What Is Goose Grass?


Have you ever encountered a plant in your garden that clings to your clothes like a persistent hitchhiker?

Goosegrass or sticky willy is a menace.

It’s a weed that can ruin your lawn and garden and resist your attempts to control it.

But there is hope.

In this article, you’ll learn about goosegrass, where it grows, and how you can reclaim your garden from its sticky grip.

Understanding Goose Grass

Goosegrass is a common name for several plants that belong to different families and genera.

The name can refer to various grasses, sedges, and annual herbs that have some similarities in appearance or use.

Some of these plants are:

  • Arachne: a genus of grasses native to Africa and Asia.
  • Carex eleusinoides and Carex lenticularis: two sedges growing in wetlands and meadows.
  • Eleusine: a genus of grasses that includes several species of millets and weeds.
  • Galium aparine and Galium murale: two species of herbs with sticky stems and leaves and are also known as cleavers.
  • Puccinellia fasciculata: a grass species that grows in salt marshes and coastal areas.

The most common and problematic plant called goosegrass is Eleusine indica, also known as Indian goosegrass, yardgrass, wiregrass, or crowfootgrass.

This plant is a small annual grass that grows in warmer areas of the world up to 50 degrees latitude.

It is widely distributed in Asia, Africa, Australia, and North America.

Eleusine indica has a prostrate growth habit and forms a mat-like rosette.

Its leaves are flat and folded in the bud. Its leaf sheaths are flattened and often have a white to silver color at the base.

Its seedheads are composed of two to ten spikes that look like zippers. It can produce seeds even when mowed low and can resist some herbicides.

Goosegrass: A Fowl Name for a Foul Weed

The name goosegrass comes from either the plant’s use as food for geese or its resemblance to a goose’s foot. However, not all plants with this name suit geese or look like their feet.

Where Does Goosegrass Grow?

Eleusine indica flowerhead
Source: Wikimedia

Goosegrass is a warm-season plant that can grow in various climates and regions.

It can be found in most parts of the world up to 50 degrees latitude.

Some of the places where goosegrass is common are:

  • Asia, especially India, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia
  • Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, and Madagascar
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • North America, especially the southern and eastern states of the US and Mexico

Goosegrass prefers disturbed areas with compacted soil and full sun exposure.

It can tolerate drought, heat, salinity, and low fertility. It can also adapt to different mowing heights and herbicide applications.

Some of the places where goosegrass can be a problem are:

  • Lawns, especially those with poor drainage, heavy traffic, or low maintenance
  • Golf courses, especially tees, fairways, and greens
  • Landscape beds, especially those with mulch or gravel
  • Cultivated crops, especially rice, corn, soybean, cotton, and sugarcane

How To Get Rid of Goosegrass?

Eleusine indica Habitus
Source: Wikimedia

Goosegrass is a tough weed that can be hard to control once it establishes in your lawn or garden.

It can produce seeds even when mown low and can resist some herbicides. Therefore, you must use a combination of methods to get rid of it for good.

Here are some steps you can take.

Apply a Pre-Emergent Weed Control

The best way to prevent goosegrass from appearing is to apply pre-emergent weed control in the spring before the seeds germinate.

This will stop the weed from sprouting and spreading on your lawn.

Some of the products that can control goosegrass with one application are the following:

  • oxadiazon (Goosegrass/Crabgrass Control, Ronstar, Oxadiazon)
  • prodiamine (Barricade)
  • dithiopyr (Dimension)

Follow the label directions carefully and choose the product suitable for your type of grass.

Use a Post-Emergent Weed Control

If goosegrass has already emerged in your lawn, you can use a post-emergent weed control labeled for goosegrass and follow the label directions carefully.

Some of the products that can kill goosegrass after it has sprouted are the following:

  • fenoxaprop (Acclaim Extra)
  • mesotrione (Tenacity)
  • fluazifop (Fusilade II)
  • topramezone (Pylex)
  • MSMA (golf courses and sod farms only)

You may need to apply more than one application of these herbicides to control tillered goosegrass.

Sulfentrazone (Dismiss) is also effective on pre-tillered goosegrass.

Improve the Soil Quality and Lawn Health

Another way to eliminate goosegrass is to improve soil quality and lawn health by aerating, fertilizing, watering, and mowing properly:

  • Aeration will reduce soil compaction and allow water and air to penetrate the soil.
  • Fertilization will provide nutrients for your grass to grow thick and strong.
  • Watering will keep your lawn hydrated and healthy.
  • Mowing will remove the seed heads before they spread and maintain the optimal height for your grass.

Follow these cultural practices to help your lawn outcompete goosegrass and prevent it from taking over.


Goosegrass is a sneaky, stubborn weed that can ruin your lawn and garden.

It can grow in any soil, resist mowing, and survive any herbicide.

But don’t let it win.

You can beat goosegrass with the right knowledge and tools.

Identify, prevent, and control it before it spreads and causes more problems and enjoy a lush and weed-free lawn that will make your neighbors jealous.

Leave a Comment