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I just moved to a new place and my neglected lawn has lots of these spiky "grasses". They seem to be very resilient, difficult to pull out and need a good bit of forking to get to the roots.

What plant is it? How do I get rid of it without having to dig out my lawn? Will it be easier to put a layer of cardboard and lay new turf over it?

If it helps, I am in the UK.

lawn with spiky grass in it

Edit:

Here is a picture of the roots. The roots are fibrous and I can't see any nodules attached to the roots.

Fibrous roots

I have had day lilies and can confirm that these aren't day lilies. Their blades are firmer and stringier than a day lily. I have seen this grass like plant before and can say that when they flower, they have long slender tufts on a stiff stalk. I can't attach a picture as none are in flower now.

Thank you for all your help so far!

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  • Oddly, those look a little like daylilies, although it's more likely that they're a coarse grass. Could you please pull one and add a photo of the roots? – Jurp Apr 19 at 22:12
  • If it is nutsedge (nutgrass), covering with cardboard or black plastic will not kill it. It is one of the very few plants that can survive that treatment. IMO it looks like couch grass (twitch) which is also very hard to get rid of. – alephzero Apr 20 at 4:01
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That looks like nutsedge. You can find out for sure by digging up a small clump and looking for the characteristic "nutlets" among the roots. I think I see a nutlet in the dirt patch to the right of the blue circle in your photo, but it's hard to be sure from the photo. (Incidentally, nutsedge nutlets are edible as long as you haven't already put herbicide on the plants. They're crunchy, but pretty bland. A lot like a Chinese chestnut.)

enter image description here (image source same as above link)

There are lots of sources of info on how to kill nutsedge. Here's a factsheet from Purdue University: Yellow Nutsedge Control.

You can control outbreaks of nutsedge by digging out the individual plants (be sure to get rid of all the nutlets, because each one can grow a new plant) or with nutsedge-specific herbicides. However,

The best method for controlling yellow nutsedge (and other weeds) is to grow a healthy, dense, vigorous stand of turf that can compete with weeds. Encourage dense turf stands by following proper turf maintenance practices, including fall fertilization, proper irrigation, frequent mowing at the proper height, and over-seeding as needed.

Yellow nutsedge is most problematic in turf that is mown too short, and it thrives in areas where soils remain moist from poor drainage or overwatering. However, yellow nutsedge can also be a problem in well-drained areas, especially thin turf.

Your lawn doesn't have much healthy turf grass in it. I see lots of other weeds, including dandelions and possibly creeping charlie. Between weeds, I see lots of thatch buildup. I'd recommend reading a lawn maintenance guide to get an overall idea of things you can do to improve your lawn health. Removing the existing lawn and replacing it with fresh sod would be the fastest and simplest fix, but it's not cheap. The other option is planting grass seed, probably first doing some weed control, raking out some of the thatch and putting down a thin layer of fresh soil. That way is much less expensive, but it takes more work and much more time (possibly several years) before your lawn will look good. There's a good discussion of how to choose between sod versus grass seed on page 9 of this guide. The Royal Horticultural Society also has a selection of lawn management guides that should provide information that's more locally relevant to you there in the UK.

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  • Thank you csk. I don't think it's nutsedge. I can't see the nutlets. Yep, I just moved in and want to sort out the lawn before summer. – Prav Apr 21 at 16:54

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