Yellow Nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) is widely considered one of the most difficult and troublesome weeds to control in Northeast Ohio. This weed is not a grass and it’s not a broadleaf weed. It often prefers moist to wet low lying areas and can grow three times as fast as turf grass in the peak of summer. It will be very noticeable 2-3 days after mowing.
Yellow nutsedge is of subtropical origin and native to North America and Eurasia. However, this species has spread throughout the world. Prior to the mid 1950s, it was previously found in areas where you have hot summers and mild winters. Since then its spread north and is common throughout Northeast Ohio. Yellow Nutsedge now grows naturally along river banks, marshes, around lakeshores, fields, lawns, and gardens. Yellow nutsedge loves water and full sun, so you’ll find it in poorly drained areas of all soil types including clay.
Description and Identification
Yellow Nutsedge is distinctive and fairly easy to identify because of its unique characteristics. It is an erect grass-like weed that is a light green to yellowish in color. The leaves (blades), can be up to ½” wide with a thick mid-vein, triangular stem, waxy covering, and golden-brown flower head (look like spikes). One way to identify Yellow nutsedge is to pull one and roll the stem in your fingers and you’ll feel three sides of the triangular-shaped stem.
Typically the leaves will be approximately 4 inches to 12+ inches long and ⅛ inch to ½ inch wide. Leaves grow in threes around the triangular stem, usually at the base of the plant. Yellow nutsedge leaves also grow taller than the surrounding grass during the summer months. You’ll see it shoot up, sometimes double the height of your grass blades.
Yellow nutsedge roots are fibrous, shallow, underground systems made up of thin, scaly rhizomes (horizontal underground stems), and tubers (similar to bulbs). Rhizomes allow the plant to spread horizontally over an area creating ‘child’ plants, which form masses of yellow nutsedge. The tubers act as storage tanks and produce new plants. At the height of the growing season, each plant can produce nearly 7000 tubers (possible new plants). As the nutsedge flowers it produces seed.
How to Control Yellow Nutsedge
When it comes to your lawn, a healthy, dense, and tall lawn can crowd out all types of weeds including yellow nutsedge. Unlike most lawn and turf weeds, yellow nutsedge is NOT controlled by traditional weed control products. Because it’s in the sedge family it requires very specific herbicides that should be applied in the early stages of growth, when they are first identified. Getting rid of Yellow nutsedge is difficult but not impossible.
Pull Yellow Nutsedge by Hand
You can selectively eradicate this weed by simply hand pulling when you see their presence. Remove the weed as soon as you can and make sure to get the entire root system. Once the nutsedge matures, it’s much more difficult to remove. Mature plants will often break off at the soil surface and tuber development underneath the soil will continue. Whenever you pull one of these weeds, always check back periodically to make sure there is no regrowth. Hand pulling these weeds early can be very effective if done on a regular basis.
Don’t Mow Lawn Too Tight
Probably the most important advice we can give anyone when it comes to weed control is not mowing their lawn too short. Yes, a tightly mown lawn looks nice but it allows for weed growth. 4” tall is an ideal height.
We see so many yards mowed too short, especially during the warmest part of the summer. Once a lawn is mowed too short, it exposes the soil and whatever weeds may have been crowded out are now exposed to the sun and allow for the weeds to thrive. Thick, dense lawn turf also holds the moisture in the soil much better allowing your healthy lawn to stay green even throughout the seasonal droughts.
Post-emergent Herbicide Treatment of Yellow Nutsedge
When there are large patches of nutsedge that can no longer be controlled by hand pulling, the next option would be to have one of our professionals at Custom Spray Lawn Care apply a specialty post emergent herbicide. Multiple treatments are often required to eliminate nutsedge especially in low lying moist areas.
If you believe your yard has been taken over by Yellow Nutsedge, call Custom Spray Lawn Care at 330-861-5035 for a professional lawn care technician review your nutsedge problem and recommend the best solution.