Phil Busey Agronomy
Consulting Inc.


Hand weeding goosegrass in sports turf

by Philip Busey   social icons twitter facebook youtube linkedin

Hand weeding goosegrass, videography by Patricia Sowers.


Hand weeding effectively controls goosegrass, Eleusine indica, in the early stages of infestation of turfgrass areas when the goosegrass plants occur at low density, fewer than 10 plants per 1000 square feet (about 1 plant per square meter).

Advantages of mechanical weed control are that chemical postemergence herbicides are not needed to be used and goosegrass seed producing plants can be promptly dug and pulled, placed in a bucket, and removed from the area so they will not spread more seed. The hand weeding can be done immediately when goosegrass plants are noticed, and is not so weather- and equipment-dependent as herbicide spraying. Satellite plants of goosegrass (isolated plants) can each produce 200,000 or more seeds and are the focal points for large, expensive infestations. Immediate hand weeding of satellite goosgrass prevents large problems.

At moderate goosegrass densities, 10 or more plants per 1000 square feet, it is not as feasible to hand weed because the plants begin to coalesce and large soil disruption may occur from hand weeding. Postemergence control with chemical herbicide is more appropriate than hand weeding in moderate and heavy goosegrass infestations, and the herbicide can either be spot treated or sprayed broadcast.

The hand weeding of goosegrass is done by using a sharp metal tool to cut through the fibrous root system underneath the goosegrass plant. The tool may also loosen the soil and help pry the goosegrass plant out of the ground. The YouTube video on this page shows the use of a DeWalt side strike chisel (DWHT16065) which was chosen because it is short enough (10.75 inches or 27 cm) and rigid for good control, but mostly because it has a rubber grip that fits the hand comfortably. Other kinds of tools such as a 3/8-inch (9.5-mm) flat screwdriver can be used.

If soil is heavy (high content of clay and silt) it may be necessary to irrigate to soften the soil for hand digging and pulling.

Once goosegrass plants are hand weeded, the disturbed soil is likely to form a depression and to contain goosegrass seeds. Therefore clean sand may be added to cover the hole and smother goosegrass seed in the ground, slowing down seedling emergence. Furthermore, preemergence herbicide should be applied frequently enough to provide a season-long blanket. In tropical and subtropical areas, preemergence herbicide applications are needed three to five times per year to prevent goosegrass reemergence.

When goosegrass is too dense for hand weeding, and broadcast spray treatment with selected postemergence herbicide is not preferred, spot treatment can be done with a nonselective herbicide such as glyphosate. The herbicide applicator can use a hand pump sprayer to spray glyphosate only in the 2-inch (5-cm) silvery crown of goosegrass plants. Low pressure is used to prevent overspray onto desirable turfgrass, and a solid cone nozzle tip is advisable. Unpublished research has shown that, carefully applied, a nonselective postemergence herbicide (glyphosate) applied selectively is less harmful and more effective than selective herbicides.

Other resources on goosegrass control:

Goosegrass (Eleusine indica) control with foramsulfuron in bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.) turf. Weed Technology 18: 634-640.

Replacement of MSMA for goosegrass control.

Goosegrass blocks irrigation.