Nutsedge Pre-Emergent Weed Killer | Is It Effective?

Nutsedge (Cyperaceae) is a perennial weed that plagues lawns all over the world. Despite its grass-like appearance, this weed is not really a type of grass. Instead, it belongs to a separate category of plants known as sedges.

What makes nutsedge so prolific is the way it spreads. Its primary propagation methods include underground tubers, rhizomes, and seed production.

So, how do you or I combat this challenging turf invader? In my experience, nutsedge pre-emergent treatments aren’t very effective. Applying an appropriate post-emergent herbicide is much more likely to give you the results you seek. 

Choosing The Best Herbicide For Nutsedge 

Given its prolific spreading habits, nutsedge can be difficult to control. Pulling the plant out by hand with a weed puller is okay for very small patches. But trying to dig up larger areas may trigger other dormant tubers nearby.

Plus, their spread can be so far-reaching, it is difficult to dig up all of the sedge plants. Instead, choosing the right herbicide can be a more effective way to control growth and spread without needing to remove them manually. 

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Types Of Nutsedge 

With all the different weeds that make their way into our lawns, how do you identify nutsedge? There are two equally invasive varieties that have slightly different appearances. Let’s take a look at each and the tell-tale signs of an infestation. 

Purple Nutsedge 

Purple nutsedge is recognized by its purplish seed pods that emerge from light green clumps. This weed is lighter and grows much higher than standard turf, making it easy to spot. Purple nutsedge also spreads in chains of tubers, rather than individually. This makes it more difficult to eradicate by hand. 

Yellow Nutsedge 

Yellow nutsedge has a similar appearance and growth habit. However, its seed pods are a dark golden color. This variety reproduces via individual tubers rather than chains.

Why Is Nutsedge Hard To Kill? 

Nutsedge is hard to eliminate simply because it reproduces faster than we can remove it. The tubers also replicate themselves in winter when the soil is often too hard to dig through. That’s why it’s important to find a nutsedge herbicide that can eradicate the entire weed and not just tackle dormant seeds. 

How Do You Kill Nutsedge Without Killing Grass? 

The best weed-killing herbicide will, of course, be one that doesn’t kill your lawn in the process. So, what does that look like?

For border plantings, you can gently spray or brush a broad-spectrum herbicide onto individual nutsedge shoots. But to protect lawns, you’ll want to consider a selective herbicide that’s formulated to target only specific plant types, leaving your lawn intact.  

When choosing a herbicide to rid your lawn of nutsedge, you’ll need to know what type of turf you have. Some herbicides are not suitable for all types of grass, so have a good read of the label before you commit to a purchase.

Does Pre-Emergent Stop Nutsedge? 

When I’m tackling nutsedge, I find that pre-emergents have little or no effect even when applied to nutsedge seeds that are yet to germinate. This is because the dormant tubers aren’t affected by the active ingredients in pre-emergent herbicides. That’s why I always opt for a post-emergent when dealing with nutsedge.

I’ve found that attacking nutsedge during the active growing season — roots and all — with a good quality post-emergent is a far more effective method of banishing this weed for good. Post-emergents are typically sprayed onto the leaves and stems of growing weeds. The herbicide chemicals become systematically absorbed into the weed until it reaches the root. Once the root has absorbed the chemical, it really is game over.

Nutsedge Herbicides Reviewed 

While there are no specific nutsedge pre-emergent products on the market, there are quite a few herbicides that will serve a similar function when used as directed.

To save you the time and expense of doing your own testing, I want to break down the 4 nutsedge weed killers to use on lawns that I’ve found to work the best. 

1. Ortho Nutsedge Killer for Lawns Spray Bottle

Ortho | Nutsedge Killer for Lawns

I’ll start with Ortho’s Nutsedge Killer. The ease of use with this can’t be beaten. Just attach it to your hose and spray evenly on newly emerged and established weeds, either as a spot treatment or over your entire lawn.

Sulfentrazone is the active ingredient in this selective herbicide, which has been shown to be an effective weedkiller for over 50 varieties of sedge and broadleaf weeds.

I do advise you to read the label thoroughly and look out for the list of protected ornamentals before spraying this in your garden or veg beds. The labeling is clear and concise, and makes identifying whether it’s right for your garden a breeze.

This one quart-sized container will cover 5,000 sq. ft. You get a comprehensive list of all the southern and northern turf grasses that it can be used on, including Zoysia grass and Bermuda.

Expect to see discolored and brown-looking nutsedge after just a few days. In a few weeks, you won’t be able to see any visible traces of those annoying weeds growing above the surface of your lawn. It’s rainproof, too, which is another bonus and avoids the need for reapplication soon after the first. This is definitely my preferred product. You can check the latest price for Ortho’s Nutsedge killer here.

How To Use: Shake well. Then, attach it to your garden hose and spray it evenly over your lawn. This bottle will cover an area of up to 5,000 sq ft. You’ll need to wait until the product has dried before allowing pets and children onto the areas that you’ve treated.

Customer Reviews:  Consumers agree that the speed at which Ortho’s Nutsedge Killer works is outstanding. Very good value for money. Research its use on your particular type of lawn before purchasing. 4.4 out of 5 stars


  • Results in just a few days
  • Very simple to use
  • One bottle covers up to 5000 sq ft


2. SedgeHammer Nutsedge Selective Weed Killer Herbicide  

SedgeHammer | Nutsedge Selective Weed Killer 

Next up is this water-soluble, selective herbicide from SedgeHammer. This one works by specifically targeting the acetolactate enzyme that is unique to sedge weeds. It first penetrates the outer layers of the sedge and quickly travels throughout the entire system, ultimately halting growth in both tubers and shoots and killing the offending weed.

