What Is The Best Way To Get Rid Of Couch Grass?

Last updated on October 24th, 2023 at 07:50 pm

Quickly, especially fallow land is colonized by creeping quackgrass, a stubborn root weed in the local gardens. It is important to control the plants, for this there are several techniques and tips, which are explained in the article.

Recognize


When creeping couch grass (Elymus repens) spreads in the garden, it should be recognized as soon as possible so that it does not spread further underground. Due to the meter-long rhizomes that the weed quickly forms, it can become very difficult to combat the plants after only a short time. But the weed can also spread further via the seeds that are blown into the environment by the wind. The wild grass can be recognized by various characteristics:

  • upright growing culms
  • grow between 50 and 150 centimeters high
  • grow in clumps
  • two-rowed flower spikes from June to August
  • leaves are similar to the grass
  • blue frosted or green colored
  • rhizomes grow horizontally directly under the soil surface
  • root strands grow up to 80 centimeters deep
  • rhizomes are white or light

Combat

What Is The Best Way To Get Rid Of Couch Grass?


There are several suitable methods to get rid of couch grass in your garden. This depends on the area on which the root weed spreads. Because both planted garden beds, a lawn or even a fallow area can be quickly overgrown. However, not every control measure is suitable for a planted bed or lawn, for example.

To tear out or not?


If the gardener in its garden bed or on the lawn weeds discovered is, here usually the first thought to simply tear this out. Here, however, the question arises whether this is possible or even useful with the root weeds:

  • not only tear out
  • not even superficially chop off
  • does not make sense
  • only the visible part is removed
  • rhizomes continue to grow underground
  • new stalks are formed again quickly


Note: Especially on a densely overgrown bed or lawn, it is often difficult to remove couch grass, as simply pulling it out is unfortunately not a good way to permanently remove the root weed.

Clearing a garden bed


It’s easier if a fallow garden bed has been infested by the weed has been attacked. Because here you do not have to pay attention to any cultivated plants when fighting. Nevertheless, it is important to work very carefully in this case as well, so that all runners of the roots in the bed are removed:

  • unplanted sandy soil ideal for uprooting.
  • roots can be removed more easily
  • in loamy soil, runners could tear up
  • work with digging fork
  • carefully dig out all roots
  • make sure that all horizontal roots are taken up
  • then pull the long roots out of the ground
  • leave the bed fallow for a longer period of time after uprooting
  • remove newly appearing weeds again and again
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The garden bed should not be hoed or worked with a tiller. This destroys the rhizomes in the short term, but usually also leaves remnants of the roots in the soil.

Tip: Even the smallest part of a rhizome that remains in the soil can cause the weed to spread over the bed again.

Mow regularly

If a fallow garden bed has been cleared, then the weeds may still regrow due to remaining individual root pieces in the soil. Here it can also help to mow the area regularly. This is for the following reasons:

  • couch grass should not bloom
  • seeds are formed afterwards
  • these are scattered by the wind
  • weeds spread even further by seeding
  • the weeds can be starved out by mowing


Note: If you have removed the roots from the bed, they must not end up in the compost. This is because the weeds will spread unhindered again here. Disposal should always be well sealed in the residual waste.

Planting potatoes


If a fallow area in the garden has been cleared, it can be helpful to plant a potato bed here:

  • Potatoes grow closely
  • form large leaves
  • bed is shaded
  • New sprouting of couch grass can be prevented in this way
  • Weeds need a lot of sun to sprout
  • Cover garden bed


After identifying couch grass in a fallow garden bed, other means can be used. Since the weed needs air and light to grow, covering it is also a good way to successfully combat it:

  • in spring before sprouting
  • mow all sprouting stalks beforehand
  • then lay corrugated cardboard
  • over the whole bed
  • corrugated cardboard rots by itself after 12 months
  • alternatively work with opaque thick foil
  • lay a thin layer of mulch or soil on the foil or cardboard
  • cover for at least 12 months
  • suffocate roots
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Tip: If the bed is to be used again after the 12 months, it is important to fertilize it, for example by adding compost. Because just the used corrugated cardboard extracts many nutrients from the soil.

Try these plants


There are various plants that, in addition to the potatoes, also deprive the weeds of light when they grow on the bed. In addition, other plants are offered nutrients in the soil for their own strengthening through the so-called green manure:

  • Bergenia (Bergenia cordifolia)
  • ivy (Hedera)
  • evergreen honeysuckle (Lonicera acuminata)
  • Nasturtium (Tropaeolum peregrinum L.)
  • rape (Brassica napus)
  • marigolds (Calendula)
  • Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)
  • Winter vetch (Vicia villosa)


It is important that the plants are sown or planted very densely so that the entire soil surface is covered with shade, thus completely depriving the root weeds of light.

Tip: Tagetes do not deprive the couch grass of light. They have a different property, and therefore can be cultivated around the garden bed with the weed. After all, the weeds can not tolerate the excretions of tagetes roots.

Fighting on lawn area


If couch grass occurs on a lawn, then here are two options. If it is a lawn in which other herbs, flowers and other plants grow, then it is not necessary to fight it. The root weeds do not harm the lawn. It only makes sense to mow regularly so that the weeds do not multiply by seed in the rest of the garden. On the other hand, in a well-maintained lawn, once you recognize it, proceed as follows:

  • Cut off areas with couch grass growth (use a spade for this).
  • remove sod that has grown through flat
  • carefully pull out rhizomes and above-ground parts by hand
  • then work the deeper soil layers with the digging fork
  • remove all rhizomes
  • level the ground again
  • compact with the foot
  • then put the freed sods back in place

Tip: Even if this sounds like a lot of work for you at first, it is usually not so bad. This is because couch grass usually only occurs in a small area on a lawn and can therefore be controlled well here.

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Use of herbicides


Of course, it is always possible to fight couch grass in the garden after it has been detected, even with chemical means. However, this makes little sense. Because especially on overgrown areas, the plants cultivated here are also affected and damaged by the herbicides used.

Prevention


In order to avoid an infestation of couch grass in your own garden in the first place, there are various preventive measures. This is because it is very difficult to control the weed, especially on an already cultivated bed or lawn:

  • Do not undermine weeds during bed preparation.
  • Avoid overfertilization with nitrogen
  • mow the lawn regularly
  • regular maintenance of all areas
  • strengthening of cultivated plants by watering and fertilizing
  • do not allow couch grass to bloom
  • lay a layer of mulch around cultivated plants on beds
  • less light and air for the roots of couch grass in the soil


Note: You must be careful when using cattle or horse manure. This is because it may contain the seeds of couch grass previously ingested by the animals through food.

Author

  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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