Weeds and grasses, are they the same?

(AC works Co., Ltd./Pixabay)


Oftentimes, the words weeds and grasses are used synonymously and interchangeably. However, they are not the same. Not all grasses are weeds and not all weeds are grasses.  Here are their differences.


A weed is a general term used to describe any unwanted plants that grow on the garden or lawn. Plants are considered weeds when they can be unsightly, an obstruction, or a nuisance. They may have thorns or prickles that may cause skin irritation and allergies, and they can cause poisoning when ingested.

In agriculture and gardening, weeds are considered pests. They compete for sunlight, water, fertilizer, and space resulting in a decreased yield of crops when not managed properly.

Weeds are categorized into two: broadleaf weeds and grassy weeds. Broadleaves are weeds that do not resemble grasses and they mostly have leaves with net-like veins, while grassy weeds are identified with their blade-like leaves and hollow stems.


In botany, grasses are plants that belong to the Poaceae family. They can be identified by having long narrow leaves, hollow stems, and parallel leaf venation. There are misconceptions that all grasses are weeds. This is untrue because, unlike weeds that are obnoxious and undesirable, grasses are important crop species grown. Rice, wheat, corn, and sugarcane all belong to the grass family. Grasses are not only grown for human consumption but most fodders for animals are also grasses. Even bamboo that is used as a construction material is a grass. Furthermore, grasses are also grown as an ornamental crop for lawns.

By definition, grasses can be weeds when they grow in places where they are not intended to grow. Grasses are the most common type of weed since they easily populate and spread in gardens and lawns. They are invasive and hard to get rid of because their seeds can survive for a long period of time under the soil.

In nature, there are no weeds. A weed is a concept that only exists in places where there are human activities. Despite the undesirable impact of weeds, they are still beneficial to the ecosystem. Weeds prevent soil erosion because they have an extensive root system. They provide food and habitat for animals and are a primary source of nectar for bees. And ultimately, weeds also provide food and medicine.

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