Say Goodbye to Barley Grass: Learn How to Get Rid of It Successfully

Barley grass, an invasive and tenacious weed, can wreak havoc on your garden, stifling the growth of your prized plants and flowers. Its rapid spread and relentless nature make it a persistent nuisance that requires immediate attention. To ensure a lush and weed-free garden, it’s essential to equip yourself with effective strategies for getting rid of barley grass. In this extensive manual, we will delve into various methods and techniques that will help you reclaim your garden from the clutches of this unwelcome intruder. By implementing the right approach and staying committed to regular maintenance, you can create a thriving garden that is free from the relentless grip of barley grass. So let’s dive in and discover how you can tackle this common weed head-on, restoring beauty and vitality to your outdoor space.


Understanding Barley Grass

Barley grass (Hordeum murinum) is a persistent and aggressive weeds can rapidly take over your garden if left unchecked. Native to Europe and Asia, this annual grass weed has now spread to various parts of the world, thriving in both warm and cool climates. Understanding the characteristics of barley grass is crucial in devising effective strategies for its eradication.

1. Identification:

Barley grass can be identified by its distinctive features. It typically grows in tufts or clumps and able to attain heights of up to 2 feet (60 centimeters). The grass blades are flat, narrow, and have a prominent midrib. They are usually light green in color but can turn yellow or brown as they mature. Barley grass produces slender, bristle-like seed heads that resemble miniature barley grains, giving the weed its name.

2. Growth and Spreading Habits:

Barley grass is known for its vigorous growth and high seed production, making it a formidable adversary in your garden. It reproduces primarily through seeds, which can spread through various means, including wind, animals, and even gardening tools. These seeds can remain dormant for several years in the soil, making barley grass particularly challenging to eradicate.

3. Environmental Adaptability:

One reason for barley grass’s success as a weed is its adaptability to different environmental conditions. It can thrive in different soil types, from sandy to loamy, and is often found in disturbed areas such as gardens, lawns, agricultural fields, and roadsides. Barley grass has a remarkable tolerance for drought, making it resilient and capable of surviving in dry conditions.

4. Competitive Nature:

Barley grass is highly competitive and can outcompete desirable plants in your garden for essential resources such as water, nutrients, and sunlight. Its rapid growth and dense foliage can smother and shade out other plants, significantly impacting their growth and health. Moreover, its ability to produce allelopathic chemicals can inhibit the growth of nearby plants, further enhancing its dominance.

5. Impact on Garden Health:

The presence of barley grass in your garden not only affects the aesthetics but also poses potential risks to the overall health of your plants. It can reduce crop yields, hinder the establishment of desired ornamentals, and create an unsightly appearance. Taking prompt action to control and eliminate barley grass is crucial for maintaining a healthy and thriving garden.

By gaining a comprehensive understanding of barley grass, you can effectively combat its encroachment and minimize its detrimental effects on your garden. In the following sections, we will explore preventive measures, manual removal methods, chemical control options, natural alternatives, and long-term management strategies that will help you reclaim your garden from the clutches of this persistent weed.

Prevention is Key

When it comes to dealing with barley grass, prevention is undoubtedly the best approach. By implementing proactive measures, you can minimize the likelihood of barley grass taking root in your garden. Here are essential strategies to prevent the invasion of barley grass and maintain a healthy, weed-free garden:

1. Weed Barriers:

Install physical barriers such as landscape fabric or weed mats in areas vulnerable to weed infestations, such as garden beds or borders. These barriers prevent barley grass seeds from germinating and penetrating the soil, effectively reducing the weed’s establishment.

2. Mulching:

Apply a organic mulch layer, such as wood chips, straw, or compost, around your plants and in open garden spaces. Mulch acts as a protective barrier, smothering emerging barley grass seedlings and preventing their access to light. Additionally, mulch helps retain soil moisture, suppresses weed growth, and improves soil health.

3. Lawn Maintenance:

Maintain a healthy lawn by practicing proper lawn care techniques. Regular mowing at the appropriate height (usually around 2 to 3 inches) helps shade the soil, making it less favorable for barley grass germination. Avoid mowing the grass too short, as this may weaken the turf and create space for weeds to thrive.

4. Vigilant Inspections:

Check your garden frequently for indications of barley grass. Be thorough and look for emerging seedlings, young plants, or seed heads. Promptly remove any barley grass plants you find before they have a chance to spread further. Early detection and action are crucial in preventing barley grass from establishing a foothold in your garden.

