How to Get Rid of Nutgrass (Control Nutsedge in Lawn)

Nut grass is a resilient weed that gives many gardeners nightmare on how to get rid of it completely from their lawns. If not controlled, nutsedge will chokes out desired grass and you will end up with a lawn full of weeds. Let’s get down on how to get rid of nutgrass in your lawn without harming grass

What does nutgrass look like? Identification

Nutgrass is also known as coco grass, ground almond, java grass or nutsegdes. It is a perennial grass that’s very troublesome to grass lawns. It is usually seen during summer as it competes with lawn grasses for nutrients and water in the hot weather.

Nutsedge has bright yellow green leaves in nature and has tubers that are white inside when young but when they mature they become reddish in color.

This weed has underground stems that spreads by means of rhizomes which end up being shoots and later develop to become new plants. Nutgrass reproduces by means of underground tubers called nutlets.

Nutlets can survive to a span of up to 10 years hidden deep in the soil before producing and become new nutsedge plants.

How to Get Rid of Nutsedge Naturally

There are various natural ways of eliminating nutsedge without the use of chemical herbicides, here is a breakdown of what a gardener is supposed to do:

1. Removal by hand:

This simply involves uprooting the nutgrass using hands. What you need is to put on a gardening glove as this helps to reduce dirt getting into your hands and nails.  Select the nutgrass then pick it out slowly making sure you have not left any tubers underground.

2. Use of a gardening trowel

Insert the base of the trowel and dig down as deep as you can because the grass is known to have very deep root system of about 12 to 18 inches then remove it.

3. White vinegar

Despite being used at home for various reasons it can also be used to eliminate nutgrass on your lawn. Take your spray bottle and fill it with white vinegar then spray directly on each selected weed avoiding spraying it on your grass as it contains acetic acid which may kill your grass.

Spray it also on a piece of cloth and wipe the leaves of the nutgrass and it will dry up, rather than putting your lawn at risk of spraying.

4. Mixture of soap dish, salt and vinegar

Using salt alone on the weed may likely not kill nutgrass effectively. To get best results, you need 1 tablespoon of liquid washing soap,1gallon of vinegar and a cup of salt then mix them together as you shake to ensure the mixture has dissolve well. Spray on the areas where there are weeds or directly onto the weed.

Salt can temper with the roots of surrounding plants. When using salt weed killer, be careful not to douse the soil. Preferably use on areas where long term effects of salt will not be an issue.

5. Using sugar

This procedure is best performed during spring when the nut grass has just began to germinate and sprout. You need to moist your lawn evenly then pour sugar in your lawn through a sifter in straight line.

Ensure that the sugar have fall evenly on the grass. However it’s good to note that sugar nourishes microbes that are of use to your lawn. Spray your lawn again as you ensure that the grass is not saturated as this will wash away the sugar.

Spray lightly with water as you ensure the blades of the nutgrass are moistened enough and coax the sugar into the soil and roots of the lawn. You may repeat the procedure once you notice the nutgrass are not dead.

6. Pouring boiling water

It is a good way of killing nutgrass roots as you water the rest of the grass in your lawn. You only need to boil water and walk around as you pour water on the sprouted weed in your lawn.

7. Mixture of soap, vinegar and a little vodka

This mixture is known to kill the most stubborn weeds on your lawn. You only need to mix them well and apply on the leaves or spray on the nutgrass.

Chemical Control – Killing Nutgrass with Herbicides

This involves the use of chemical herbicides to control the nutgrass, however post emergence and pre-emergence applications have to be carried out.

Pre-emergence herbicides

These are herbicides that kill weeds whose root systems are not yet formed in the soil. Its best applied during spring and fall as this will not affect the already existing grass.

It’s important to note that pre-emergence herbicides prevents cell division and vital parts of the weeds from being established but do not prevent the germination of the seed.

Post emergence herbicides

This is the opposite of pre-emergence as this kills nutgrass that has already germinated in your lawn. It’s supposed to be used when the plant or grass is actively growing on the lawn.

There are two types of post emergence herbicides, Systematic vs Contact post emergence herbicide and Selective vs Non-selective herbicide post emergence herbicide.

Systematic vs contact: The difference between this two is how they destroy the nutgrass. Systematic herbicide is meant to be absorbed into the plant as this ensures that the structure of the weed is destroyed completely from the roots upwards. On the other hand contact herbicide works best as this destroys, kills the leaves and the stem of the nutgrass once it comes into contact with it.

Selective vs non-selective: Selective herbicide works best as its usually targets the weed without interfering with the surrounding grass on your lawn, while non-selective usually kill every plant that it comes into contact with.

When dealing with herbicides

  • Always select a suitable herbicide that works best and use it when the nutgrass is young with few leaves. A good example of herbicide that kills nutgrass is Image Herbicide Consumer Concentrate kills Nutsedge which starves the nuts to death.
  • It’s important to always read herbicide label and instructions carefully as you follow the directions given on application, storage and disposal of the chemical.
  • Apply the herbicide on proper time when the nutgrass is growing vigorously for effective results.
  • Always apply the recommended amount of herbicide as this will avoid damaging the soil residue and injury on your grass.
  • Wear appropriate protective gears when dealing with chemicals.

How to Prevent Nutgrass and other Weeds in your Yard

We all know that weeds grow in gardens and they compete with lawn grass for nutrients, sunlight and water hence making the lawn look less attractive. Here are some of the preventions one has to carry out in order to solve this problem.

Use a weed preventer

These are formulas that prevent weeds from germinating into flower, however they does not kill the existing weeds but prevents newly formed weeds from sprouting. Example is preen weed preventer that is best applied during planting season, transplanting and also after flowering when the plants have germinated.

Using landscape fabric

Landscape fabric is normally used areas where you don’t want weeds to thrive. Landscape fabric works best as it blocks the sun from reaching the  covered area hence preventing weeds from growing ,allowing water and important nutrients to reach the soil.

Landscape fabric can hinder growth of weeds for several years as long as you cut holes on the fabric for certain plants to grow in.The fabric can be purchased from gardening stores.

Watering frequently and deeply

Light watering of your lawn results to formation of shallow roots system, making the plant or grass to suffer during heat and drought season. Watering deeply allows in formation of strong and healthy roots that can compete with weeds for nutrients. Always ensure that your lawn is deeply soaked with water.

Mow higher

Mowing higher encourages deep root system and make the plant to withstand drought, heat, pest and diseases. Always keep your mowing blade sharp as dull mowers usually damage and stress up lawn grass.

Mowing too low reduces the ability of the plant to produce enough nutrients and allows light to hit the soil surface which helps weeds to grow and sprout. However you can check for local extensions and see what is the recommended height for mowing is.

Feeding with enough fertilizer

Feeding your lawn with less fertilizerleads to tough competition with the weeds while too much nurtures weed. It’s always good to strike a balance during application by following the package rates. Fertilizer with a higher nitrogen percentage usually provides a steady slow supply of nutrients. Apply your fertilizer on time as this will result to a healthy grass lawn.


Applying a thick layer of mulch in your lawn will definitely hinder weed seeds from penetrating through the soil. Mulch also blocks sun rays from reaching the soil hence preventing weed seeds that are already in the soil from germinating.


Despite the various efforts gardeners put in in preventing these weeds from lawn sometimes they become more resilient. It is advisable to try different tactics mentioned above in order to eliminate them from lawns. Always read and follow instructions when dealing with chemical weed killer and preventers.

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