quackgrass

Quackgrass (Elymus repens). Photo: Elizabeth Bella, AECOM, Bugwood.org

Updated: May 11, 2022

Life cycle

Quackgrass (Elymus repens) is a perennial, non-native, cool-season grass.

Growth habit

This plant has a creeping habit and can grow up to 3 feet tall. The leaf blades are blue-green in color and have a rough texture. There is a clasping auricle where the base of the leaf meets the stem.

quackgrass
Quackgrass growth pattern. Photo: HGIC, University of Maryland

Reproduction

Sharp-tipped, creeping rhizomes. The seed head forms in the summer and resembles wheat.

Conditions that favor growth 

Poor lawn maintenance practices.

Photos

Auricle

Quackgrass has a small appendage (auricle) that clasps around the stem.

Photo: Ohio State Weed Lab, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org

Seedhead

Quackgrass seedheads are spikes with seeds arranged in two rows.

Photo: Ohio State Weed Lab, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org

Root system

Quackgrass spreads by underground rhizomes.

Photo: Ohio State Weed Lab, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org

Management in lawns

Lawn care practices

Maintain healthy, dense turf that can prevent and help lawns outcompete a weed infestation.

Lawn Care

Mechanical management

Hand pulling or using an appropriate weeding tool to dig out a small infestation are the primary means of mechanical weed control in lawns. Hand pulling when the soil is moist makes the task easier. 

Manage Weeds Without Chemicals

Chemical treatment in lawns

Herbicides for controlling perennial grass weeds are limited and usually available to lawn care companies and landscapers who are certified applicators. Small infestations can be dug out or sprayed with a non-selective herbicide (glyphosate). Reseed the area after you are certain that you have 100% kill.

Lawn Herbicides for Weed Management