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How Do You Kill Dallisgrass Without Killing Grass?

Dallisgrass can be considered a weed or grass. It mostly grows during the year’s warm seasons and is known as a troublesome perennial weed. 

Turf grass cannot withstand the dallisgrass invasion and thus requires extra help before they ruin the landscape. 

You can try a few ways to control this weed and prevent it from growing on your lawn, chemical and non-chemical. 

Read further into this article to learn how to kill dallisgrass without killing grass and maintain a well-manicured landscape. 

Ways to Kill the Dallisgrass Without Harming the Grass

The first step to killing the dallisgrass is identifying it. Its features include greyish-greenish coarse-textured leaves, short rhizomes that make it easy to pull them out, and unappealing seed heads. 

Once you have identified the weeds, you can take necessary measures to exterminate them from your garden or lawn. You can manually or chemically remove them, which is explained further here. 

1. Pull Out the Dallisgrass Using Your Hands

Hand-pulling is appropriate wher dallisgrass plants are young and growing in isolated patches
Hand-pulling is appropriate where dallisgrass plants are young and growing in isolated patches. Image: canva/duaneellison

Manual hand pulling is one of the safest and simplest approaches to kill dallisgrass without killing the lawn. 

However, the plants may break during hand-pulling, and their seeds may be scattered across the lawn. If the existing dallisgrass weed breaks when pulling, use a garden shovel to remove the remaining parts. 

Hand pulling is best if the weed is young and grows in isolated patches. It should be done using a pair of protective gloves. Combine this method with chemical herbicides that kill the seeds for more effective results. 

2. Mulch the Bare Areas on the Landscape

Apply mulch in any open or bare areas to prevent dallisgrass growth. Image: canva/andrey

Despite having short rhizomes, dallisgrass grows quickly and spreads quickly on gardens, flowerbeds, and lawns. It occurs especially on bare spots and patches, where they flourish and limit turf grass growth. 

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To prevent this, cover any open or bare areas with a 3 to 4 inch mulch layer made from wood shavings, hay, sawdust, or bark. 

The mulch is best placed during winter to inhibit dallisgrass germination and be replaced with turf or flower seeds to cover the bare spots. 

Mulching prevents sunlight penetration into the soil below the mulch layer, thus preventing new germination of the dallisgrass seedlings.

3. Dig the Dallisgrass Using a Shovel or Garden Tool

Remove dallisgrass with a shovel or farm tool
Remove dallisgrass with a shovel or farm tool. Image: canva/arturhenryk

Digging up dallisgrass weeds from the soil using a shovel or garden tool ensures you pull them up by the roots. It is one of the physical and eco-friendly methods to kill dallisgrass without killing grass. 

One thing to consider is that when doing so, the seeds may fall off the dallisgrass and onto the soil. Thus, you are required to cover the landscape with thick layers of mulch to prevent germination. 

4. Exterminate Using Chemical Herbicides

Apply a glyphosate herbicide in winter to eliminate a large dallisgrass infestation
Apply a glyphosate herbicide in winter to eliminate a large dallisgrass infestation. Image: canva/banksphotos

A selective or non-selective herbicide is recommended to kill the dallisgrass, but can also affect your surrounding grass.

It is also advised to use this method if the infestation is too thick to save the lawn. The best herbicide for this is glyphosate-based herbicides, which are available in stores. 

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If the dallisgrass growth isn’t too much, you can set up barriers using cardboard to protect your turf grass or lawn when spraying the dallisgrass. 

Apply the herbicides during winter to eliminate dallisgrass. In summer, you can regrow the turf grass on the lawn for full germination. 

Alternatively, you can use baking soda, which kills the weed by desiccating it and forcing its leaves to dry. Add water to the baking soda and spray the solution on the dallisgrass. 

While baking soda is readily available, it is a non-selective weed killer and thus will harm the surrounding grass.

5. Mow the Weed Grass on Low Level

Mowing your grass weekly will inhibit dallisgrass growth
Mowing your grass as often as possible will inhibit dallisgrass growth. Image: canva/sergey

Mowing is another method of killing dallisgrass, but it is not the best option since it involves mowing your turf grass, too. 

If the dallisgrass is stubborn and has grown on a large scale, you can try mowing it, which will inhibit the turf grass’ growth. 

You can mow your lawn weekly or more often to stunt the weed’s growth by depleting its nutrients at heights of 3 to 4 inches. 

Overall, it’s important to note that the best way to prevent dallisgrass from growing is to ensure your landscape is healthy and densely planted with turf. 

How to Control Dallisgrass Growth on Your Lawn

Once you kill dallisgrass without killing grass, it is best to take control measures to prevent its growth and germination.

Here are a few ways to prevent dallisgrass regrowth on your lawn.

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1. Use Pre-Emergent Herbicides

The dallisgrass weed germinates during winter, so it’s best to use pre-emergent herbicides to exterminate them. Spray pre-emergent herbicides in early February to prevent the germination of dallisgrass seeds during winter. 

Pre-emergent herbicides effectively prevent new dallisgrass from germinating; however, they are ineffective in killing existing dallisgrass.

For successful results, the herbicides should be applied to the soil landscape row by row, and the soil should be watered. 

The herbicide can be applied during summer or winter, but its drawback is that it requires more time to prepare, which can be hectic. 

2. Use Post-Emergent Herbicides

While hand-pulling the dallisgrass is eco-friendly, it is also time-consuming and labour-intensive. Post-emergent herbicides that get rid of crabgrass and dallisgrass must be applied after every two weeks. 

Examples of these post-emergent herbicides include CMA and MSMA herbicides, which kill dallisgrass weeds that have infested your lawn. 

Be careful because post-emergent herbicides can also kill turf grass and weeds. Therefore, it is important to follow label directions to prevent damage to your lawn and resurface the dallisgrass. 

Apply it on a sunny day and let it dry for 30 minutes to 8 hours before spraying water for full effect.

3. Mulching Uncovered Areas

You can also control the growth of dallisgrass by piling up two or three layers of mulch on the lawn. 

By doing so, the mulch stops the problematic growth and reestablishment of dallisgrass seedlings. 

4. Maintain a Healthy Lawn

Maintaining a healthy lawn reduces the chances of dallisgrass regrowth
Maintaining a healthy lawn reduces the chances of dallisgrass regrowth. Image: pixabay/wokandapix

Maintaining a healthy landscape with densely planted turf is the most preferred method for preventing and controlling dallisgrass. 

You can do this through proper watering, mowing, and fertilization. If you spot any bare areas, plant them with turf seeds to prevent the weed grass from growing. 

Dallisgrass prefers low-lying, periodically damp environments, which may be the areas with the most infestations. Correct the standing water by adding topsoil or directing the water.