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Common Velvetgrass Control: Tips On Getting Rid Of Velvetgrass In Lawns

Common Velvetgrass Control: Tips On Getting Rid Of Velvetgrass In Lawns


By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Its name may sound nice and its flower spikes attractive,but beware! Velvetgrass is a native plant of Europe but has colonized much ofthe western United States. As an invasive species, getting rid of velvetgrasswill help encourage native grasses and prevent it from spreading. Velvetgrassis a common weed in lawns, ditches, disturbed soil, and even cropland. Keepreading for some tips on velvetgrass control.

What are Velvetgrass Weeds?

Velvetgrass is great at stabilizing soil, but because itisn’t native to North America, other indigenous grasses should be established.That means eradicating velvetgrass weeds wherever they are found. If it isallowed to persist, it will spread rapidly, inhibiting the growth of treeseedlings and native plants.

Common velvetgrass (Holcus lanatus) is a tuftedperennial grass. The foliage is grayish green and the stems are slightlyflattened. Both stems and leaves arelightly hairy. It flowers from spring through fall with purplish-pink spikes.Seeds are wind born and can spread far from the parent plant, and willgerminate in almost any soil and exposure.

The weed is most common in Canada and the western states,where it was introduced in the 1800s as a forage grass. The grass is also knownas Yorkshire fog, creeping soft grass, and woolly soft grass, among othermonikers.

Velvetgrass Control

It is not uncommon to find patches of velvetgrass in lawns.Once it gets a foothold, the weed can be a nightmare to conquer. Commonvelvetgrass does not spread by stolons or rhizomes, but the prolific,lightweight seed is easily dispersed, quickly colonizing areas of turfgrass.With a little irrigation, the seed can germinate in almost any conditions.

The best defense is a thick, healthy lawn that will notallow interloping species of grass and weeds. Mow at the right height for yourturfgrass and apply both nitrogen at the correct time and soiltests that can determine pH and fertility.

Getting rid of velvetgrass by hand pulling is effective. Ofcourse, this only works where the weed is present in small concentrations.Frequent mowing or grazing is also effective in preventing the spread, byremoving the flower heads and the subsequent seed.

As a last resort, you might also try spot applications of glyphosateor atrazine and diuron. Because these are non-selective, use care whenapplying. Make sure the day is wind free and apply at the rates recommended bythe manufacturer. Use protective clothing and obey the package cautions.

Note: Chemical control should only be used as a lastresort, as organic approaches are safer and more environmentally friendly.

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Managing Velvetgrass Weeds – Common Velvetgrass Identification And Control - garden

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  • Home
  • Common Ag Weeds & Management Toggle the sub-menu
    • Field Crops Toggle the sub-menu
      • Palmer Amaranth and Waterhemp
      • Horseweed
      • Common Ragweed
      • Yellow Nutsedge
      • Barnyardgrass
      • Bindweeds: field and hedge bindweed
      • Bull Thistle
      • Canada thistle
      • Common chickweed
      • Curly dock
      • Field Pennycress
      • Horsenettle
      • Redroot Pigweed
      • Wild Mustard
      • Wild Radish
      • Witchgrass
      • Yellow Rocket
    • Small Fruit Toggle the sub-menu
      • Barnyardgrass
      • Bindweeds: field and hedge bindweed
      • Canada thistle
      • Common chickweed
      • Common Lambsquarters
      • Common Ragweed
      • Curly dock
      • Dandelion
      • Horseweed
      • Marsh Yellowcress
      • Redroot Pigweed
      • Virginia Pepperweed
      • Witchgrass
      • Yellow Nutsedge
    • Vegetables Toggle the sub-menu
      • Barnyardgrass
      • Canada thistle
      • Common chickweed
      • Common Lambsquarters
      • Common Ragweed
      • Curly dock
      • Horseweed
      • Marsh Yellowcress
      • Palmer Amaranth and Waterhemp
      • Redroot Pigweed
      • Shepherd’s Purse
      • Wild Mustard
      • Wild Radish
      • Yellow Nutsedge
      • Yellow Rocket
    • Tree fruit Toggle the sub-menu
      • Bindweeds: field and hedge bindweed
      • Canada thistle
      • Curly dock
      • Dandelion
      • Horsenettle
      • Japanese Knotweed
      • Horseweed
  • Submit a weed for identification
  • Resources Toggle the sub-menu
    • How to Identify Weeds
    • Why identify weeds?
    • Mustards Toggle the sub-menu
      • Field Pennycress
      • Field Pepperweed
      • Hairy Bittercress
      • Marsh Yellowcress
      • Shepherd’s Purse
      • Virginia Pepperweed
      • Wild Mustard
      • Wild Radish
      • Yellow Rocket
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Welcome to the NYS Weed ID Network website, New York’s home for agricultural weed identification resources. Our mission is to improve farmers’ ability to identify their weeds, so that they can select the best available management to reduce crop competition and improve yields.

