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How To Control Nutsedge In Your Lawn: Nutsedge Weed Killer

Updated on November 15, 2015
The Enemy: Nutsedge
The Enemy: Nutsedge

Rid Your Lawn of this Invasive Weed

How To Kill Nutsedge: I like a green lawn, but I'm not a fanatic about it and when it comes to lawn care, I have a high tolerance for clover and other weeds mixing in with the turf grass. Diversity makes for a healthier lawn that is more drought tolerant and pest resistant, and it is less expensive than maintaining a cultured lawn of purebred bluegrass. And as long as the lawn is green and the grass looks pretty good when it's all cut to the same height, then I'm happy.

When the first few light green shoots of this little weed began to sprout among the blades of grass, I wasn't concerned. In fact, I barely noticed the small patch of this grass-like plant. Sure, it grew faster and taller than its surrounding neighbors and it was a lighter and brighter shade of green when the lawn was mowed. But it was green and it looked like grass.

The little patch of strange looking grass spread quickly, and it soon covered almost an entire area in our front yard. It seems that nutsedge spreads faster than perennial rye turf grass or even crabgrass, and it quickly spread out quickly, even in our established lawn. By the following spring, the nutsedge patch had spread out several feet in every direction. Worse yet, new islands of nutsedge were popping up throughout the front yard, and it looked as if the weed was poised to take over the lawn. I needed to do something to stop the nutsedge invasion!

Nutsedge photos by the Author

This Stuff Works!

Ortho Nutsedge Killer for Lawns

Nutsedge Plant
Nutsedge Plant

What is Nutsedge?

Know the Enemy!

Nutsedge is perennial grass-like plant that spreads by seed or through underground rhizomes and tubers. Its three-side stalk easily identifies nutsedge as a member of the sedge family. Pluck a stalk from the ground and gently roll it between your thumb and forefinger. If the plant is a nutsedge, you will feel the triangular shape of the stalk.

Once it becomes established in a lawn, nutsedge spreads quickly and aggressively during the warm summer months, and it is very difficult to control. Within a few days of mowing the lawn, the bright yellow-green nutsedge leaves grow taller than the rest of the grasses. As the cold weather approaches, leaf growth slows and the nutsedge seems to recede and disappear among the blades of turf grass. But it is still there, laying dormant for the winter and getting ready to burst forth in greater numbers in the following spring.

There are two types of nutsedge found commonly in lawns and garden beds throughout North America: Yellow Nutsedge and Purple nutsedge. The two plants closely resemble each other and though I think the invader in my front yard is the Yellow Nutsedge variety, I'm not really sure. It doesn't really matter if it's yellow or purple: it was spreading quickly and I wanted it gone.

The Nutsedge Invasion!
The Nutsedge Invasion!

The Organic Approach

If you catch the invaders early enough while their numbers are small, you can remove the individual nutsedge plants by pulling them out one-by-one. Grasp the base of the plant as close to the ground as possible and pulling up gently, wiggle the roots free form the soil. Be careful to remove the entire plant from ground - if even the tiniest tuber breaks off and remains in the soil, the nutsedge will grow back and sprout again.

Tediously, I pulled hundreds and thousands of these little plants from the lawn and neighboring planting beds. Okay, maybe not thousands but I sure pulled out a lot of nutsedge plants! No matter how many were yanked out of the ground, I barely made a dent in the infestation. It was time for more drastic actions.

Ortho Nutsedge Killer in Action
Ortho Nutsedge Killer in Action

Ortho Nutsedge Killer for Lawns

There are several products available that claim to kill nutsedge. I tried a couple of different general lawn care products that target weeds, with different levels of success. However, the nutsedge seemed too tough for the general-purpose weed killers.

Then, a friend recommended Ortho Nutsedge Killer for Lawns, so I ordered a couple of bottles. This product comes premixed in a small spray bottle which makes applying the Nutsedge Killer as easy as spraying the offending plant with the lethal dose. Coverage is somewhat spotty, and I used almost a bottle and a half to spray about a ten-square foot area, plus hitting several of the isolated little islands of nutsedge that popped up here and there around the lawn.The impact was almost immediate and within 48-hours, the nutsedge was already turning brown and starting to wilt. As you can see in the photo, the nutsedge is dying back but the surrounding turf grass looks fine.

Ortho Nutsedge Killer really works!
Ortho Nutsedge Killer really works!

After three or four days, the nutsedge has died back significantly. It was easy to see which stalks that I missed with the initial spraying, so I hit these on Round Two. Within another day or so, the nutsedge was in full retreat.Nutsedge is tough stuff, and the manufacturer warns that repeated applications may be necessary to eradicate the plant. In my case, total annihilation is not necessary: my goal is to limit the invader so that it does not dominate my front lawn. So far, this product is worth the minimum investment of time, effort and money in controlling the troublesome weed.

