How to Control Torpedo Grass in Your Lawn

By: Julie Day

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:

Herbicides


    Torpedo grass with Bermuda

  • 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.

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.

Further Information

Julie

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5 Comments on “How to Control Torpedo Grass in Your Lawn”

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  • Mike Hotka Says:
    August 6th, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Rather than move, I also tried to separate the torpedo grass from the shrubs it invaded, blade by blade. I then painted the blades, using a small throw-away brush, with concentrated Roundup. I put 4 mil plastic down on top of what I couldn’t reach. This was fairly effective.



  • Carol Says:
    July 28th, 2016 at 10:05 am

    My lawn service brought Torpedo grass into my yard of beautiful Bermuda. It has taken over 1/3 of the yard and now is invading all the shrubbery and flower beds. It’s a nightmare. I am elderly and can’t get down and pull the grass out of the bushes. How do I get rid of the grass there? Is there another way?



  • Maria Guzman Says:
    November 12th, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    We just paid $1,600 to replace our front yard, not knowing the problem will not stop there. I wish I knew. my beautiful husband researched after the grass was changed. Very smart of him!!! .. wanted to kill him. Now what can we do to slow the growing process?? I’m desperate. I thing we should just put pavers all of our front yard. lol. Really, then no more grass to deal with. Sooooo mad. I’m just sad for my husband for all the stress this caused him. He doesn’t deserve to go through this. He is a hard worker man!!



  • Ken Says:
    October 9th, 2015 at 8:13 am

    I’ve been dealing with torpedo grass for over 15 years. I’ve found that using Round Up at triple the recommended strength kills nearly all of it in one spraying (12 fl oz per gallon using 40% concentrate). I spray in early Summer when the plant is active then leave the area bare for one month and follow up where needed. Drastic measures are necessary to completely eradicate this weed. Where it is growing in among shrubbery, I pull the long shoots of grass out of the plants and lay them out along the ground where they can be sprayed without harming the plant. It is a tedious process but better than relandscaping.



  • Ann Costello Says:
    July 23rd, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    After I kill the torpedo grass, I need a super ground cover to salvage the area which is moist and has full sun. what do you recommend? It needs to be very tough.


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