The reason to identify agricultural weeds is to select the best management tools for that species. We are here to help you with identification once you know what you have, there are a wealth of resources for management. Cornell University’s crop guidelines provide advice on weed management that is tailored to New York. The New York IPM program has weed management resources, as do Cornell’s organic researchers. We have also provided links to species specific resources across the internet on individual species pages, often from Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Kansas and other agricultural states. While these provide excellent advice, keep in mind that each state’s pesticide regulations are different, and check to make sure any suggested treatments are legal in New York.

Identifying weeds can be challenging, but there are many tools available to help. On our site, you can learn about common and problem weeds for New York’s main agricultural commodities, submit a photo of a mystery weed for identification, explore weed ID resources that are available on the web, and learn about recent weed ID questions and upcoming trainings and events in New York.

New York’s agricultural communities are wide ranging. Below find weed ID resources for the main commodity groups if you would like to see another group added, please let us know.


German velvetgrass ( Holcus mollis )

Click on images to enlarge

German velvetgrass, also called Yorkshire fog, is a perennial grass. In California it inhabits ditches, turf, and other moist areas along the North Coast to an elevation of 400 feet (120 m).

Mature plant

German velvetgrass is distinguished by having a solitary stem or groups of a few stems, which are mostly smooth, but may have hairs on the joints, as well as having vigorous, slender, underground, horizontal creeping stems (rhizomes). Leaves are velvety and somewhat grayish. Purplish lines at the base of stems are common. The upper flowers have a sharply bent or straight bristle. German velvetgrass is visible as light-colored, velvety patches in turf, and is very apparent when dew is on the grass.

Collar region

A short, membranous ligule is present. There are no auricles.

Related or similar plants

More information

For noncommercial purposes only, any Web site may link directly to this page. FOR ALL OTHER USES or more information, read Legal Notices. Unfortunately, we cannot provide individual solutions to specific pest problems. See our Home page, or in the U.S., contact your local Cooperative Extension office for assistance. .

Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California


Velvetgrass, German or creeping (Holcus mollis)

Rate 4 to 6 lb ai/a. Use 6-lb rate on finer soils or on heavy mats of roots and rhizomes.

Time Apply in spring or early fall on a thoroughly prepared seedbed.

Remarks A preplant soil-incorporated herbicide that also gives excellent results when metered into irrigation water. Effective if used in conjunction with a cropping program. Total kill requires at least 2 years. Prevent seedlings from reestablishing the stand. Suggested crop programs are:

  • Spray 4 to 6 lb/a in spring, and seed red clover or alfalfa on soil that has been limed and fertilized for best legume growth.
  • Spray 2 to 3 lb/a in spring seed to corn for 2 years or follow with one of the other crops listed.
  • Spray 4 to 6 lb/a in fall and seed to crimson clover or fall flax. The subsequent crop should tolerate EPTC. Re-treat the second year.
  • Spray 4 lb/a in spring and summer fallow follow by seeding to winter wheat or barley and treating with diuron to kill velvetgrass seedlings.

Caution Incorporate EPTC into soil 2 to 3 inches deep immediately after application. Use sprinkler irrigation to incorporate EPTC in very dry weather.

Site of action Group 8: lipid synthesis inhibitor but not an ACCase inhibitor

Chemical family Thiocarbamate

Rate 0.25 to 0.375 lb ai/a + 1% crop oil concentrate or 0.25% nonionic surfactant

Time Apply in early spring when grass is growing well.

Remarks Repeat applications may be needed to control well-established grass. Do not mix with other pesticides unless label recommends.

Caution Do not graze treated fields.

Site of action Group 1: acetyl CoA carboxylase (ACCase) inhibitor

Chemical family Aryloxyphenoxy propionate

Rate Up to 0.5 lb ai/a + 2 pints/a of an oil concentrate

Time Apply in early spring when grass is growing well. Applying after April 1 may be less effective.

Remarks Repeat applications may be needed to control well-established grass.

Caution Do not graze treated fields.

Site of action Group 1: acetyl CoA carboxylase (ACCase) inhibitor


Re-visiting Lawn troubles…weed grasses – poa and velvetgrass

May is the “Go!” month for lawns. As the soil warms, top growth accelerates and roots grow quickly. That goes for weed grasses too, like annual bluegrass, velvetgrass, bentgrass and quackgrass. First up is Poa…

“Annual bluegrass is unique among weeds. There is probably no other weed that is so widely adapted to variations in mowing height, site conditions and cultural practices.

Annual bluegrass is the most common and widely distributed grassy weed in the world. It is mentioned as a weed in nearly every plant commodity.

Turfgrass management professionals, including golf course superintendents, sports field managers, sod producers, and lawncare operators, have spent years trying to eradicate annual bluegrass from their turf swards. Annual bluegrass (Poa) is one of the most invasive weeds in turfgrass stands. It is also one of the most difficult to control.

Efforts to find chemical controls for Poa have been thwarted by its diverse genetic make-up. Poa is officially described as a cool-season winter annual. Winter annuals are plants that germinate in late summer to early-fall, overwinter, and produce seed in the spring. Typical winter annuals die soon after seed production as daytime air temperatures increase.

