How To Identify Wide Blade Grass And What To Do About It

For lovers of neatly-cropped lawns, there are fewer annoyances than fat blades of grass. To add insult to injury, these wide grasses are often discolored against your otherwise beautiful garden carpet. How do you identify these wide blade grasses?

Wide blade grasses can be identified by the following:

  1. Annual or perennial
  2. Clumped areas
  3. Off-colored sections of a lawn
  4. Very hardy
  5. Prolific seed production
  6. Aggressive spreading
  7. Disagreements on designations of weeds or desirable plants
  8. Examples: Tall Fescue, Crabgrass, Goosegrass, Orchard Grass

Today’s article has two simple objectives: to identify the culprit grasses and to get rid of them. Are herbicides effective? Will your desirable plants be affected? 

Let’s find out.


What Is The Wide Blade Grass In My Lawn?

Wide grasses are a bummer, aren’t they? This is true much more than it should be really, but we all seem to love uniform lawns.

Luckily, we can find assistance from a very unlikely source…

Legendary military General and Author, Sun Tzu (of “Art of War” fame), once said:

To defeat your enemy, you must KNOW your enemy…

A bit dramatic perhaps, but the Chinese proverb holds true.

Identifying the grass you’re dealing with will help you come up with your assault strategy. As noted in a study done by researchers at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, identifying grasses without floral parts can be a challenge even for the experienced restorationist or botanist.

The good thing for us as home or land owners is the relatively short list of likely suspects. These once recognized will more than likely constitute the vast majority of grasses found in residential to light agricultural settings.

Is Tall Fescue A Wide Blade Grass?

Enemy number one is tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea).

The worst part about fescue is how resistant it is. This wild grass always manages to get its seed heads into the turf just before it is eradicated. The following generations will then be that bit more resistant to your herbicides (aka the best way to get rid of this invader).

The absolute worst part about killing fescue is the fact that other desirable plants near it will also be obliterated. Remember this is wild grass, it doesn’t go down without a fight…or casualties.

Fescue is perennial, which means it’s there all year round unless you do something about it. It also produces hardy seed heads which are mostly released in the late spring and summer months. However, the fescue spawn may be deployed at a moment’s notice if the grass is threatened.


Crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis) is another pest-grass that is often mistaken for fescue. However, they are quite different.

Crabgrass, for one, is annual and survives through its seed heads. Seeds take root in early summer and grow rapidly to full light green by the fall.

Secondly, you have more flexibility when it comes to chemical warfare. You have non-nuclear options like Drive XLR8, which (if mixed correctly) would spare the rest of your lawn.

Wide Bladed Goosegrass Or Silver Crabgrass

Goosegrass (Eleusine indica) is a close ally of crabgrass, and it sprouts up around the same time. In fact, goosegrass is often referred to as silver crabgrass. It is also annual, and it is also a pain to deal with. 

Typical characteristics include thin stems that are whitish in color (hence the “silver” in silver crabgrass. Of course, goosegrass also features wide blades for maximum light absorption. 

The grass is native to warmer parts of Europe and Asia. It has adapted to moderate and high temperatures. As a result, it grows well in North American climates. Goosegrass is pretty aggressive because of its relatively short lifespan.

A wide range of herbicides will do the trick, and you can also dig out the emerging shoots. The good thing about goosegrass is that it often grows on bare patches, which gives you free(r) reign with chemicals or digging tools.

Orchard Grass

Another wide-bladed grass is orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata L.) aka cat grass or cock’s foot. This hardy cool-season grass is perennial and grows in bunches. 

Perspectives on orchard grass vary depending on your persuasion. For cattle ranchers, for example, orchard grass is a popular choice for livestock pasture and hay. The grass is mainly grown for this reason and it is rarely ever considered for aesthetics.

For everyone else, orchard grass is a pesky weed that needs to be dealt with. Since it is wild grass, it can just pop up anywhere.

Peak growth periods are in early spring and late summer. Seed heads drop to the ground naturally or they are carried off by the wind.

