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Grassy Weeds & Sedges
Broadleaf Weeds

How to Control Weeds in South Carolina


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Weeds are problematic in our landscapes
due to the fact they are aesthetically unpleasing and compete with desirable plants for water, nutrients and sunlight. This is a quick guide to help identify and control many of the most common weeds found throughout the state. While this is not a complete guide that covers all weeds, it addresses the major weeds that cause problems in South Carolina landscapes.

Most weeds fall into one of two categories
either annual or perennial. Annual weeds complete their life cycle in one season. At the end of the growing season annual weeds produce seed to ensure future weed populations. Because most annual weeds start from seed, pre-emergent herbicides are usually the best means of controlling them by inhibiting their germination.

There are both cool-season and warm-season annual weeds.
Cool-season weeds begin to germinate when soil temperatures fall below 55 degrees F (Fall) and complete their life cycle in the spring time when warmer weather begins. Warm-season annual weeds begin to germinate when soil temperatures rise above 55 degrees F (Spring) and complete their life cycle when cool weather begins.

Perennial weeds once established in the landscape
will survive for many growing seasons. These types of weeds can reproduce through several different means including seed and underground structures. The most effective way to deal with perennial weeds is through the use of post-emergent herbicides.

The two other categories that weeds fall under
are broadleaf and grassy. Broadleaf weeds come in many shapes and sizes with various patterns to their leaves. Just as the name implies, broadleaf weeds are generally more wide than long. Grassy weeds tend to be narrower and longer, similar to the grass in your lawn. It is important for you to make the distinction between these two classifications, in order to select the proper herbicide for their control. As a general rule, most grassy weed herbicides will not control broadleaf weeds and vice versa.


(Nutgrass) (Cyperus spp.)

nutsedge 2

Background:
Nutsedge is a unique weed that is neither a broadleaf nor grassy weed. Instead it falls under the category of a sedge. Sedges are difficult to control due to their reproductive parts. Sedges will form tubers (underground nutlets) that contain food reserves for plant survival. Herbicide treatments will provide control of the shoots and leaves of the plant, but often multiple herbicide applications need to be made as sedges can regenerate from the below ground nutlets. The three most common types of nutsedge are yellow, purple, and annual.

Type:
Sedge (Warm-season)

Life cycle:
Annual and Perennial

Herbicide Options:
Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda, Fescue:
Sedgehammer® is the most effective herbicide choice for control of sedges. This selective herbicide is labeled for Centipede, St. Augustine, Zoysia, Bermuda, Fescue and select ornamentals. Available in .9 gram packets for spot treatments and 1.3 oz bottle that covers up to 1 acre.
 
sedge hammer

Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda:
Image® herbicide is also effective in nutsedge control and is labeled for Centipede, St. Augustine, Zoysia, Bermuda and select ornamentals. Available in 24 oz bottle for control up 6000 sq. ft. and a dry flowable 11.43 oz bottle that covers up to 1 acre.

nut sedge 2
                     Yellow Nutsedge                           Purple Nutsedge


(Paspalum notatum)

bahiagrass
Background: Bahiagrass is a warm-season grass that has adapted well to the Southeast. It is well known for its “V” shaped seed heads that grow very rapidly in the warmer months. Bahiagrass has been used on highway roadsides for erosion control and is not considered a desirable grass for home lawns. It is very resilient and can tolerate extreme drought conditions.

Type:
Grass (Warm-season)

Life cycle:
Perennial

Herbicide Options:
Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda:
MSM 60DF is the most effective herbicide in controlling bahiagrass in warm-season turf. This low use herbicide is available in a 8 oz bottle. In addition to bahiagrass control, MSM 60DF is also labeled for many broadleaf weeds.

Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda:
Image® herbicide is also label for suppression of bahiagrass in warm-season turf. Multiple applications are usually necessary. Available in a 24 oz bottle for control of up to 6,000 sq. ft. and a dry flowable 11.43 oz bottle that covers up to 1 acre.

Centipede:
Vantage® herbicide is labeled for control of bahiagrass in centipede only. Multiple applications may be needed to provide acceptable control.

Fescue and Zoysia:
Fusilade II® herbicide can be used to control bahiagrass in fescue. Make treatments in the spring and fall when fescue is actively growing. Repeat applications may need to be made to achieve full control.


