crew looking at front lawn from aerial view

Nutsedge vs. Crabgrass: How to Identify & Get Rid of Both Lawn Weeds

Weeds are commonly one of homeowners’ biggest gripes. You might be loving your lawn when seemingly overnight some pesky invaders pop up and rain on your parade. Now you’ve got frustrating eyesores growing and spreading throughout the lawn.

Unfortunately, even healthy lawns face weeds, so you’re likely to see many different weed types in the lawn at your Louisville home. 

Of the many different weeds in a lawn, nutsedge, and crabgrass are arguably two of the worst. The reason they’re particularly troublesome is they grow aggressively and can spread quickly.

Crabgrass and nutsedge share a lot of similarities in appearance and are often mistaken for one another. However, the treatment approach is different. Let’s talk about how to identify nutsedge vs. crabgrass and also how to deal with both of them.

Nice Lawn Yard
With the right weed control approach, you can help keep these invasive weeds from taking over your lawn.

Nutsedge vs. Crabgrass

While nutsedge and crabgrass are somewhat similar in appearance, once you get to know more about these two weeds, you’ll be able to tell them apart.

Crabgrass is a grassy weed that tends to grow in clumps. Crabgrass can spread quickly due to its ability to proliferate. A single crabgrass plant can produce up to 75,000 seeds which lay dormant in the soil until the conditions are right. Then it can spread like crazy. 

It doesn’t take much for crabgrass to grow and thrive. In fact, it even grows well in compacted soil where your healthy turf might be struggling. It also loves the heat. This is why you’ll commonly see it pop up in thin, compacted areas of the lawn or alongside hardscaping like next to a driveway or walkway. 

If the grass gets scalped during edging, you’ll be more likely to see crabgrass pop up in those spots.

Nutsedge, on the other hand, is not technically a grassy weed but rather a member of the sedge family. This perennial weed prefers moist areas of the lawn. Nutsedge also spreads differently than crabgrass. This weed reproduces using underground tubers called “nutlets.”

In addition to the differences in where these two weeds grow, a key differentiator in the appearance of nutsedge vs. crabgrass is the coloring. Nutsedge is a much brighter, almost neon green. It tends to really stick out from the rest of the lawn both because of its bright coloring but also because it grows so much faster than desired turfgrass. You’ll likely see it sticking up above your healthy turf.

As far as timing, both of these weeds in the lawn tend to pop up around May and persist throughout the spring and summer. They are also both aggressive growers and can be challenging to control.


How to Control Nutsedge vs. Crabgrass

As with other weeds in a lawn, how you address nutsedge and crabgrass is important in successfully keeping them out of your lawn.

Controlling Crabgrass

The best approach to crabgrass control is the use of pre-emergents that will prevent it from growing in the first place.


Crabgrass pre-emergent products work by forming a thin barrier at the surface of the soil to intercept crabgrass germination. When the germinating seeds come into contact with that barrier, they stop growing.

While this will prevent most of your crabgrass from germinating, there’s always going to be some breakthrough. Breaks to the barrier can be formed by mowing, dry conditions, and even excessive rainfall.

For that reason, post-emergent control products can be used on any crabgrass that does end up growing. 

As you might have guessed, a key to successfully controlling crabgrass is the timing of the pre-emergent application. The best time to apply pre-emergent products is in the early spring, prior to germination. That last part is essential. If the crabgrass has already germinated, the barrier won’t do any good.

Controlling Nutsedge

Unlike crabgrass, there are no preventative products that will help you keep nutsedge out of your lawn. 

nutsedge control

As we’ve mentioned, nutsedge does not germinate via seed like crabgrass but rather spreads underground through nutlets. For that reason, you’ll need to address nutsedge after it starts growing.

Controlling nutsedge requires specialty control products that are formulated to specifically attack this weed. Given the aggressive way in which this weed grows, you’ll need repeated applications to keep it down. Nutsedge will also return year after year so it’s something to stay on top of.

Crowding Out Weeds in the Lawn with a Healthy Turf

You can also help keep weeds out of your lawn by investing in lawn care services in Louisville KY that will help you grow a thick and healthy lawn.

When your lawn is thick and thriving, it can be challenging for weeds to invade. They’ll have to compete with your healthy turf to survive. That’s why we recommend a comprehensive lawn care program that includes important services like lawn fertilization, preventative grub control, disease control, and (of course) weed control.

Since weeds tend to fill-in bare spots, when you make an effort to avoid those bare spots in the first place it can make a difference. The thicker and healthier your lawn is, the better it will be able to defend itself against these invaders. 

Healthy Lawn Grass 2

So often people get really hung up on just the weed control product part, but it’s truly the whole package. There is a rhyme and a reason for all of the lawn care services that make up a complete lawn care program.

While some weeds are always going to be inevitable, when you work with a lawn care company that takes these things seriously, you can successfully reduce the number of weeds growing on your lawn and simply get back to enjoying it!

Gain Peace of Mind with Lawn Care Services in Louisville, KY

Ultimately, so much of this boils down to finding a lawn care program that will give you peace of mind. At the end of the day, you want to know that your lawn care needs are being taken care of without the worries and burdens on your plate.

As you look for lawn care companies in Louisville, be sure to seek out a company that is going to take your lawn care needs to heart.  

It might feel like a big decision (and a lot of research), but it will be worth it. In the end, by choosing the right lawn care company for your Louisville home, you can hand over your worries and get back to enjoying your lawn.


Are you ready to have a thick and healthy lawn that’s getting everything it needs at your Louisville, KY home? Get in touch with us to get a quote for our lawn care programs, which include three lawn care pricing options.

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Chris O'Bryan

Chris O'Bryan

Chris grew up in Louisville, KY. He holds a Forestry degree from the The University of Kentucky and a Master's Degree in Economics from Clemson University. He is a Certified Arborist and 5-time Kentucky Tree Climbing Champion. When not at work, he has fun with his family, enjoys traveling, one-wheeling, and working in his yard.

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