5. Proper Hygiene:

Practice good garden hygiene to prevent the inadvertent spread of barley grass seeds. Clean garden tools and equipment after each use, ensuring that any weed seeds are removed. Also, avoid bringing in contaminated soil or mulch from other areas that may contain barley grass seeds.

6. Healthy Soil:

Maintain healthy soil conditions to promote the growth of desirable plants and discourage barley grass. Test your soil periodically to assess its nutrient levels and pH balance. Amend the soil as needed by adding organic matter, compost, or appropriate fertilizers to create optimal growing conditions for your desired plants.

By implementing preventive measures, you can create an environment that is less conducive to barley grass growth and minimize the need for more aggressive eradication methods. However, if barley grass does manage to infiltrate your garden, it’s crucial to take swift action. In the following sections, we will explore manual removal methods, chemical control options, and natural alternatives to effectively get rid of barley grass and restore the beauty of your garden.

Manual Removal Methods

When dealing with small-scale infestations of barley grass, manual removal techniques can be highly effective in eradicating the weed. By physically removing the plants and their root systems, you can prevent further spread and regrowth. Here are step-by-step instructions for manually removing barley grass from your garden:

1. Prepare:

Equip yourself with gardening gloves, a sturdy trowel or hand fork, and a bucket or bag for collecting the removed plants. It’s important to wear gloves to protect your hands and prevent the transfer of barley grass seeds.

2. Timing:

Choose a day when the soil is moist but not waterlogged. Moist soil makes it easier to loosen the roots of barley grass plants, facilitating their removal. Avoid removing barley grass on windy days to prevent seed dispersal.

3. Identify and Isolate:

Identify the barley grass plants in your garden. They often have distinct seed heads and slender blades. Carefully isolate the area where the barley grass is growing to avoid damaging nearby plants.

4. Loosen the Soil:

Using the trowel or hand fork, gently loosen the soil around the base of the barley grass plant. Dig deep enough to ensure you extract the entire root system.

5. Remove the Plant:

Grasp the base of the barley grass plant firmly and pull it upward, applying even pressure. Ensure that you extract the entire plant, including the roots. Place the removed plants directly into the bucket or bag to prevent seed dispersal.

6. Dispose of Barley Grass:

To prevent reseeding, dispose of the removed barley grass plants properly. Place them in a bag and dispose of them in your municipal green waste collection if available. Avoid composting the plants, as the seeds may survive and spread during the composting process.

7. Monitor and Repeat:

Regularly monitor the area where barley grass was removed to spot any regrowth or new seedlings. Repeat the manual removal process as necessary to completely eliminate the weed.

Manual removal is most effective when the barley grass infestation is small and localized. However, it may be time-consuming for larger areas or more extensive infestations. In such cases, a combination of manual removal and other control methods, such as chemical control or natural alternatives, may be necessary. In the next sections, we will explore these additional approaches to effectively combat barley grass and restore the health and beauty of your garden.

Chemical Control Options

In cases where manual removal is impractical or ineffective for larger or persistent barley grass infestations, chemical control methods can provide an alternative solution. Herbicides specifically designed to target grassy weeds like barley grass can be utilized. When using herbicides, it is essential to carefully follow the instructions to ensure a secure and successful application. Here are the steps to effectively employ chemical control for barley grass:

1. Identify the Herbicide:

Choose a selective herbicide that targets grassy weeds while minimizing harm to desirable plants in your garden. Look for herbicides containing active ingredients such as fluazifop-p-butyl, sethoxydim, or fenoxaprop-p-ethyl, which are effective against barley grass.

2. Timing:

Apply the herbicide during the active growth phase of barley grass. Typically, this is when the plants are actively producing new growth but have not yet developed seed heads. Refer to the herbicide label for specific timing instructions.

3. Read and Follow Instructions:

Read the manufacturer’s directions carefully and adhere to them. Pay attention to application rates, mixing instructions, and safety precautions. Ensure that the herbicide is suitable for use in your particular garden or lawn.

4. Prepare for Application:

Put on protective clothing, including gloves, long sleeves, long pants, and goggles, to minimize contact with the herbicide. Avoid applying herbicides on windy days to prevent drift onto desirable plants.

5. Application Techniques:

There are different application techniques available, including spraying or spot treatment. Follow the recommended technique specified on the herbicide label. Ensure thorough coverage of the barley grass plants, targeting both the foliage and the base of the plants.

6. Post-Treatment Care:

After application, avoid watering or disturbing the treated area for the specified period mentioned on the herbicide label. This allows the herbicide to be absorbed by the barley grass plants effectively.

7. Monitor and Repeat:

Monitor the treated area to assess the effectiveness of the herbicide. If necessary, repeat the application according to the recommended interval provided on the herbicide label. Some herbicides may require multiple applications to achieve complete control.

