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How to Get Rid of Nutsedge & Prevent Regrowth

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Written By: Mark Marino

a Massachusetts Core Applicator License holder and owner/operator of Lawn Phix,

Updated on

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The nutsedge plant is a perennial weed and scourge of a healthy lawn. Also known as nut grass, nutsedge prefers moist soil but somehow seems to thrive even in conditions that are not entirely to its liking. Nutsedge spreads aggressively, especially in hot, humid climates. Generally paler in color than typical turf grass, nutsedge also tends to grow more quickly than lawns; consequently, it can be easy to spot. Like many weeds, nutsedge is best controlled early on before it can spread. Here, we’ll discuss nutsedge and how to eradicate it from your lawn and flower beds.

What Is Nutsedge?

Nutsedge is an aggressive weed that, put simply, looks similar to grass. However, its light green hue differentiates it from typical turfgrass. You may also note the presence of yellow nutsedge weed or purple nutsedge weed flowers depending on the type growing in your landscape. Though a grassy weed, nutsedge may seem harmless enough when it first appears with your grass, it can grow quite quickly and spread across an entire lawn if not controlled. 

Nutsedge Identification: What Does Nutsedge Look Like?

Nutsedge or nut grass resembles grass but stands out because it grows more quickly than the surrounding grass and is generally slightly lighter in color than grass. Like other sedges, nutsedge has a triangular stem. Its grass-like leaves sprout around the stem and flowers, which may be yellow or purple depending on the variety that has invaded your grass. 

How and Where Nutsedge Thrive

Nutsedge, a warm-season grass weed, can be a problem for turfgrass in hot and humid settings like South Carolina, but this grassy weed makes its home in temperate climates all across the U.S., from the Carolinas to California. Although it prefers moist soil and landscape beds, it’s been known to live and sprout in dry soils too. Because of its love of heat, nutsedge thrives in summer and grows faster than grass. Yellow nutsedge weed blooms in mid-summer while purple nutsedge flowers by late summer.

How Nutsedge Spreads

Nutsedge roots extend deep into the soil of your lawn or garden beds. They can reach 14 inches down into the soil. The rhizomes branch out beneath the soil and then emerge to form new nutsedge plants. Consequently, multiple nut grass plants can share the same root system. Because nutsedge is a perennial plant, it will return each year like other weeds unless you can kill nutsedge by mechanical or chemical means. 

How to Kill Nutsedge Plants

You can use chemical weed killers to kill nuts and manage effective weed control. I recommend herbicides the active ingredient (AI) Halosulfuron which is in popular products like Sedgehammer and Empero, or Dismiss NXT with the AI’s Sulfentrazone and Carfentrazone. I also highly recommend adding a non-ionic surfactant to increase the effectiveness of these herbicides.

Post-emergent herbicides to control nutsedge spread and kill existing nut grass weeds. Nutsedge plants begin to die within a couple of days of spraying them with herbicides. The weeds and their rhizomes should completely die within a couple of weeks of application. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying these weed herbicides that can get rid of nutsedge.

How to Prevent Nutsedge from Sprouting

Aerating and overseeding is a helpful way to prevent nutsedge from overtaking your lawn. Mow your lawn at the proper height–not too short or you could stimulate nutsedge growth. Since nutsedge prefers wet soil, be sure to improve soil drainage. Poor drainage in lawns can lead to nutsedge growth. Water on the soil surface can be an invitation to these plants. Maintaining a thick, healthy lawn can help you prevent nutsedge from sprouting. Be sure to use chemical herbicides instead of pulling weeds by hand as hand pulling will lead to the spread of nutsedge rhizomes. 

Nutsedge FAQs

Does pulling nutsedge make it worse?

Pulling nutsedge instead of spraying the weeds can be ineffective. Any roots and rhizomes left in the soil can result in new weeds. Nut grass is best controlled with a chemical weed killer. Avoid pulling these weeds to control them.

What does nutsedge look like?

Nutsedge, also referred to as “nutgrass” or “nut grass”is a lawn weed with light green leaves, a long tapered leaf tip, and triangular stems. They also grow much taller and faster than your cool-season grasses, and nutsedge grows upwards of 16” mature height. The color and height of the nutsedge makes it easier to spot and identify in your turf. Nutsedge thrives in damp soil and is usually found in poorly drained soil.

What kills nutsedge, not grass?

A chemical weed killer will kill nutsedge without harming your grass provided you apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It’s the ideal way to control nutsedge. Spraying weed killers will allow you to get rid of nutsedge. Selective herbicides containing Halosulfuron (Sedgehammer) or Sulfentrazone (Dismiss NXT) can help get rid of nutsedge.

Can you get rid of nutsedge without killing grass?

Yes. Chemical herbicides can kill nutsedge without killing turf grass. Use them to control nutsedge.

Is it hard to get rid of nutsedge?

Nutsedge growth can be a challenge to control. Chemical herbicides work best for killing these weeds. Use a chemical nutsedge killer to end your nutsedge problem.

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Author's Note: this piece has been updated for accuracy since its first publication on
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Author: Mark Marino
My name is Mark Marino, and I am the founder, owner, and operator of Lawn Phix. With a passion for lawn care and turf nutrition for over a decade, I've dedicated countless hours to correcting soil and perfecting lawns. Today, my expertise, backed by formal courses at UMass Extension Pesticide Education, allows me to offer top-tier lawn care services and advice. I am a fully licensed and insured lawn care applicator in Massachusetts, specializing in comprehensive turf nutrition, weed control, and lawn pest control. My license number is AL-0053865. Contact me at [email protected] or +1 (508) 500-8402.

4 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Nutsedge & Prevent Regrowth”

  1. can’t you just glyphosphate it if its growing in your mulch/garden areas…? as seen from the pics provided…not really on turf

    Reply
    • Hi Bob. Glysophate can be used, though we’ve experienced mixed results. When Nutsedge is growing hard in the summer, the glyphosate doesn’t do a good job translocate since it’s a slow mover, so nutsedge can outgrow the control. Also keep in mind (for others reading this) that glysophate is non-selective and will damage/kill everything it comes in contact with.

      Reply
  2. Is it possible to treat nutsedge in the same growing season with halosulfuron AND sulfrentrazone? If so, is there any protocol to follow?

    Reply
    • If you were to go this route, we recommend you treat with Sulfentrazone early season when the plant first starts to grow, as Sulfentrazone has been known to show success at translocating and providing control of immature stands very early on. For the late summer/early fall treatment, Halosulfuron would then be the better product.

      Reply

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