KC Gardens

June 5, 2014

Nutsedge is back, but it can be controlled

From Dennis Patton: Timely spring rainfall allows our lawns to grow quite nicely. These spring rains also bring summer weeds. One of the most difficult lawn weeds to control goes by several names including nutsedge, nutgrass and water grass — and it’s back.

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Remember the famous line for the movie Poltergeist? “They’re back!” Well that saying can be used under other circumstances. But in this case I am going to change the phrase to “It’s Back!”

Timely spring rainfall allows our lawns to grow quite nicely. These spring rains also bring summer weeds. One of the most difficult lawn weeds to control goes by several names including nutsedge, nutgrass and water grass. The technical name is yellow nutsedge.

Although this weed looks like a grass, it is really sedge, one of a group of plants that have triangular stems. As the name implies, yellow nutsedge is pale green to yellow in color. It grows rapidly in the spring and early summer, often sticking up above the rest of the lawn only a few days after mowing.

Nutsedge grows best in moist lawns, often with poor drainage. The weed can also be introduced into better soil conditions through contaminated topsoil or nursery stock. As with many weeds, nutsedge is less competitive in a dense, healthy lawn than in a poorer, thinner turf.

Nutsedge is difficult to control culturally because it produces numerous tubers that give rise to new plants. Pulling nutsedge will increase the number of plants because dormant tubers are activated. However, it is possible to control small stands of nutsedge by persistent pulling. Pulling will eventually weaken the plants and cause them to die out. This will not happen overnight but will take years of constant pulling to eradicate.

Herbicide treatments are the best way of controlling this pesky weed. There are several products available on the market. There are two common products for control of nutsedge. One is a product called Sedgehammer with the active ingredient Halosulfuron. The other common product is Ortho Nutgrass Killer which contains Sulfentrazone.

If an infestation is not too severe, one application should take care of the problem. But more than likely it will take multiple applications, and maybe even a couple of years to completely get rid of this pesky weed. Be sure to read and follow all label instructions, as often it is recommended to apply when the nutsedge has reached the three-to-eight leaf stages for best results.

Since nutsedge is not a grassy or broadleaf weed, many of the common herbicides on the market will have little or no effect on its control. That is why it is important to search out these products specifically developed to control sedges. No matter what you call it, nutsedge, nutgrass or water grass, be sure to select the proper chemical and follow all label instructions for best control of this lawn weed problem.

I am sure if you too look closely you will join me in saying, “It’s back,” as I have started to notice it popping up in my lawn. Just as the poltergeist was a scary feature of the movie those that desire a weed-free lawn will have the same reaction when they discover this weed.

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