How Do I Manage Sedge in My Flower Beds?

Sedge can be a nuisance in the lawn, but can be equally if not more frustrating when populating your flower beds. It is very unsightly when your carefully planted annual and perennials are invaded by this tall grass like weed.

What is Sedge?

Yellow nutsedge is a perennial plant that resembles grass in our lawns and beds.

Yellow nutsedge has thicker and stiffer leaves than grass. The leaves grow in from a stiff triangular base.  Growing in sets of three, these grasses will have a flat or rolled base.  Nutsedge leaves are waxy and smooth, with a prominent crease in the middle.

At maturity, Yellow nutsedge will grow a spreading seed head but it primarily spreads from the sprouting tubers. Nutsedge produces tubers that grow off of the rhizomes or roots of the plant. They can grow as deep as 6 to 8 inches below the surface of the soil, were they can survive for a couple of years before sprouting.  These tubers make control difficult.

Lifecycle

As stated earlier Yellow nutsedge is a perennial, so it will go dormant in the fall but does not die. The leaves will die back but the rhizomes and tubers remain. Once the soil temperatures are favorable, the tubers will sprout new plants.  You will start seeing young plants typically late April into early May depending on the site.

Management

Managing Yellow Nutsedge starts with starts with the tubers. Once established, sedge is difficult to control so attack any populations early in its lifecycle. Avoid pulling the plants out, as it is unlikely that you will remove the tubers. The remaining tubers will sprout new plants, and you’ll be back to square one.

The best management practice is to apply a non-selective herbicide that contains the active ingredient glyphosate. Apply glyphosate when the plants are young, actively growing, and haven’t recently been mowed or cut. When applied early in the plants life it will also damage the plants ability to grow the tubers it uses to spread.

It may take you 2 applications to control mature sedge and the herbicide may not move down into the tubers.

Be careful using a nonselective herbicide around your sensitive plant material. Overspray will damage non intended targets. Also, when applying any pesticides always read and carefully follow all precautions and safety recommendations given on the container label.