(Poa annua)

annual bluegrass

Background:
Annual blue grass is a tufted winter annual that reproduces each year from seed. Germination begins during the fall months as soil temperatures begin to lower. Annual bluegrass completes its life cycle once warmer temperatures arrive in the spring. This usually occurs during May in South Carolina. Annual bluegrass usually is the first winter annual weed to die once warmer weather arrives. Annual bluegrass will produce a seed head during the spring months. Seeds lie dormant during the summer and germinate the next fall. Pre-emergent herbicides prevent germination and are the best way to control this winter annual.

Type:
Grass (Cool-season)

Life Cycle:
Annual

Herbicide Options:
The easiest way to control annual bluegrass
is to stop it before it starts with a pre- emergent herbicide. Barricade® pre-emergent herbicide applied in September forms a chemical barrier on the soil surface that will not allow annual bluegrass seeds to germinate. Areas with a past history of high infestation may need an additional application of pre-emergent herbicide 60 days from the time of initial application.

Centipede and St. Augustine:
Atrazine herbicide can be applied to St. Augustine and Centipede as a post-emergent treatment to control existing annual bluegrass weeds. Atrazine works best during the early stages of growth when weeds are less mature. Do not use atrazine once air temperatures exceed 80° F.


(Digitaria spp.)

crabgrass

Background:
Crabgrass is a summer annual that reproduces from seed. Crabgrass seeds germinate when soil temperatures approach 55° F. This usually occurs around April in South Carolina. Crabgrass seeds need sunlight in order to germinate and may lay dormant under the soil for a number of years. Once they are exposed to sunlight through soil disruption, they will begin new growth. It is common to have a heavy infestation of crabgrass in areas where soils are disturbed through renovation. Controlling crabgrass is best done through the use of pre-emergent herbicides. Post- emergent herbicide options are limited and may cause injury due to the time of the year they are applied.

Type:
Grass (Warm-season)

Life Cycle:
Annual

Herbicide Options:
The easiest way to control crabgrass
is to prevent seed germination through the use of pre-emergent herbicides. Barricade® pre-emergent herbicide applied in March forms a chemical barrier to prevent crabgrass seeds from germinating. Areas with a past history of high infestation may need an additional application of pre-emergent herbicide 60 days from the time of initial application.

Centipede:
Post-emergent herbicide options depend on grass type. In centipede lawns, Vantage® is a selective herbicide to control existing crabgrass.

Bermuda, Fescue, and Zoysia:
Drive® herbicide is labeled for selectively controlling crabgrass in these grass types.

crabgrass chemicals

Zoysia and Fescue:
Fusilade® II herbicide is labeled for the control of crabgrass in zoysia and fescue at reduced rates.

Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda:
Image® herbicide will suppress crabgrass in warm-season turf, including St. Augustine.

(Cynodon dactylon)

common bermuda

Background:
Common bermuda is an aggressive grass that spreads through above and underground runners. In addition to being able to spread by runners, it produces a viable seed as a means of populating as well. Common bermuda is used for lawns, but is considered undesirable amongst other types of turf. Common bermuda is sometimes referred to as wire grass and produces a thin leaf blade on above ground runners. Control of this grass is difficult due to its below ground runners that help it survive adverse conditions. Herbicide applications should be made in the spring after green up and during the fall prior to dormancy. Repeat applications are necessary to achieve complete control. No good selective herbicide options are available for controlling common bermuda in St. Augustine lawns. Physical removal or precise spot spraying with a non-selective herbicides are the only options available.

Type:
Grass (Warm-season)

Life Cycle:
Perennial

Herbicide Options:
Centipede:
In centipede lawns, Vantage® herbicide will selectively control common bermuda. Repeat applications will need to be made to achieve complete control.

Fescue, and Zoysia:
Fusilade II® herbicide will control common bermuda in fescue and Zoysia. Use lower rates and make applications to fescue during cooler periods.


(Alluim canadense and Allium vineale)

wild onion wild garlic
   Wild Onion                                Wild Garlic

Background:
Wild onion and wild garlic are two different plants that appear very similar. They are both cool season perennials with hollow leaves that stand out in the landscape. These weeds can spread from seeds and underground bublets. Wild garlic has a distinct garlic smell when crushed and will produce offset bublets. Wild onion is identified by a fibrous coat on the central bulb. Controlling these weeds often is part of long term spray program that takes several herbicide applications. Add spreader/sticker to herbicide solutions to increase their efficacy.

