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How to Best Control Annual Bluegrass Weed

During the winter time, you would think lawn owners can get a little bit of a break from lawn maintenance and weed prevention since the cold weather usually makes it so weed seeds remain dormant. However, invasive plants like the annual bluegrass (also known widely as poa annua) actually grows and thrives in the winter time. Annual bluegrass have been known to give homeowners fits during the cool season and while controlling this weed can be tricky, it is possible to eliminate them from your lawn with the right technique and quality herbicides.

Upon first inspection, once you see green blades come up in the spring, you may feel that it’s the start of a beautiful lawn, but once time passes and the annual bluegrass becomes thicker and taller, little white seed heads come up with it, which can look quite ugly on your lawn and make it not uniform.

To get rid of annual bluegrass (or any weed for that matter) you first need to know the background information on the weed and do a little bit of homework to see what conditions this type of weed likes, what it doesn’t like and then based on the information, approach with a control program. This is where we can best help.

Here at Solutions Pest and Lawn, we’re dedicated to serving you with not only supplying the best professional-grade products in the lawn and pest control industry, but also we want to empower you with the confidence to tackle any issues you have on your yard or home yourself, without hiring a professional.

Our motto is, “Ask us, then do it yourself”. Aside from our customer service line where you can talk live to an expert, you can also email us your specific questions and concerns at askapro@solutionsstores.com and we’ll be happy to help guide you in the right direction.

View our selection of products we recommend for getting rid of annual bluegrass and then scroll further to learn how to tackle annual bluegrass in depth using our patented 4 step process.

How To Get Rid of Annual Bluegrass: Solutions 4 Step Process

Step 1: Identification. Often times when annual bluegrass begins to grow on your lawn (or any type of weed for that matter), its not uncommon for property owners to not correctly diagnose or identify the plant correctly. For example, some lawn owners often mistake annual bluegrass with bermudagrass or some other grassy weed. Identifying the unwanted plant that is growing on your lawn is vital because once you know the correct ID of the plant you can apply products that are designed to target it. Wrongly ID'ing a plant may result in waste of time and effort purchasing herbicides which won't work against it.

When you’re unsure or can’t quite pinpoint exactly which kind of weed you are encountering in your yard, turn to the experts to ID the weed for you. We recommend taking a high resolution photo of the unwanted weed with your phone and shoot it over to our email address at Identification@solutionsstores.com. We will respond back to you quickly with not only the correct ID of the plant, we will also give you expert recommendations of products and techniques to apply to remove that weed from your lawn.


Step 2: Inspection. Conduct a thorough inspection of your lawn to see where the annual bluegrass is growing. This grass is a cool-season annual so it's going to start it's life cycle in the fall with seed germination at that time and it's going to end it's lifecycle in the spring. It has a clumping habit unlike your other grasses which tend to spread so you're going to find these grasses in little clumps throughout the lawn. Usually you're going to see these plants on areas where there is compacted soil, wet soil or high amounts of nitrogen.


Step 3: Control. We recommend starting with pre-emergent when it comes to controlling annual bluegrass. Applying a pre-emergent at the right time can do wonders in making sure annual bluegrass doesn’t emerge in the spring time and at best case, is killed off completely. We recommend using Oxadiazon 50 WSB Pre-Emergent. Timing is key when conducting a pre emergent application or else the application will be ineffective. The best time to lay pre-emergent down to get rid of annual bluegrass should be around the late summertime or early fall, generally around the time temperatures start to lower below 70 degrees.

If annual bluegrass is already established on your lawn, post-emergent products will have to do. Atrazine 4L Herbicide is an excellent choice but is a restricted use herbicide so if you can get a hold of that you can use Revolver Herbicide or Negate 37WG. What you will choose depends upon your personal preference and your budget.

Read all labels and instructions carefully with whatever herbicide you choose to use. If you have desired grass around where the annual bluegrass is growing, you can choose to spot treat. Either way, be careful when using herbicides in general around your desired plants as they could potentially kill your wanted turf. Also, please be sure that when handling ay type of herbicide, you are properly protecting your skin and eyes with safety equipment. Goggles, gloves and love sleeved clothing should suffice.