Orchard grass can reach up to 3.3 feet tall. Its blades are wide and thin. The blades can reach lengths of nearly 20 inches. The grass’ rapid growth rate means it will outcompete most other plants in the vicinity.  

Farmers who grow crops that require well-draining soils know all about orchard grass and how pesky it is. It is not uncommon to see bunches of wild orchard grass surrounding rows of legumes, for example.

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How To Get Rid Of Big Blade Grass?

Now that we’ve identified some of the grasses you need to worry about, it’s time to look at some solutions.

We’ve already hinted at some chemical options you can look at for certain types of wide-blade grass.

Chemical Solutions To Wide Blade Grasses

For highly resistant weed grasses like tall fescue, you will need a strong glyphosate product. Our recommendation is Control Solutions’ Eraser, a certified destroyer of plant life. Eraser is great because it doesn’t have a strong odor and it is relatively rain-proof.

You will need to be very careful with such chemicals though because careless application could severely harm desirable grass and plants. Mix according to the instruction label. For fescue, you may use about 2.5 ounces of Eraser per 1 gallon of water, which should be sufficient for a 300-square foot area.

We also recommend using a pump sprayer for efficient spot application. The finer the spray, the better, as the aim is to get as much herbicide filtering into the grass pores as possible. If you’re worried about forgetting where you have sprayed, you may make use of non-toxic dyes that will mark these spots.

If you are dealing with crabgrass and goosegrass, you may not need to use the excessive power of glyphosate. 

For these wide-blade types, Quinclorac’s Drive XLR8 Select Herbicide may prove to be highly effective. This herbicide is a pre-emergent solution that should be applied around germination times. 

As we all know, cool-season grasses emerge in early spring and the fall, while warm grasses begin popping up in late spring and summer. Once you’ve identified your particular problem grass, anticipating application time will be easy.

Quinclorac’s herbicide is highly effective against crabgrass as well as weeds like dandelions, dollarweed, and Kikuyu grass.

Non-Chemical Solutions To Wide Blade Grasses

If you don’t wish to use chemicals, you will have to dig up the emerging grass. We recommend using a trowel and garden fork for this task. Ensure that you dig up the roots as well, especially if you are dealing with perennial grasses like orchard grass. Failure to dig up roots will result in the grass popping up once more.

The digging solution is best-suited to annual grass varieties like goosegrass, which doesn’t spread very quickly. Tackling fescue in this manner may not be the most practical approach due to its perennial nature and how widespread it can be.

Preventative Measures

Finally, we have a simple preventative measure that is easy to overlook… a well-maintained lawn!

You see, a dense and lush lawn doesn’t give much room to other emerging plants and weeds. The dense concentration of lawn grass deprives would-be weed shoots of the air and sunlight necessary for proper development. At the very least, a healthy lawn will slow down the growth and spread of weeds, which gives you ample time to nip them in the bud.

How does one get a healthy lawn, you ask?

Well, proper seeding, regular watering, and appropriate fertilizer application are some of the ways to go. Frequent mowing is also a must. Ensure that you always cut to an appropriate height. Cutting too low could make your grass lose its competitive edge over emerging weeds.

The Final Touches On Wide Blade Grass ID And Control…

The first thing to do when trying to control wide blade grasses in your lawn or field is prevention. Many don’t think of this simply because the problem hasn’t shown itself yet. When trying to eradicate an already established section of wide blade grass, ‘present you’ will undoubtedly cure past you for not preventing the problem before it started.

These types of grasses discussed here will be the most common problems found in home lawns and even small fields. If prevention was not undertaken, herbicides or manual removal are really the only courses of action. These measures will also have to be preceded by identification.

Hopefully this brief rundown of the most common wide blade grasses can help you get control of your lawn and put these invaders ‘under foot’ (pun intended).

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Mathew Booe

Mathew has worked in landscaping professionally for over 10 years. He is a grandpa and frequently interviews other experienced landscapers and lawn care experts who are also grandpas for these articles.

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