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How to Kill Dallisgrass

By Meg Butler ; Updated September 21, 2017
Kill dallisgrass and keep your lawn beautiful.

Dallisgrass (Papalum dilatatum Poir.) is a warm-season, invasive grassy weed native to South America. It was originally brought to the United States in the 19th century to be used as a forage grass. In the 21st century, it is most often encountered when it sprouts up in unsightly clumps in home lawns. Its growing season is longer than most species of turf grass. which gives it the upper hand in the invasion. The best way to kill dallisgrass for good is to apply a combination of chemical, cultural and physical control methods over several seasons.

Dig up dallisgrass clumps with a trowel. This removal strategy works best on young plants and areas with only mild to moderate infestations. When removing large, mature clumps of dallisgrass, be sure to remove their entire root systems. Even small root pieces are able to regenerate. Monitor your lawn for several subsequent seasons and re-dig any re-emerging dallisgrass clumps as soon as you spot them.

Spread a 3-inch layer of organic mulch over garden beds after you dig up the dallisgrass clumps. The mulch will kill any seedlings that sprout.

Kill widespread infestations of dallisgrass by spraying the offending clumps with herbicide. Choose a selective post-emergent herbicide prescribed for use on dallisgrass. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for application rates and methods. Spray in the summer when the dallisgrass is actively growing. It will often be necessary to retreat the weeds at regular intervals (dictated by the herbicide's manufacturer) throughout the growing season and for a few subsequent seasons. Do not water the grass for 24 hours after applying the herbicide.

Treat your lawn with a selective pre-emergent dallisgrass herbicide to prevent the seed in your lawn from germinating. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for application rates and amounts. Apply the herbicide in late winter or early spring--just before the dallisgrass is scheduled to germinate. Water the lawn with 1/2 inch of water immediately after applying the herbicide.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Trowel
  • Pre-emergent herbicide
  • Post-emergent herbicide
  • Organic mulch

Tips

  • A healthy, thick-growing lawn is the best defense against dallisgrass invasion. Keep your lawn mowed at the optimal height for the grass species you are growing. Overseed any bare spots in the lawn to prevent dallisgrass seed from getting a foothold.
  • According to the botanists at the University of California, ideal post-emergent herbicides for killing dallisgrass are MSMA and CMA (found in Weed-Hoe and Weed-B-Gone products) and other selective crabgrass herbicides.
  • For the best results, do not mow your lawn for 2 weeks prior to post-emergence pesticide applications.
  • Non-selective post-emergent herbicides like Roundup may also be used, but they will kill any grass directly adjacent to the clump. Reseed the bare area to prevent reinfestation.

About the Author

 

Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.