How to Kill Torpedo Grass


Torpedo grass is also known as panic grass. It's the bane of private gardens and public lands. It spreads quickly when left unattended, and it drives out native species of plants. It can grow in streams and lakes, forming tangles so dense as to alter the natural current of the waterway. The leaf of torpedo grass is stiff. It has a waxy sheen, and it ends in a sharp tip that resembles a torpedo. Torpedo grass is very difficult to eradicate; it's resistant to virtually every herbicide available on the market. The best way to eliminate torpedo grass is to use an organic method known as solarizing.

Things You'll Need

  • Lawn mower
  • Lawn sprinkler
  • Heavy-duty clear plastic sheeting
  • Bricks, rocks or heavy lumber


  • Adjust your lawn mower to its lowest setting. "Scalp" the entire part of your lawn that is infested with torpedo grass. Grass in the scalped area will be so short that you will be able to see the soil beneath. Immediately after mowing, water the lawn, using an automated lawn sprinkler to give it a good soaking. This should be done for approximately 30 to 60 minutes.

  • Cover the entire torpedo grass infested area with large sheets of clear, heavy-duty plastic. Greenhouse plastic is best because it's the most durable. The heat of the sun will be intensified by the plastic, burning the torpedo grass and killing the root system of all foliage on the lawn as well as the seeds scattered on the surface. It may even get those seeds that are buried two or three inches down.

  • Weigh down the edges of the plastic completely so that none of the heat escapes. You can line up bricks or rocks all along the edges, or you may opt to lay down lengths of heavy lumber. Keep the plastic on your lawn for a minimum of six weeks of summer if you live in the southern United States. Keep it there for the entire summer if you live in the northern United States. When you remove the plastic, you should see that the blades of grass above ground as well as the root system are brown, dried out and dead.

Tips & Warnings

  • When the lawn is dead, gently rake up the debris before scattering seed or installing sod. It is not necessary to till the soil, and it may be counter-productive as it could bring to the surface torpedo grass seeds that have been dormant several inches below the ground.
  • Do not buy thin, cheap plastic sheeting. A falling tree branch could tear it, and the heat of the sun will probably cause it to become brittle and split, letting the concentrated heat escape. That would then frustrate your attempts to kill the torpedo grass. Greenhouse plastic sheeting is expensive, but it is the best and most reliable option.

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