Weed Grass Seed Heads

Not sure why unsightly seed heads are popping up all over your lawn? Let’s have a look at why they’re there and some super easy ways to take care of them. 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 Common to this time of year, seed heads in the lawn are unavoidable and are part of the natural life cycle of grass. What can be done about their unsightly appearance? There are ways to manage seed heads in the turf.

Why are there seed heads in my lawn?

Worried about seeds sprouting in your precious lawn? It’s probably not as bad as you think.

During late spring to early summer it’s not uncommon for grass seed heads to pop up in your turf.

Flowering and seeding are a natural part of a plant life cycle and a smart survival mechanism of your lawn in response to sudden changes in temperature, wind and rain that can be experienced during this time of year.

When these lawn seed heads start popping up in your grass it’s understandable to think that you might have weeds. But seed heads aren’t weeds––they’re simply the head of the green stem of a lawn leaf.

Are lawn seed heads a problem?

Normally, when a turf variety goes to seed, it’s because it’s under stress from something, usually a lack of water or nutrients. Most common lawn types in Australia produce a sterile seed head, meaning they can’t be spread by seed into other areas of your garden and grow from the seeds, only through vegetative sprigs or runners.

While going to seed isn’t necessarily a bad thing for your lawn, it doesn’t look great or feel as soft underfoot and can be a sign of an underlying problem, so it’s best to get on top of it as soon as possible.

How do I identify seed heads in my lawn?

Each type of turf has a different looking seed head, this is why it’s hard sometimes to tell if it’s a weed or not. Let’s have a look at a few of the main types of turf seed heads.

Zoysia

Seed heads found in Zoysia turf will have either a white or purplish colour. They are attached to one stem with small flowers, this is where the seeds are held. Zoysia seed heads can also be identified by their tough feel.

Kikuyu

Seed heads found in Kikuyu turf will grow on a white stem in clusters of 2-4. Their stringy look is often mistaken as spider’s web!

Couch

It’s very easy to mistake Couch seed heads as weeds, as they range in colour from green to purple and grow above the grass level. You’ll notice a cluster of spikes on the top of the stem that holds the seeds.

Buffalo

Seed heads in Buffalo turf grow from the runner, or stolon. Most Buffalo seeds are sterile, so the grass can’t be spread by its seeds. The seed head is often compared to asparagus, with its thicker shape and exposed seeds.

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How do I treat seed heads in my lawn?

The best way to prevent seed heads is to maintain a consistent lawn care program throughout the year. If your lawn is healthy it should stop seeding on its own within 2-3 weeks and it will be business as usual.

If there has been dramatic weather change, it will stop seeding once conditions have returned to normal or once the plant has adjusted. If weather conditions have been fairly consistent, you’ll want to look at what may have caused the lawn to go into stress in the first place. Possible stressors could be insufficient water, nutrients or even the soil composition.

To rid your lawn of seed heads and take control of your lawn health we recommend applying one or more of the following techniques:

Mowing

The simplest way to get rid of any seed heads quickly is to mow them off. While this may make your lawn look better in the short term, it won’t actually ‘fix’ the problem so don’t be surprised if they quickly grow back and you have to mow again every 5-10 days until you resolve the underlying issue.

Watering

Lack of water is one of the most common reasons for lawn to go to seed. Make sure your lawn is receiving an adequate amount of water for the warmer weather by checking the soil moisture. Give your lawn a good, deep soaking and it should return to its former glory in no time.

Fertilising

Lack of nutrients is another key factor that can cause grass to go to seed. Give your lawn an application with a good quality slow release fertiliser and those seed heads will soon disappear.

Top Dressing

Top dressing brings many benefits to a lawn that’s looking a little lacklustre, including helping to increase nutrient retention, improving drainage and increasing disease and pest resistance.

Top dressing should only be done during the spring growing season and we recommend you mow low with a rotary mower equipped with a catcher and then aerate your lawn prior to application. Spread the sand evenly over the desired area, then rake, level lawn or broom it into the lawn profile. Never top dress more than 1cm in a single application, making sure the grass tips are still exposed.

If your lawn has an ongoing seeding issue and you can’t seem to get on top of it, please contact our turf specialists here and be sure to include your name, contact number, lawn variety, a brief description of your lawn issue or question and an image of the area.

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.

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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.

Seed Heads

This picture shows what Annual Bluegrass seed heads look like.

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.

Seed heads can be different in shape and size depending on the grass species. The timing of seed head production in the grass life cycle varies from plant to plant. Some grass species produce seed heads very early in spring, such as Annual Bluegrass and Rough Stalk Bluegrass; while others may produce seed heads later in the season such as annual rye grass. Seed heads are attached to a stalk that stems from the center of the grass plant and resemble miniature wheat plants. How many seed heads are visible on the lawn at any given time depends on the grass varieties and time interval between mowing. Seed head production normally lasts for a period of 2-4 weeks. As mentioned previously, many homeowners commonly mistake seed heads for weeds but no need to worry, they’re just a part of the grass life cycle. If you want more information on weeds, click here for our blog about weeds and ways to control them.

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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.

Seed heads are a necessary step in the life cycle of grass and ensures the specie’s survival, therefore stressed areas of the lawn may generate a greater density of seed heads. Dry soil is a tell-tale sign of seed heads. Check the soil moisture in the turf and compare areas with and without seed heads. The drier sections yield more seed heads. Cool shaded areas where the water evaporation rate is much less may have less seed heads. Watering the lawn properly with an adequate amount of water each week is important to the turf’s appearance and health.

There is no way of controlling or preventing seed heads from occurring chemically in a lawn because it is part of the natural grass life cycle; however, there are ways to improve the appearance of the lawn while seed heads are growing.

Ways to manage seed heads in turf:

  1. The best way to combat seed heads is to mow the lawn often and make sure the mower blades are sharp. We recommend mowing once a week at a height of 3-3 ½ inches and not bagging the clippings.
  2. We do not recommend lowering the mowing height of the mower to help control seed heads. Lowering the mowing height puts additional stress on the lawn and may also cause damage to vital structures of the plant, such as the crown.
  3. Proper fertilization is key. Properly fertilized lawns grow out of the seed stage of the grass life cycle faster. The grass becomes easier to mow and have a much neater lawn.
  4. Make sure the lawn is receiving the proper amount of water each week. The lawn should receive 1-1 ½ inches of water per week. The best time to water is between the hours of 12 am – 6 am. This keeps the turf growing at a good rate to help grow out the seed heads on the turf. We have great tips for a successful watering schedule on our website.

Conclusion

If you see plants that look like wheat in your lawn, no need to worry this is a normal part of the grass life cycle. The timing and amount of seed heads produced depends on grass varieties and environmental conditions. Proper watering and fertilization help improve the appearance of the turf while it’s producing seed heads and promote quicker recovery. If you are in our service area and have any questions about seed heads or your lawn in general, feel free to give us a call at 908-281-7888.