Controlling Foxtail Weeds – How To Get Rid of Foxtail Grass In Lawns

The following are some interesting facts about foxtails:

Foxtails are perennial weeds that grow from the ground and cover up to 10 feet high. They have long stems with leaves that resemble those of a weed. These plants produce seeds which germinate into small seedlings within 3 months.

These seedlings grow to 6 inches tall before they die back. After a year or two, the plant dies down again.

Foxtails are considered invasive because they reproduce rapidly and spread quickly throughout lawns. They have been known to cause problems in other parts of the world such as Australia where it was responsible for over 100 deaths due to its toxic effects on humans.

Foxtails are not native to North America. There is no way to eradicate them, but there are several methods that can be used to control their growth. One method is using herbicides.

Another method is using biological controls such as nematodes (worms) or bacteria. A third option is to use natural predators like birds and insects that eat foxtail grasses.

How do you get rid of foxtail?

The best way to control foxtail is by using biological controls such as nematodes or bacteria. You can apply these to your yard but it can be costly and will require reapplication every year because they don’t remain in the soil for long periods of time.

You also might have luck by adding sand to your lawn. This makes the soil heavier and the foxtails cannot easily push through the soil to grow. If you decide to add sand to your soil, be sure not to add it around the base of the plant.

If you do this, the plant will no longer be able to get the nutrients and water that it needs from the soil and will eventually die. It is only effective when spread out over a large area.

You can also control foxtails by mowing your lawn at a higher setting than normal. This will help prevent the weed from growing as fast as it normally would. You might also try adding a thick layer of mulch to your soil.

This will prevent most of the sunlight from reaching the soil and will slow down the growth of the foxtail weeds.

Will vinegar kill foxtails?

Yes, the acetic acid in vinegar is poisonous to most types of plants and will quickly kill them off. However, you should never pour straight vinegar on your lawn because it will not only kill the foxtail weed but it will also kill the grass as well. Vinegar should only be applied to your lawn if it is mixed with water or another carrier.

Will salt kill foxtails?

This is an interesting question and one that many people wonder about, but there is very little evidence that shows that salt has any effect on killing most types of plants. It can help a bit when it comes to snow and ice in the winter, but it doesn’t have any effect on most types of weeds.

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There is some speculation that salt can help kill off weeds that like soil with a high salt concentration. However, foxtails like most plants need a certain amount of salt in the soil in order to survive.

Other suggestions for killing foxtails

We have heard of people using several other methods with some success. Most involve trying to smother out the foxtail plants by completely covering them with several layers of newspaper or cardboard and then adding soil on top. The problem with this is that it takes months for it to be effective and you need to keep adding to it in order to keep it on top of the weed.

It is suggested that a deep ripping or deep tilling of the soil will help. This is assuming that you go down at least two feet. The idea is that if you put the weed seeds deep enough under the soil, they won’t be able to grow.

This can be costly as you need to till the entire yard and it will also take several months before you see the results.

There is a product on the market called Sutra. It is organic and it is mainly focused towards controlling nutsedge, another pesky problem for many people. This product might work on foxtails as well as long as it is applied every 30 to 60 days.

The downside is that it can be costly and also may or may not be available in all areas.

How to prevent foxtails from coming back

Probably the best way to kill foxtails is to prevent them from coming back in the future. If you have a foxtail problem, it is most likely because you have sandy soil. The weed can easily spread since the sand allows the seeds to sink into the ground with ease.

To help with this, you should try to increase the organic matter in your soil. You can do this by applying compost or other organic material to the top layer of your soil.

This may take some time, but it will eventually help prevent foxtails from growing as easily in your soil. You can also try to add more thatch to your soil. Thatch is another organic material that helps promote growth in grass, but not weeds.

Controlling Foxtail Weeds – How To Get Rid of Foxtail Grass In Lawns - Picture

It also helps improve water retention and saves you time and money on having to mow as often.

Products to kill foxtails

There are a few products that can help you with killing foxtails. One of them is called SedgeHammer and is a non-selective herbicide that can be used to kill most types of weeds, including foxtail. This product can easily be found at your local home improvement store.

It also works best if you add some fertilizer to the area first in order to get the best results. If your foxtail problem is severe, you might need to apply it twice a year for three years in order to get the best results.

SedgeHammer can be a little bit expensive, but you can try to find it at a lower cost at online retailers. You should always read the directions before applying any herbicide.

Prevention is the best medicine

It is best to prevent foxtails from taking over your yard in the first place. It does take time and there are quite a few steps that you need to take. The good thing is that if you keep them under control, they won’t be able to spread as easily.

The less that you have to worry about this pesky weed, the better off you’ll be.

