The Q&A Archives: Nut Grass

Question: How can I get rid of nut grass in my fescue lawn? I have spent a fortune on all types of weed killers. Absolutely nothing works.

Answer: Nutgrass is actually a sedge so unless the product specifically mentions yellow nutsedge, it won't work to kill the weed. Yellow nutsedge, also known as yellow nutgrass, is a warm season perennial in the sedge family. Sedges look like grasses, but if you roll the stem of sedges between your fingers you will notice they are three sided. Grass stems are round or flattened. Nutsedge has a fibrous root system. It also develops horizontal underground stems (rhizomes) with white tubers (nutlets) forming on the ends of the rhizomes.

Tubers develop rapidly six to eight weeks after the plants emerge usually during late July and August. Nutlets may get to be almost an inch in diameter. Unfortunately the nutlets may persist in the soil for many years. New plants emerge from the nutlets from late May to mid-July.

Yellow nutsedge is often an indicator of poor drainage. It particularly likes wet or moist sites or sites heavily irrigated. However it can grow in all soil types and can tolerate dry sites once it's established.

Yellow nutsedge is difficult to control especially once it has formed tubers. If you want to control it, don't wait. Once it has formed tubers, pulling it out will only remove the original plant.

To control nutsedge without chemicals, maintain a thick stand of lawn grass through proper maintenance. Pull nutsedge plants soon after emergence before nutlets can form. Modify drainage in moist or wet areas. Check for nutlets in purchased soil or mulch.

If herbicides are chosen as the control option, there are several available to be used in lawns once the nutsedge emerges. However herbicides often will not give total control and multiple applications may be necessary. Herbicides for nutsedge control are generally applied from mid-summer to mid-fall.

Look for herbicides specifically formulated for nutsedge control. Ortho, Bayer Advanced, and other companies make a crabgrass and nutgrass killer. Always read, understand and follow the label directions so you won't harm your fescue lawn.

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