Guide to Rescuegrass Identification & Control

rescuegrass weed

Type of Weed: Grassy Weed

Bromus catharticus


Rescuegrass is a cool-season annual grassy weed that is common throughout the southern United States, including Texas. This bunching weed thrives in the cold, dry weather of winter and early spring before dying back from the summer heat.

It is often found in lawns, golf courses, sports fields, and pastures. This weed is able to provide food for grazing animals during winter food shortages, giving it the “rescue” part of its name.

Rescuegrass has the ability to survive in droughts along with a variety of environments and temperatures. This combination can make it somewhat challenging to control this hardy weed.

How to Identify

Rescuegrass’ root system consists of tubers that can spread new weeds throughout your lawn from its underground rhizomes or from its above ground stolons.

This weed grows in a tufted erect position and can reach 3 feet in height. Its green stems are flat or oval with long green leaves that can reach up to 14 inches in length. The underside of leaves are smooth, while the top side can be slightly hairy. Its ligule is a tall membrane and no auricles are present.

Rescuegrass produces an open panicle flower that is known to droop. These flattened spikelets consist of several branches with green flowers that transition to a white to light green or tan color when they are ready to set seed. Flowers produce a dry single seed, known as caryopsis. Seeds germinate in fall, sometimes into the winter, and reproduce in the spring.

Control Methods

Control Difficulty: Moderate

Mechanical control for rescuegrass is tricky due to its complex root system. For young plants, you can try digging them up, ensuring you dig deep and wide enough to remove the entire root system.

Keep in mind, any rhizomes left underground will continue spreading and producing more plants. Therefore, chemical control is the best way to defend against this weed. In late September to November, apply a selective grassy weed pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn (sometimes a second application weeks later is warranted).

In January to early March, apply a selective grassy weed post-emergent herbicide during the growing season. More than one application may be needed for areas of your lawn infested with rescuegrass.

Prevention Tips

The best way to prevent any weeds from growing in your lawn is proper cultural practices. Mowing your lawn at its proper grass height will encourage healthy growth.

Proper aeration will break up any compact soil, routine fertilization will help bulk up your lawn, and proper irrigation will ensure your soil doesn’t become too dry or overly wet. Using a combination of selective pre and post emergent herbicides throughout the year will be the extra layer of defense in deterring weed growth.

If you need further help managing Rescuegrass, our team of highly trained technicians are experts with grassy weeds and can help get your lawn back to its proper health.
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