Poa annua, although commonly referred to as annual bluegrass, is actually a diverse group of different biotypes with varying characteristics. Annual bluegrasses in warmer climates like the southern U.S., do indeed perform as a typical winter annuals. These “annual” bluegrasses are classified as Poa annua var. annua L. Timm. In the northern part of the U.S. and much of Canada there are biotypes that produce seed in the spring and then continue to grow as perennials. This somewhat peskier bluegrass is termed Poa annua var. reptans (Hauskn) Timm.

The fun doesn’t stop there. Somewhere between true bunch-type annual bluegrass and stoloniferous [perennial] annual bluegrass are hundreds if not thousands of different biotypes.

Clearly, identifying controls that have excellent activity on annua, reptans, and everything in-between has been difficult for good reason. These biotypes are not just segregated by climatic region or area of the country. It is possible, in-fact likely, to have several biotypes of Poa on the same property. The segregation is not only determined by climatic zone, but also by management and cultural conditions such as irrigation, mowing height, and compaction.

Poa populations are so diverse that they can easily adapt to everything from unirrigated roughs to closely maintained putting greens. This diversity makes Poa a bit of a moving target. Predictable Poa control would likely exist if 100 percent of the Poa population was truly annual.

Objections to annual bluegrass are most often related to seed production (which can happen in any month in moderate climates), surface interference, color and disease susceptibility.”

Annual Bluegrass (Poa Annua)

Copyright 2004-2013, Ronald Calhoun.

Copyright 2004-2013, Ronald Calhoun.

Copyright 2004-2013, Ronald Calhoun.

Poa trivialis lays flat, grows faster, has broader stems and is lighter green this time of year, so you can’t miss it.

Maintenance practices to avoid

Overwatering, especially in shady areas, will predispose turfgrass to invasion. Use deep and infrequent irrigation to discourage the development of shallow-rooted Poa. Also, avoid cultural practices as well as use patterns that tend to promote soil compaction. Catch clippings and dispose offsite as mulch mowing will spread seed. Aeration and mechanical dethatching will spread seed so delay these practices until there are no visible seed heads before attempting either one.

No single control procedure has been successful in controlling poa in turfgrass. However, hand removal of solitary infestations has been successful when practiced diligently. Open spots should be overseeded to establish a vigorous stand of grass. Removal of grass clippings may help reduce the number of seeds that reach the soil, but will not eliminate the possibility. Seed is spread by foot traffic, mowing and other machinery, birds and wind so the chance for some level of infestation is very high.

Periodic pre-emergence herbicide treatments will reduce seed germination considerably but have no effect on germinated grass plants. These treatments should be applied prior to seed head formation, usually early spring and late summer. Spot treatment of young seedlings with Roundup is effective but needs to be done before the plant begins to seed. We have a tool for sale that allows spot treatment from a standing position without over-spray damage for use in both lawns and ornamental beds. Hand removal of seedling plants and overseeding coupled with pre-emergence treatments gives the best control of poa. Newly sodded lawns will be less vulnerable to poa invasion and with vigilant hand removal and a pre-emergence treatment program starting at installation can be kept free of poa. But without weed grass maintenance a new sod lawn could have visible poa within the first 3 years, maybe sooner. Surface seeded lawns are even more prone to invasion, the same is true with hyroseeded lawns. So, Poa is here to stay but there are ways to minimize the spread… or just learn to live with its bad habits and encourage maximum performance or plan to renovate when weed grasses can’t be tolerated anymore.

We can help with a plan of action for renovation, just ring us up.

Velvetgrass

This bad guy can be controlled! After years with no solution except digging this weed grass out or treating with RoundUp, and over-seeding, we now have a selective herbicide that will control both velvetgrass and bentgrass and leave the desirable species unscathed.

3 treatments are required spaced 2-3 weeks apart. The velvet and bent grasses turn snow white after treatment as the herbicide stops the production of chlorophyll, eventually killing the plant. The treatments will control large and small grass plants, so the look can be quite dramatic if the weed grass population is high. The product manufacturer posted this comment relative to the white grass, “It looks like it snowed, but only on your lawn!”.

Over-seeding may be required if the dying grasses leave large bare spots. We can help you with information on how to do the over-seeding yourself or refer you to a local lawn renovation firm that can do it for you.

Weedgrass identification and treatment quotes are gladly given free of charge within 30 miles, roundtrip*, from the Washington State Capitol, just ring us up or email a request. If the weed grass population is too numerous to warrant a selective control approach, a total kill using RoundUp, which we can do, and renovation/reseeding process may be the best choice. I f this option is chosen, and the RoundUp treatment is approved, t echnical renovation information will be provided including contact information for qualified renovation firms.

*Within 30 miles, roundtrip, from the Washington State Capitol. A $1.00 per mile fee will be assessed for trips in excess of 30 miles roundtrip but waived if treatments are recommended and approved.