8. Disposal:

Dispose of any unused herbicide or empty containers according to local regulations. Follow proper disposal guidelines to minimize environmental impact.

Remember, chemical control should be used as a last resort and with caution. Consider the potential impacts on the environment, desirable plants, and the health of yourself and others. If you prefer alternative approaches, there are natural and organic options available, which we will explore in the upcoming sections. By choosing the right control method and implementing it effectively, you can successfully combat barley grass and restore the beauty and health of your garden.

Natural and Organic Alternatives

For those who prefer environmentally friendly and chemical-free approaches, there are natural and organic methods available to control and eradicate barley grass. These alternatives can be effective in managing the weed while minimizing harm to desirable plants and the ecosystem. Here are some natural and organic strategies to consider:

1. Smothering with Organic Mulch:

Cover the affected areas with a thick organic mulch layer, such as straw, wood chips, or leaves. This layer acts as a barrier, preventing sunlight from reaching the barley grass and hindering its growth. Regularly monitor the mulched areas and replenish the mulch as needed to maintain its effectiveness.

2. Vinegar-Based Herbicides:

Create a homemade herbicide by combining distilled white vinegar with a small amount of dish soap. Put the liquid in a spray bottle and spray it straight onto the barley grass foliage. The acetic acid in vinegar can desiccate and kill the weed. Take care to avoid overspray onto desirable plants, as vinegar can harm them as well.

3. Natural Weed Suppressants:

Consider using natural weed suppressants, such as corn gluten meal. Corn gluten meal is something that is made when corn is processed that inhibits the germination of weed seeds. Apply it to the soil surface in early spring before the weed seeds of barley grass begin to sprout. Follow the directions on how to use the product for the best effects.

4. Hand-Weeding with Root Removal:

Regularly inspect your garden and manually remove barley grass plants by hand. To prevent regeneration, ensure that the entire root system is removed. This method is more time-consuming but can be effective for small-scale infestations. Be vigilant and consistently remove emerging barley grass seedlings before they mature and spread.

5. Solarization:

Utilize solarization to control barley grass in specific areas. This method involves covering the infested soil with a transparent plastic sheet, sealing the edges to create a greenhouse effect. The heat generated under the plastic sheet kills weed seeds and young plants. Leave the plastic in place for several weeks or months during the warmest period of the year to maximize its effectiveness.

6. Improved Garden Practices:

Maintain a healthy and well-maintained garden to reduce the chances of barley grass establishing itself. Proper watering, adequate spacing between plants, and regular fertilization can promote strong and vigorous desirable plants, making it more challenging for barley grass to compete.

It’s important to note that natural and organic methods may require more time and effort compared to chemical control options. They are most effective for small to moderate infestations or as part of an integrated weed management approach. Consistency and persistence in applying these methods are key to achieving successful results.

Promoting a Healthy Garden

Creating and maintaining a healthy garden is vital not only for preventing barley grass infestations but also for the overall well-being and success of your plants. By implementing long-term management strategies, you can minimize the likelihood of weed establishment and promote a thriving, weed-free garden. Here are some essential practices to promote a healthy garden:

1. Proper Soil Preparation:

Start with healthy soil by preparing it adequately before planting. Ensure proper drainage, amend the soil with organic matter, and maintain the appropriate pH levels for the plants you wish to grow. Healthy soil supports robust plant growth, making it more challenging for weeds like barley grass to compete.

2. Adequate Plant Spacing:

Give your plants enough space to grow and spread. Crowded plants create favorable conditions for weeds to thrive. Follow recommended spacing guidelines for each plant species to maximize air circulation and reduce competition for resources.

3. Mulching:

Apply organic mulch around your plants and in open garden spaces. Mulch acts as a protective barrier, suppressing weed growth, conserving soil moisture, and regulating soil temperature. Additionally, organic mulch breaks down over time, enriching the soil and enhancing its overall health.

4. Regular Maintenance:

Stay vigilant and regularly inspect your garden for signs of barley grass or other weeds. Promptly remove any weeds you find, ensuring you remove the entire plant, including the roots. Regular maintenance prevents weed seed production and helps maintain a weed-free environment.

5. Proper Watering:

Instead of watering your plants shallowly and frequently, water them deeply and infrequently. This encourages the development of deep root systems for your plants while making it more difficult for barley grass to establish shallow roots. Avoid overhead watering, as it can promote weed growth by distributing weed seeds.

