Yellow nutsedge has been popping up in lawns in East Central Indiana for the past 3-4 years but the presences of this noxious weed have become quite populated this summer. Nutsedge is not actually grass but a true sedge and is most easily identified by solid stems, triangular cross section with a waxy leaf. It grows very well in low lying areas that hold water and during drought periods you will see that it grows much quicker than the grass it is competing with. Yellow nutsedge produces tubers underground on rhizomes that can grow as deep as 8-14 inches below the soil surface. Buds on these tubers sprout and grow causing a new plant to form and will eventually form new patches up to 10 feet in diameter. This form of reproduction makes this weed very difficult to control.
Yellow nutsedge is a perennial plant in our area and overwinter very well. Although the plant will die back in the fall like other perennials the nutsedge rhizomes remain underground and survive the winter temperatures well enough to sprout the falling spring when soil temperatures reach 43 degrees. Most of the rhizomes in the soil will survive 1-3 years and each new plant will produce many more rhizomes throughout the growing season.
Nutsedge is a problem in lawns because it grows much quicker than the surrounding lawn and is a lighter green color than the grass, which results in an uneven lawn. In landscape beds, nutsedge will emerge through mulch and stone causing a weedy landscape.
Removing nut sedge plants is the long term solution to the problem but it is also a daunting task. The older the plant gets the more rhizomes it has produced. You may be able to pull all of the plants in a flower bed but do not be surprised when the rhizomes underground begin to produce new plants. The quicker the new plants can be pulled the less time they have to produce more rhizomes. Chemical control may be the only feasible control of this weed but unfortunately it is not very effective. Glyphosate (Round-up) will kill many new seedlings but it does not do very well with more mature plants that have a better, waxy coating on their leaves. The biggest problem with this control is that the spray is non-selective and will kill anything that it is sprayed on. Also, it will not have any control on the underground tubers produced by the plant. Other selective sprays can be applied on your lawn by a professional and this new technology will kill nutsedge plants while leaving your turf grass safe. Again, these sprays will not control the underground tubers so several, and often expensive, applications will need to be done at the appropriate times throughout the year. Either way, nutsedge is a problem in East Central Indiana now and will become worse as it progresses.