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Getting rid of Paspalum in established lawns

Question 3:  Large sections of my lawn have suddenly been taken over with what I'm told is Paspalum weed which spread out and got big while I wasn't looking. I've tried digging them out but with no joy - is there a way of getting rid of it or controlling it without killing the rest of the grass around it?

Answer 1:  As far as I know there is no spray for paspalum inlawns without killing the lawn except a spray that you need a licence for. Digging them out is the only way - this is best done when ground soft after rain - but of course if they have been seeding for years then you will have plants for years.
-  Coralie Smith.

Answer 2:  I have had a reply re the spray for paspalum. It's available at CRT but sounds like it will kill lawns. It's suitable for spot spraying and if you are thinking about a new lawn or there is no grass at all there - only paspalum - then it might be worth a try.

(Added information from Mark Freeman,NZ Crop Care agronomist): Yes I did read about the spray Ignite in the Weekend gardener, (issue 308) but in the latest issue (309) there is a warning that it is a Herbicide. It says the spray Ignite will control kikuyu and paspalum species but not selectively if sprayed directly over the whole lawn. Rather, it will kill most monocotyledons. If Ignite is sprayed over ryegrass, short or tall fescue lawns, as well as couch and poa grasses, death of all these species will proceed in the following two to three weeks. However, you can use Ignite for spot spraying kikuyu and paspalum.
-  Coralie Smith.

Answer 3:  A selective paspalum killer for lawns is available from Bunnings in Australia, but not here. Two Australian firms which manufacture a similar product, said to not be harmful to other grasses, have no representative here and will not send to NZ. Yates seem to be no help.

Advice in Australia is to cut off the crown with a small sharp knife, when the roots will not regrow. Otherwise glyphosate can be applied to the paspalum with a small paintbrush, carefully. I have tried spot spraying but it leaves the lawn looking like a mini bomb-site. Boiling water poured carefully onto a paspalum plant can also work.

In short, paspalum is a curse, but if you do not control it, it will spread through your lawn like wildfire.
-  Anton Petre.

Answer 4:  The product available in Australia is from Brunnings (not Bunnings). They manufacture a range of similar products.
-  Cam & Jen Ronald.

Answer 5:  I am fighting paspalum in my lawn - it is an unpleasant weed which I would be happier without. I have tried painting the paspalum leaves with a strong weedkiller - Westminster Commercial from the Warehouse, it kills the paspalum but also all of the grass around. I am worried also about poisoning the soil.

I am digging out now. With a small pointed spade, dig out whole plant, tap plant to remove soil and discard (don't put on compost heap). Dig vigorously around the hole to break up soil and lift out roots, some paspalum runners can be quite long. Then repair the hole.

Get some lawn seed (uncoated) - I got mine from PGG Wrightsons, one can order it bulk by the Kilo. Mine is Premium Tee seed. Then get some sand to mix the grass seed with - yes sand, sharp sand (Plasterers use this). Mix the seed and sand together in a bucket and sprinkle on hole 5 - 10mm thick, and stamp down (one can put a sand base down if you want to raise bottom of hole and put seed / sand mix on top). Water morning and night with watering can. In one week the grass is shooting - 3 weeks 20 - 30 mm of nice grass.

Become paspalum aware - don't let mowing contractors bring in seed, and be wary of brought-in top soil / compost. Pick off any paspalum seed heads on plants you haven't reached yet. Watch for seed from your neighbours lawns.
-  Malcolm Emmerson.

Answer 6:  Some of the older selective weed sprays used to control paspalum and other grasses have been phased out, this is due to their active ingredient being of an organic arsenical origin. The product from Brunnings in Australia, "Paspalum Kill", is one of these and will control a range of grasses and along with the other active ingredient "MCPA" it will control broadleaf weeds too, so care would need to be taken when applying to residential lawn blends.

The organic arsenicals have been found to leach and contaminate drinking water sources and waterways, hence the call from some environmental protection groups to discontinue production of this chemical.

Another chemistry for the selective control of some grasses including paspalum can be found in products such as "Gallant" or "Ignite". It does however have a residual effect in the soil and kills a range of grasses. As many lawns in New Zealand are a blend of grass types, brown top & fescue for example, its use may be limited. Gallant is available at PGG Wrightson in Richmond or Motueka.

