Dallisgrass: The Pesky Weed That Loves Your Lawn & Garden!

Today, we’re going to dive into the world of Dallisgrass and learn how to tackle this annoying weed that loves to invade our lawns. So, put on your gardening gloves and get ready to explore the secrets of its removal with me.

Table of Contents

What is Dallisgrass?

Picture a lush green lawn, perfect for playing games or rolling around in. Now, imagine patches of thick, clumpy grass that tower above the rest. It thrives in sandy and clay soils (Cincinnati has a lot of clay soil).

That’s Dallisgrass! It’s a type of weed that loves to make its home in lawns, gardens, and even along roadsides. It grows from late spring through early autumn. This perennial plant can grow back completely from its roots each year.

Where Does It Come From?

Dallisgrass is a sneaky invader, originating from warm regions like South America, in particular Brazil and Argentina. Its species name is Paspalum dilatatu but it is most commonly known as Dallisgrass, Dallas grass, and even “sticky heads.”

It made its way to North America in the 1800s and quickly found its footing in our lawns. Its first appearance in the United States was near New Orleans. Nowadays, it’s considered an invasive nuisance in most areas.

map of south america where dallisgrass originated
Paspalum dilatatum is native to Brazil and Argentina.

What Does Dallisgrass Look Like?

Dallisgrass is like the rebel of the grass family. It stands tall and proud, with long, wide blades that can grow up to a foot in height. The pale-green blades have coarse (rough) edges, and they tend to stick out among the other grass in your yard.

It grows in an unsightly clump in turfgrass and has a faster growth rate than turfgrass. It slowly increases in diameter as its shallow, underground stems (short rhizomes) grow outward.

A non-native, invasive plant, sticky heads spread fast and their dense growth smothers and prevents other native species from thriving.

Why is Dalligrass a Problem?

Now, you might be wondering, “Why is this Dallisgrass such a big deal?” It’s because it can cause some serious problems for our lawns. Here’s why:

  1. Competing for Space: The weed grows rapidly and spreads its roots far and wide, competing with the grass we actually want in our yards. This means less space, nutrients, and water for our beautiful lawn to thrive.
  2. Ugly Patches: As it takes over, it creates unsightly patches that disrupt the uniformity and beauty of our lawns. We want our grass to be lush and even, not clumpy and wild.
  3. Choking the Grass: It has a knack for choking out other plants. It can form dense clumps, making it difficult for our grass to grow and flourish.

Crabgrass vs Dallisgrass

In the Cincinnati (Southwest Ohio) area, Dallisgrass is often misidentified as Crabgrass because they look similar. But they are much different if you take a closer look.

One of the easiest ways to distinguish between the two is the size of their seed heads. Dallisgrass has a large seed head compared to the small seed head size of Crabgrass. Also, they each have different life cycles and require different means of control. 

Crabgrass is a nuisance and can be difficult to suppress. The Dallisgrass weed normally falls outside of normal treatment programs for most lawn care companies. This makes it even more of a problem for homeowners. 

crabgrass vs dallisgrass

What Conditions Allow It to Thrive?

Dallisgrass produces lots of seed which usually germinate in spring and summer when soil temperatures are 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. The air temperature for optimal growth is 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. When temperatures are in this range, this pesky weed will grow rapidly.

A substantial number of seeds will be in the soil if Dallisgrass has taken residence in the lawn. The likelihood of its seedlings flourishing is reduced quite a bit if the lawn is already well-established and well-maintained.

How to Get Rid of Dallisgrass

Are you ready to defeat this weedy invasion? Here are four approaches to win this battle. But keep this in mind: Removal should always be accompanied by seeding or sodding to repair and thicken the existing turf in the area where the weed was removed. 

1. Hand-Pulling

First, put on a pair of gardening gloves. Then, get down on your knees and gently grab hold of the Dallisgrass near its base. Pull it out slowly, making sure to remove as much of the roots as you can. This method works best for small areas of the weed.

Make sure you remove as much of the root system as possible; the weed will grow back if any of its rhizomes are left underground.

2. Mowing

To keep your lawn looking neat and Dallisgrass-free, make sure to mow it regularly. Set your lawnmower’s height to low, and when it’s time, mow away! This will prevent it from spreading and making seeds.

After mowing, don’t forget to clean your lawnmower blades so that no Dallisgrass seeds get spread around. This is our least-favorite method but it might help control it from overtaking your yard.

3. Herbicides

If Dallisgrass has invaded your lawn on a big scale, it might be time to call in some reinforcements in the form of herbicides. Look for a special herbicide that is designed to target Dallisgrass.

Remember to read the instructions carefully before using it. Apply the herbicide directly to the Dallisgrass, but be careful not to spray it on the plants or grass that you want to keep.

4. Boosting Lawn Health

A healthy lawn is a happy lawn. If we keep lawns healthy and strong, it becomes less inviting for Dallisgrass to invade. Make sure to water your lawn properly, give it regular fertilization, and aerate the soil.

These actions will improve the overall health of your lawn, making it harder for Dallisgrass to take over. Also, if you have any bare patches, try planting more of the grass you want there to fill in those areas.

As you might suspect, this is our favorite approach by far! Why? Because your lawn will be stronger, healthier, and much better able to fend off any annoying weed infestation it comes up against.

pulling dallisgrass weed
Pulling the weed out firmly (but gently) by hand is one method of eliminating Dallisgrass from your yard. But make sure you get the entire root system or it will come back.

Final Thoughts

By following these tips and using the power of your green thumb — or heck, the power of a phone to call a local lawn care professional — you’ll be able to conquer the Dallisgrass challenge and enjoy a beautiful, weed-free lawn.

Need More Help?

Need a pro to handle your lawn care year-round? Just contact American Landscapes here for a free, no-obligation estimate. Or call us at (513) 947-8727.

You can also learn more about our lawn care applications and treatments, landscaping, and outdoor lighting services by reading our blog. In addition to fertilizer and weed control, we provide mosquito control, lawn aeration, lawn seeding, and much more.