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How to Kill Snake Grass

By Steven White ; Updated September 21, 2017
Snake grass thrives in weak lawns.
grass image by green308 from Fotolia.com

Snake or horsetail grass is a persistent weed with quickly spreading runners and deep-lying roots. Snake grass is so persistent that the only way to kill it off quickly is with a non-discriminatory herbicides. While prevention is the best medicine, there are some instances where snake grass persists. In these cases, continue treating consistently for at least three seasons. If the problem still exists after that time, consult your county extension office for advice on treatment.

Consistent Approach

Maintain a short lawn by moving it twice every week. Keep the snake grass below 3 inches and it will not be able to sustain its own spread and will starve to death.

Outgrow the snake grass. Fertilize your lawn monthly during its growing season and water the lawn regularly. A healthy lawn will naturally choke out the snake grass.

Apply a pre-emergent, turf-friendly herbicide onto the lawn in late fall and early spring. Pre-emergent herbicides kill snake grass before its stalks emerge from the surface.

Extreme Measures

Transplant all trees, shrubs and flowers into pots with fresh soil.

Dethatch the turf so that the soil is completely exposed. Dethatching is the process of removing the layer of built-up grass matter that sits under the grass blades but above the soil. Dethatch by raking your yard with a dethatching tool, picking up the thatch and disposing of it either in the garbage or the compost pile.

Soak the yard with a non-discriminatory herbicide. This herbicide will kill everything in the yard, including the snake grass. Rest the yard for the manufacturer’s recommended time, the re-seed the lawn.


Things You Will Need

  • Lawn mower
  • Dethatcher
  • Turf lawn fertilizer
  • Pre-emergent herbicide
  • Herbicide

About the Author


Steven White is a privately contracted software engineer and efficiency analyst. He has more than five years of experience providing technical support for AT&T broadband customers. Along with his technology background, White enjoys carpentry and plumbing.