Foxtail Weed Killers that Won’t Damage Your Lawn

Foxtail grass, scientifically known as Setaria spp., is a common and persistent weed that can quickly overrun lawns if left unchecked. Its tall, bristly seed heads resemble the tail of a fox, hence the name "foxtail."

While foxtail grass may seem innocuous at first glance, its rapid growth and invasive nature can wreak havoc on the health and appearance of your lawn. From competing with desirable grass species for nutrients to posing safety hazards for pets and children, foxtail grass demands proactive management. 

Thankfully, there are some effective weed killers such as Quinclorac 75 DF, Fusilade II, Celsius® WG, and Prodiamine 65 WG that can rid your turf of this persistent weed without harming your grass.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll look at various strategies for effectively combating foxtail grass infestations in your lawn. We'll explore manual removal techniques, chemical treatments, and prevention methods to ensure long-lasting control.

Foxtail Grass

Identification

Foxtail grass can be identified by its distinct characteristics, which include dense clusters of bristly seed heads resembling the tail of a fox. The grass itself typically grows in tufts and can range in color from light green to golden brown. Additionally, foxtail grass leaves are long and slender, with a distinctive midrib running down the center.

The three primary types of foxtail are:

Yellow Foxtail (Setaria pumila or Setaria glauca

Yellow Foxtail (Setaria pumila or Setaria glauca)
  • Description: This species has a yellowish-green seed head. The leaf blades are generally smooth and can have a yellowish hue. Yellow foxtail tends to grow in clusters and prefers disturbed areas like agricultural fields and roadsides.
  • Habitat: It thrives in moist, fertile soils and can often be found in gardens, lawns, and agricultural fields.

Green Foxtail (Setaria viridis)

Green Foxtail (Setaria viridis)
  • Description: Green foxtail has a green, bristly seed head. The leaves are narrow and can be rough to the touch. This type is particularly notable for its ability to grow quickly and spread widely.
  • Habitat: It is commonly found in cultivated fields, gardens, and along roadsides. Green foxtail is highly adaptable and can grow in a variety of soil types, often thriving in disturbed soils.

Giant Foxtail (Setaria faberi)

Giant Foxtail (Setaria faberi)
  • Description: Giant foxtail is the largest of the foxtail species, with seed heads that can reach up to a foot in length. The plant itself can grow over three feet tall. The seed heads are densely packed and have a distinctive, drooping appearance.
  • Habitat: It is typically found in agricultural fields, particularly those growing row crops like corn and soybeans. Giant foxtail prefers rich, fertile soils and can become a significant weed in farming areas.

Lifecycle

To effectively combat foxtail grass, it's crucial to understand its lifecycle. Foxtail grass is an annual weed, meaning it completes its entire lifecycle within a single growing season. The lifecycle of foxtail grass typically begins in the spring when seeds germinate, followed by rapid growth during the summer months. As summer transitions into fall, foxtail grass produces its characteristic seed heads, which disperse seeds for future generations.

Spread

Foxtail grass is adept at spreading and colonizing new areas, making it a formidable foe for lawn enthusiasts. The primary method of foxtail spread is through seeds, which are dispersed by wind, water, animals, and human activity. Once established in a lawn, foxtail grass can quickly outcompete desirable grass species, forming dense patches and disrupting the uniformity of the turf. Understanding how foxtail grass spreads is essential for implementing effective control measures and preventing its proliferation in your lawn.

The Dangers of Foxtail Grass Infestation

Dangers of Foxtail Grass Infestation

Threat to Lawn Health

Foxtail grass poses a significant threat to the overall health and aesthetics of your lawn. As an aggressive weed, foxtail competes with desirable grass species for essential nutrients, water, and sunlight. This competition can weaken the turf, leading to patchy, thin areas and reduced lawn vigor. Additionally, the presence of foxtail grass can create an uneven surface, making it difficult to mow and maintain the lawn properly.

Safety Hazards

Beyond its impact on lawn health, foxtail grass also poses safety hazards, particularly for pets and children. The sharp, bristly seed heads of foxtail grass can easily become lodged in fur, clothing, or bare skin, causing irritation, discomfort, and potential injury. Ingestion of foxtail seeds can also lead to gastrointestinal issues in pets. Moreover, foxtail seeds can penetrate the skin and migrate inward, leading to abscesses and infections if not promptly removed.