Step 4: Prevention. You can prevent the return of annual bluegrass after it has been controlled with cultural practices that will hinder the redevelopment of this invasive grassy weed. Addressing areas of compacted soil and making sure the soil is not too wet is important when it comes to lessening the chances of annual bluegrass making a return. Also making sure not to mow your grass too low can help.

Monitoring the mulch beds around your trees and shrubs and also with any new plants that you bring into the landscape.

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Learn More About Annual Bluegrass

Like its name clearly states, annual bluegrass is an annual weed that is commonly found in lawns and occasionally even in gardens. It is also known as poa annua but perhaps because of confusion when it comes to pronunciation, the name annual bluegrass is the more common name for it. The plant is native to Europe but it has crept up everywhere across the world and is common on residential turfs. Compared to most turfgrasses, annual bluegrass green color is lighter than most and the plant also has coarser leaf texture and produces unsightly-looking seedheads. However it’s most distinguishing characteristic is the tall tasseled seed stalk of the annual bluegrass that will typically tower over the rest of the lawn and becomes visible in late spring or early summer. But, while this seed stalk can be tall, if it is cut short, it can still produce seeds.

Controlling this weed is rather difficult because the plant has the ability to produce several hundred seeds in one season, which can lay dormant for several years before sprouting. Annual bluegrass is typically a problem in residential yards because it dies back in hot weather, which can result in unsightly brown spots in the lawn during the height of summer. It also thrives during cool weather when most other lawn grasses are dying back, which means that it invades the lawn at these susceptible times.

Annual bluegrass has smooth leaves with a boat-shaped tip. It produces greenish white seed heads throughout its life cycle with the majority appearing during the spring months.  While annual bluegrass can be found growing in a wide range of conditions, the weed prefers areas with moist and/or compacted soil.

Before starting a weed control program, homeowners should bear in mind that complete eradication of annual bluegrass (or any weed for that matter) from the landscape is not realistic. A more practical approach is to control the weed by reducing the infestation to a tolerable level which can be done with a combination of cultural changes to the turf and chemical herbicides.


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Annual Bluegrass Control Methods


Annual bluegrass germinates in the late fall or early spring, so timing is critical to being able to effectively control it. We normally recommend to lawn owners to control annual bluegrass before they sprout with a pre-emergent herbicide. This is an herbicide that will prevent the annual bluegrass seeds from germinating. Herbicides must be applied in late summer/early fall before annual bluegrass germination. A second application can be applied in winter to control later germinating plants.


However, it is important to keep in mind that annual bluegrass seeds are tough and can survive many seasons without germinating. This method will work towards reducing annual bluegrass in the lawn over time. This will take a high level of persistence and diligence on your part as it will take repeated treatments to your lawn for multiple seasons in order to completely remove this weed. Also it is important to mention that pre-emergents will not work on annual bluegrass that has already emerged from the soil. That’s when applying post-emergent is best.

Check out our article: The Ideal Times To Use Pre-Emergent on Your Lawn


Recommended Post-emergent Control:

These selective post-emergent herbicides above are best for controlling annual bluegrass. Choosing the best one for you depends on your preference and budget and also it depends on the phase of the life cycle that the annual bluegrass is in. Herbicides will work best when the annual bluegrass is young. As the weed matures, they will be more resistant to chemicals which may require repeated applications.

If all else fails, and especially when the plant is dormant, you may have to resort to non-selective herbicides like glyphosate/roundup to eradicate the plant from your lawn but this should be regarded as a last-ditch effort.

Not the Weed Problem You Have? Check Out Our Other Weeds On Our Grassy Weed Control Page.

Annual Bluegrass Tips and Recommendations

  • Use a hand-pump sprayer with a fan tip nozzle. Spraying a fine mist is best when applying herbicides to annual bluegrass so that entire plant if completely coated.

  • Remember that the label is the law. Be sure to look towards the instructions on the label for proper application and mixing rates.

  • When handling any pesticide be sure to wear the right protective equipment to cover your skin, eyes, nasal openings and mouth.


See Also

Annual Bluegrass Control in Residential Turfgrass | UGA Cooperative


[PDF] Annual bluegrass control - UNL Turf - University of Nebraska–Lincoln


Annual bluegrass control in warm-season athletic fields – SportsTurf

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