Sticker weeds, also known as lawn burrs or grass burrs, are a homeowner’s nightmare. These pesky weeds disrupt the beauty of our lawns, gardens, and outdoor spaces. But don’t lose hope! In this article, we’ll explore the various types of sticker weeds, how to spot them, and most importantly, how to get rid of them. Let’s get started!
Know Your Enemy: Types of Sticker Weeds
1. Sandbur (Cenchrus spp.)
Sandburs are grassy weeds that grow in sandy or well-draining soils. They produce sharp, spiny seed heads, which can be painful when stepped on. Sandburs grow in clumps and can reach up to 2 feet in height. They thrive in warm climates and are common in the southern United States.
2. Burdock (Arctium spp.)
Burdock is a biennial weed, which means it has a two-year life cycle. In its first year, it forms a low-growing rosette of large, heart-shaped leaves. In the second year, it grows tall, branching stems with purple flowers, followed by round, spiky burrs. Burdock is commonly found in disturbed areas, like roadsides and abandoned lots.
3. Puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris)
Puncturevine, also known as goat’s head, is a low-growing, creeping weed with small, yellow flowers. It’s notorious for its spiky, hard seed capsules that can puncture bike tires and inflict pain on unsuspecting feet. Puncturevine thrives in warm, arid regions and is common in the western United States.
4. Cocklebur (Xanthium spp.)
Cockleburs are robust, annual weeds with large, heart-shaped leaves and small, greenish flowers. They produce round, spiny burs that easily attach to clothing, fur, and skin. These weeds can grow up to 4 feet tall and are commonly found in disturbed areas and along water sources.
Identify and Conquer: How to Spot Sticker Weeds
Now that you’re familiar with some common sticker weeds, let’s talk about how to spot them in your yard. Keep an eye out for these tell-tale signs:
- Sharp, spiny seed heads or burs
- Clumps or patches of unusual grass-like plants
- Unwanted plants growing in disturbed soil or along water sources
If you see any of these signs, it’s time to take action!
Winning Strategies: How to Get Rid of Sticker Weeds
1. Manual Removal
When it comes to removing sticker weeds, sometimes old-fashioned elbow grease is the best method. For small infestations, simply pull the weeds out by hand, making sure to remove the entire root system. Wear gloves and long sleeves to protect yourself from the prickly burs.
Pro tip: Remove sticker weeds when the soil is damp, as it makes it easier to pull out the entire root.
2. Mowing and Trimming
Regular mowing and trimming can help control sticker weeds in your lawn. Mow at the correct height for your grass type and trim around fences, buildings, and other obstacles. By doing this, you’ll prevent sticker weeds from growing tall enough to produce seed heads.
Pro tip: Bag your grass clippings when mowing to prevent the spread of weed seeds.
When manual removal and mowing aren’t enough, herbicides can be an effective solution. Choose a selective herbicide labeled for sticker weed control, and follow the
manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Be sure to apply the herbicide at the right time, typically when the weeds are actively growing but before they produce seeds.
Pro tip: Use a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring to prevent sticker weed seeds from germinating.
4. Organic Solutions
If you prefer a more eco-friendly approach, there are organic solutions available. One popular method is to use corn gluten meal, a natural pre-emergent herbicide that inhibits seed germination. Apply it to your lawn in early spring, before the sticker weeds have a chance to grow.
Pro tip: Vinegar can be an effective spot treatment for young sticker weeds. Be cautious when using vinegar, as it can also harm desirable plants.
5. Maintain a Healthy Lawn
A dense, healthy lawn is your best defense against sticker weeds. Follow these tips to keep your lawn in top shape:
- Water deeply and infrequently, encouraging deep root growth.
- Fertilize with the appropriate nutrients for your grass type.
- Aerate your lawn annually to improve air, water, and nutrient penetration.
Real-Life Example: Defeating Sticker Weeds in Your Lawn
Imagine you’ve just moved into a new home with a beautiful lawn, only to discover it’s infested with sticker weeds. Here’s a step-by-step plan to reclaim your lawn:
- Identify the sticker weeds: Determine which type of sticker weed you’re dealing with by comparing its appearance to the descriptions provided earlier.
- Remove existing weeds: Pull up as many sticker weeds as you can by hand, or use a hoe for larger infestations. Dispose of the weeds properly to prevent re-infestation.
- Apply herbicides or organic solutions: Choose an appropriate herbicide or organic solution for your specific sticker weed type and follow the application instructions.
- Mow and trim regularly: Keep your lawn neatly trimmed, and bag your grass clippings to prevent the spread of weed seeds.
- Maintain a healthy lawn: Follow the lawn care tips provided earlier to encourage a dense, healthy turf that will outcompete sticker weeds.
By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to a sticker weed-free lawn that you can enjoy all season long.