Grass & Weed Identification


Gardeners often attempt to identify turfgrasses in order to determine its care. For example, a landscaper will need to know what kinds of fertilizer will be the most beneficial to a particular species of turfgrass. Weeds, however, are intermingled with the grasses and can be difficult to distinguish. Weeds are very destructive to the turfgrass and should be identified so that they can be removed.

Grass vs. Weeds

Many beneficial grasses are closely related to destructive weeds. Grasses and most weeds comprise roots and stems. The root system is the part of the plant that absorbs nutrients and water into the plant. The leaves used for photosynthesis and the generation of energy in the grass-like weeds are either rolled on the outside of the stem or are flat and contained within the stem. The blade of grass connects to the stem at a collar region. The collar region contains both the ligule and auricles. The ligule is a thin outgrowth that consists of a membrane, or a fringe of hairs. The auricle is a projection that looks like an ear, according to the University of Illinois. Attaching the collar region and stem is the sheath. In this region, gardeners can determine the difference between grasses and sedges.

Grass vs. Sedges

Grasses can be distinguished from the sedges, which have triangular stems with leaves extending outward. The grasses have two leaves, while the sedges have three or more leaves. The sedges also do not have ligules, according to Purdue University. Landscapers rarely use as a substitute for grass because they do not reliably cover the area and are destructive to other plants.

Broadleaved Weeds

Broadleaf weeds have leaves that extend from the stem of the weed, attached to petioles that extend out from the weed. The petiole is a stalk of the leaf. Where the petiole attaches to the stem, there is a papery sheath called an ochrea. This ochrea is a bunch of stalks that have fused together.

Leaf Examination

Grasses are usually distinguished from each other by examining the youngest unexpanded leaves. Determine if the plant has rolled or folded leaves. If this is difficult to determine, test the leaf by spinning the plant with the forefingers. Rolled grass easily spins around the finger. Narrow the possible species of by examining the tip of the grass to see if it is pointed, rounded or boat-shaped.

Seedhead Examination

A seedhead will grow out of the ligule if the grass is not mowed. The seedhead of the ligule is very distinct and can identify the species of grass if all other methods of identification fail

Keywords: grass identification, weed identification, turf grass, broad-leaved weeds

About this Author

Charles Pearson has written as a freelancer for two years. He has a B.S. in Literature from Purdue University Calumet and is currently working on his M.A. He has written three ebooks so far: Karate You Can Teach Your Kids, Macadamia Growing Handout and The Raw Food Diet.