One of the most common lawn care questions we receive each year is about a strange wheat like weed growing in lawns. Good news, it’s not a weed, but rather a seed head! A seed head is a normal part of the grass life cycle that occurs each spring in our area. All grasses produce seed heads at some point throughout the growing season, it’s the plants way to reproduce and ensure survival. Problem Info Seed heads appear in the lawn in the spring. They are tough and hard to mow, and the lawn may appe Poa Annua is a common lawn care problem in Ohio. Learn more about this invader and how to protect and rid your lawn of this pesky problem. Bermuda seed heads look very similar to some common weeds…make sure you know the difference!
Seed heads in your Lawn Commonly Mistaken for Weeds
One of the most common lawn care questions we receive each year is about a strange wheat like weed growing in lawns. Good news, it’s not a weed, but rather a seed head! A seed head is a normal part of the grass life cycle that occurs each spring in our area. All grasses produce seed heads at some point throughout the growing season, it’s the plants way to reproduce and ensure survival.
Problem Info Seed heads appear in the lawn in the spring. They are tough and hard to mow, and the lawn may appear white after mowing because of the shredded stems. Lawn grass naturally goes to seed. Seed heads are most likely to be perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, or tall fescue. In cool-season grass lawns, seed head production is prompted by days in excess of 12 hours long, which occurs around the middle of May. Warm-season grasses may also produce seed heads, but do so in the summer, and their seed heads are not difficult to mow.
Seed head production requires energy from the grass plant, potentially causing a temporary lightening in color. The turf looks stemmy due to seed stalks, and short-term thinning of the turf stand. All these temporary issues eventually correct themselves as the plants grow and enter the next step in the grass life cycle. The best way to ensure a speedy recovery is by enhancing growth through regular watering and fertilization.
Analysis Lawn grass naturally goes to seed. In cool-season grass lawns, seed head production is prompted by days in excess of 12 hours long, which occurs around the middle of May. Seed head production is heaviest when daytime temperatures are between 65° and 75°F, the weather is dry and the soil low in nitrogen. Some grass varieties produce more seed heads than others. Seed heads are most likely to be perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, or tall fescue. Rough bluegrass and annual bluegrass, two common lawn weeds, produce seed heads in the spring. Warm-season grasses may also produce seed heads, but do so in the summer, and their seed heads are not difficult to mow. Unless they are allowed to ripen for about 4 months, seeds will not sprout, either in the lawn or in a mulch or compost made from clippings. Seed head production weakens grass by diverting energy to making seed.
Solution Advice If grass is taller than usual, mow it at regular intervals, slowly lowering the mowing height until it is about 3 inches high. Do not mow lower in an attempt to halt seed head production, but you may mow more frequently to maintain the appearance of the lawn. Use a sharp mower to avoid shredding the stems. Reduce seed head production next year by fertilizing and watering regularly from early May through June. Nitrogen fertilizer and ample water encourage vegetative growth instead of seed head production.
Weird Looking Grass with Lots of Seeds? It May Be Poa Annua
So you’re out enjoying your lawn but notice a large amount of seed heads on the grass blades. Of course the first question that comes to mind is, “this can’t be normal. can it?” While this may be a normal site in Ohio lawns; it is by no means a welcomed one. This “seeding” grass is a lawn invader named “Poa Annua,” and is quite difficult to control, and even remove. In today’s blog, we’ll look at this common lawn care issue and how to deal with it.
What Is It?
Poa Annua, otherwise known as Annual Bluegrass, is a lawn care invader that is commonly mistaken with typical Kentucky bluegrass. Its blades are thin and short, but its identifying feature is the short seed heads that contain thousands of seeds. While this “grass” is commonly found in spring, it dies off quickly in the warm summer months, leaving large “gaps” of brown or dead areas in your lawn.
What Causes It?
This lawn care problem is already in your soil. Poa Annua’s seeds are very resilient, and can live in your soil for years before germinating. Thriving in cool, wet conditions, this annual bluegrass spreads thousands of seeds in a short amount of time, becoming very difficult to control due to the sheer number of seedlings it produces.
How Do I Control It?
The annual grass is almost impossible to get rid of when appearing; however there are steps to prevent it in the future, as well as limit the amount of it in your lawn. Here’s our recommendations on controlling this problem:
Lawn Aeration – this annual grass is prone to growing in thin, or bare areas of lawn because there is little to compete with. Having a lawn aeration performed in the spring and fall keeps your soil un-compacted, allowing your lawn’s root system to “choke” out weeds and other invaders. The less compacted your soil is, the thicker your lawn will be, naturally eliminating this problem.
Learn More About our Lawn Aerations by Clicking Here
Learn More About Common Lawn Care Disease
Summer is the time of year when lawn care disease and weeds can turn even the best looking lawn into a mess. That’s why it’s so vital to identify problems before they get out of hand. Download our Free Turf Disease Guide that will explain common lawn care diseases, and how you can get rid of them. Download your free copy by clicking on the button below!
Shaun has been a part of the Green Industry for the past 15 years. As the Director of Marketing for Weed Pro, a Cleveland and Columbus Fertilizing Company, Shaun is a regular contributor to the Weed Pro Blog, and other industry magazines and blogs.
Don’t mistake this for a weed.
A LOT of Bermuda lawns are producing seed heads right now. In fact, it is hard to find a Bermuda lawn that is NOT producing seed heads right now.
Don’t panic. its not a weed! These seed heads look very similar to those produced by common weeds like bluestem, bahia or crabgrass, and many people make the mistake of trying to treat them.
While you don’t need to do any type of treatment, you do need to listen because your lawn is trying to tell you something. When Bermuda produces seed heads, it is a sign of stress. Improper watering, soil compaction, shade, soil temperatures, improper mowing etc. these are all things that could be putting stress on your Bermuda and causing it to seed.
As widespread as Bermuda seeding is right now, it is likely a result of overwatering (too much rain!) and temperature fluctuations. In other words, there is nothing you can do about it. Just keep mowing it every week and it will eventually correct itself. If it doesn’t correct itself as we start to dry out, then it might be time to take a closer look to see if there is a deeper issue.