This one took a little more effort to assemble, and you’ll need a handheld or backpack sprayer to apply. It’s also worth noting that this formula is not really suitable as a spot treatment. Once it has been diluted, it needs to be used up immediately.

The trick with this one is to apply it to dry grass, ideally where there has been no rainfall and just after the morning dew has cleared. You also need to avoid spraying in the heat of the day as this will affect the effectiveness of the herbicide.

I began seeing results after about 2 weeks when brown rings began to appear around the nutsedge. It took nearly a full month to see the finished results and banish nutsedge from my lawn completely. But time, patience, and care equal long-term success. Click here for SedgeHammer from

How To Use: Mix granules with one gallon of water and spray nutsedge weeds thoroughly. The diluted solution will cover approximately 1,200 sq. ft.

Customer Reviews: Lawn connoisseurs seem to be impressed with the duration of effectiveness using such a small amount. Repeat applications may be necessary for stubborn tubers but well worth the effort. This is a great option if nutsedge is the main problem as the list of weeds that it effectively treats is significantly less than with Ortho. 4.4 out of 5 stars.


  • Kills nutsedge and keeps it at bay for longer
  • Works especially well in tandem with Bermuda grass turf


  • More than one packet may be needed for larger infestations

3. Bonide Sedge Ender and Weed Killer 

Bonide Sedge Ender and Weed Killer 

I found this water-soluble concentrate from Bonide to work the best on stubborn purple nutsedge. If you kill a couple of tubers, the rest of the chain will just grow more. But this spreads from one tuber to all the others.

I applied this with a hand-sprayer and was pleasantly surprised to see browning after just 2 days. I applied it in mid-summer when nutsedge was in the middle of its active growing season for quick metabolizing. After 5 days, the weeds I sprayed were crispy and done. Click here for Bonide Sedge Ender and Weed Killer.

How To Use: Mix the recommended amount for your grass type with 4 liters (1 gallon) of water for every 1,000 sq ft of application area.

Customer Reviews: For severe infestations, consumers all over the lawn care spectrum are recommending Sedge Ender. When used as directed, you’ll enjoy fast, long-term results without the expense of constant re-applications. 4.4 out of 5 stars


  • Signs of effectiveness in 48 hours
  • Long term results


  • Not as effective when incorrect amount is used

4. Ferti-lome Weed-Out Nutsedge Control Concentrate 

Ferti-lome Weed-Out Nutsedge Control Concentrate

This option requires a quick Google search to see if it’s appropriate for your type of grass. I really liked this one because it worked fast, even when using it 3 hours before heavy rainfall. I tested this on both types of nutsedge and it rapidly spread into every root, tuber, shoot, and seed plume. 

It did take a little longer to see results (2 weeks) but I thought it was worth the broad range of coverage. It killed both purple and yellow nutsedge, as well as a few other stragglers here and there. Check prices for Fertilome Weed Out here at

How To Use: Mix 1.25 oz with 4 liters (1 gallon) of water in either a hand trigger or pump sprayer for every 1,000 sq ft. of the target area.

Customer Reviews:  Per consumer feedback, this product kills nutsedge through the leaves, not the tubers. So it may take a few applications to finish the job. 4.8 out of 5 stars.


  • Easy application method
  • A broad range of weed-type coverage


  • May show yellowing when used with certain types of lawn turf

When To Apply Herbicide For Nutsedge 

The most effective time to apply a nutsedge herbicide is in late spring or early summer when this invasive plant is in its active growing stage. During this time, the herbicide will be better absorbed and metabolized by the roots, tubers, stems, and leaves. 

When Does Nutsedge Germinate? 

According to Purdue University, nutsedge typically germinates from tubers in the spring, just as its active growing season begins. Once this occurs, an herbicide can be applied. Depending on the severity of tuber infestation, more than one application may be necessary. 

How To Apply Weed Killer For Nutsedge 

Most herbicides appropriate for nutsedge will come in liquid form — either pre-mixed or water-soluble. These can easily be applied by attaching the pre-mixed bottle to your hose or by combining water-soluble options in a backpack or hand sprayer. 

Post-emergent herbicides work best as they are intended to penetrate the roots and stems. Over time the herbicide gets absorbed throughout the remainder of the plant, eventually reaching the roots.

Verdict: Nutsedge Weed Killers

Nutsedge can be tricky to eliminate because of its invasive nature, especially when factoring in the severity of the infestation and what type of grass you have.

For treating nutsedge as well as a variety of other weeds in most types of southern and northern lawns, I recommend Orthos Nutsedge Killer. It’s suitable for spot treating and covering large areas and it’s ready to use.

On the other hand, if nutsedge is your main problem, I recommend SedgeHammer. This is a water-soluble option that is great for treating large areas of even the most aggressive forms of nutsedge. Alternatively, if this stubborn purple weed is wreaking havoc on your lawn, I recommend Bonide concentrate.

Like most things, with just a little patience and know-how, it is possible to achieve a lawn that will be the envy of all your neighbors and friends. I hope the results of my research will provide you with all you need for your own success. 

Nutsedge Treatments FAQ’s