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6 Steps to Getting Nutsedge Under Control on Your Property

The humid part of the summer season is officially here, and that means some unwanted familiar foes have probably popped up on your lawn. Arguably the worst of the weedy type grasses in the Philadelphia area is Nutsedge. This persistent eyesore might be driving you crazy and for good reason. Nutsedge is notoriously difficult to control! The experts at Giroud explain what Nutsedge is, why it’s such a pain, and what you can do to keep it in check.

6 Steps to Getting Nutsedge Under Control on Your PropertyNutsedge is an invasive weedy sedge

It may surprise you to learn that Nutsedge is not really a weed. It’s actually a sedge.  While sedge has a lot of the same properties as a weed, it also has a lot of the same characteristics of a grass, which makes it viable in almost any kind of soil.

If you are not sure what is growing on your lawn, you should schedule an appointment with a Giroud Lawn Care Expert for a proper evaluation. Clemson University’s Home & Garden Information Center explains why it is important to know exactly what you’re dealing with: “Correct identification is very important, as most herbicides for grass control are not effective on sedges…. They can be very difficult to eradicate and their control is likely to be a long process. Successful control involves both cultural and chemical management methods.”

Why Nutsedge is so difficult to control

Nutsedge Spreads Fast and Far 

Nutsedge is like a flood that just won’t stop because it reproduces in 4 different ways! If left to grow tall enough, it will sprout seed heads, and those seeds can be carried to other places around your property. 

Underground, Nutsedge spreads runners in the form of tubers and roots (or rhizomes), which act like tiny vines reaching far throughout the lawn. And, as if that weren’t enough, the nutlet at the base of the plant can stay in the soil and propogate for as long as 10 years! It’s easy to see why Nutsedge can quickly overtake a thin lawn or bare areas.

Nutsedge is an unbelievable survivor and very hard to control. Here are the best strategies for control:

  1. Check your pH LevelMike McGrath, of the popular NPR radio show “You Bet Your Garden” sites Paul Tukey’s book “The Organic Lawn Care Manual” on GardensAlive.com, explaining that “Nutsedge is a sign of low calcium levels, so have your soil tested”. If your lawn’s pH is too low, a lime application would be beneficial and make your soil better prepared to combat Nutsedge and other unwanted weedy grasses.
  2. Manual removal: If you have a minimal infestation, you can hand pull out the plants.  However, it’s important to dig deep to get the entire plant including tubers, nutlets and roots (rhizomes).  These are the key to Nutsedge spreading to other parts of your lawn.   
  3. Mow high: Never cut your lawn lower than 3″.   By cutting your lawn a little longer, you’ll be able to cut off the higher growing blades of Nutsedge and prevent development of seed-heads.  Additionally, the higher grass won’t give Nutsedge the sunlight that it needs to grow.
  4. Catch Nutsedge When It’s Young: Nutsedge is amazing in it’s ability to reproduce from nutlets, roots (rhizomes) and tubers underground to seedheads and runners above.  Whether hand pulling or using a herbicide treatment, Nutsedge is most vulnerable when it first pops up during the summer months. 
  5. Herbicide Treatment: Because Nutsedge is such a resilient plant and can stay in the soil for so many years, it may take a series of properly timed treatments over several seasons to eliminate it. Giroud’s PA Certified Applicators use professional strength herbicides and apply them at the best time to kill off the entire plant.  Herbicides should never be used during periods of drought as it can result in killing off good grass along with the Nutsedge.
  6. Dealing with a Massive Nutsedge Outbreak: If your lawn is covered in Nutsedge, the only solution may be a total lawn replacement in the Fall.  Giroud will remove the existing lawn, prepare the soil, and lay down a new lawn with seed or sod.  This will lessen the severity of the infestation but it will still be important to manage any new seedlings that pop up.

The best defense against a Nutsedge invasion is having a thick and healthy lawn. Giroud’s comprehensive lawn program develops lawn density while safely utilizing properly timed treatments to control crabgrass and weed infestations with regular fertilization, core aeration, topdressing, and seeding with an appropriate seed blend. In time, herbicide usage may be reduced as the lawn thickens.

Take the first step to controlling your Nutsedge problem by scheduling your FREE Lawn Evalutaion with your Giroud Lawn Care professional.


Author: Jeanne Hafner

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  • Bob Proske

    We currently pay for 2 nutsedge treatments a year. Nutsedge comes up when it is hot. We are told that treatment when it is hot does damage to the rest of the lawn around the nutsedge. How can this process make any sense?

    • Jeanne Hafner

      Hi Bob! That is correct- Nutsedge pops up in the heat of the summer. We can do Nutsedge treatments when it is hot and it won’t damage the lawn around it. However, treatments should not be done during a drought period. We are getting plenty of rain this summer, so it’s safe to treat for Nutsedge! Please let us know if you have any other questions!