Legal Concerns

In many areas, foxtail grass is considered an invasive species that requires management to prevent its spread. Local regulations may mandate the control or eradication of foxtail grass on residential properties to protect natural habitats and agricultural lands from infestation. Failure to address foxtail infestations could result in fines or legal penalties, underscoring the importance of proactive management strategies. 

Effective Strategies for Foxtail Control

Manual Removal Techniques 

One of the primary methods for controlling foxtail grass is manual removal. This involves physically pulling or digging out foxtail plants from the lawn. To effectively remove foxtail grass manually, follow these steps:

  1. Use a hand tool, such as a weeding tool or garden trowel, to loosen the soil around the base of the foxtail plant.
  2. Grasp the foxtail plant firmly at its base and gently pull it upward, ensuring that you remove the entire root system.
  3. Dispose of the removed foxtail plants in a designated compost bin or trash receptacle to prevent re-establishment.

Chemical Treatments

 In cases of severe foxtail infestation or for larger lawn areas, chemical treatments may be necessary to achieve effective control. Selective herbicides formulated specifically for grassy weeds like foxtail can be applied to target and eliminate foxtail grass while minimizing harm to desirable turfgrass species. 

Prevention Methods 

Preventing foxtail grass from establishing itself in your lawn is key to long-term control. Implement the following prevention methods to minimize the risk of foxtail infestation: 

  1. Maintain a healthy lawn through proper cultural practices, including regular mowing, watering, and fertilization, to promote dense turf growth and reduce opportunities for foxtail invasion.
  2. Monitor and address any bare or thin areas in the lawn promptly, as these areas are more susceptible to foxtail colonization.
  3. Before entering the lawn area, inspect and clean gardening tools, equipment, and footwear to avoid introducing foxtail seeds.

By employing a combination of manual removal techniques, targeted chemical treatments, and proactive prevention methods, homeowners can effectively control foxtail grass and restore the health and beauty of their lawn.


Related: What Types of Weeds Look Like Grass?


Herbicides for Foxtail Management That Won’t Harm Your Grass

Golf Course Lawn offers a range of specialized weed killer products designed to effectively combat foxtail grass and other invasive weeds while promoting the health of your lawn. Here are some of our highly recommended products:

1) Quinclorac 75 DF — Post-Emergent for Warm and Cool-Season Turf

Quinclorac and measuring cup on lawn


Quinclorac 75 DF is one of the most effective solutions for eliminating green, yellow, and giant foxtail grass without damaging your lawn. It is a post-emergent herbicide designed to combat foxtail grass in both warm and cool-season lawns, making it a versatile choice for weed control. For optimal results, it is recommended to use a surfactant with Quinclorac 75 DF to enhance the herbicide's adhesion to the foxtail plant

Important Precautions

While Quinclorac 75 DF is highly effective against foxtail grass, it’s important to use it carefully. Certain turfgrass varieties, such as Bahiagrass, Centipede grass, and St. Augustine grass, are sensitive to Quinclorac and can be adversely affected. Therefore, correctly identifying your lawn type before application is crucial to avoid unintended damage.

Application Guidelines

To ensure the best results with Quinclorac 75 DF, follow these application guidelines:

  • Apply when foxtail grass is actively growing, and use a surfactant for better absorption.
  • Use a battery-powered 4-gallon sprayer with a TeeJet foliar spray tip for application. Do not use a hose-end sprayer.
  • Avoid mowing for at least 48 hours before and after application to allow the herbicide to fully penetrate the foxtail grass.
  • There is no need to water the lawn after application as Quinclorac 75 DF works through foliar uptake. Simply spray the target weeds and allow them to dry.
  • Avoid applying Quinclorac 75 DF when temperatures exceed 85°F to prevent potential temporary damage to your grass.

With Quinclorac 75 DF in your toolkit, you can effectively eliminate foxtail grass and restore the beauty of your lawn. Use it responsibly to ensure your turf thrives throughout the year.

2) Celsius® WG — Post-Emergent Weed Killer for Warm-Season Grass

Celsius Bottle and Single Use Packet


Foxtail grass can quickly turn a pristine lawn into a battlefield. Celsius® WG is an exceptional herbicide for warm-season turf, designed to eliminate yellow, green, and giant foxtail grass and over 150 other types of weeds without harming your lawn.

