What is Quackgrass?

Malcolm Tatum

Also known as couch grass or dog grass, quackgrass is a type of grass that is characterized by long stems, with blades or leaves found on the upper portion of the stems. The grass also often sprouts a small spike that can contain multiple blooms. Quackgrass is native to Asia, Africa and much of Europe.

Quackgrass is often used to relieve upset stomachs.
Quackgrass is often used to relieve upset stomachs.

Unlike some other forms of grass, quackgrass is often classified as a weed. Along with crabgrass, the appearance of couch or dog grass is seen as detrimental to lawns and gardens in many places around the world, especially countries where the grass has been naturalized over the years. Lawn weeds of this type create a number of lawn care problems, as they are very invasive and can strangle out more desirable forms of grass with relative ease.

Along with crabgrass, the appearance of quackgrass is seen as detrimental to lawns and gardens in many places around the world.
Along with crabgrass, the appearance of quackgrass is seen as detrimental to lawns and gardens in many places around the world.

The intricate root system makes quackgrass very difficult to kill. If any portion of the root remains, there is a good chance the grass will re-grow in a short period of time. For this reason, it is important to dig deep when removing this kind of lawn weed. After filling in the hole, some gardeners recommend covering the area with a thin piece of cardboard topped with wood chips as a precaution.

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While removal of quackgrass from the lawn or garden is difficult, it is often necessary. The grass can quickly proliferate and take over the area in a short period of time. As this happens, other plants or types of grass are unable to receive the nutrients they need to grow properly and are very likely to die.

While not considered a desirable type of ornamental grass, quackgrass does have some practical uses. The leaves and blooms from the grass are used in various types of herbal medicine, often for ailments such as an upset stomach. Quackgrass roots are sometimes dried and infused into a tea that may help ease water retention or difficulty urinating. Domesticated animals, especially dogs, may dig up and consume the root as a way to settle some ache or pain.

Many lawn and garden shops contain at least a couple of weed killers that will help to control and finally eliminate quackgrass from a lawn or garden. In addition, many professional lawn and garden services are well acquainted with this type of weed and know exactly how to contain an infestation and eventually kill it off completely. While hiring professionals to eliminate quackgrass from the lawn may be somewhat expensive, the cost is easily offset by preventing the need to purchase new plants or sections of sod to repair the damage caused by these weeds.

Discussion Comments


@turkay1-- Digging them out along with their roots is the best way to get rid of quackgrass. I think it's kind of relaxing to dig them out, I enjoy it.


@turkay1-- A friend of mine has had good results with vinegar as a weed and grass killer, but I think it takes some persistence to kill quackgrass with vinegar.

Vinegar changes the pH of soil and will kill quackgrass, but it will take longer for the roots to die, so you have to keep applying the vinegar regularly. I also don't think that regular vinegar is strong enough, you need a vinegar with 20-30% strength.

I think regardless of which method you go for, dead quackgrass will leave a bald spot in the grass and it will take some time to get grass growing there again. It's almost impossible to avoid that.


Quackgrass is taking over my lawn. I'm trying to dig up as much as I can but this is leaving ugly holes in the ground and I can't seem to keep up with it. In a week or two, most of the ones I've dug up seem to have returned.

Aside from chemical pesticides, are there any natural grass weed killers that work against quackgrass? I don't want to dig any more and I don't want to pay for professional services.

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