabgrass control.

If it is growing it can be spot treated with a postemergent herbicide before it matures and goes to seed. Look for the following active ingredients.

Common Name: Quinclorac Trade Name: Drive others, can be combined with other active ingredients, Common Name: Fenoxaprop-p-ethyl Trade Name: Acclaim Extra, others.


Controlling Goosegrass in Your Lawn

Controlling Goosegrass in Your Lawn

A troublesome summer annual weed that can invade home lawns is goosegrass, which some refer to as “silver crabgrass.” Although goosegrass may closely resemble crabgrass , there are some key distinguishing features that will help you to properly identify and treat the weed, which can often be difficult to control. Goosegrass is widely spread throughout the United States and is most often a problem during the warm summer months, but will persist into the winter months in the southern parts of the country.

Pictured above: Goosegrass with obvious silver/white stems.

To identify goosegrass, many say that it appears flat—like someone has stepped into the middle of the plant. The leaves of goosegrass are a dark green color and the stems become a silver/white color as you move towards the center of the rosette. The flowers on the plant first begin to appear towards the middle of the summer and produce spikes that resemble a zipper. It is able to grow where other plants struggle and can often be found in compact soils that have poor drainage, which are common in thin areas of lawns that experience heavy traffic. A single goosegrass plant can produce up to 50,000 seeds which will typically begin to germinate when soil temperatures reach 60 to 65 degrees. This is approximately two or more weeks later than crabgrass. Unfortunately, goosegrass can spread from one lawn to the next as seeds are picked up by wind, so bare spots in the lawn can quickly become a harbor for unwanted plants to germinate.

Pictured above: Goosegrass in moist soil next to a drainage pipe.

Goosegrass Non-Chemical Control

Something important to note about goosegrass is that it is rarely found in healthy, dense lawns therefore, there are many cultural practices you can implement to help keep your yard free of this pesky weed. As always, proper fertilization, mowing and irrigation are essential to maintain a healthy lawn. Since goosegrass does well in compact, poorly drained soils, reducing irrigation so that you do not overwater, along with incorporating aeration to relieve compaction can be a big help. If this is not a possibility, changing the traffic patterns can help to relieve compaction and improve drainage. Goosegrass also has a centralized root and can be removed by hand however, once the weed gets larger than a few inches, a gardening tool may be necessary to remove the plant and its entire rooting system. Read our Soil Management for Lawns and Gardens blog for more information regarding different soil types and soil health.

Goosegrass Chemical Control

When looking to chemical controls, there are several pre-emergent and post-emergent options, with pre-emergents being applied initially in February or March, and a follow-up application occurring six to eight weeks later if needed. A pre-emergent herbicide serves to prevent goosegrass from appearing whereas a post-emergent controls the weed after it has appeared. One common pre-emergent is Prodiamine 65 WDG , which is tank mixed with water and can control goosegrass in one application. Another pre-emergent that will control goosegrass is Dimension 2EW (active ingredient Dithiopyr), which should also be tank mixed with water. If goosegrass has already become established, a post-emergent option is Tenacity (active ingredient Mesotrione), which can be used as a spot treatment or for full coverage however, it may cause turfgrass leaves to whiten slightly for a few weeks as it kills the weeds. An additional post-emergent option is Revolver (active ingredient Foramsulfuron), which is applied as a broadcast spray that is quickly absorbed and can stop the growth and cell division of weeds within a few hours.


Watch the video: #microminute 27 goosegrass