University of Maryland Extension


(More Lawn Weeds)

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

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

Life cycle

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. It is a native warm season perennial grass.


Underground stolons/seeds.

Conditions that favor growth

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

Management In Lawns

  • Cultural control
    Maintain healthy, dense turf that can compete and prevent weed establishment.

  • Mechanical Management 
    Dig it out. It has a shallow root system but will regrow from any pieces of the root left in the ground.

  • Chemical Treatment in Lawns
    Herbicides should be used as a last resort because of the potential risks to people, animals, and the environment. Be aware of these precautions first.
    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



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