Guide to Foxtail Identification & Control

Foxtail Weed

Type of Weed: Grassy Weed

Setaria Pumila – Yellow Foxtail


Foxtail is a clump-forming summer annual grassy weed that can sometimes be a perennial. The most common type of foxtail in Texas lawns is Yellow Foxtail.

This weed germinates in the spring and dies off in the fall. Yellow foxtail is often mistaken for crabgrass while it is young, but is easy to differentiate by its bushy seed-head that resembles a fox’s tail.

This weed is often found along roadsides, ditches, pastures and lawns with high nitrogen levels in the soil.

How to Identify

Yellow Foxtail has a fibrous root system that produces smooth, green, erect stems. Stems are often flattened, have a red tint at the base and can grow up to three feet tall.

Its green leaves are mostly smooth, but have long silky hairs near the base and a fringe of hairs at the ligule. These leaves reach about twelve inches in length, less than half an inch in width, and can spiral upward.

Yellow foxtail produces seed from mid-summer to fall. Its seed head is cylindrical with numerous, tightly packed, single flowered spikelets that can reach six inches in length and about half an inch wide.

Spikelets contain fine bristles, which give it a fuzzy appearance, that turn yellow once mature and contain oval shaped seeds.

Control Methods

Control Difficulty: Difficult

For smaller patches of yellow foxtail, manually pulling or digging them up by the root, and disposing properly, will be most effective prior to the seed head forming.

For larger patches, applying a selective post emergent herbicide throughout the growing season will help deter this weed from fully maturing or setting to seed.

In the late fall and early spring, apply a selective pre-emergent herbicide to prevent further germination of the upcoming season.

Prevention Tips

To prevent foxtail from entering your lawn, ensure you are doing proper practices to keep it dense and healthy. Doing so by having routine aeration and fertilization to prevent soil from being too high in nitrogen.

Using proper irrigation, mowing your lawn at the ideal height for your turfgrass, and applying a combination of selective pre and post emergent herbicides throughout the year.

If you continue to struggle foxtail, our team of technicians are experts when it comes to grassy weeds, and can help get your lawn back to its proper health.
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