Celsius® WG is a post-emergent herbicide that comes in wettable granules. To use, mix the granules with water to create a liquid spray. This powerful formulation is ideal for warm-season grasses such as Bermuda, Zoysia, and St. Augustine, and it remains effective even in summer heat, as it has no heat restrictions.

Key Benefits

Celsius® WG is highly effective against a broad spectrum of weeds, making it a top choice for tackling the most challenging grassy and broadleaf weeds, including foxtail grass. When used as directed, it is safe for use on warm-season grasses, and its formulation allows for application even during hot summer months.

Application Guidelines

To achieve the best results with Celsius® WG, follow these application guidelines:

  • Mix Celsius® WG granules with water to create a spray solution. For temperatures below 90°F, add a non-ionic surfactant to enhance the herbicide's effectiveness.
  • Apply using a battery-powered 4-gallon sprayer equipped with a TeeJet foliar spray tip. Do not use a hose-end sprayer for this herbicide.
  • Apply when foxtail grass is actively growing. Avoid applying if temperatures exceed 100°F. If temperatures are high, apply in the evening when they drop below 100°F and opt for spot spraying rather than blanket spraying.
  • Do not mow for at least 48 hours before and after application to ensure the herbicide thoroughly penetrates the foxtail grass.
  • There's no need to water in after application as Celsius® WG works through foliar uptake. Simply spray the target weeds and allow them to dry.

With Celsius® WG, you can effectively eliminate foxtail grass and restore the beauty of your lawn. Use it responsibly, and your turf will thrive, even through the heat of summer.

3) Fusilade II — Post-Emergent Herbicide for Zoysia and Fescue (Tall, Fine) Lawns

Fusilade II on lawn


Fusilade II is a selective post-emergent herbicide designed for turf and ornamental use. It targets a wide range of perennial and annual grassy weeds, including green and yellow foxtail grass.

Fusilade II is commonly used to remove Crabgrass and Bermuda grass from Zoysia, Fine Fescue, and Tall Fescue lawns, but it will kill foxtail grasses too. So, if you have several types of grassy weeds in your Zoysia or Fescue lawn, this is the product for you. 

Key Benefits

Fusilade II controls foxtail grass and other grassy weeds quickly, showing results in three to four weeks, depending on the weed's maturity. This herbicide can be safely applied over a wide temperature range, ensuring flexibility in different weather conditions.

For Zoysia lawns, combining Fusilade II with Recognition herbicide allows for higher application rates without causing injury, enhancing the herbicide's effectiveness.

Important Usage Notes 

When using Fusilade II on St. Augustine grass, it must be combined with Recognition herbicide.

Application Guidelines

To ensure the best results with Fusilade II, follow these application guidelines:

  • Mix Fusilade II with water and, if applicable, combine with Recognition herbicide.
  • Apply using a battery-powered 4-gallon sprayer equipped with a TeeJet foliar spray tip. Do not use a hose-end sprayer for this herbicide.
  • Apply when foxtail grass is actively growing. To ensure the herbicide remains effective, avoid application in extreme temperatures and windy conditions.
  • Fusilade II becomes rainfast one hour after application, ensuring the herbicide is not washed away by rain.
  • Do not mow for at least 48 hours before and after application to ensure the herbicide fully penetrates the foxtail grass.
  • Avoid application if temperatures exceed 95°F or if winds exceed 10 mph to prevent drift and ensure optimal performance.

4) Specticle Flo — Pre-Emergent Herbicide for Warm-Season Turf

Specticle FLO on Lawn


When it comes to keeping your warm-season turf looking beautiful and weed-free, Specticle FLO is a top choice. This pre-emergent herbicide effectively prevents some of the most troublesome weeds, including giant, yellow and green foxtail grass, from taking over your lawn.

Specticle FLO provides superior pre-emergence control, making it the best option for preventing annual bluegrass (Poa annua) and other weeds in warm-season lawns like Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass, Centipede grass, Bahia grass, and St. Augustine grass.

Key Benefits

Specticle FLO offers long-lasting, broad-spectrum control of foxtail grass and over 60 other broadleaf weeds. The liquid formulation quickly penetrates the soil to get ahead of weeds before they germinate. It contains indaziflam, which provides weed control for over six months.

Important Usage Notes

Specticle FLO is safe for use on warm-season grasses only. Do not apply to cool-season grass to avoid damage.

