Grass grows best where you wish it wouldn’t

I’ve got grass growing in my __________ (you fill in the blank). Usually the grass is growing in a ground cover or in the middle of a rose bush. It seems to be true that grass grows best where you wish it wouldn’t.

Grass growing in Vinca

I myself have become an expert on a sunny calm wind-less day with a brush or directed pin-point nozzle on a pressure tank sprayer and a little bit of Roundup. The danger is that Roundup or glyphosate is a “non-selective” herbicide i.e. kills whatever vegetation it hits. To the inexperienced gardener trying to deal with grass growing between plants it can result in involuntary plant slaughter. In some cases brushing it on the offending grasses…..well let’s just say you’ve got better things to do with your time……take me to your “weeder”.

There are some products that are considered an “over-the-top” grass killer. They are meant to be used over and around ground cover and landscape plants in controlling grassy weeds. Products like “Grass Getter” and “Grass Beater” as post-emergence herbicides.

Grass Getter, Spreader Sticker, Grass Beater, Halosulfuron

The active ingredient is Sethoxydim.  It kills grasses by preventing synthesis of lipids in plants, an essential process in cell membrane integrity and normal plant growth and energy. Lipids aren’t just a human thing…..plants have lipids too. When I get a physical my doctor will order a lipid panel or test to measure fats in my bloodstream. That’s why I’ve learned not to drink a chocolate shake before a blood test….and yes I have made that mistake before.  Broadleaf plants are tolerant of Sethoxydim, grasses are not…..that’s why you can use it “over-the-top” of desirable plants.

It is recommended that you use a surfactant or as we call it a spreader sticker when applying Sethoxydim. A spreader sticker is Alcohol Ethoxylate lowering the surface tension of a liquid or water by and allowing it to interface with the surface. Your application then has a conversation like “Hi grassy weed, my name is Sethoxydim and I’m going to stick around for a little while”……..friendly but deadly and effective.

Another selective herbicide to consider in the landscape if the miserable weeds Nutsedge or Horsetail are present would be Halosulfuron-methyl. Again a selective control that broadleaf plants will tolerate. A sulfonylurea herbicide that inhibits an enzyme essential to plant growth. This becomes very helpful when dealing with Nutsedge (a sedge) in turf and landscape or the dreaded primitive weed Horsetail that looks like a cross between a mutant mini evergreen and the tail of a horse.


Horsetail will take over poorly drained areas with root tubers that can run 6 foot deep. It spreads though root stock and spores with both vegetative and reproductive stalks. When you get an invasion of horsetail you really want to call a realtor and move. A word of warning…..just as with the grass killers noted above, use a spreader sticker or surfactant when applying Halosulfuron.

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