picture of the week

September 20, 2021

Fountain Grass, a Tough Weed in Turf

John Orick, Purdue Master Gardener State Coordinator, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture

The photos included in this article show fountain grass (Pennisetum spp.) that has escaped a landscape bed and invaded a turfgrass area. Seeds from fountain grass plants growing in landscape beds can be blown by wind or drop onto turf areas growing next to these plantings. Fountain grass is not adapted to lower mowing heights and even sharp mower blades won’t cut the leaves. This causes the fountain grass leaves to be shredded negatively affecting the aesthetics of the lawn.

Click image to enlarge
fountain grass Fountain grass in turf area. (Photo by John Orick)
fountain grass Fountain grass in turf area. (Photo by John Orick)
fountain grass Fountain grass growing in a landscape bed. (Photo by Dr. Aaron Patton)

The recommended control options include:

  • Avoid planting fountain grass next to turf areas
  • Avoid piling debris containing seed heads from fountain grass plants on the turf
  • Apply a selective herbicide containing quinclorac to control fountain grass (repeated applications)
  • Apply a nonselective herbicide such as glyphosate to kill all grass plants in the contaminated sections of the turf
  • After controlling fountain grass in the lawn, re-seed or re-sod as necessary

For more information:

Turf Tips Article: “Weed of the Month for June 2013 is Fountain Grass http://purdueturftips.blogspot.com/2013/06/junes-weed-of-month-is-fountain-grass.html

Identification and Control of Perennial Grassy Weeds (AY-11-W) https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/AY/AY-11-W.pdf

Lawn Improvement Programs (AY-13-W) https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/AY/AY-13-W.pdf

Establishing Turfgrass Areas from Seed (AY-3-W) https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/AY/AY-3-W.pdf​

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