Type:
Cool Season

Life Cycle:
Perennial

Herbicide Options:
Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda:
Image® herbicide will control both wild onion and wild garlic in warm-season turf. Apply Image® in late fall with a follow up application in late winter.

Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda, Fescue:
Combination products such as Trimec® Southern herbicide provide good control on all turf types. Apply in late fall and then again in late winter with a follow up application the next fall.

Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda:
MSM 60DF herbicide will control wild garlic and wild onion on warm-season turf. Add spreader/sticker for best results.


(Lespedeza striata)

common lespedeza

Background:
Common lespedeza is problematic in South Carolina lawns during summer months. This summer annual matures in late summer and often darker in appearance than the grass it is growing in. Common lespedeza is wiry and freely branch with a woody tap root. Centipede lawns exhibit a strong contrast in color and easily show signs of infestation. As with most summer annual weeds, using a pre-emergent herbicide is the best way to control this weed. Split applications of Barricade® pre-emergent herbicide are recommended for maximum control. An initial application should be applied in March with a follow up application in May.

Type:
Broadleaf (Warm-season)

Life cycle:
Annual

Herbicide Options:
Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda, Fescue:
Speedzone Southern® herbicide contains multiple active ingredients to control common lespedeza. Due to the time of year it is being applied, use the lowest rate of spreader/sticker to reduce possible injury to grasses.


common lespedeza chemical

Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda, Fescue:
Trimec® herbicide contains multiple active ingredients to control common lespedeza. Due to the time of year it is being applied, use the lowest rate of spreader/sticker to reduce possible injury to grasses. Trimec® is available in a quart size to treat smaller areas.

Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda:
MSM 60 DF herbicide provides excellent control of common lespedeza in warm-season turf. Some discolor- ation of turf can be expected. Do not apply during hot weather. Use minimal amounts of spreader/sticker to reduce possible injury to grasses.

Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda, Fescue:
Confront® 3 granular herbicide combines three active ingredients for good control of common lespedeza. Confront® 3 is available on a 0-0-15 fertilizer carrier and a 19-0-6 fertilizer carrier with the added benefit of Dimension® pre-emergent herbicide.


(Stachys floridana)

florida betony

Background:
Florida betony is commonly referred to as rattlesnake weed due to its segmented underground white tubers that resemble the rattles on a rattlesnake. This perennial weed is hard to control due to the tubers that store food reserves and serve as the primary means of propagation. Controlling this weed with herbicides is part of a long-term management approach. While there are several herbicides available that provide fair to good results; however, none provide excellent control. Florida betony grows actively during the cooler months of the year.

Type:
Broadleaf (Cool-season)

Life Cycle:
Perennial

Herbicide options:
Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda:
MSM 60 DF herbicide provides good control of florida betony in warm-season turf. Some discoloration of turf can be expected.

Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda, Fescue:
Speedzone Southern® and Trimec Southern® herbicide contains multiple active ingredients to help control florida betony.

Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda, Fescue:
Confront® 3 granular herbicide combines three active ingredients for good control of florida betony. Confront® 3 is available on a 0-0-15 fertilizer carrier and a 19-0-6 fertilizer carrier with the added benefit of Dimension® pre-emergent herbicide.


(Cenchrus echinatus)

southern

Background:
Southern sandspur is found primarily in disturbed sandy soils. It is best known for the spiky seed head that attaches to everything it comes in contact with. Southern sandspur is a problem due to this seed. This grassy weed is a summer annual and often appears reddish in color at the base. Pre-emergent herbicides are the best way to eradicate it from lawns.

Type:
Grass (Warm-season)

Life Cycle:
Annual

Herbicide Options:
Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda, Fescue:
Barricade® pre- emergent herbicide made in two applications 60 days apart provides the best control for sandspur.

Centipede:
Vantage® herbicide is labeled for control in centipede lawns. Two applications 21 days apart provide good control.

Centipede and St. Augustine:
Sandspur may be partially controlled or suppressed with atrazine herbicide. Do not make more than two applications per year of atrazine herbicide.

Centipede, St. Augustine, Bermuda, Zoysia:
Sandspur may be partially controlled or suppressed with Image® herbicide.

Zoysia and Fescue:
Fusilade II® herbicide at 30 day intervals controls sandspur. Mix with spreader/sticker for better control.


