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Image result for foxtail controlHow to Control Foxtail on Your Lawn

There are many types of invasive weeds that can threaten the beauty and uniformity of a well kept lawn. One of those invaders is particularly annoying for homeowners because they are hard to control and manage. This plant is known as the common foxtail, which has a variety of different species.

Foxtail is a tricky and clever weed that has the tendency to pop up whenever careful attention isn’t placed on lawn maintenance. Foxtail is usually an annual weed but occasionally can be a perennial. It derives it’s name from it’s unique and bushy seedhead which resembles, you guessed it, the fail of a fox. This weed has spread prolifically across America, invading disturbed soils. As clever as this weed is, it can be stopped and your lawn can be saved.

To get rid of foxtail, you first need to do a little homework on the weed and be armed with some knowledge so you can know what conditions this type of weed likes, what it doesn’t like and then based on the information, approach with an effective control strategy. This is where we can best help.

Here at Solutions Pest and Lawn, we’re dedicated to serving you with not only supplying the best professional-grade products in the lawn and pest control industry, but also we want to empower you with the confidence to tackle any issues you have on your yard or home yourself, without hiring a professional.

Our motto is, “Ask us how, then do it yourself”. Aside from our customer service line where you can talk live to an expert, you can also email us your specific questions and concerns at askapro@solutionsstores.com and we’ll be happy to help guide you in the right direction.

View our selection of products we recommend for getting rid of foxtail and then scroll further to learn how to tackle foxtail in depth using our solutions 4 step process.

How To Get Rid of Foxtail: Solutions 4 Step Process

Step 1: Identification. There are times homeowners who are inexperienced in lawn care incorrectly diagnose or misidentify foxtail or what they believe to be foxtail with another weed which can raise a lot of problem. Identifying the unwanted plant that is growing on your lawn is crucial because once you can correctly ID the weed, you can then research and find out what active ingredients, herbicides and cultural methods work best to address that weed and which products are specifically designed to target it. Improperly ID'ing a plant may result in waste of time and effort purchasing herbicides which won't work against it.

There are three species of foxtail which most commonly invade lawns in the United States: there is yellow foxtail (Setaria pumila or Setaria glauca), green foxtail (Setaria viridis) and giant foxtail (Setaria faberi). These plants have many traits that are similar and share a unique brush-like seed head which looks like the tail of a fox, hence their name. Foxtail grasses usually grow in thick clusters with green and yellow foxtails ranging 1 to 3 feet tall, while giant foxtail growing as large as between 3 to 7 feet in height.

Foxtail grass blades are flat and vary in width between 1/4 to 1/2 inches in green and yellow foxtails. Naturally, the giant foxtail blades are 1/2 inch wide or wider. Yellow and giant foxtails have hairy blades on the upper surface  while green foxtail blades are smooth. When they have matured and develop seedheads, yellow foxtails seedheads can grow to 3 inches long and have short, coarse bristles. Green foxtails have softer bristled seedheads up to 6 inches long, while giant foxtails have 3- to 7-inch seedheads that tend to droop. Bristles on green and giant foxtails are longer than on yellow foxtails.

When you’re unsure or can’t quite determine exactly which kind of foxtail weed you are encountering in your yard, turn to the experts to ID the weed for you. We recommend taking a high resolution photo of the unwanted weed with your phone and shoot it over to our email address at Identification@solutionsstores.com. We will respond back to you quickly with not only the correct ID of the plant, we will also give you expert recommendations of products and techniques to apply to remove that weed from your lawn.


Step 2: Inspection. Conduct a thorough inspection of your lawn or landscape to see where the foxtail is growing. Foxtails typically thrive in areas that are undergoing stress or are disturbed, such as croplands, gravelly areas along roads, and cracks in sidewalks and parking lots that expose bare soil. Foxtails prefer fertile soil, but is versatile enough to grow in poor maintained soil. The grasses are less likely to grow in natural undisturbed areas. Yellow and green foxtails are distributed across the entire United States, while giant foxtail is mostly found in the southeast region of the country.

Once you have determined how severe of a foxtail problem you have (a minor flareup or majorly taking over your entire lawn) you will then know where to focus your chemical herbicide applications.


Step 3: Control. The best way to deal with foxtail weed in your lawn is to prevent it from growing in the first place. In the spring, apply a pre-emergent, such as Prodiamine 65 WDG (Barricade Herbicide) or Dithiopyr 40 WSB Pre Emergent Herbicide. Timing is key for the best results.

If foxtail has already emerged on your lawn you're going to have a tougher time controlling them. They don't respond very well to manual methods of control so your best bet is to apply a post-emergent herbicide.
A couple of herbicides we suggest Tenacity Herbicide or Drive XLR8 Crabgrass Killer.

