School IPM Best Practices

Yellow Nutsedge, Cyperus esculentus

Yellow nutsedge in the landscape

Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org.

IPM Steps to Reduce Yellow Nutsedge

1. Sample for Pest

Confirm the presence of yellow nutsedge before you treat.

Where to find it while inspecting: Lawns and turf areas, as well as any soil area, but often begins in moister or more poorly drained areas, but not exclusively restricted to those areas.

2. Proper ID

Is it yellow nutsedge?

Size and Appearance: Sturdy narrow stems that are triangular shaped and feel waxy to the touch. Color is often a yellow-green and grow in clumps of three. Flowers and seed heads are unique. They are yellow to light brown bundles above a three-bladed grassy stem. Nutsedge often has a faster growth rate than turfgrass, and will quickly grow up and above it.

3. Learn the Pest Biology

Yellow nutsedge plant

Bruce Ackley, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org.

What is the life cycle of yellow nutsedge?

Life Cycle: Spreads mainly by runners (rhizomes—underground stems that produce tubers which will be the start of a new plant).

Preferred Habitat: Sunny areas of soil, where soil is moist. Yellow nutsedge will thrive in low areas of a lawn or athletic field as well as infrequently mowed fields.

4. Determine Threshold

How much yellow nutsedge is too much?

Threshold: On a high-end field, or perennial garden, you will want to remove nutsedge promptly due to the difficulty of controlling established colonies.

5. Choose Tactics

Creating a healthy soil condition and understanding turfgrass’s needs is the first step in reducing turf pests. What can I do to treat, reduce, or prevent yellow nutsedge?

Best Management Practices: An important means of reducing the chance of infestation is to be careful of the quality of amendments added to your field. Composts, topdressing, or sod should be free of nutsedge rhizomes and nutlets.

Treatment Methods: If only a few yellow nutsedge plants are present, digging them out may be the best method. Begin physically removing the weeds as soon as the weed plants are observed. Removal of the entire plant including root systems is necessary. Pulling mature plants is difficult. These plants will often break off at the soil surface allowing regrowth and tuber development to continue. After removal, sports field managers are advised to recheck the area periodically for regrowth. This approach is effective only if performed on a regular basis. Tubers can produce new plants as far as ten feet away. Nutsedge is difficult to control with most general herbicides. If choosing to use an herbicide for control, products specific to nutsedge should be chosen and careful attention should be paid to proper timing of application.

6. Evaluate

yellow nutsedge flowers

Bruce Ackley, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org.

Was the tactic successful? Record the date pests were first noted, and the tactic you used, and its success. Use one of our RECORD KEEPING tools.

For More Information:

Penn State Extension: Yellow Nutsedge


When a pesticide application is necessary, all necessary and required precautions are taken to minimize risk to people and the environment and to minimize risk of pesticide resistance or pest resurgence. Pesticide use in your school may be prohibited or regulated by local policies or state and federal regulations. Risk reduction methods can include, but are not limited to, spot-treatment, the use of gel or paste bait formulations placed in inaccessible locations, injection into a crack or crevice, and other methods that reduce potential exposure.