(Paspalum dilatatum)

dallisgrass
           Dallisgrass                            Dallisgrass seed head

Background: Dallisgrass is a clumped perennial grass that has short rhizomes. Dallisgrass reproduces from seed and short rhizomes. Seed heads are arranged in an alternate pattern. Dallisgrass is difficult to control mainly due to the limited number of selective herbicides available. Bermuda is the only type of turf with selective herbicide options. Precisely spot treating with non-selective herbicides in other grasses is the only other herbicide option. This option should only be employed if damage to desirable grasses can be tolerated. Additional control measures include physically removing the weed by digging it up.

Type:
Grass

Life Cycle:
Perennial

Herbicide Options:
Bermuda:
Herbicide options in bermuda include using MSMA herbicide. When used alone, repeat applications of MSMA at 5-7 day apart beginning in the spring are necessary to achieve control. It is important to stay on schedule when making MSMA applications.

MSMA herbicide can be tank mixed with Dismiss herbicide to increase control.
It is important to follow label instructions when tank mixing these herbicides.

MSMA herbicide can also be tank mixed with Revolver herbicide.
Make two applications three weeks apart for best results. Consult label for exact rates.


(Elusine indica)

goosegrass

Background:
Goosegrass is tough, clumped summer annual that reproduces from seed. Goosegrass has a whitish-silvery color at the base of the plant. Goosegrass commonly grows in compacted soils due to its ability thrive in low oxygen environments.

Type:
Grass (Warm-season)

Life Cycle:
Annual

Herbicide Options:
Pre-emergent herbicides are the best way to deal with this annual weed.
Apply a pre-emergent herbicide such as Barricade® in March, with an additional application in May to obtain best results.

Zoysia and Fescue:
Fusilade® II herbicide selectively controls goosegrass in these turf types. Use according to label instructions. Some discoloration of desirable grasses can be expected.

Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda, Fescue:
Dismiss® herbicide controls or suppresses goosegrass. Consult label for instructions. Some varieties of turf exhibit more tolerance than others. Dismiss® herbicide also controls certain types of sedges and select broadleaf weeds.

Zoysia and Bermuda:
Revolver® herbicide is labeled for selective control of goosegrass in these types of grass. Consult label for rates and instuctions for use.


(Eupatorium capillifolium)

dogfennel

Background:
Dogfennel is a tall-growing perennial weed commonly found throughout the Southeast. If allowed to mature, dogfennel can reach a height of 5-6’, but can survive at much lower heights such as those found in residential lawns. Its fine leaf blades make it easy to identify and produce an aromatic smell when crushed. Dogfennel grows actively during the warmer months and reproduces by seed and re-growth from its woody base. Dogfennel will go dormant during the winter.

Type:
Broadleaf

Life Cycle:
Perennial

Herbicide Options:
Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda:
MSM 60 provides excellent control of dogfennel. Mix with spreader/sticker for best results.

Centipede, Zoysia, St.Augustine, Bermuda, Fescue:
Speedzone Southern® yields quick results in controlling dogfennel. Mix with spreader/sticker for best results.

Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda, Fescue:
Confront® 3 provides three active ingredients for excellent results. Confront® 3 is available in a granular formulation.

Centipede, St. Augustine, Zoysia, Bermuda, Fescue:
Trimec® and Trimec Southern® combine multiple ingredients for controlling dogfennel. Use a spreader/sticker for best results.


(Richardia scabra)

florida pusley

Background:
Florida pusley is a summer annual that reproduces from seed. Leaves are oval-shaped and somewhat thickened. When present, flowers are white and appear in clusters at the end of branches. Florida pusley is best controlled through the use of pre-emergent herbicides.

Type:
Broadleaf

Life Cycle:
Annual

Herbicide Options:
Use a pre-emergent herbicide such as Barricade®
to prevent Florida pusley establishment.

Centipede, St. Augustine, Zoysia, Bermuda, Fescue:
Speedzone Southern® provides multiple active ingredients to quickly control Florida pusley once established. Use a spreader/sticker for best results.

Centipede, St. Augustine, Zoysia, Bermuda, Fescue:
Trimec® and Trimec Southern® combine multiple ingredients for controlling Florida pusley. Use a spreader/sticker for best results.


