Every homeowner dreams of having the perfect yard. For some, especially those in arid climates, xeriscaping is the preferred yard style, with colored rocks, vegetation that requires minimal water or no vegetation. Xeriscaping is low maintenance and easy to manage. You only have to keep an eye out for the occasional weed.
For most other homeowners, though, the ideal yard is a landscaped one. With vibrant and lush green grass and gardens scattered throughout, landscaped yards have their own set of maintenance requirements. You will need to water the grass and plants almost daily, and you will have to remove most weeds and insects infestations. Although the amount of work is much greater with landscaped yards, the results are well worth the effort.
Weeds are one of the worst plants to easily and quickly remove a yard of its nutrients and water. They are hardy plants that survive by taking away from the other plants. Usually, you can remove most weeds and unwanted plants with a store-bought herbicide.
One type of weed that you may notice in your yards and gardens is sedge weeds. These plants are not like the traditional weed grasses or broadleaf weeds. Sedges come back every year if not removed properly, and they reproduce in complicated ways.
Nutsedge, also known as nutgrass, is the worst of the sedge weeds. They are persistent and aggressive plants. These invasive weeds are difficult to control, can easily strip the dirt of water and nutrients and have an intricate reproduction system that makes removal laborious.
What is Nutsedge?
Nutsedge can be a challenging plant to identify if you do not know what to look for. In its early stages, nutsedge bears a striking resemblance to turfgrass and can easily go unnoticed. If you’re not familiar with it, you may accidentally assume that nutsedge is a different type of grass. Making this mistake can become costly for your lawn.
Two common species of sedge weed that infest lawns are yellow nutsedge and purple nutsedge. On the surface, they have similar characteristics, but knowing the differences is a must for future prevention and control.
First, let’s briefly look at what makes them the same. Both plants have stems with three leaves that sprout into a thistle-like seed head. The leaves that sprout will have a “V” or triangular tip and a rib or seam down the center. The leaves themselves are shiny and smooth. When you feel them, they almost have a sharp blade edge feel.
They both look very similar to turfgrass but grow much faster. You can identify them by their height compared to the other grass around them.
Yellow nutsedge is the more resilient and widespread of the two. It has light green leaves that come to a gradually pointed tip. The leaves will be slightly longer than purple nutsedge. The seed heads are a yellow and brown combination.
Their root systems are built horizontally with a singular tuber, or nutlets, growing off the roots. Tubers are similar to seeds and hidden deep in the ground for future growth.
Purple nutsedge has a more difficult time surviving in colder weather. It is less resilient than yellow nutsedge, but once purple nutsedge is established, it is more aggressive and difficult to remove. They have dark green leaves that come to a more abrupt point, making the leaves appear shorter. Their seed heads are a more purple and brown combination.
Underneath, purple nutsedge is much more formidable. Their roots have multiple tubers that can easily sprout new plants.
If you are one of the lucky homeowners who do not already have nutsedge in your yard, keeping the weed from entering is vital. Even if you already have an infestation, it is important to note the reasons why and how you might get nutsedge.
Two of the most common ways that nutsedge appears in your lawn through outside influence are buying through bulk trucks and nurseries. What happens most of the time is that nutlets will find themselves in the bulk soil, and you’ve now introduced it into your lawn. Likewise, buying a plant from a nursery that already has a nutsedge plant in it will reproduce rapidly once planted.
Once nutsedge is in your yard, the weed thrives in moist conditions. Lawns that have poor water drainage, are overwatered or experience high rainfall promotes growth and propagation.
Nutsedges are determined to reproduce, which means you have to be dedicated to their removal. Nutsedge spreads in three main ways:
Like with most plants, if left alone, nutsedge will flower and release seeds that will sprout and become new plants. Reproduction through seeding is less effective and of minimal importance when compared to the other methods below. That being said, you can help limit nutsedge spread by mowing or cutting the flowers as you see them.
Rhizomes are underground stems that stretch horizontally away from the main plant’s roots. From these stems, nutsedge produces offspring that grow upwards and create their own root system. From there, the new plants create their own rhizomes and the process continues exponentially until a large patch has been established.
Tubers, or nutlets, are the most prolific and sustainable means of nutsedge reproduction. Similar in function to seeds, tubers branch off the rhizomes, hide deep below the surface of the ground and wait for optimal conditions to sprout. Tubers are what make nutsedge such an invasive and difficult weed to control.
Of the two types of nutsedge, yellow nutsedges produce only a singular tuber, making them slightly easier to remove. Purple tubers, on the other hand, are much more complicated. They produce rows of tubers along their rhizomes, making removal more challenging. For both plants, the tubers form between six to ten inches below the ground, and some have been found at depths of 18 inches.
