How do I get rid of torpedo grass in my lawn? -Sherry
They don’t call torpedo grass (Panicum repens) “creeping panic” for nothing, since it’s very difficult to control once it finds its way into your yard! Most weed killers barely slow torpedo grass down, and pulling or digging only makes it grow faster. Unfortunately, there’s no good way to kill torpedo grass without killing your lawn grass, too.
I wish I had an easy solution for you, but when you want to get rid of torpedo grass, you’ve got to pull out the big guns. Here are some ideas to try:
- Glyphosphate: (such as Roundup) is considered the most effective herbicide against torpedo grass, though it kills lawn grass and other plants, too.
- Imazapyr: (such as Ortho Ground Clear) is also effective on torpedo grass, along with all other plants, but has a residual effect in the soil that can harm trees and shrubs.
- Keep at It: Any herbicide treatment will likely need to be applied more than once.
- Target Weeds: Use a plastic bottle to minimize overspray onto your lawn.
- Protect Waterways: Torpedo grass often grows near and in water. Never use herbicides if the spray can come into contact with waterways.
Torpedo grass with Bermuda
Other Control Measures
- Solarization: If you are clearing a larger area of lawn, you can solarize it by covering with clear plastic for a month or two during the summer. The sun will bake everything underneath, leaving you with (hopefully) a clean slate in the fall.
- Burning: Researchers at the South Florida Water Management Division have successfully managed torpedo grass by burning it during the winter, then spraying it with herbicide as soon as it starts to sprout again.
- Pulling and Digging: Manually removing torpedo grass isn’t very effective, since the bits of broken plant spread and sprout anew!
Torpedo grass is a marshy plant that tends to invade areas with poor drainage or that have recently been disturbed (such as by a controlled burn, tilling, or grading). You can help discourage infestations of torpedo grass by:
- Improving drainage and soil quality in your yard to keep the existing lawn grass healthy.
- Replacing disturbed soil with sod, lawn grasses, or naturalized beds before weeds have time to invade.
- Torpedograss (University of Florida)
- Torpedo Grass (USDA Plants Profile)
- How to Control Weeds in Your Lawn (article)
- Lawn Weed Control (video)