(Hydrocotyle spp.)

dollarweed

Background:
Dollarweed is an invasive weed on wet sites where moisture is in excess. Improving drainage in wet sites will lower weed pressure. Dollarweed reproduces from rhizomes, tubers, and seeds. Controlling dollarweed can be accomplished through the use of post-emergent herbicides. Dollarweed is easily confused with dichondra. The major identifiable difference between the two is how the petiole attaches to the leaf. Dollarweed petioles attach in the center of the leaf, while dichondra petioles attach on the side.

Type:
Broadleaf

Life Cycle:
Perennial

Herbicide Options:
Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda, Fescue:
Speedzone Southern® herbicide contains multiple active ingredients to control dollarweed. Due to the time of year it is being applied, use the lowest rate of spreader/sticker to reduce possible injury to grasses.

Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda, Fescue:
Trimec® herbi- cide contains multiple active ingredients to control dollarweed. Due to the time of year it is being applied, use the lowest rate of spreader/sticker to reduce possible injury to grasses. Trimec® is available in a quart size to treat smaller areas.

Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda:
MSM 60 DF herbicide provides excellent control of dollarweed in warm-season turf. Some discoloration of turf can be expected. Do not apply during hot weather. Use minimal amounts of spreader/sticker to reduce possible injury to grasses.

Centipede and St. Augustine:
Atrazine herbicide can be applied to St. Augustine and Centipede as a post-emergent treatment to control dollarweed. Atrazine works best during the early stages of growth when weeds are less mature. Do not use atrazine once air temperatures exceed 80° F.

Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda:
Image® herbicide will control both wild onion and wild garlic in warm-season turf. Apply Image® in late fall with a follow up application in late winter.


A large majority of the weeds found in landscapes
are considered broadleafs. Most of the post-emergent selective herbicides available control a wide spectrum of broadleaf weeds. Herbicide blends are common and contain multiple active ingredients to provide good results. Annual broadleaf weeds are best controlled by the use of pre-emergent herbicides such as Barricade®.

Cool-season or winter annuals begin germinating
in the fall as temperatures begin to lower. Pre-emergent herbicides are the best means of preventing these types of weeds. Winter annual weeds are most noticeable during the spring as they have had all winter to reach maturity. Post-emergent herbicide applications provide good control of winter annuals, but work best when weeds are less than two inches. Winter annual weeds may remain small and unnoticeable in the lawn during the coldest months, but bolt quickly once warmer weather arrives. Below are examples of some of the most common winter annual weeds found in the state.


cool season broadleaf annuals

Hairy Bittercrest (Cardamine hirusuta)
Carolina Germanium (Geranium carolinianum)
Shiny Cudweed (Gnaphalium spicatum)
Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule)
Knawel (Scleranthus annuus)
Parsley Piert (Alchemilla arvensis)
Lawn Burweed (Soliva pterosperma)
CommonVetch (Vicia sativa)
Purple Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)
Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Warm-season or summer annuals begin germinating
in the spring as temperatures begin to rise. Pre-emergent herbicides are the best means of preventing these types of weeds. Summer annual weeds are most noticeable during the late summer and early fall as they have had all season to mature. There are post-emergent herbicides available for most of these weeds; however, using them in hot weather during the summer months may cause some injury to desirable grasses. Using two applications of a pre-emergent herbicide in March and May provide good results for controlling summer annual weeds. Below are examples of some of the most common summer annual weeds found in South Carolina.

warm season broadlead annuals
 
Carpetweed (Mollugo verticillata)
Chamberbitter (Phyllanthus urinaria)
Horseweed (Conyza canadensis)
Common Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)
Florida Pusley (Richardia scabra)
Spotted Spurge (Chamaesyce maculate)
Pigweed (Amaranthus hybridus)
Doveweed (Murdannia nudiflora)
Tufted Knotweed (Polygonum caespitosum)

Virginia Buttonweed (Diodia virginiana)
White Clover (Trifolium repens)
Dichondra (Dichondra carolinensis)
Dollarweed (Hydrocotyle spp.)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Dogfennel (Eupatorium capillifolium)
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Buckhorn Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
Violet (Violet spp.)
Woodsorrel(Oxalis stricta)
Indian Mock Strawberry (Duchesnea indica)


This guide is not meant to supplement any product labels. It is an informal reference of herbicides available for weeds control. Always consult pesticide labels on exact direction for use. Labels are subject to change and should always be adhered to. Remember the label is the law.


pdf icon  Download & Print this Guide to Controlling Common Weeds by clicking here.

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