Walking barefoot through soft grass is one of life’s greatest joys; the warmth of the ground, the tickly touch of blades of grass on your feet, toes wriggling free from the confinement of shoes, it is just spectacular. In the summer. In the midst of winter after the combination of below-zero temperatures followed by flooding rains it sounds miserable, BUT, if you are looking forward to that summer experience, you may need to prepare your lawn now.
Last year I had a burweed week. Almost everyone that called the office that week wanted to know what to do for “stickers” in the yard that were making playing barefoot in the lawn uncomfortable for kids and pets. Unfortunately, by the time strolling barefoot becomes a joy, it is too late to control burweed. Burweed is a winter weed, and the “sticker” that hurts your foot is the already-developed seed. You can apply herbicide to the plant, but as summer begins its life cycle will end regardless; once the bur is developed though, it is there to pester you until next year. If you had this problem in your lawn last year, treat for burweed now, and kill the plant before the bur develops.
Herbicides with 2,4 D or 2,4-D+MCPP+dicamba (check the active ingredients label on the front of the bottle) will provide good control for bermuda, zoysia, and tall fescue, but you may have to re-treat. Atrazine will provide excellent control for centipede, zoysia, and dormant bermuda. January and February are ideal times to treat burweed.
Now is not the time for sun-drenched picnics on your lawn, but it is just around the corner. If you are looking forward to spending time outdoors this spring and summer, take a moment to ensure your moment of bare-footed bliss, undisturbed by stabbing burs.