Just in case you're wondering: No, I do not work for Ortho or any of its distributors. I don't even own any Ortho stock. But I am tired of buying products that don't work, or feeling that I didn't get my money's worth. This product was recommended to me so I tried it, and I was happy with the results so I'm passing this along. Your results and opinions may vary.

Are there problems? Yup. For one, the bottle is too small and the contents don't cover much surface area. Working the spray bottle trigger quickly tired out my trigger fingers on both hands. You have to bend over and close to the ground in order to target the enemy with an accurate blast from the sprayer, and it's easy to miss individual plants when trying to cover a dense population of nutsedge over a fair-sized area. Expect to apply multiple applications.This isn't a guarantee that Ortho Nutsedge Killer will work for you but if you are trying to control this botanical pest, buying a bottle or two is a small investment and it seemed like a low risk. I'm sure that I'll need to buy more in the future, because nutsedge is a tough perennial and there are still lots of little tubers just beneath the surface that are waiting for their turn to sprout. If too many do, they'll get hit with another dose of Ortho Nutsedge Killer.

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Ortho Nutsedge Killer: Now available in a large economy size bottle!

Ortho Nutsedge Weed Killer - 1 Each
Ortho Nutsedge Weed Killer - 1 Each

Ortho Nutsedge Killer can be tough to find in your local garden center or big box store, but it is readily available online and the price is reasonable. The manufacturer recommends this product for Northern and Southern Turf Grasses.

 

Sedgehammer Plus 5% Nutsedge Herbicide

I have not tried Sedgehammer Plus, but the reviews are generally high on Amazon.

Gowan Usa 51516 SedgeHammer, 13.5g
Gowan Usa 51516 SedgeHammer, 13.5g

One packet mixes with a gallon of water, and covers approximately 1000 square feet.Considered as one of the more "gentle to turfgrass" products. Pets and people can return to treated area once spray dries.

 

*** Update ***

How To Kill Nutsedge
How To Kill Nutsedge

Nutsedge Tries A Comeback

As expected, the nutsedge returned again this spring. But the number of villainous grassy shoots is significantly less than last year, and the infested area is much smaller. Still, there are numerous little islands of invaders to deal with, plus a number of renegades sprouting up here and there around the yard. I've already sprayed the last of the leftover Ortho Max Nutsedge Killer and I plan to get more soon.Overall, I'm still pleased with the performance of Ortho Nutsedge Killer. So far, I've used four bottles over two summer seasons. The nutsedge infestation is in retreat, but I have not wiped out all of the offensive little plants. The battle rages on!

Do You Have Nutsedge In Your Lawn?

Weeds: Natural Weed Control Without Poisons

Weeds, Control Without Poisons
Weeds, Control Without Poisons

Specifics on a hundred weeds, why they grow, what soil conditions spur them on or stop them, what they say about your soil, and how to control them without the obscene presence of poisons.

 

Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web

Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition (Science for Gardeners)
Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition (Science for Gardeners)

Healthy soil is teeming with life -- not just earthworms and insects, but a staggering multitude of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms.

This book explores the benefits of gardening in natural, organic ways that strengthens the soil food web.

 
My Freshly Mowed Lawn
My Freshly Mowed Lawn

Tell Us About Your Weedy Woes

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    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      There certainly are a lot of evasive weeds moving in. My husband made the mistake of going out to a local field to get dirt for the lawn. He brought home more than just dirt with him and we have been fighting the evasive weeds in our backyard since then. Lesson learned.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! This is stuff is out of control. Completely consumed my back yard in a matter of weeks. Thanks for the hookup on the solution- I'll be heading to Ace in the morning.

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 4 years ago

      Very well written as usual. Like to pics. Looks like that stuff really works.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      They say a weed is only a weed when its where you don't want it. You have me thinking of my sister who has been moving her favorite creeping ground cover weed from the vegetable garden to the flower garden. That's quite a testimony of success and I'm sure those with stock in Ortho will be smiling as the purchase of Nutsedge Killer soars!

    • MillBucks profile image

      MillBucks 4 years ago

      Great write up on this pesky weed, I have some of this growing in my lawn but did not know what it was named. Thanks so much for pointing it out so I can start my treatments to eradicate it. So glad I came across this great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very informative as always! Living in a city takes the joy out of outdoor gardening! :(

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 4 years ago

      So that's what it's called!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I didn't know this weed was called nutsedge. I have been pulling it out after rain storms when the ground is soft, but I may be losing the battle.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 4 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      Very nice work, will add your link to my Weed Strategy lens

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