University of Maryland Extension


(More Lawn Weeds)  (Lawn Control Options)  

Muhlenbergia schreberi
Japanese stiltgrass (left), Nimblewill (right)

nimblewill in summer
Photo: Ohio St. Weed Lab, The Ohio State University,


Perennial, warm season grass.

dormant nimblewill
Nimblewill goes dormant in the fall and looks straw-like
then begins to green up again in spring

Growth habit 

Spreading; grows up to 1 1/2 ft tall; slow to green in spring; browns early in fall, forms circular, straw-like dead patches when dormant. Pale-green color.


Underground stolons/seeds.

Conditions that favor growth

Thrives in shade in infertile soil but will move into sunnier areas.


Cultural control: Maintain healthy, dense turf that can compete and prevent weed establishment.
Mechanical control: Hand pulling or dig it out. It has a shallow root system but will regrow from any pieces of the root left in the ground
Chemical control: (lawns) Herbicides for controlling perennial grass weeds are limited and usually available to lawn care companies and landscapers. Small infestations can be dug out or sprayed with a non-selective herbicide. Reseed the area after you are certain that you have 100% kill. Another option is a selective herbicide with the active ingredient mesotrione (Tenacity). 

Mesotrione can be difficult to find in stores but there is some online availability. It can be expensive, and the label instructions geared more for commercial use than for homeowners. However, it is labeled for home lawns. It can cause temporary whitening or bleaching of the weed and surrounding turfgrass. But the grass will outgrow this discoloration. It is important to mix according to the label directions. Another option is to contact a lawn company for control of this weed.

The herbicide Tenacity (Mesotrione) can temporarily whiten grass blades. According to the product label “Tenacity may cause temporary whitening of turfgrass foliage. In general, symptoms appear five to seven days after application and lasts for several weeks.” This is not considered herbicide damage but occurs due to the herbicide's mode of action. Tenacity inhibits a plant enzyme that is essential for photosynthesis and interferes with chlorophyll production. 

close up of bleached out grass blades
Close-up of grass blades bleached from Mesotrione

area of turf bleached by Mesotrione
Bleached area of grass


Organic Control

For a glossary of herbicide terms and additional information see: control options 


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