The crabgrass nutsedge comparison might confuse even veteran turf owners. Both are notorious for being annoying weeds that are hard to eliminate.

Crabgrass vs Nutsedge Comparison

This article discusses all the points that will help you identify both as well as practical tips on effectively killing them. This ultimate comparison guide is just waiting for you to dive in!

Features Crabgrass Nutsedge
Scientific Name Digitaria sp.
Cyperus sp.
Native Area
Europe and Asia Eastern Mediterranean and Africa
Uses Used in farms as food for grazing animals Can be used as food or for medicinal purposes, but many are invasive weeds
Appearance Low growing grass; leaf sheath has small hair growing on it  Grows straight in bunches of up to 13 leaves
Grass Type Annual Perennial 
Flowers Produces finger-like inflorescence
Produces yellow or purple flowers on spikelets

What Are the Main Differences Between Crabgrass and Nutsedge?

The main difference between crabgrass and nutsedge is that the former is an actual member of the grass family, whereas nutsedge only looks like one. Crabgrass is very useful as the ideal grass in farmlands for grazing animals, whereas  nutsedge is considered invasive and can infiltrate crops. 

Crabgrass is an annual plant, which means it dies in winter, with its seeds sprouting next spring. In contrast, nutsedge is a perennial and it only goes dormant during winter, only to reawaken during spring.

Crabgrass in an actual grass, a member of the grass family Poaceae, while nutsedge is a member of the related Cyperaceae family. While crabgrass is useful for grazing animals, nutsedge isn’t normally used as animal feed. However, in some parts of Africa, it can be used as a famine food.

Both plants can be invasive when not kept in check. However, crabgrass is easier to control, especially through animal grazing and mowing, while crabgrass is a lot tougher to get rid of.

What Are the Characteristics of Crabgrass?

The characteristics of crabgrass include that it’s a warm season annual type of weed that serves as a portion of tasty food for grazing farm animals. It normally stays low but can grow quite tall when not mowed or grazed on. It’s easier to control and get rid of.

– It Is a Warm Season Annual Grass

Crabgrass is a low-growing grass that grows mostly in warmer regions where the temperatures are usually more than 65 degrees Fahrenheit. They begin sprouting all over your lawn beginning in the spring and through summer until early autumn.

When the temperature falls below 55 degrees, late in the fall, this grass begins to turn brown. Since crabgrass is an annual grass, it will die from frost during wintertime.

It will not turn green again in the spring, which for some is the only silver lining about this grass. However, its seeds still survive through the winters and will germinate when the temperatures rise back again. 

– Ideal for Farmlands

Crabgrass is ideal for growing in farmlands for grazing animals. For some reason, these animals, such as sheep and horses, really like the taste of this grass. In turn, these animals keep the growth of this weed in check.

Crabgrass Features

Crabgrass has the ability to grow in any soil, even if they are relatively poor in quality, both water and nutrition-wise. However, in farmlands, it can grow up to 35 inches tall if left unbothered. 

– It Is an Invasive Weed

Crabgrass is one of the most common weeds taking over lawns and gardens in warm regions. It grows very low toward the ground but will grow taller if the lawn is not looked after for long.

That is why you might not even notice it initially. Unlike most other weeds, it does not grow very thickly and is mostly found in bare lawn patches and between cracks in the driveway.

Still, they don’t look very good and give your lawn an overall rough appearance too. Grasses like Bermuda that are not too competitive are at risk of being eradicated by this weed if left to its own devices.

– It’s Easier To Get Rid Of

The simplest way to get rid of crabgrass is to buy a good-quality pre-emergent herbicide. These prevent the seeds from germinating and growing into fresh grass.

Crabgrass seeds germinate when the soil temperatures rise above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. That is why the best time to apply this herbicide is from early spring till early summer, and keep a soil thermometer at hand.

The very start of spring, before you reseed your lawn, is the best time to uproot the grown crabgrass seed. During winter, this grass naturally dies and turns brown. When you uproot them, hold them tightly with your fist and pull them so that the roots come out as well.

Keep your grass thriving by regularly fertilizing and keeping its height at three inches at least. Cover the soil with mulch to keep it cool and prevent crab seed lawn weeds from germinating and further growing.


What Are the Characteristics of Nutsedge?

The characteristics of nutsedge include that it is a warm-growing perennial weed. It is extremely hard to eliminate, and it can often infiltrate crops. In fact, it’s considered the toughest weed to get rid of. However, in some parts of the world, it can be used as a famine food.

– It Is a Warm-Season Perennial

Nutsedge is a warm-season plant perennial vegetation that does not do well in cooler climates. This grass grows dormant when temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit in late or early winter. You can tell that it has gone dormant by seeing whether its leaves have turned brown or not.

This contrasts with crabgrass, which dies during wintertime instead of going dormant. When the temperature rises above 50 degrees in spring, the grass begins to turn green again. This is also when new seeds begin germinating, leading to further grass thickening.

Nutsedge Characteristics

– There Are a Lot of Varieties of Nutsedge

Nutsedge looks like grass and is considered by many to be a type of grass. In reality, though, it is not actual grass. There are a ton of varieties of this plant out there. Some are showy enough to be grown as ornamental plants in certain regions.

Most of the varieties, however, are considered invasive and a big nuisance to actual grass. One of the most widely encountered types is the yellow nutsedge. It is one of the most difficult weeds to get rid of and is also harmful to farm animals should they graze upon it.

– It’s Tough To Get Rid Of

Nutsedge, particularly the yellow variety that is the most prevalent, is notoriously hard to get rid of. That is why taking preventative measures beforehand is the most important. You need to know if your area and soil are susceptible to this weed.

Some useful preventative measures include keeping the grass mowed high at about three inches tall and ensuring water is not allowed to stand on the lawn for too long. High grass keeps the sun away from nutsedge, which keeps it from growing and spreading.

Get Rid Of the the Nutsedge

If you have a nutsedge problem on your hands, then a selective weed killer herbicide should be your priority. A non-selective killer concentrate will end up killing the grass as well. 

Make sure the label on the herbicide specifically states that it is effective against nutsedge. Just follow the guidelines given by the manufacturer and then pull the dead weeds up manually after they have died.


Will Sedgehammer kill both Crabgrass and Nutsedge?

Yes, Sedgehammer is effective in killing both Crabgrass and Nutsedge, making it a suitable herbicide for controlling both weeds.

Is Nutsedge considered invasive?

Yes, Nutsedge is considered an invasive weed due to its aggressive growth and ability to outcompete other plants.

Will pulling Crabgrass by hand eliminate it permanently?

Pulling Crabgrass by hand is not a permanent solution as it may regrow from any remaining roots or seeds. Herbicide treatments are more effective.


You know whether the weed growing amid your grass is nutsedge or crabgrass. Crabgrass will die over the winter, with its seeds sprouting in spring, while nutsedge will go dormant, as it is a perennial plant. The latter is a lot harder to get rid of.

However, we must reiterate that while nutsedge is not a good weed most of the time, crabgrass is a good option for farmlands and ranches. Not only is it very low-maintenance, but it is a favorite among grazing farm animals. 

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