Application Guidelines

To ensure the best results with Specticle FLO, follow these application guidelines:

  • Use a battery-powered 4-gallon sprayer with a large droplet nozzle to apply the herbicide.
  • Apply Specticle FLO in late summer or early fall before foxtail grass and other weeds have a chance to germinate.
  • Water the lawn after application to activate the herbicide and ensure it penetrates the soil.
  • For maximum effectiveness, Specticle FLO requires rainfall or irrigation before weed germination.

With Specticle FLO, you can prevent foxtail grass and other weeds from invading your warm-season lawn, ensuring it stays healthy and attractive. Use it responsibly and enjoy extended weed control for a lush, green turf.

5) Prodiamine WDG — Pre-Emergent Herbicide for Warm and Cool-Season Lawns

Prodiamine 65 WDG


PrimeraOne 65% Prodiamine, a generic equivalent of Barricade, is an excellent pre-emergent herbicide for preventing annual foxtail grass and other troublesome weeds in warm and cool-season grasses. Its water-dispersible granule (WDG) formulation makes it easy to mix and apply as a liquid spray.

Key Benefits

Prodiamine WDG prevents foxtail grass, crabgrass, and a variety of other grassy and broadleaf weeds. It is suitable for use on both warm and cool-season grasses, making it versatile for different types of lawns. A 5 lb jug covers four to five acres and is ideal for large lawns or properties. It can be applied in both spring and fall, offering season-long control of foxtail grass and other weeds.

Application Guidelines

To achieve the best results with Prodiamine, follow these application guidelines:

  • Mix the WDG product with water to create a liquid spray. Follow the label instructions for specific mix rates and usage.
  • Apply in early spring or fall before foxtail grass and other weeds begin to germinate.
  • Use a battery-powered 4-gallon sprayer for even distribution. Ensure thorough mixing to prevent clogging.
  • The product’s formulation prevents staining, making it safe for use around various landscaping elements.

With PrimeraOne 65% Prodiamine, you can effectively prevent foxtail grass and maintain a healthy, weed-free lawn. Apply it responsibly and enjoy long-lasting protection against a wide range of weeds.


Related: The Best Four Products for Killing Weeds without Killing Grass



Maintenance Tips for a Healthy Lawn

Regular Mowing 

Maintaining an appropriate mowing regimen is essential for keeping foxtail grass at bay and promoting a healthy lawn overall. Set your mower blades to the recommended height for your grass type, and aim to mow frequently enough to prevent foxtail seed head formation. By trimming the lawn, you can minimize the spread of foxtail seeds and encourage the growth of desirable turfgrass species. 

Fertilization

Fertilizing your lawn regularly with high-quality fertilizers is crucial for promoting robust turf growth and competitiveness against foxtail grass. Choose fertilizers specifically formulated for your grass type and apply them according to recommended rates and schedules. Proper fertilization provides essential nutrients that help turfgrass outcompete weeds like foxtail and maintain a dense, healthy lawn.

pH Balancing and Biostimulants

Incorporating pH balancers and biostimulants into your lawn care routine can further enhance the health and resilience of your turfgrass, making it less susceptible to foxtail infestation. pH balancers help maintain optimal soil pH levels, creating an environment conducive to healthy turf growth. Biostimulants contain beneficial microorganisms and organic compounds that stimulate root development, improve nutrient uptake, and enhance overall turf vigor. 

By implementing these maintenance tips as part of your lawn care regimen, you can create an environment that promotes your lawn's long-term health and vitality while minimizing the risk of foxtail grass infestation. Consistent attention to proper mowing, fertilization, and soil health will contribute to a lush, resilient lawn that can effectively withstand the challenges posed by invasive weeds like foxtail.


Related: How to Stop Invasive Grass Taking Over Your Lawn


Outsmart the Foxtail: Keep Your Lawn Pristine and Weed-Free

Take action today to rid your lawn of foxtail grass and invest in its long-term health and beauty. With the right knowledge, tools, and commitment to proper lawn care, you can create a vibrant outdoor space that enhances your home's curb appeal and provides a welcoming oasis for relaxation and enjoyment.

Ready to take back control of your lawn and say goodbye to foxtail grass for good? Explore our range of effective weed killers and lawn care products today to start your journey towards a healthier, more vibrant lawn.