You go to bed at night after an evening in your green carpet lawn. Proud of the perfect manicured turf you rest easily knowing you have the best lawn in the neighborhood. Then you wake up the next morning to a nightmare. Your perfect, even green lawn has been invaded by a yellow grassy looking weed that you’ve seen in patches of your neighbor’s yard. You try your normal turf grass weed control products but this ‘grass’ seems to thrive on herbicides. You have nutsedge.
Nutsedge is an invasive grass-like weed that is very difficult to control. Although it looks like a grass it is in a different plant family all together. More closely related papyrus plants we remember learning about in world history this weed is one tough nut to crack (pun intended)
Sedges are grass-like plants that generally grow in marshy areas and are found along sandy dunes bordering on oceans, lakes and rivers. These plants help stabilize soils preventing erosion and provide a food source for wildlife. These plants spread primarily through underground tubers that are only able to sprout when the naturally occurring waxy outer coating is washed off by rain and ground water. Once this coat is washed off the sedge is able to sprout from the new tuber creating another plant. Each plant is capable of sprouting at least 3 times per each tuber, and the tubers are present and ready to grow by the time the plant is visible on the surface. All these characteristics are important to keep in mind when battling this tough weed.
If sedges are better suited to beach and marshy areas why is it growing in my yard? Because our turf cultivation methods often create a great environment for these plants to grow. The removal of thatch from our lawns and aeration opens the soil surface up to sunlight, increasing the chance for sedges to thrive. Our regular watering helps quickly wash the waxy covering away and our fertilizers help keep these buggers growing happy and healthy.
So I just need to resign myself to having this ugly yellow weed in my lawn. All my hard work seems to be for nothing, my beautiful carpet thick lawn is being invaded and there is nothing I can do. Not quite. Nutsedge is a difficult weed to control but using a little bit of know how, some elbow grease and persistence you can be rid of this invasive plant.
Control of Nutsedge
As with almost anything else prevention is the best way to control nutsedge. Don’t wait until you are over run with these weeds to start doing something about it.
If you have just a few plants in an otherwise healthy lawn your best route is to hand pull the weeds. These plants can grow back very easily from rhizomes and tubers left behind when the weed is pulled. Knowing this you must be diligent continuing to remove the plants from your lawn. This is a huge commitment, and is really only applicable if you have just a handful of these invaders creeping into your lawn. If you have a large area of nutsedge in your lawn you may find yourself pulling your own hair out with just as much effect as pulling the plants.
When a large patch of turf has been invaded by nutsedge give SedgeHammer a try.
SedgeHammer is a selective herbicide designed to kill the entire plant, right down to the rhizomes and and tubers. The more common herbicides will only kill the main plant, allowing the tubers to grow replacing the parent plant. By the time the new plant is susceptible to the herbicides the tubers are ready to replace the dead and dying plants once again. This vicious cycle is enough to drive any turf aficionado to replacing their lawn with stone.
SedgeHammer works differently. SedgeHammer kills not only the plant, but the product also kills the tubers preventing resprouting. Following the application guidelines SedgeHammer is a safe product to use on your lawns, not harming children or pets who play in the area.
Here are a few hints as to help you win the nutsedge battle, and to help with the application of any lawn products:
Apply your herbicide in late spring/early summer when the weeds are actively growing and make sure the soil is well moistened before applying. Applying fertilizer a few days before using your herbicide can be beneficial, also. All these practices ensure you have a healthy, robustly growing plant to kill. Think of it like feeding a teenaged boy, the faster they are growing the more they are going to absorb along the line of nutrients, and herbicides as well. Herbicides are most effective on the parts of the plant that are actively undergoing cell division. A heavy feeding, fast growing plant has the most cell division happening at any given time, therefore is more susceptible to the effects of the herbicides.
By making sure your soil is adequately moistened before applying any herbicide you are doing a few things. If the soil is moist you will see less run off of the product you are applying. This helps your pocket book as well as the environment. The more product used by plants the less will be left to leech into the ground water, and the less you will need to apply every time you use the product.
When you are preparing to apply the product do not cut the the grass for the few days before and a few days after applying the product. By cutting the grass/weeds you are giving them quite a shock. Think of yourself trying to continue a normal conversation in the event you cut your finger or stub your toe. That brief shock stops you in your tracks and cutting does the same for a plant. By keeping the plant intact a few days before and after applying your herbicide you are ensuring that during the time immediate to administering the product the plants will absorb and use the chemicals quickly, allowing for a quick kill.
Finally, when you are applying the product use a non-ionic surfactant. A what? Yep, a non-ionic surfactant. What the heck is that? Surfactants break down waxy/oily coating on the leaves of plants. You want a non-ionic product so it does not combine or alter the way your herbicide works. Okay, now you know what it is. Where do you find it? That is easy, dish soap! Yep, plain old hand washing dish soap. Make sure you read the label. Avoid using anything that says detergent, antibacterial or softening on the label. Another thing to try – baby shampoo or soap flakes dissolved in water. These surfactants will help ensure more of the product is absorbed by the leaves.
Keep in mind that even following the label and putting in place these guidelines for applying your herbicides it may take several weeks to completely eradicate the nutsedge. Be persist ant and vigilant and you can rid your yard of this evasive invader.