Roundup or any one of its generic glyphosate alternatives will kill paspalum but as stated above will need to be spot sprayed or applied with a brush or a weed wiper. The benefit of using a glyphosate based herbicide is that it is non-residual so the lawn can be resown with grass seed once the paspalum has been controlled.
-  Mike Burnett, CSR, PGG Wrightson (Fruitfed), Richmond.

Answer 7:  Ignite or Gallant (spot sprayed or weed wiped only) will take Paspalum off a ryegrass lawn. (Note - it will also kill fine fescues.) If you desire a fine fescue or mixed variety lawn (so that you get an all season cover), it's fairly straight forward to over seed after the herbicide has done its job with a red fescue or fescue browntop mix to bring it back. Your local farmstore has the options for you. Non-selective recommendations, should be weed wiped. (Ignite appears to be most effective from recent feedback.)
-  Baz Woodcock, Turf Business Sales Manager, CRT Farmlands.

Answer 8:  I have a fine fescue turf lawn from fine lawn in Hamilton. I use Ignite to keep all foreign species out of the lawn, it doesn't kill everything as suggested, and as recommended by fine lawn.
-  Byron Gray.

Answer 9:  We use the poison sprays - but instead of spraying, we apply the poison by rubbing directly onto the Paspalum, thus saving the other grasses. Rubber gloves, dip hand in poison solution, rub onto Paspalum. Works like a treat if we use the right poison that gets to the roots. (Can also be applied with small paint brush directly to leaves.)
-  Greg Braum, South Africa.

Answer 10:  I have found I need to dig out the paspalum. I found an excellent implement to do the job. It is called Grampas Weeder, it is available in Australia. (That's a photo of it to the right.)
-  Susan de Cann, Australia.

Answer 11:  Try Sulphate of Ammonia. It just burns out the roots and all.
-  Neil Williamson.

Answer 12:  If you are going to dig it out, don't use a spade. Use a sturdy garden fork with ideally a steel shaft, borrow one if you have to. The spade has a high risk of cutting roots and leaving these in place to once again be a nuisance.

Wait until just after a heavy rain (when the weather clears) and work methodically. Dig the fork in approx 200 mm from the centre of the clump and about 150 mm down, then lean on the fork handle raising the soil and roots but not breaking the surface. Patiently work your way around the clump repeating this process until it is obvious the next lift will bring the entire clump out, roots and all. It is imperative that you be patient as the objective is to not leave any small roots behind.

Once the clump is lifted do a check around the edge of the cavity for pieces of root left behind and once they are out lay your fork over the cavity with the Tongs arching like a bridge and gently tap any loose soil off but don't try to get it all off.

Once you've completed the area for the day place sufficient soil (not compost or bark) in the hole, tramp over it and add more tramping until it is solid and slightly proud, then rake down level and seed it etc.

I can tell you from much experience that your lawn will look 100% better with these clumps out, it even looks great just with all the cavities yet to be filled. The secret is to be patient and methodical setting yourself an area of the lawn for the morning for example and just do that, gradually working through the lawn as you get time.

You can even continue into winter, just filling but not seeding until spring. Don't compost the clumps and don't take them to the public green waste. Dispose of them at the council general waste. Autumn is a good time to walk over your lawns looking for young Paspalum that has just seeded. It is easy to spot and you can just pull it out as it is virtually sitting on the surface of the soil. Good luck.
-  Dale Hockey, Spruce Up NZ Ltd .

Answer 13:  There is a spray for summer grasses in lawns - it's called Ignite. It should be used in the shoulder months pre and post summer. If used in summer the dosage should be reduced. It needs to be handled carefully and applied strictly to the recommendations but it does work well. Apply with a dye so that no parts of the lawn are done twice or missed.
-  Bruce and Nancy McKenzie.

Answer 14:  The spray available in OZ is ARSENIC based so not allowed to be imported to NZ so leaves with digging out and if you miss a bit of the root it will just regrow so leaves round up then patch.
-  Capers Cafe.

Answer 15:  I have been told that applying salt to the crown of the paspalum plants in summer when the soil is very dry will kill them as they suck all the moisture out of the salt, thereby killing themselves!
-  - Jenny Williams.

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