Guide to Nutsedge Identification & Control

Yellow Nutsedge
Purple Nutsedge
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Type of Weed: Grassy Weed

Cyperus esculentus – Yellow Nutsedge

Cyperus rotundus – Purple Nutsedge

Nutsedge

Nutsedge is a hardy, fast-spreading perennial grassy weed that thrives in a wet and warm environment. This weed grows across most of the United States and the two most common types seen in Texas are yellow nutsedge and purple nutsedge.

It first appears in mid-spring and continues throughout the summer season, sticking around until the first frost later in the year. Nutsedge is often found in areas of lawns that have poor drainage, allowing the soil to stay wet.

The root system of nutsedge is comprised of rhizomes, growing horizontally underground, making it a difficult weed to control and get rid of. These weeds arise from underground tubers each of which is capable of producing hundreds of new plants and tubers making it very difficult to control.

How to Identify

Nutsedge, often referred to as “nutgrass”, closely resembles grass but grows around five times faster than the rest of your lawn.

Yellow nutsedge has a creeping root system of rhizomes that form tubers, or “nutlets”, at their tips. This root system can grow up to fourteen inches below the grounds surface. It has smooth, bright green stems, or stalks, that are triangular in shape.

It’s smooth, bright green leaves, are long, tapered to a sharp point, and grow in clusters of three. Yellow nutsedge forms short spikelet seedheads that are yellow to brown in color, growing in middle to late summer. If left uncontrolled, this weed can grow up to sixteen inches once mature.

Purple nutsedge is very similar to yellow nutsedge. Its rhizomes produce tubers, or “nutlets”, that are connected in chains. The triangular stems and leaves are a darker green, still smooth, but the leaves taper abruptly to a blunt point. Its spikelet seedheads are purple and grow in late summer to early fall.

Control Methods

Control Difficulty: Difficult to Very Difficult

There are three ways to control nutsedge: landscape, chemical, and mechanical.

Start with landscape controls to see if your soil is staying overly moist. This can be from leaking irrigation systems, faucets, hose connections, or clogged downspouts. Fixing any of these will ensure better success when using chemical or mechanical controls.

For chemical control, be sure to use an herbicide that is specific for nutsedge. Apply a selective post emergent herbicide during and after the growing season, and a selective pre-emergent herbicide in early spring.

Mechanical control is the best method to rid your lawn of this weed. Hand pulling can be effective if done while the weed is young, but will have to be repeated every few weeks during the summer. Do not pull mature nutsedge as it enables the tubers to break off and move around in the soil, causing more plants to form.

Dig up nutsedge in early spring by digging at least ten inches deep and twelve inches in diameter (from the leaves, not the stalk). The deeper and wider you dig should result in removing the tubers and prevent further spreading.

Prevention Tips

To prevent nutsedge from entering or overtaking your lawn, ensure you are doing proper practices to keep it dense and healthy. This weed thrives in wet conditions, so it’s crucial to make sure your lawn has proper irrigation.

Mowing your lawns grass at its proper height and having a routine aeration and fertilization schedule will add to your lawn’s overall health. Using a combination of selective pre and post emergent herbicides throughout the year will also deter it from growing.

If you continue to struggle nutsedge, 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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