Read all labels and instructions carefully with whatever herbicide you choose to use. If you have desired grass around where the foxtail is growing, you can choose to spot treat. Either way, be careful when using herbicides in general around your desired plants as they could potentially kill your wanted turf. Also, please be sure that when handling ay type of herbicide, you are properly protecting your skin and eyes with safety equipment. Goggles, gloves and love sleeved clothing should suffice.

For best results, make sure to apply herbicides at the right time. Foxtail should be treated with herbicides when it is in active growth. Apply post-emergents in the springtime when the growth is less than 6 inches in length or apply pre-emergents in the fall or early spring to keep their seeds under control. Repeated applications may be necessary depending on the species, the persistence and the age or maturity of the plant.

Step 4: Prevention. You can prevent the return of foxtail after it has been controlled with cultural practices that will hinder the redevelopment of this invasive grassy weed. A lush and healthy lawn is your best defense.

Properly fertilize your landscape at the best time recommended for your particular grass. Mow your grass regularly and at the right height.  If your grass is nice and thick, foxtail will have no room to establish itself and ugly up your lawn.

Have Some Grassy Weeds You Want Gone That Isn't Foxtail? View Our Grassy Weed Control Section

Learn More About Foxtail

Foxtail weed (Setaria) has wide leaf blacks which are similar in appearance to the turf grass where they happen to grow. The base of the leaves has fine hairs and the stem rises from a collar at the base of the leaf. Stems bear three- to ten-inch long spikes of flowers, which yield to seeds at the end of the season.

The plant is often hard to spot when mixed in with grass, as it starts out low to the ground with leaves parallel to the soil. Three main types that are common in the US. These are: Yellow foxtail (Setaria pumila), the Green foxtail (Setaria viridis) which is the smallest of them all and the Giant foxtail (Setaria faberi) which can reach heights of up to 10 inches.

They are found in ditches, cropland, disturbed building sites, roadsides and anywhere the natural ground flora has been disturbed. They not only are a nuisance for lawn owners but they can be hazardous to animals who happen to come into contact with the plant as the spikes and hairs can get lodges in nostrils and ear canals which can disturb an animal which in worst cases can cause death.

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Broadleaf herbicides will not work against foxtail since foxtail is a grass. If you want to use chemical control methods, your best bet is to look for a herbicide that can kill grasses such as Drive XLR8 Crabgrass Killer,  Tenacity Herbicide or pre-emergents which will prevent the seeds from growing like Prodiamine 65 WDGDithiopyr 40 WSB Pre Emergent Herbicide . Aside from these recommendations, one of the most easily accessible types that you can’t go wrong with is a chemical called glyphosate. A word of caution to those who go the Glyphosate/Roundup route, the chemical is non-selective meaning it is a “kill-all” weed killer so be sure to carefully spot treat and avoid getting your desired grasses and vegetation affected by the chemical.

For best results, spray the entire area with the glyphosate. Even though the other vegetation there will likely die, this is the quickest and most effective way of getting rid of fox tail. You can then reseed. If that is not the option you want to take, then one of the selective herbicides above should do the trick.

We recommend follow up applications after a couple weeks. Don’t think that one and done will cut it. Weeds are persistent, so you have to be just as persistent to get rid of them by conducting multiple applications as necessary til they are gone.

You will probably need to apply the herbicide two to three times, at minimum, before it wipes out the foxtail completely. Wait until after the foxtail reemerges before using another application.

You should wait until two weeks or so pass before re-applying the herbicide, especially if using a potent one like glyphosate.

Combine chemical herbicides with organic weed-control methods. While chemical herbicides can take care of the majority of the problem, enlisting the help of certain organic control methods can help in between applications, making the extermination process go quicker overall.

Seven to ten days after you apply the herbicide, turn under the dead plant residue. If you plan to amend the soil, do so now.

Make Sure You Have The Right Equipment For The Job. SHOP For Sprayers and Other Lawn Care Essentials


  • A good tool to use to aid with your herbicide application is mixing your selected herbicide with a surfactant so that your application can stick to the goosegrass and not runoff.

  • Please be sure to refer to the instruction label to get the correct application rates as they can vary based on the selected herbicide you are using.

  • Use a hand-pump sprayer with a fan tip nozzle. This will shoot a mist that will evenly coat the foxtail for best results in eradicating it from your lawn.

  • Herbicides can be harmful if you come in contact with it. Protect your eyes, skin, mouth and nose by wearing protective equipment any time you handle herbicide chemicals.

  • If you would like to know step-by-step how to execute an effective herbicide application program for foxtail or any other weed, please refer to our knowledge base or view our informative How-To Videos to get a visual idea of how to carry out a proper herbicide treatment.

For more information on controlling foxtail  and other troublesome weeds in your yard as well as receive free help over the phone, contact us at askapro@solutionsstores.com or call our customer service line at (800) 479-6583.

Better Safe Than Sorry: Equip Yourself With Protective Safety Equipment Before Spraying




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