The Q&A Archives: Nutgrass

Question: How do you control nutgrass? We installed grass this spring and it is coming up through the grass. We've been told that it is next to impossible to get rid of and pulling it only encourages its spread.

Answer: The weed is called nutsedge. Many people call it nutgrass but this plant is not truly a grass. Nutsedge is a water-loving relative of reeds that is often a symptom of overwatering or poor drainage. It becomes a persistent weed once it gets a start in your lawn. Correcting the overwatering or drainage issues helps to control it. For complete details on proper lawn watering, refer to Desert Landscaping for Beginners (Arizona Master Gardener Press). Nutsedge spreads underground by rhizomes, as well as small nut-like tubers that establish new plants when you pull out the main plant. The best organic method is to continue to pull the plants, every 2-3 days, removing every visible crown or stem. If you pull them out as soon as they are visible, the plants will use up all their underground stored carbohydrates as they try to grow new aboveground stems. The more you pull them, the more they use up their energy reserves. Eventually, you get ahead and the stand of weeds dies out. If you slip up and allow some of the crowns and stems to reach full size, they again start storing food and energy, and you?ve lost ground in the battle. That's why some people think pulling encourages its spread. If you pull out the entire plant be careful not to shake the nut-like tubers back into the soil!

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