6. Companion Planting:

Consider practicing companion planting, which involves growing certain plants together to deter weeds and pests. Some plants, such as marigolds or clover, release substances or attract beneficial insects that can suppress weeds like barley grass.

7. Crop Rotation:

Implement a crop rotation plan to prevent the buildup of weeds, diseases, and pests. Rotating your plantings annually can disrupt the life cycles of barley grass and other weeds, reducing their prevalence in your garden.

8. Continuous Learning and Adaptation:

Stay informed about effective weed control strategies, gardening techniques, and plant varieties suited to your region. Regularly educate yourself on the latest developments in organic and sustainable gardening practices. Adapt and refine your gardening methods as needed to ensure long-term success. By adopting these practices and maintaining a proactive approach to garden care, you can create an environment that discourages the establishment of barley grass and other weeds. Remember, prevention and consistent maintenance are key to maintaining a healthy and weed-free garden.

Long-Term Management

Long-term management is crucial for effectively controlling barley grass and preventing its reinfestation in your garden. By implementing sustainable practices and adopting an integrated approach to weed management, you can maintain a healthy and weed-free garden in the long run. Here are some key strategies for long-term management of barley grass:

1. Regular Inspections:

Continue to regularly inspect your garden for any signs of barley grass or other weeds. By detecting and removing any emerging seedlings or young plants promptly, you can prevent them from establishing and spreading.

2. Weed Control Practices:

Maintain good weed control practices throughout your garden. Implement mulching, hand-weeding, and other preventive measures discussed earlier to suppress weed growth and prevent barley grass from taking hold. Stay proactive in managing weeds and address them promptly to avoid allowing them to proliferate.

3. Healthy Soil Management:

Continue to prioritize soil health and fertility. Test your soil periodically to monitor nutrient levels and pH balance. Amend the soil as needed with organic matter and appropriate fertilizers to ensure optimal conditions for your desired plants. Healthy soil promotes robust plant growth, making it more difficult for barley grass and other weeds to compete.

4. Integrated Pest Management (IPM):

Adopt an integrated pest management approach that focuses on preventing and managing barley grass and other pests in an ecologically sound and sustainable manner. This approach combines various control methods, such as cultural practices, biological controls, and targeted pesticide applications, as a last resort. By considering the ecological balance and minimizing the use of pesticides, you can effectively manage barley grass and protect beneficial organisms in your garden.

5. Crop Rotation and Succession Planting:

Implement crop rotation and succession planting to disrupt the life cycle of barley grass. By changing the plant species in specific areas of your garden each season, you can prevent weed buildup and reduce the risk of barley grass reinfestation. Rotate crops that are less susceptible to barley grass to minimize its presence in your garden.

6. Education and Learning:

Stay informed about the latest research, best practices, and innovations in weed management and gardening techniques. Attend workshops, read gardening publications, and engage with local gardening communities to exchange knowledge and experiences. Continuous learning and adaptation will help you refine your weed management strategies and stay proactive in preventing barley grass infestations.

7. Regular Garden Maintenance:

Maintain a routine of regular garden maintenance, including watering, pruning, and fertilizing, to ensure the overall health and vigor of your plants. A healthy and well-maintained garden is more resilient against weeds like barley grass.

Remember, long-term management requires ongoing commitment and vigilance. Barley grass can easily reestablish itself if proper measures are not taken consistently. By implementing these long-term management strategies, you can effectively control barley grass and maintain a beautiful and thriving garden for years to come.


Barley grass may be a persistent and unwelcome invader in your garden, but with the right strategies, you can regain control and restore the beauty and health of your outdoor space. Whether you choose manual removal, chemical control, natural alternatives, or a combination of approaches, the key is to take action promptly and consistently. By implementing preventive measures, promoting a healthy garden, and staying dedicated to ongoing maintenance, you can successfully get rid of barley grass and create a thriving garden.
Managing barley grass in your garden requires a comprehensive and sustained effort. By adopting preventive measures, utilizing appropriate control methods, and implementing long-term management strategies, you can effectively get rid of barley grass and prevent its reinfestation. Remember to adapt and refine your approaches as needed, and stay informed about the latest advancements in weed management practices.
Remember, getting rid of barley grass requires persistence, consistency, and ongoing maintenance. Stay informed about the latest developments in weed management techniques, adapt your strategies as needed, and seek knowledge from gardening communities and resources. With dedication and patience, you can successfully eradicate barley grass and create a beautiful garden that you can enjoy for years to come.

A B M Zahidul Hoque

I'm the owner of After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I have joined as a scientist at Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Bangladesh. I started Weeds in Gardens to make you familiar with different weeds and their positive and negative aspects.

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