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downy brome

How to Remove Downy Brome From Your Lawn

Downy Brome, also known as cheatgrass, is one of the more serious weeds that can emerge onto lawns and it is commonly a nuisance to livestock producers on ranges and pastures. If you have downy brome on your lawn, you’re going to want to get rid of it as soon as you can because it could become troublesome to get rid of it when they are well-established and mature. Here at Solutions Pest and Lawn we will not only share with you the steps and methods of approaching downy brome, we’ll also show you the best products to tackle this invasive species and take your lawn back.

If you want to be successful in your quest to get rid of downy brome, before arming yourself with sprays and tools, you first need to arm yourself with knowledge about the weed so you can know what conditions this type of grass thrives in as well as what conditions give it a disadvantage and then based on the information, approach with an effective control strategy. 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.

Browse our downy brome control products below. If you ever need help with how-to apply these products or deciding how to select the best product for you, call us at (800) 479-6583 contact us at askapro@solutionsstores.com and we can point you in the right direction depending on your situation.

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How To Get Rid of Downy Brome: Solutions 4 Step Process

Step 1: Identification. Most lawn owners new to lawn care and DIY weed control often run into the problem of incorrectly diagnosing or misidentifying weeds like downy brome or what they believe to be downy brome with another grass which can muddy up the goal of controlling the weed. Identifying the unwanted plant that is growing on your lawn is vital because once you can correctly ID the weed, you can then research and find out what active ingredients, herbicides and cultural methods work best to tackle that weed and which products are specifically designed to target it. Improperly ID'ing a plant may result in waste of time and effort purchasing herbicides which won't work against it.

Downy Brome (Bromus tectorum) is also known as cheatgrass and can be either short (3 to 6 inches) or up to 18 inches tall depending on how much moisture it gets. Downy brome is usually not noticed right away until it has grown to the point where it is producing their unique droopy seedheads with many little spikelets between 10 to 18 mm long which really makes it stand out. Their leaves are hairy and soft and pleasant to the touch. When it gets mature, the seed heads start to discolor to purple and can easily drop and produce more downy brome in the area.

When you’re unsure or can’t quite determine 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 or landscape to see where the downy brome is growing. Downy Brome typically grows mostly on loose, sandy, moist soils in ranges and pastures as well as uplands and woodlands. Habitats include hill prairies, upland sand prairies, upland clay prairies, upland savannas, upland sandy savannas, rocky glades, sandy or gravelly areas along railroads, pastures, abandoned sandy fields, open areas of parks, mined land, and barren waste areas. This grass tends to colonize open areas with infertile soil that have been subjected to a history of disturbance, whether from occasional wildfires, grazing, or other causes.



Step 3: Control. downy brome is best removed manually but if you have a large infestation of downy brome you are dealing with, you may not have the time or the energy to be pulling or cutting down all the downy brome. This is when chemical control would be best. A couple of herbicides we suggest Glyphosate 4 Plus Weed Killer Concentrate or Outrider Herbicide.There are some pre emergents you can also use which can keep downy brome from springing up on your lawn and becoming an eyesore.

Read all labels and instructions carefully with whatever herbicide you choose to use. If you have desired grass around where the downy brome 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 any type of herbicide, you are properly protecting your skin and eyes with safety equipment. Goggles, gloves and long sleeved clothing should suffice.

For best results, make sure to apply herbicides at the right time. Downy brome should be treated with herbicides when it is in active growth. Apply post-emergents in the springtime when the growth is less than 6 inches in length or apply pre-emergents in the fall or early spring to keep their seeds under control. Repeated applications may be necessary depending on the species, the persistence and the age or maturity of the plant.

Step 4: Prevention. You can prevent the return of downy brome after it has been controlled with cultural practices that will hinder the redevelopment of this invasive grassy weed. A lush and healthy lawn is less prone to invasion by the downy brome plant. downy brome grass grows best in poor soil and disperses an allelopathic chemical that keeps wanted plants from growing.

Properly fertilize your landscape at the best time recommended for your particular grass. Mow your grass regularly and at the right height.  Downy brome thrives on sunlight so keeping a lush lawn shades out weed seeds which hinders the growth of the weed. Reseed thin patches of turf in the lawn as an effective means of downy brome control. As effective downy brome control includes proper fertilization, take a soil test to determine which amendments are necessary for thick, healthy turfgrass on your lawn. downy brome does not grow well in landscapes that have high nitrogen in the soil.

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

Downy Brome Background Information

Downy brome (Bromus tectorum L.) is a versatile winter annual which has the ability to thrive in all types of soils. This weed has an extensive shallow root system and roots which possess many hairs that enable the plant to extract much of the water from the soil. Downy brome can be short or tall. The leaves on the grass are really small and can go unnoticed until they grow their large drooping seedheads. Downy brome has very hairy leaves that are pleasant to the touch.

Downy brome germinates in the fall and resides as a super tiny plant over the winter. The weed then takes advantage of any spring moisture available and then produces thousands of seeds. When downy brome matures, the seed heads become brownish red begins to drop their seeds to set the stage for the next generation. When young, Downy brome is a palatable grass before the seed heads emerge but becomes unpalatable with maturity. Mature downy brome can also injure livestock by causing infection in the eyes or mouth. Mature plants also are a serious fire hazard so when controlling downy brome, you’re going to want to act fast to not let them mature.

Make Sure You Have The Right Equipment For The Job. SHOP For Sprayers and Other Lawn Care Essentials

How To Effectively Control Downy Brome

Recommended Post-emergents:


As we noted earlier, to treat this hard to control weed you have to act fast while the plant is still young and green as it will get more and more difficult to control as it matures. We recommend the above herbicides which can successfully and effectively control downy brome. What you select depends on whether you want to use a selective or non-selective herbicide. Glyphosate can give excellent control of downy brome but with it being non-selective it will destroy any plant in it’s path so if you have downy brome growing in close quarters to your desired grasses and vegetation you will want to be careful and spot treat.

The ideal time to control downy brome is in the fall and you’re going to want to apply herbicides at least twice whether they are on your lawn or on ranges and pastures. Make sure to also time your herbicide applications when there isn’t a chance of rainfall occurring prior to or after treating the weed. After application, wait 1-2 weeks to check progress and to see if you need to do a reapplication.

Better Safe Than Sorry: Equip Yourself With Protective Safety Equipment Before Spraying

Downy Brome Control Tips and Recommendations

  • Want your herbicide application to pack a better punch? Mix your selected weed killer with a  surfactant. This will fight off surface tension and help the herbicide to stick better to the plant so you see the best end results.

  • Remember that the label is the law! Please read the manufacturer’s label carefully and follow directions. Application rates vary depending on the type of herbicide you are using so make sure you don’t overmix.

  • Wear long-sleeved pants and clothing when using herbicides. Protect your eyes, skin, mouth and nose by wearing protective safety equipment any time you handle herbicide chemicals.

  • Want to learn more detailed ways of applying herbicides? Browse our knowledge base or view our informative How-To Videos available to view anytime.

For more detailed information on controlling downy brome on your lawn and to get specialized free advice for your lawn, contact us at askapro@solutionsstores.com or call our customer service line at (800) 479-6583.


Downy Brome Additional Resources

Downy Brome Control - University of Nebraska–Lincoln


Downy Brome (Bromus tectorum) - Illinois Wildflowers



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