Yellow Nutsedge* and Green Lawn Care Tips
By Jennifer Nelson, Outreach Coordinator, Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District
If you live in an urban area, Yellow nutsedge might be contributing to your lawn care woes. In the more rural parts of the county, it could affect the productivity of your crops. Either way, you’ll want to be aware of the snake in the grass this spring. Here’s how to ID and handle it, along with some seasonal green lawn care tips.
Nutsedge spreads by roots and shoots. It competes fiercely for light, water and nutrients, developing large, dense colonies. Both the tubers and the seeds can be dispersed by wind and water erosion as well as human disturbance from agriculture or development activities.
Plant ID—Look for the mature plant, with:
- Tall, hairless stems and looks like a thick, stiff grass growing up to 3 feet tall.
- Light green leaves arranged in a spiral of three ranks (unlike grasses which have alternate leaves in two ranks).
- Flowers featuring straw-colored or golden spikelets with many flowers.
- Tubers that are round and smooth, either brown or black, that can grow up to 1⁄2 inch in size with a pleasant, almond taste.
- Be careful when digging up the plant—the root system is fragile and breaks apart easily. It can spread by rhizome or tuber, so a broken bit of root will mean a new plant. Avoid using a tiller to keep from spreading this weed.
- Try removing small plants before they have a chance to develop tubers (before they have developed 6 leaves).
- Try changing the site conditions to reduce the moisture that they thrive on or the sunlight they need to survive.
- If you chose to pull the plant, keep after new sprouts to exhaust the tuber’s store of energy.
- A number of different herbicide recommendations can be found online.
- Clean tools and equipment to prevent spreading this weed’s seed.
Spring Green Lawn Care Tips
As lawn-mowing season returns, check the setting on your blade. Selecting the right height for your grass type will keep it healthy all season long.
Did you know you can compost your grass and lawn clippings too? Just be careful not to compost clippings that might contain weed seeds or herbicide residue. Be sure to layer this “green” material (high in nitrogen) with enough “brown” material like twigs, dryer lint, or cardboard, which are all more carbon rich.
April is the optimum time to fertilize your lawn. To keep cost and waste down, consider getting a soil test to calibrate the right amount of just the right nutrients for your lawn. Keep the nutrients, which cause water-quality problems, out of our rivers by avoiding application when it is about to rain, and by not over-watering your lawn.
April is also a good time to de-thatch your lawn. Tackle moss by scratching it off the surface before reseeding.
*Nutsedge, AKA: Chufa sedge, Nut grass, Tigernut sedge, or Earth almond