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Broomsedge and Your Turf

October 12th, 2021

Broomsedge, a perennial grassy weed, is a stubborn pest. Unlike Dallisgrass, broomsedge is native and readily present. It is a growing concern for forage crop growers, an eyesore in close-cut turf, and challenging to remove once established. However, as is true with many weeds, the best defense is a great offense. 

Why You May Find Broomsedge in Turf

Broomsedge thrives in areas where soil fertility and pH are unfavorable for dense turf growth. These conditions often exist in newer properties or turf plots that have not had regular soil amendments.

The result causes compounding issues: 

  1. Deficiencies in our soils may result in thinness and a lack of vigor in our desired turfs. This opens the door (and leaves it open) for weeds, like broomsedge, to establish.
  2. Broomsedge performs better than our turfs in soils with lower pH and lacking phosphorus and potassium. Therefore, a balanced fertility program creates a healthy, competitive turf and dissuades broomsedge establishment over time. 

How to Control Broomsedge in Turf

Much like a balanced fertility program, maintenance tendencies play a crucial role in turf health and weed suppression. Mowing every 7-10 days, at a height of 1.5-2 inches, provides competitive advantages for warm-season turfs. By pruning vertical growth, we push lateral growth, increase density, and decrease light at the soil surface. 

Additionally, mowing regularly limits opportunities to remove too much turf material at one time, sometimes referred to as scalping. This creates a stressful situation and allows light to reach the soil surface.

Lastly, it’s important to prevent seeds from forming and to water properly. By providing an inch of water over 2-3 non-contiguous days (rain included), we give our lawns what they need, avoiding drought symptoms or stress created by overwatering.

Suppressing The Emergence of Broomsedge

Suppressing the emergence of broomsedge is very important. Frankly, products that successfully treat it without injuring turf don’t exist. Pre-emergents are designed to stop weeds from developing as they emerge from the seed, also known as germination. Since broomsedge is perennial, once the plant is established, it will return from roots already present in turf in the spring. 

While it’s known as broomsedge, it isn’t actually a true sedge but rather a grass. Therefore, post-emergence products targeting vulnerabilities in broomsedge will also injure our desired turf. These challenges leave manual removal or non-selective weed killers as our primary options. Below is a video demonstrating proper removal of broomsedge in your turf:

In summary, if you choose to dig up existing broomsedge plants, you must completely remove the top growth and roots. Backfilling this area with soil and topdressing with sand will give a nice substrate for our warm season turfs to move into. The other option is to use a non-selective weed killer readily found at hardware stores, focusing on the center of the weed to minimize damage. This can leave a bare spot in your lawn. Topdressing this area will help create an ideal environment for our warm season turfs to recover.  

For additional information on how to remove broomsedge from your turf, reach out to our team.

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