Here are some tips to prevent foxtails from taking over your yard:

Reduce the amount of sand in your soil. The more sand that you have in your soil, the easier it is for weeds like foxtails to take over. If you don’t want to remove the sand altogether, you should try to increase the thatch and organic matter in your soil.

Keep your thatch and organic matter levels high. This will help prevent weeds from growing in general in your soil. You can do this by adding compost, mulch or even grass clippings as often as possible.

Controlling Foxtail Weeds – How To Get Rid of Foxtail Grass In Lawns - Picture

Add livestock. Having some chickens, rabbits or other types of livestock can help graze on weeds in your yard and keep them under control. Just make sure you have a big area for them to roam or they might end up spreading the weeds even more.

Contain your livestock. If you do have livestock, make sure to contain them or else they might end up in another part of your yard or even in someone else’s.

Maintain good lawn care. Try to mow your lawn at least once a week and edge it regularly. This will help keep weeds from spreading as easily and it will also help prevent invasive types of grass from taking over.

Use weed fabric. You can lay down some serious fabric over an area that you don’t want the foxtail to spread to. This works especially well if you put it over seeded areas before seeding, as it prevents the seeds from growing through.

Use mulch. You can use wood chips or other types of mulch to prevent weeds from spreading. It also helps retain moisture in the soil and makes your flower beds look nicer.

Use a pre-emergent fertilizer or herbicide. If you have a serious foxtail problem, you can kill the weeds before they even sprout by using a pre-emergent fertilizer or herbicide.

Use a foxtail resistant grass type. If you do have to seed your lawn or repair an area, try to get grass that has been proven to be resistant to foxtails, such as ryegrasses.

Use a foxtail resistant turf type. If you’re just replacing your lawn altogether with something like artificial turf or concrete, then this won’t be a problem!

If you do end up with a serious foxtail problem and don’t want to deal with the hassle of trying to get rid of them yourself, you can always hire a professional.

Most landscapers or gardeners should be able to help you out. Just be aware that they may have to aerate or loosen up your soil before they apply the pre-emergent herbicide or fertilizer.

The good thing about foxtails is that once they are dead, they don’t spread their seeds anymore and eventually will break down and become part of your garden again. It just can take awhile for this to happen, especially if you have a serious infestation.

Remember, foxtails are a pain to deal with, but if you keep these tips in mind and follow them, you should be able to get rid of them fairly easily. Just make sure to check your clothing and shoes before and after going outside, so you don’t bring any in the house.

Controlling Foxtail Weeds – How To Get Rid of Foxtail Grass In Lawns |

And if you do get foxtails in your shoes or clothing, shake them out right away. Hopefully you won’t get them in your house and have to get rid of them, because once the seeds are released, it is nearly impossible to stop them from spreading. And they can last up to ten years if not taken care of.

So do whatever you can to prevent this nasty weed from taking root where you live.

If you have anymore questions about getting rid of foxtails, just let me know. I hope you manage to get rid of your foxtail problem. They are very easy to prevent, just make sure to take the proper steps.


Thanks for the great question! I love talking about gardening. If you need any additional gardening advice in the future just let me know.

If you have other people you’d like me to help with, feel free to refer them to me. I’m happy to help however I can.

You can also contact me if you’re looking for a good landscaper in the area, though there are definitely some things you should look out for when hiring one. I can give you a quick rundown if you want.

I look forward to hearing from you again.

Have a good day!

-Greg A.

Sources & references used in this article:

Fenoxaprop for annual foxtail (Setaria sp.) control in seedling perennial forages by DL Linscott, RH Vaughan – Weed Technology, 1990 – JSTOR

Managing turfgrass pests by TL Watschke, PH Dernoeden, DJ Shetlar – 2013 –

Seed head suppression of knotroot foxtail (Setaria parviflora) in Bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum) grown for seed by G Wehtje, JP Bostick, RA Dawkins – Weed Technology, 2008 – BioOne

Killing cover crops mechanically: Review of recent literature and assessment of new research results by NG Creamer, SM Dabney – American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, 2002 – JSTOR

Pyricularia setariae: a potential bioherbicide agent for control of green foxtail (Setaria viridis) by G Peng, KN Byer, KL Bailey – Weed Science, 2004 – BioOne

Grass Control in sugar beet with the herbicides IPC, TCA and DCU by RT Nelson – Proc. Am. Soc. Sugar Beet Technol, 1954 –

Fox-tail millets (Setaria: Poaceae)—Abandoned food in two hemispheres by DF Austin – Economic Botany, 2006 – Springer

Controlling Weeds in Home Lawns by D Martin – 1983 –



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