How To Get Rid of Barnyard Grass?

Echinochloa crus-galli

There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of cultivating a vibrant, lush green space with blooming flowers and a fresh, velvety green carpet until your eyes suddenly land upon an interloper – barnyard grass.

This opportunistic weed can infiltrate lawns and garden beds, rapidly multiplying and overtaking desired plants.

If left unchecked, barnyard grass can transform your once-pristine garden into a chaotic battleground, stifling the growth and beauty you’ve worked so hard to nurture.

Throughout this guide, we’ll unravel the mysteries of this weed and equip you with practical techniques to restore your garden to a barnyard-free paradise.

What Is Barnyard Grass?

Barnyard grass, scientifically known as Echinochloa crus-galli, is an annual coarse grass belonging to the Poaceae family.

This persistent and troublesome weed is native to Asia, Africa, and Australia but can be found worldwide, wreaking havoc in gardens, lawns, and agricultural fields.

Barnyard grass is characterized by its robust growth and ability to thrive in different environmental conditions and reproduces through seeds.

The plant typically has erect stems reaching 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 meters), with long, narrow leaves with a prominent midrib.

Its flat leaves vary in color, from light green to reddish-green, depending on soil fertility and plant maturity.

Barnyard grass bears tiny purple flowers in summer or fall, held erect or drooping.

Despite being widely recognized as a notorious weed, barnyard grass has a few applications; these include:

  • Erosion Control: The robust growth and dense root system of barnyard grass can be utilized for erosion control in certain conditions. The extensive roots help stabilize soil on slopes, preventing erosion caused by water runoff.
  • Animal Fodder: Young shoots and leaves of barnyard grass are used as forage for livestock in certain regions, particularly for grazing animals like cattle, sheep, and goats.

How To Identify Barnyard Grass

Echinochloa crus-galli
Source: Wikimedia

You can easily identify barnyard grass in your garden by taking note of these features.

Feature #1: Growth Habit

Barnyard grass has an upright growth habit and typically grows in dense tufts or clumps.

Its stems can reach heights of 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 meters), often forming colonies that make them noticeable within a garden or field.

Feature #2: Seedhead

Echinochloa crus-galli head
Source: Wikimedia

Barnyard grass produces distinctive seedheads known as panicles, composed of numerous branches holding small seed clusters.

These panicles may be purple or greenish and extend above the leaf canopy, making them easily visible.

Feature #3: Leaves

The leaves of barnyard grass are long and narrow, resembling blades.

They vary in color, ranging from light green to reddish-green, are typically flat, and can be smooth or slightly rough to the touch with a prominent midrib running along their length.

Feature #4: Seeds

The seeds of barnyard grass are small, oval-shaped, and pale in color.

They are generally small compared to other grass seeds, have a hard outer shell, and can remain viable in the soil for several years.

Why Is Barnyard Grass Bad?

Here are some reasons why barnyard grass is bad.

Reason #1: Rapid Spread

Barnyard grass produces many seeds that can be dispersed through various means, including wind, water, animals, and human activity.

These seeds can remain viable in the soil for multiple years, allowing the grass to colonize new areas and reinfest previously treated locations quickly.

Reason #2: Competition With Valuable Plants

As an aggressive and fast-growing weed, barnyard grass competes with valuable plants for essential resources such as water, nutrients, and sunlight.

It can then overshadow these plants, reducing growth, vigor, and yield in crops, gardens, and lawns.

Reason #3: Environmental Impact

In rare cases, barnyard grass can invade natural habitats and ecologically sensitive areas, competing with native vegetation and altering local ecosystems.

This disruption can have implications for wildlife habitats and ecological balance.

Reason #4: Decreased Aesthetics

The rapid growth habit and tall stature of barnyard grass can create an unkempt and messy appearance, diminishing the visual appeal of well-maintained outdoor spaces such as lawns and gardens.

How To Eliminate Barnyard Grass?

Here are some methods to get rid of barnyard grass.

Method #1: Mulching

You can apply a thick layer of organic mulch, such as straw, wood chips, or leaves, to smother and suppress the growth of barnyard grass.

The mulch blocks sunlight, preventing the weed from receiving the necessary light for photosynthesis.

Method #2: Manual Removal

You can manually remove barnyard grass by pulling it out from the root when infestations are small.

You must remove the entire root system to prevent it from regrowing.

Method #3: Mowing

Lawn mower

Regular mowing can help control barnyard grass by cutting away the top growth and hindering seed production.

It is best to mow the grass before it reaches maturity and produces seeds, ideally keeping it at a height below 3 inches (7.5 cm).

Method #4: Crop Rotation

If you have an agricultural field, crop rotation can disrupt the life cycle of barnyard grass and reduce its prevalence.

Also, you can plant cover crops during fallow periods to suppress weed growth by competing for resources and providing ground cover.

Method #5: Chemical Control

If barnyard grass infestation is large, you can use herbicides specifically formulated for grassy weeds to kill barnyard grass while sparing desirable plants.

However, it is essential to carefully read and follow the instructions on the herbicide label before application.

Method #6: Tilling or Hoeing

Hoeing or tilling the soil can effectively disrupt the growth of barnyard grass in large infestations.

This method effectively cuts through the weed’s roots and uproots the plants.

The Downside

Tilling can also bring dormant seeds to the surface, potentially leading to new weed growth.


Barnyard grass stands tall as a mischievous troublemaker, but you can reclaim your green space by applying these methods.

By taking action and employing these strategies, you can restore the vitality of your gardens and ensure a weed-free sanctuary for your enjoyment.

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