Nimblewill — One Tough Lawn Weed

By Barbara Shepard, Fairfax Master GardenerNimblewill
Did you notice round, straw-colored areas of dead grass in your lawn this past winter? And then did you notice that those same spots turned green when other plants started growing and blooming in spring? If so, your lawn may be plagued with nimblewill, a tough weed to control.

Nimblewill (Muhlenbergia schreberi) is a perennial warm-season grass weed that has a straw-brown appearance during its winter dormancy (from first frost to late spring). During active growth, the color changes to dull blue-green, although some describe it as pale-green or gray-green. Its leaves range in size from 1 to 3 inches, and a quarter-inch wide. It tolerates a variety of soils and conditions and very often grows in shady areas that desirable grasses snub.

dormant nimblewill

Patches of dormant nimblewill in early spring

Nimblewill, a native, is one of our most common grass-weed problems. Other perennial grass weeds in Virginia are bermudagrass, dallisgrass, orchardgrass and quackgrass. According to Professor Shawn Askew, an extension turfgrass weed specialist at Virginia Tech, nimblewill is in every lawn in Virginia. Given that notoriety, nimblewill might also be considered among those weeds harde