By lying dormant this low in the earth, tubers resist most common weed killers and the winter months. In fact, they can survive for upwards of ten years in the soil, waiting for optimal conditions to grow. You may not see a nutsedge growth for years, only to have one crop up suddenly, and when they do finally sprout, they are sharp enough to pierce through thick mulches and most landscape fabrics.
The complicated reproduction system makes nutsedge a very difficult plant to remove once it has established deep roots. Unlike many traditional broadleaf and weed grasses, they cannot be removed the same way. Most household weed killers and herbicides are not equipped to eradicate nutsedge entirely. Furthermore, you cannot simply go outside and pull them one by one. Nutsedge requires more complicated methods to remove.
Here is a list of three types of management you can attempt on your own. These are not guaranteed solutions and may or may not work as intended. It will be safer and easier to contact OrganicLawns and have them properly remove the sedge weed.
Whatever type of management you decide, do not pull the nutsedge. You will only remove the upper portion of the plant and not the root system. The roots and rhizomes grow horizontally, so pulling upwards will leave the rhizomes and tubers under the soil.
Since nutsedge love high moisture soil and plenty of sunlight, one of the ways that you can slow down the spread of nutsedge is to starve them of the two nutrients they need.
By installing a proper drainage system into your lawn or garden beds, you can safely limit the amount of moisture that remains in the soil. The water will be able to easily flow away from the designated area. At the same time, be extremely cautious of overwatering your lawn and gardens. Try to go every other day with watering and use less water when possible.
Nutsedge does not grow well in heavily shaded areas, so denser bushes and tree coverage can help. You may also choose to rearrange the setup of your garden. If the flower beds are what is contaminated, then put taller plants that block out the sun. You may notice less nutsedge.
Lastly, you can try to combat nutsedge by aerating and overseeding to drown out the weed with other plants.
If you so choose, you can attempt to manually remove the nutsedge from your lawn by digging them up. You will have to safely remove the contaminated dirt from the area without exposing the rest of your lawn to the weed. Additionally, you will want to be sure that you do not leave any of the plants behind.
If you do decide to dig the weed out, you will want to create a diameter that is about eight to ten inches around the plant. From there, you will want to dig roughly ten inches deep. These measurements are the best estimates to determine the area of the rhizomes and tubers. Some nutsedge may have longer and deeper root systems that need to be dug out.
Once you have dug out the contaminated area, you need to safely move the dirt away from your lawn. If one tuber shakes free from the pile, it can start an entirely new colony of nutsedge. To better counter the effects of the tubers, you can attempt this method in early spring when the weed is still growing and doesn’t have enough time to produce tubers.
You might think that rototilling the lawn may help. The digging motion of the machine will only spread the tubers more, and there is no guarantee that you will remove or destroy all the tubers.
Finally, you will want to clean all tools that were used in the contaminated area. They can carry tubers from place to place without proper cleaning.
If the above two management systems do not work or you feel safer using herbicides, then chemical management will be your last and most effective defense against them. If you do use postemergence weed killers and herbicides, you will want to be cautious with what the chemicals kill. It would be unbeneficial to you if the herbicide kills the plants you want.
That being said, it is absolutely pivotal that you identify the correct species of nutsedge. Both require different types of herbicides to eradicate and using the wrong one can result in wasted time and resources.
That being said, once you have correctly identified the nutsedge and have the proper herbicide, you can apply it to the contaminated location. While you should always follow the instructions written on the packaging, you can also try the following method:
During this time, you will want to make sure that you do not mow before, during or after to ensure that the nutsedge moves the weed killer to the tubers. Additionally, you will not want to apply during hot and dry weather, around 90 degrees or more.
Once you have control of the infestation, keeping proper sanitation is critical. The moment that you notice another nutsedge surface, you must begin the removal process immediately.
To ensure that you have the correct species identified and the proper herbicide applied, it is highly recommended that you seek professional assistance. They will know which species you have and how to properly remove the weed.
As you may have noticed, maintaining a lawn infested with nutsedge is a complicated and challenging process. There are many methods you can try on your own to keep control, but in the end, Instead of stressing over the complicated process, let the professionals do the work for you.
With the people at OrganicLawn, you will never have to worry about nutsedge plaguing your lawn. Let them do the hard work for you and keep your lawn healthy and weed and pest free. For the past 20 years, OrganicLawn has been taking care of lawns and gardens all through the Maryland region. Using eco-friendly, organic and environmentally friendly lawn care programs, OrganicLawn promises to create a greener and healthier environment.