What Is Nutsedge?

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In the battle for the pristine and lush lawn, you must stay vigilant against all types of pesky invaders, including invasive plants and unwanted weeds. Nutsedge, also known as nutgrass, is a persistent and troublesome weed that can quickly take over lawns and garden beds if left unchecked. This comprehensive guide will delve into what nutsedge is, how to identify it, the different types, and effective methods for prevention and treatment.

Identifying Nutsedge

Let’s take a look at the basics. Nutsedge is a perennial weed belonging to the genus Cyperus, characterized by its grass-like appearance and triangular stems. Despite resembling grass, nutsedge is not an actual grass but rather a member of the sedge family. It thrives in warm climates and moist soil, making it particularly problematic in regions with hot summers and heavy rainfall. Identifying nutsedge is crucial for effective management. Here are some key features to look out for:

  • Triangular Stems: Unlike grasses, nutsedge stems are triangular in cross-section, which is a distinctive characteristic of this weed.
  • Distinctive Leaves: Nutsedge leaves are long and narrow, with a waxy texture and a V-shaped cross-section. They often grow in clusters from the base of the plant.
  • Tubers & Rhizomes: Nutsedge spreads via underground tubers and rhizomes, which contribute to its persistence and resilience.

Types Of Nutsedge

There are several species of nutsedge, but the two most common types found in lawns and gardens are yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) and purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus). There are minor differences between the two, but they are worth taking into account when trying to determine the type of nutsedge invading your lawn.


  • Height: Yellow nutsedge (pictured above) can grow taller, reaching up to 3 feet, while purple nutsedge is shorter, topping out at around 1.3 feet.
  • Leaf color: Yellow nutsedge has light green leaves with pointed tips, while purple nutsedge has darker green leaves with rounded tips.
  • Flower color: As the names suggest, yellow nutsedge has yellow flower heads, and purple nutsedge has purple or reddish-brown flower heads.


  • Tubers: Yellow nutsedge produces single tubers at the ends of short underground stems. Purple nutsedge forms chains of tubers along longer underground stems.
  • Spread: Both spread vegetatively from tubers, but yellow nutsedge can also reproduce from seeds.


  • Climate: Yellow nutsedge tolerates a wider range and can be found throughout the US, even into southern Canada. Purple nutsedge prefers warmer climates and is more common in the southern US and California.
  • Soil: Both prefer moist or irrigated soil.

Preventing Nutsedge

Prevention and treatment strategies are essential for managing nutsedge infestations effectively. These practices work not just for this pesky weed but for many others as well. Here's what you can do:

  • Maintain Proper Drainage: Improve soil drainage to reduce moisture levels, as nutsedge thrives in wet conditions.
  • Regular Mowing: Keep your lawn well-maintained by mowing regularly at the appropriate height, which helps prevent nutsedge from establishing itself.
  • Avoid Overwatering: Water your lawn deeply but infrequently to discourage nutsedge growth. Overwatering can create ideal conditions for this weed to thrive.
  • Overseeding: By making sure healthy grass grows thick and densely, it will leave less room for these pesky weeds to take root.

Treating Nutsedge

Nutsedge can be a persistent and frustrating weed to deal with, but with proper identification, prevention, and treatment strategies, you can effectively manage its growth and maintain a healthy lawn or garden. By staying vigilant and implementing these techniques, you can keep nutsedge at bay and enjoy a weed-free outdoor space. Keep the following treatment options in mind when trying to deal with nutsedge in your lawn: 

  • Herbicide Application: Selective herbicides formulated specifically for nutsedge control can be effective in suppressing its growth. These herbicides target nutsedge while minimizing harm to surrounding turfgrass.
  • Manual Removal: Hand-pulling nutsedge can be labor-intensive but effective, especially for small infestations. Ensure to remove the entire plant, including tubers and rhizomes, to prevent regrowth.
  • Mulching: Applying a thick layer of mulch to garden beds can help suppress nutsedge growth by blocking sunlight and inhibiting its germination.