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How to Get Rid of Paspalum (+ Best Paspalum Killer)

Paspalum is a broad leaf perennial grass that spreads through underground rhizomes.

Featured Image: Paspalum / Photo by Josep Gesti / Wikimedia (cropped) / CC BY-SA 4.0

Paspalum is one of those pesky lawn weeds that can be hard to get rid of unless you’re persistent in controlling it.

It’s most important to control paspalum in your lawn as soon as you see it so that it doesn’t have time to spread and ruin your beautiful lawn.

What is paspalum grass?

Paspalum dilatatum 1 | Weed control
Paspalum dilatatum / Photo by Harry Rose / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Paspalum is a grass with a fairly broad leaf and can easily blend in with the rest of your lawn. However, it does tend to stand out when it produces its easily-identifiable seed heads.

It’s a tough perennial grass that spreads through underground rhizomes and is quite coarse-looking when compared to the rest of your lawn.

This common lawn weed is mostly found in the southeastern states of Australia and is also regarded as an environmental weed in most states around the country. 

How do you identify paspalum?

Paspalum dilatatum 2 | Weed control
Paspalum dilatatum / Photo by harum.koh / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Paspalum grows in tufts in your lawn and can reach a height of 1 metre when fully grown. The grass blades are broader than most lawn grasses and are slightly folded at the base.

You’ll also find that the grass blades will have a slight purple tinge at the base.

In spring and summer, the grass will produce flowering stems and seed heads that are spike-shaped. The seeds produced by these seed heads are sticky and easily spread throughout your lawn and garden.

Interestingly, when paspalum is mown regularly, it changes its growth habit, and instead of growing tall, it starts to creep along the ground to take over your lawn.

Paspalum dilatatum (the common weed variety) is also similar to a couple of other paspalum species. Paspalum notatum is more low-growing and will usually only reach a height of 60 cm while Paspalum distichum, commonly known as water couch, has a similar form but is mostly found near water.

How to get rid of paspalum

Paspalum dilatatum | Weed control
Paspalum dilatatum / Photo by Stefan.lefnaer / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

It’s important that you control this weed in your lawn. Otherwise, it can easily take over and will use up valuable water and nutrients in the soil to the detriment of the turf variety that you’re growing.

If you only notice a small infestation of paspalum in your lawn, you can easily remove it by hand. Just use a sharp knife or weeding tool and cut it or dig it out. Make sure that you cut the stem below the soil level as this should prevent it from growing back. 

If you’re digging it out, try and get as many of the roots and rhizomes as possible. Try to do this before the seed heads have time to develop as these can be spread by wind, insects, pets and even your shoes.

If you have a more sizable infestation, you might need to use a herbicide to get rid of it. The type of herbicide you can use will depend on the variety of turf you have.

In most cases, a non-selective herbicide can be carefully spot-applied to the paspalum to kill it.

RELATED: How to Get Rid of Couch Grass

The best paspalum weed killers

sprayer | Weed control

The best way to kill paspalum is to use a glyphosate weedkiller such as Yates Zero or Round-Up. However, you have to be careful because this weed killer can kill your grass as well.

The best way to apply any glyphosate weedkiller to paspalum in your lawn is to use a small paint brush and dab the herbicide onto the base of grass weeds. Make sure that you don’t accidentally get any of the herbicide on your turf grass.

In addition, you can get specialist weeding wands that have a wick on the end that you can just dab onto the paspalum grass. Yates has a product called Zero Weed Brush (view at Amazon) that makes it easy to apply the herbicide to just the paspalum.

If your turf is Green Couch or Zoysia, there’s a selective herbicide from Syngenta called Monument that will kill the paspalum without harming your lawn.

Another fairly effective product that you can use is Amgrow’s Paspalum, Nutgrass, and Clover Weed Killer. This is designed to selectively kill the paspalum without affecting your lawn.

However, this is not recommended for Buffalo, Queensland Blue Couch, or Kikuyu lawns unless you only spot-apply it.

Other suitable herbicides include:

  • Spartan Herbicide
  • Oxafert Herbicide and Fertiliser
  • Tribute Herbicide

Just ensure that you read the label to ensure that it’s suitable for your particular turf species or whether it needs to be spot-applied only to the paspalum.

Paspalum FAQ

Is paspalum the same as crabgrass?

No, paspalum and crabgrass are two entirely different weeds. While paspalum is a tough perennial that will grow year after year, crabgrass is an annual grass that will complete its entire life cycle in one year. However, the seeds will lie in the soil to grow again the following year.

Is paspalum a perennial?

Yes, paspalum is a perennial grass that is tough and resilient, which is why it can be so hard to get rid of.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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