Grass Growing in Clumps or Patches? 8 Common Culprits in Pennsylvania

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Crabgrass clump in lawnHave you noticed grass growing in clumps in your lawn? If so, then chances are, you have some grassy weeds mixed in with the rest of your turf. This can be a hassle as grassy weeds are an ugly eyesore that can take away from the overall appearance of your lawn.

There’s no question that many of the grassy weeds in Pennsylvania, which we sometimes come into contact with in Lehigh Valley lawns, are difficult to control—some more so than others. But there are some solutions out there.

To help educate you on what you might be dealing with, we’ve rounded up 8 of the most common culprits.

1. Orchardgrass

Orchardgrass is a clump-forming, cool season grassy weed that is characterized by its light bluish/greenish color and rough texture. It can be found in shade-like areas and tends to grow more quickly than the surrounding turf, which is why you may notice it poking out above the rest of your lawn.

Orchardgrass in lawn

This grassy weed is a problem in the spring and remains mostly a seasonal issue. If you have Orchardgrass, it’s definitely going to look the worst in the springtime when it won’t blend well with the surrounding turfgrass due to a variation in texture and color.

If you only have a couple of patches of Orchardgrass, thickening up your lawn may be enough to tolerate the grass growing in clumps. Typically it’s not a widespread issue. However, if it’s an extreme case or you can’t tolerate your grass growing in clumps, you could talk to a professional about additional steps.

In very severe cases, non-selective herbicide could be applied to kill the orchardgrass, but it’s going to kill the surrounding healthy grass as well. You’ll then need to re-seed for several seasons. This also will not eliminate any dormant seeds in the soil below, so it’s possible it may show up again in the future.

2. Rough Bluegrass

This yellowish/greenish grass is very hardy and tolerates partial shade well. It responds well to fertilizer and irrigation and can quickly become aggressive, even smothering out your healthy turfgrass. It doesn’t take much of this grassy weed to start causing a problem in your lawn. In fact, each clump of Rough Bluegrass probably originated from a single seed.Rough BluegrassJust like Orchardgrass, how to deal with Rough Bluegrass should really be determined on a case-by-case basis. A few patches that pop up might be something that you can deal with, particularly since it’s generally only an issue in the spring. By thickening up your lawn, you might hardly notice the clumps. But if you have a severe problem with it, you might decide you want to take more serious action.

3. Bentgrass

This low-growing grassy weed forms light green patches that eventually turn brown in the summer. As a dense grass, it is often used for putting greens. In a home lawn, it can quickly become an eyesore and even crowd out your desirable turfgrasses. Bentgrass produces horizontal stems, called stolons, that run along the soil’s surface. It is known to spread rapidly and can completely take over a lawn.Bentgrass in lawnBecause Bentgrass is so aggressive, it can be very difficult to control. If you have a lawn in which Bentgrass has taken over, then spraying it with non-selective herbicide may be your only option.

4. Zoysiagrass

This tough-as-nails grass type is known to be able to stand up to extreme temperature variations and weather conditions, including heat and drought. It is very dense and develops a hardy root system. It is also incredibly difficult to control.Zoysiagrass in lawnIn fact, of the grassy weeds in Pennsylvania, Zoysiagrass is easily the most difficult. Zoysiagrass is also known to be very persistent. You may get rid of it one season only to see it come right back.

There is no fullproof way to get rid of this difficult grass and you’ll likely need some help. If you have a severe problem with Zoysiagrass then you need to get in touch with a lawn care professional who can point you in the right direction.

5. Bermudagrass

Another of the incredibly aggressive grassy weeds in Pennsylvania, Bermudagrass is dark green, dense, and has a rough texture. It will therefore definitely stand out in a typical lawn.BermudagrassBecause it is low-growing, if you keep your lawn slightly taller, you may not notice it very much. However, in terms of getting rid of it, due to its hardy nature, like Zoysiagrass, it is incredibly difficult to control. It’s important that you get in touch with a lawn care professional who can advise you of your options.

6. Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue

Kentucky 31, also known as K-31, is a tall grass that is characterized by its coarse appearance. It has a light green color and tolerates drought well. For many years, K-31 was used as a pasture grass for livestock.Tall FescueWhen it comes to getting rid of undesirable K-31, you’ll find this grass type is not quite as resilient and can be moderately controlled. Spraying spots in the late summer and reseeding with turfgrass species can help even out your lawn.

7. Crabgrass

This annual grassy weed is an eyesore that can stand out as being lime green in a healthy lawn. It can also spread rapidly. Crabgrass is known to spread hundreds of thousands of seeds in its lifespan if left untreated. In fact, just one crabgrass plant can produce up to 75,000 seeds during the course of a single growing season.Crabgrass in turfgrassThough crabgrass is a pesky weed, crabgrass control can help contain the problem. The best treatment for crabgrass is using a professional lawn care service that will take a multi-faceted approach, using a commercial-grade product.

This includes pre-emergent crabgrass treatment to form a barrier that prevents crabgrass seeds from germinating in the first place. Post-emergent treatment can also control any breakthrough that occurs.

8. Nutsedge

This grassy perennial tends to prefer moist areas of your lawn and can also grow rapidly in warmer weather. Nutsedge reproduces via underground tubers, often referred to as “nutlets,” which is where it gets its name.Nutsedge in lawnNutsedge can be managed with weed controls that are specifically designed for its control. While the product will help it to disappear for a short period of time, repeated applications may be necessary considering its aggressive nature.

Grassy Weeds Identification & Solutions that Work

If you are dealing with grass growing in clumps, then it’s incredibly important that you properly identify exactly what weed it is you’re dealing with. Even some of the 8 grassy weeds mentioned above can be commonly mistaken for one another. By misidentifying the weed you’re dealing with, you won’t know the best approach for control.

Joshua Tree lawn care sign in nice lawn

Having a lawn care professional visually inspect your lawn is key. Of course, you want to find a company that is going to give you honest and realistic information. There are some companies that will try to sell you on services, even if they’re not in your best interest.

For instance, if you’re dealing with a bad case of Zoysiagrass or Bermudagrass, aeration and overseeding are only going to cause this weed to spread even more. You want to find a company that is going to provide you with honest recommendations, even if it means they can’t help you (and will mean less revenue in their pocket). In the very worst of cases a total lawn renovation may be necessary and not all lawn care companies offer this.

In the end, it comes down to a case-by-case approach guided by the recommendations of an honest professional. A company you can truly trust may not always deliver the news you want to hear, but they’ll tell you honestly what’s best for your lawn.

Dealing with grassy weeds in your Allentown, Bethlehem, or Easton, PA lawn? We’d be happy to provide a free estimate and discuss our lawn care programs as well as your best course of action.

Threats to beautiful grass and lawn care remedies.

Images sources: rough bluegrass, bentgrass, zoysiagrassbermudagrass, tall fescue

Joshua Malik

Written by Joshua Malik

With an intense passion for arboriculture and lawn care, founder Joshua Malik brings to Joshua Tree over 20 years of experience in the tree and lawn care industry. And he expects the same passion in his team by employing representatives and field personnel who have achieved and maintained proper industry credentials to ensure clients benefit through best practices.